What’s a Sales Funnel, and Why Do You Need One?

October 18 / Andrew Kopp / filed under Miscellaneous

sales funnel

Not everyone who visits your site will become a customer right away, but you don’t want to lose their interest once you’ve made a connection. A sales funnel is a tool that allows you to lead each visitor along a similar path to the ultimate goal: revenue. If you’re not using a sales funnel, you’re probably missing out on some valuable leads—and losing the chance to make a sale. Learning more about sales funnels can help you put this powerful marketing tool to work for your brand.

What is a Sales Funnel?

Think of your sales funnel as a board game. The goal is to get your visitors from the start (their initial interest) to the end (the actual sale or action you want them to take). While every business is unique, a dedicated funnel makes it easy to serve up consistent content and experiences and to convert visitors to leads (and leads to sales).

Why Do I Need a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel shows customers what you have to offer and ensures they know what to do next. Most incorporate automation, too, so a sales funnel ensures you still get leads and sales while reducing your workload.

Sales Funnel Components

Each funnel is unique and should be customized to match your sales experience and goals, but all have the following stages in common:

Stage 1: Awareness

A visitor has arrived from your content marketing efforts, from a web search or from an ad. No matter where they came from, you’ve triggered their interest, and this is your chance to convert them from a visitor to a true lead. At this stage, you want to boost your brand awareness and showcase your offerings.

Stage 2: Interest

Your visitors are interested and aware of your brand. This is the time to begin showcasing your solutions and highlighting how wonderful you are to work with. If you have an opt-in or another piece of collateral, now is the time to offer it. The ideal offering is something that affords value, that is not readily available, and that highlights what you do best.

You’ll need to be helpful. Offer useful details and something your target can really use that aligns with your industry. A report, “how to” book or guide, or template of some sort is ideal at this point. At this stage, your call-to-action (CTA) should be for more information about the customer, if you don’t have it already.

A newsletter signup would be an ideal CTA and result at this time. If you do ask for an email, don’t request much—just the email and permission to send. The content they downloaded can also serve as a point in your funnel and include a CTA to visit, sign up, or learn more.

Stage 3: Providing Answers, Support, and Details

Your prospect is now aware of your brand and what you have to offer. Now it is time for them to take the next step: getting down to details. They may want to know more about a specific product or service, have questions, or simply need some extra support. An email that does not attempt to sell but does ask if they need help or have questions is a useful touchpoint during this part of the funnel.

The next step here depends on the size of your funnel and the length of your sales process. Ideally, you’ll provide everything needed to lead users into some kind of action or commitment.

Stage 4: Decisions and Action

You’ve shown what you have to offer, created appealing and helpful content and collateral, and your prospect understands what you have to offer. It’s time for them to make a commitment and take the next step.

A solid landing page with a strong, focused CTA can be used here. Your prospect should be prompted to call you, send you an email, make a purchase, launch a free trial, or even schedule an appointment.

Following Up

Your funnel is not yet complete, even if your prospect has journeyed all the way from the beginning to making a purchase. You still need to follow up or redirect. Prospects that successfully complete your funnel and take that final step need to be contacted as requested, and if you have a sales team, assigned to a rep for closing. If they made a purchase, they need to be thanked and notified of shipping status right away.

Prospects that got “almost there” but shied away are not really ready to buy and can be redirected back through the earlier, discovery stages of your funnel or moved to a retargeting funnel designed just for them.

Taking the time to learn more about sales funnels and to set up even a simple funnel that ends with a CTA can boost your results considerably and help you turn visitors into leads and leads into sales.