Awareness: Awareness is the uppermost stage of the marketing funnel. Potential customers are drawn into this stage through marketing campaigns and consumer research and discovery. Trust and thought leadership is established with events, advertising, trade shows, content (blog posts, infographics, etc.), webinars, direct mail, viral campaigns, social media, search, media mentions, and more. Here, lead generation takes place, as information is collected and leads are pulled into a lead management system for nurturing further down the funnel.

As a side note, while getting negative feedback rarely feels good, I want to encourage you to view feedback the way I do: as a priceless opportunity to improve and grow your business. Complaints and criticisms give you important signals that you need to make changes or else risk losing business from frustrated customers. Read this article to learn more: What Should You Do When People Complain About Your Product or Service?
Setting up your sales funnel is the key to creating powerful prospect experiences. It is important that you map them out ahead of time to ensure your sales process is in alignment with the customer’s journey. CRM software set up to mirror your funnel activities can then help you manage and stay focused on the most important tasks during each stage in the process.
Let’s say that instead of just sending one email to your entire list, you instead separate them into lists based on the type of pizza they buy most often: Plain Cheese, Pepperoni, Everything, Specialty, or something else. Everyone in the “something else” pile can get the generic discount, but send people on the other lists special emails. For example, if you send a coupon for a one-topping pizza to the people who prefer plain cheese or everything pizzas, you won’t make a huge impact. That isn’t what they normally order. But send it to the pepperoni lovers and watch the orders roll in! Customize the discount you’re offering to make it relevant to what people order.
Sales funnels are important so that you stay focused on carrying out the right sales activities at the right time in the prospect relationship. If you’re in the Awareness phase, you are engaging in prospecting or lead generation activities. If you’re in the Evaluation phase, you are sending your customers quotes or proposals so they can evaluate their options and ultimately make a purchase. They serve as reminders of what needs to be done and when.

Or, in some businesses, there’s only one thing to purchase–you just have to do so often. For example, let’s say you own a dairy farm and sell milk at the farmer’s market every week. Your regular customers buy the same two gallons of milk every week. You can’t move them farther down a sales funnel to buy something more, because that’s all you have–milk.

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.
The intent stage is a ringing bell for a possible conversion. The evaluation stage is the final stage before the purchase decision. This stage involves the customer to evaluate the product, price, and offer provided by the brand and makes his decision upon them. The sales team is more involved than the marketing team in this stage of the marketing funnel.
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.

The repeat customer is even better, since they are actually making another purchase. They may need no help from you to make this purchase, or they make be shuffled back into the sales process again, where you need to educate, allow for evaluation, engage, and push a commitment. Once again, this depends on the specifics of your industry. We’ll go over more information about repeat customers before the end of this article.


Hello Mark, I absolutely loved this article. It’s very thorough. I wanted to ask in Step 3 that is “Defining the Criteria for Each Stage” in each sub-step if the customer is not responding to sales call we are sending them back to the previous sub-step. In between each sub-step, can we put one more stage where we are approaching the customer one more time through Email or SMS where in we give them a last chance to move forward and if they don’t reply to it, then we put them back in the previous sub-step?
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.
Molly might conclude that anybody who fills out her online demonstration request form is an MQL.  Another company might set the bar to MQL qualification at something involving a combination of viewing specific pages, interacting with certain forms, and opening a certain number of email messages. For that kind of analysis, we recommend marketing automation software.
The repeat customer is even better, since they are actually making another purchase. They may need no help from you to make this purchase, or they make be shuffled back into the sales process again, where you need to educate, allow for evaluation, engage, and push a commitment. Once again, this depends on the specifics of your industry. We’ll go over more information about repeat customers before the end of this article.

Suppose your furnace goes out in the middle of winter. Your problem is obvious: you need a new furnace. And the solution is easy — you need to call HVAC providers in your area for quotes. But say you need a new car. Should you look for an SUV, a compact car or a mid-size sedan? Even vaguer still, if you’re frustrated with how much your accountant is charging you to do your business’ taxes, you might not even be familiar with all the different solutions, like cloud-based accounting services.
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.
Congrats! Someone has committed to buying your product! Some people combine this with the next step, “purchase,” but depending on your industry, this could be a different step entirely. Sometime people make a verbal commitment to buy, but then walk away and never come back to make a purchase. Once someone leaves, there’s a very good change that they’ll never be back. So, if someone says they intend to buy, it is your job to get that money right away. Don’t let them go talk to a spouse. Don’t let them come back next week. Do what you can to make the sale now.

In fact, more than 80 percent of people look for recommendations before purchasing a product, according to research by Business 2 Community. And Nielsen reports that 84% of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over marketing campaigns. That makes personal referrals the highest ranked source for trustworthiness when it comes to making a purchase.  
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