Now, optimally, you’ll want to add more steps to your sales funnel (more on that later), but let’s say this is your bare-bones funnel. To generate leads and collect customer information, you offer a loyalty program, where people earn points for buying pizzas that they can cash in for discounts on future orders. Then, you email them a special coupon, and a percentage of your leads will open that email. A percentage of those opens will actually buy a pizza.
Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly. 
Close rate – Your close rate (or “win rate”) refers to the number of these opportunities that turn into eventual sales. If your close rate is lower than you expect, look at some of the other metrics you’re tracking for ideas on improving the success rate of your marketing funnel. You may be sending sales unqualified leads because your content is for a far more technically savvy audience while your ideal customer is a novice.
As you can probably imagine, this sort of thing is particularly frustrating if you’re selling an expensive product or service, but you can even see it happen with something as simple as deciding where to go for lunch. For example, if you’re hungry and in a hurry, you might pick the closest restaurant. But, if a friend asks where you’re going and says, “Oh, that’s where I got food poisoning last week”, there’s a good chance you’ll end up going somewhere else.
Hello Sunil.. thank you for your feedback, it’s great to hear that you are finding this article useful. Re your question: yes, it makes sense to follow-up as often as you need to to reach the decision-maker. At the early stage of cold calling / emailing / SMS you may have to follow-up 6-12 times with a combination of cold calls and cold emails before you get to kick-started with your prospective customer. Obviously if they unsubscribe or say no then you have to respect this. At later stages, non-response would indicate that your prospective customer no longer sees (or has doubts) about the potential value of the solution you are selling. After following-up 2 times at a later stage, I would make it easy for your prospect to voice their concerns by communicating something like: “I’m struggling to reach you, perhaps we could hop on a call for 5 minutes as I’d like to understand your current thoughts rather than assume you are no longer interested in progressing.”

Example: There are many Teachable instructors who do this on a regular basis to get more traffic to their sites. Especially those who maintain an offline side to their business. You can check out this super interesting discussion in our private instructor Facebook group, The Teachable Tribe, to learn more about how they are putting this into practice (if you are not a part of the group yet, you can just request to join to view the discussion.)    

Of course, implementing this isn't easy. You need to first develop your stories, then decide on how you're going to convey those stories and at what drip-rate. For example, your first email or two might go out on the day they first signup, then one email per day might go out afterwards. How much of that will be story-based and how much will be pitches?
Imagine this situation: you go into a shoe store and look at a pair of shoes that caught your eye. Immediately after you enter the store, a salesperson asks you if you’ll pay with cash or credit card. You haven’t tried the shoes on, you haven’t looked at the color options, you haven’t seen other shoes in the store, but this salesperson just keeps asking you for your payment information. Of course, you’ll end up leaving the store without purchasing anything. 
A task management tool allows you to create and assign new tasks while you’re in the leads, opportunity, and accounts sections of the CRM. You can document task details and schedule the tasks to be completed by specific dates. You can also view tasks in list mode and on a Kanban board that lays out the status of all your tasks. These tools help you visually see where you are and what you need to do to move prospects through the sales funnel.
Tradeshows are often most valuable, because you’re reaching people who are there specific to meet you. I recommend check out this article from Inc on great event marketing ideas. No matter how you set up your booth, I recommend running a giveaway to help you collect business cards. Your event staff can only talk to so many people at once. When the tradeshow floor gets really busy, having a box or bowl for people to drop their cards to win a prize is a great option, because in a busy environment, most people won’t wait.
If you’re running an accounting business, at this stage your customers would be evaluating different potential service providers. They might need resources like pricing guides (so they know what ballpark rates are), how to evaluate the landscape of accounting services (i.e. whether to hire a solo accountant, an agency, etc.), or how to choose an accountant.
Private communities: This is a great way to establish a closer and continuous channel of communication between yourself/your company and your leads, as well as allowing them to interact with each other. You can create private communities to start conversations, gather feedback, or share updates and news. By starting a community, you are committing to being active and monitoring it regularly for the medium/long term, which can be very time consuming in future—so keep that in mind if you decide to go with this tactic.  
As “State of Sales” finds, salespeople believe a combination of human skills and data-driven insights is needed to convert prospects into customers. In fact, the ability to listen is seen by 78% of those surveyed as an important attribute needed for landing deals. But sales reps also have to demonstrate industry knowledge (74%), trustworthiness (74%), and knowledge of prospects’ business needs (73%).
For example, in CRM tools, you can create cases from the cases section or from the contacts and opportunity sections of the CRM. You can also create cases from the global actions menu. Cases can be assigned and the details can be made accessible to the people who need to know about it and those actively working to resolve it. These features allow you to quickly handle issues so your customers are satisfied with your service.
Now, you don’t need a massive advertising budget or a product that targets a basic human need to use this approach. Whether its a paid search ad that addresses the main reason behind someone’s search or a paid social ad that connects your target audience’s need to what you sell, good Stage 2 marketing helps people connect the dots between their pain and your solution.
“Aligning marketing and sales during the sales funnel does more than just align the teams — it creates better business outcomes,” said Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce. His stance is validated by a SiriusDecisions study that found brands with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth. The three easiest ways to ensure marketing and sales alignment will succeed is a common language, co-created shared programs, and a policy to abide by a service level agreement.
Imagine this situation: you go into a shoe store and look at a pair of shoes that caught your eye. Immediately after you enter the store, a salesperson asks you if you’ll pay with cash or credit card. You haven’t tried the shoes on, you haven’t looked at the color options, you haven’t seen other shoes in the store, but this salesperson just keeps asking you for your payment information. Of course, you’ll end up leaving the store without purchasing anything. 
A lead is someone who becomes aware of your company or someone who you decide to pursue for a sale, even if they don’t know about your company yet.. Typically, this includes everyone in one big group, but you could also break this down further to only look at qualified leads, which are leads that meet certain qualifications to becoming customers. For example, if you’re selling pet products, a qualified lead is someone who has a pet, versus someone who simply likes the cute animal pictures on your blog, but will never buy anything from you.

For instance, in the Awareness phase of a sales funnel (the first stage), you’re focused on what your customer sees, hears, and feels as they are becoming aware of who you are. In the Prospecting phase, which is the first phase in pipeline stage, you’re focused on what the salesperson is doing to find qualified leads and to build awareness within their target markets.
Reviews are the second golden ticket for middle of the funnel digital marketing—92% of online consumers read them, and 88% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Here’s one probable explanation why: Consumers don’t trust advertising and marketing anymore, if they ever really did. Now, it’s no longer shut-your-eyes-and-hope-for-a-good-refund-policy—people can effectively shop based on others’ experiences (which is one reason customer service is so important).
You can do this all by caring. Reach out and ask for reviews. Engage with them on social media. Offer them an insider-only discount. Give them something for free on their birthday. Give them advice for free. There are literally hundreds of customer retention tactics out there—find the ones that best suit your products and business. One simple—and cost-effective—way to care is with personalization.
Direct email: Direct email works great if you have a list of people interested in your business. For example, people who attended one of your in-person workshops, a list of current customers, or a group/community you are a part of or manage. Important: Notice how we specify that these should be people you previously had contact with. We don’t recommend that you purchase email lists to do direct emailing as that can have a number of negative consequences for you and your business.  
Example: Angela Fehr, who teaches watercolor classes on her Teachable school, offers a wide variety of courses like landscaping, fluid painting, and creative painting. Angela created a comprehensive bundle of her individual courses. It’s called called “Watercolor University” and it includes a total of twelve courses, which she sells for a premium price.
At the start of this article, I talked about making customers, not finding them, but you can only make customers out of leads. Because your sales funnel only works if you put people in the top, let’s look at some tips to help you find more leads. Not everything will work for every business. Choose the methods that work best for you in terms of your available resources and what works for your audience.
There are also plenty of low-intent keywords that trigger ads in Google Search and this is an opportunity to increase awareness about your brand. Now, I would describe this as a fairly advanced PPC technique because you really need to have a mature paid search strategy (quality ads, landing pages, conversion rates, remarketing campaigns, etc.) and a solid lead nurturing system in place first.
Use website links that have embedded web analytic codes. You can do this through your website provider or with a free Google Analytics account. Make sure each strategy uses a different link, so you can track your most successful lead gathering strategies. Most web analytics programs will automatically mark down leads that come from major search engines.[3]
A sales funnel illustrates your customer’s journey and works by increasing the level of engagement and trust in each interaction with your prospects. It typically contains six stages, starting with awareness and ending with loyal customers, with each stage more intentional than the last. While not all prospects will reach the end of the funnel, those who do are actively engaged and therefore more serious about buying your product or service.
The cell phone theory comes from Duke University research on the human attention span. Basically,  we subliminally take in what’s around us even when we’re distracted with something else. Later, those subliminal surroundings appear to already be familiar. What this means is that people can remember your company simply by subliminally taking in the message from a display ad while they’re doing something else.
At Disruptive Advertising, the marketing funnel is a key part of how we approach every client’s marketing. Getting into specifics about which tactics work best under which conditions in which stages is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’d like help setting up your own marketing funnel, let me know here or in the comments. Or, for additional content, check out this blog post.
To better understand the concept of a sales funnel and just how you can implement it in your own business, let's look at the following image from Shutterstock. On the left side of the image, you see a magnet. That magnet is attracting customers, which happens a number of ways. From blogging to social media to paid ads and everything in between, how the visitors arrive to your website has some impact on the success of your funnel. 
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Now, you don’t need a massive advertising budget or a product that targets a basic human need to use this approach. Whether its a paid search ad that addresses the main reason behind someone’s search or a paid social ad that connects your target audience’s need to what you sell, good Stage 2 marketing helps people connect the dots between their pain and your solution.
For instance, in the Awareness phase of a sales funnel (the first stage), you’re focused on what your customer sees, hears, and feels as they are becoming aware of who you are. In the Prospecting phase, which is the first phase in pipeline stage, you’re focused on what the salesperson is doing to find qualified leads and to build awareness within their target markets.

To help you get started, we’ve created a sales funnel template you can use to create something that works for your business. It’s a PowerPoint document with prompts that you can customize based on the specific stages you feel are the best fit for your customers. This template will help you think of each stage in your customer’s journey and what should happen in each stage. It will also help you map out your own sales funnel stages unique to your business.


There’s a better solution: Build out an automated email follow-up campaign that speaks directly to this objection. Any time you encounter this problem, you can send that prospect information that seems designed just for them. A multi-month educational campaign may reduce their content anxiety and nurture them toward a sale. Yes, it’s work up front, but once finished, this campaign will work for you always.

For different types of businesses, buyer needs at the problem/need recognition stage – top of  the funnel (TOFU) – are different. If you’re running a consulting business, for example, then your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing) or disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting).
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