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.
One quick word of caution, though. With every piece of content you create for every stage of your funnel, you’re generating data. Though all of it is useful to your sales process in some way, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and metrics tracking instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will actually give you the information needed to make meaningful improvements.

Customers move on to Stage 5 when the sale is complete. Molly should brainstorm the kinds of information these customers will need, as well as how she’ll provide it as part of a cohesive onboarding process. Though she doesn’t need to worry about customers finding her at this stage or moving on to the next one, it’s still important to meet their needs so that they walk away feeling good about their purchase decisions!
Here’s an example: To create your prospect experience in the Awareness stage, think about and articulate what you will do or say to your prospects when you first meet them. Then think about how your interaction will make them feel. Consider your prospect and their needs as you’re doing this. Then, document your actions and your prospect’s experience for this stage. Repeat this throughout the entire sales funnel.
Content that introduces the company and intrigues potential customers enough to move to the next stage of the buying process. For example, a Facebook post called “Behind the Scenes at Molly Marketer’s Company. This works especially well if you have a company with a corporate citizenship mission, such as selling sustainable, environmentally friendly goods.
Beyond terms and process, one of the best ways brands can align both sales and marketing is through shared programs such as account-based marketing (ABM) and lead nurturing. In 2018, Salesforce Research found high-performing marketing organizations to be 1.5x more likely to use ABM methods, and 1.9x more likely to use lead nurturing than underperforming marketing organizations. They are “shared programs” since both marketing and sales should work together to create them. Marketing handles the technology and setup while sales pick the targets and help create the content. Sharing in the creation of the programs allows sales to feel ownership of the programs, increasing their use and overall effectiveness.
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.
Social media: Social media platforms are great marketing channels for the top of the funnel. Social media users spend a lot of time in them and usually spend a good amount of that time consuming content shared by other people. When it comes to getting non-paid traffic from social media channels there are two main ways to do it: you can grow your own social media audience and share your content with your followers, or you can participate and contribute to already existing communities.
While your sales funnel “ends” when someone makes a purchase, there’s another level outside of the sales funnel. Actually, there are two levels, working simultaneously: loyal fan and repeat customer. First, someone can become a loyal fan. They may or may not make a purchase again (for example, someone who purchases a home from your may not make a purchase again for a long time), but they tell others about your company and encourage them to make a purchase. This is extremely important to finding more leads for the “awareness” part of your sales funnel. Word of mouth is powerful.
If you're wondering what a sales funnel is, simply imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of that funnel, some substance is poured in, which filters down towards one finite destination. In sales, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will reemerge out from the other end. 
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.
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.
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.
When these would-be buyers become interested enough in her products, they request an online demonstration by filling out the form on her landing pages. These requests are routed directly to her salespeople, who, because they’re dealing with warm leads, close roughly 50% of the customers to whom they demo. Molly’s company closes more sales than Norman’s, with fewer salespeople and no time spent on cold calling.
First, try some cold calling. We’ve all gotten those dreaded calls from telemarketers, and while the number of hang-ups sales reps get is enough to make some people quit, this does still work. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t be doing it. The key to success with cold calling is to make sure you have a list of qualified leads. If you’re selling a product for men, for example, make sure your list is primarily male.
Data insights are again the key to funnel optimization. Three other data-driven technologies follow analytics and sales reporting as the most popular sales tools: account and contact management (65%), sales forecasting tools (56%), and customer relationship management (CRM) systems (58%). The latter is a particularly crucial tool for optimization, enabling your business to organize all customer-related data in a central location.

Remarketing: This is a bit of an advanced paid advertising tactic and it has a learning curve. With remarketing, you target people who have visited your site and send ads to them on other platforms like Google or Facebook. Have you ever noticed that when you check out a shirt on Amazon, that shirt suddenly starts following you around the internet? That’s remarketing at work. With a solid remarketing strategy, you can even target visitors of specific pages on your site—like people who visited the sales page for product A and not product B—and send hyper-targeted ads.  
Sales and marketing teams need to adapt to these increasing demands. They have to work more closely together. While the marketing team still hands leads to the sales team at a point in the funnel, they have to stay involved to maximize customer retention and advocacy. The sales team needs to be involved early on, providing the benefits of their customer knowledge to help increase qualified leads and conversions.
A sales funnel reflects the prospect’s journey or path that takes them from awareness to becoming a customer. It encompasses actions you take to create this journey or experience. The sales pipeline, on the other hand, is the specific stages that a deal or opportunity moves through in your sales process from the salesperson’s perspective. See our article on the eight sales pipeline stages every sales team should have.

How to get started: The easiest way to start a community is to leverage tools that are already built for this purpose. Our preferred one for its simplicity is a closed Facebook Group. When you’re just starting your group, it’s important for you to define some basic guidelines for participation and interactions within your group, this will tell you what’s acceptable and what isn’t within your group. You can join Teachable’s Facebook group, The Teachable Tribe, to check out how we did this.

Your sales funnel is healthy if you have enough prospects going through it. If you’re moving enough prospects through the funnel with the experiences and interactions you create, and if you are able to profitably convert enough prospects into paying customers, your sales funnel is healthy. See our article on Sales Metrics—17 Reports That Improve Your Sales Pipeline Performance to help measure your funnel’s health.
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.
He is the co-founder of NP Digital and Subscribers. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
The truth? People are smart. They're not simply going to buy anything from anyone unless they feel there's an immense amount of value to be had there. Thus, your funnel needs to built that value and bake it in through a variety of means. But most importantly, you have to create a strong bond with your prospect, and that happens by being relatable, honest and transparent in your email warming sequence.
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?

You want to capture leads at every stage of the sales funnel and target them with messages that reflect their state of mind. To do this, you need to assign user actions to each stage of your marketing funnel. For example, a first-time visitor on your site will fit into the “awareness” category while someone who has repeatedly visited the same product page probably fits in the “consideration” stage.


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.
While your sales funnel “ends” when someone makes a purchase, there’s another level outside of the sales funnel. Actually, there are two levels, working simultaneously: loyal fan and repeat customer. First, someone can become a loyal fan. They may or may not make a purchase again (for example, someone who purchases a home from your may not make a purchase again for a long time), but they tell others about your company and encourage them to make a purchase. This is extremely important to finding more leads for the “awareness” part of your sales funnel. Word of mouth is powerful.
Nobody goes to page two, or on page three. If your website isn’t ranking on page one, you may as well be obsolete. What I recommend to target this audience is that you answer absolutely every question a potential customer might ask in the form of blogs, research papers, and features on your website. Make sure you optimize each piece of content for mobile SEO.
Time in stage – In an ideal world, your marketing content would be so compelling that people move from the top stage to the bottom stage in a single day. But since that’s rarely the case, it’s worthwhile to know if your prospects are getting hung up in one of your stages. If so, you’ll want to add more content to your site that answers the questions that are unique to this stage of the funnel.
Once the prospective customer is made aware of the product, it’s the duty of a marketer to nurture the lead by arousing his interest in buying the product and make him consider it over other products. This involves marketer to tap several other channels, improve its public relation strategies, and include affiliates and partners who promote the product.
However, say the customer is evaluating marketing automation programs to help improve the sales funnel they created. Because these programs can require investments of $1,500 a month, they’re likely to undergo a much more careful and thorough evaluation process. They might request free trials of the different systems they’re considering, have online demonstrations with each company’s representatives or view training videos to get a feel for how each system will perform.
×