Sales Funnels: The Complete Guide To Building One In 2023!

Madhurima Chatterjee

Every marketer's dream is converting your leads into paying customers in a single step. In reality, however, sales is like getting a cat to like you. You have to wait for them to approach you, entice them with milk (or other treats), and let them get comfortable—until they finally allow you to pet them. 

Similarly, in sales, you have to gradually warm up your cold leads by educating them about the problems they might be facing, then strategically positioning your product or service as the best solution. You must consistently nurture them until they are ready to share their hard-earned money and invest it in your offer.

With a proven-to-success formula, the process could be smooth. Sales funnels outline stages leading the customer through awareness, consideration, and purchasing your product or service. To stay ahead of your competitors, you need the plan to convert your leads into customers quickly, seamlessly, and, most importantly, consistently.

But what is a sales funnel? What are its benefits? What are the stages involved? And do sales funnels work?

In this blog, I will discuss all this and more. The primary objective here is to educate you about sales funnels and how to create one fast and easily for yourself.

Let’s get started.  

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a marketing phrase describing and capturing the potential route consumers take from prospecting to purchasing. A sales funnel comprises various processes, the number of which varies depending on the sales model of each organization.

Companies that use well-designed sales funnels with no gaps can guide potential clients through purchasing to close sales deals. On the other hand, those with significant gaps will result in potential clients staying in the sales process before you can make paying customers out of them. Depending on where the weak link is, you may have to optimize efforts for desired results.

A sales funnel begins at the top with many prospective buyers. This pool of potential customers is narrowed down to fewer prospects based on certain criteria. The number of prospects falls to a handful of opportunities near the middle of the customer journey, and the sales process concludes with a closed-won or closed-lost agreement, with only one or two of them.     

Sales funnel process

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Why is a sales funnel important?

You can implement marketing and sales automation tools to ensure no holes in your sales process. Making sure your leads are monitored and nurtured throughout their customer journey at every stage of your sales funnel can convert near-misses into successful hits regarding client acquisition.

A sales funnel can assist you in understanding what potential consumers have going on in their heads at each stage of the purchasing process. This data can enable you to invest in the most appropriate marketing activities and channels, develop the most relevant content at each level and convert more prospects into paying customers.

Here are the problems sales funnels can solve for the marketing and sales verticals at a company:

  • It gives them a clear view of the path from making target consumers aware of the brand to selling them the products or services as premium quality solutions
  • Enables sales teams to build a plan based on data about the size and value of current sales deals to close quota requirements
  • It helps develop methods for teaching salespeople how to move consumers through a logical sales process and into a closing sequence to maximize a sale rep’s productivity and cost per lead.  

Benefits of a sales funnel

Here are the five benefits you can gain for your business using a sales funnel:

1. Establish communication and foster relationships with your potential customers

A well-crafted sales funnel enables marketers to comprehend the customer's purchasing journey and anticipate their questions and concerns at various stages. These insights can generate and send customer-relevant and timely marketing communications.

When customers say “no” to purchasing, it doesn’t mean it is a “no” forever. Maintaining communication with potential buyers through multiple contact points over an extended time period can drastically increase conversions. Thus, it is advisable to foster relationships with potential customers through regular communication.

2. Align marketing and sales to drive client acquisition holistically

The first step in the sales funnel is educating a potential customer about the value your product or service can provide. A marketer instead of a salesperson can quickly do this. A sales funnel helps segregate the responsibilities under a client acquisition strategy between the marketing and sales teams and ensures that all bases are covered.

A sales funnel helps you stay focused on what has to happen to attract leads and convert them into sales. It's not about simply making your marketing and sales processes easier; it is about making them more effective. You'll also account for a lesser number of missed opportunities.

3. Attract new leads 

A sales funnel utilizing the power of good content will inevitably help you acquire more leads to stuff down your pipeline. 

Good content for your business depends on the kind of industry you belong to, as well as the type of leads you want to attract.

Your content should be helpful to your target audience and address a topic or problem they are experiencing. This may be a downloadable ebook, an online quiz, an in-depth blog about a common industry pain point, or something else.

The objective is to capture everyone's email address when delivering the desired content. As a result, these prospects are now in your funnel, ready for you to nurture and convert.

Below is an illustration of the different kinds of content that should be created for a sales funnel's top, middle, and bottom stages.

Different kinds of content created for a sales funnel's top, middle, and bottom stages

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Now, let’s learn all about the stages of a sales funnel. 

Stages in a sales funnel

Prospects move through different sales funnel stages, from learning about your product or service until they make a purchase (or don't). The journey through your funnel may differ from prospect to prospect, but in the end, they'll evaluate it depending on their level of interest. 

They will consider the problem they are attempting to solve and undertake competitive research to ensure that your offering is the best solution.

In a basic sales funnel, there are six main stages, as illustrated below:

Stages in a sales funnel

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Let’s explore each stage in detail.

1. Awareness

The "awareness" level is the initial step of the sales funnel because it is where consumers first become aware of your product or service. They may hear about you through advertising, social media, or word of mouth.

How and why those consumers go down the sales funnel depends on your own sales and marketing abilities. Leads in the intermediate and lower sales funnel stages deserve special attention since they have progressed from awareness to interest.

A prospect learning about your company’s products or services for the first time is an example of the awareness stage. Perhaps they saw one of your ads on Google search, read your blog, found your website through a SERP, or overheard an acquaintance discussing your product or service.

2. Discovery

When prospects reach the sales funnel's interest stage, they research, compare prices against their competitors, and consider their options. This is the opportunity to educate them with your stellar content material that benefits them but has yet to sell to them.

If you push your product or service from the start, you will turn off prospects and drive them away. The idea is to establish your knowledge, assist the buyer in making an informed decision, and offer to assist them in any way you can.

If you create customer-centric content, the prospect will read more, check your social media feeds, and browse your website. They will almost certainly conduct the same investigation with other viable options.

3. Intent

Prospects in the intent stage are more aware of the pain points that encumber them and will certainly invest in a solution like yours. 

In this stage, the potential customer establishes contact with your sales team and tries to see if your offer provides them with all-encompassing benefits. They are open to discussing their needs and figuring out a budget match. This is the stage where proposals are exchanged, terms are up for negotiation, and your sales team must overcome all objections with actionable solutions. 

4. Evaluation

This is the ultimate test for your offer—surpassing which, you will acquire a new customer. In this stage, the buyer examines the options they have narrowed it down to, including your solution.

They conduct further research, comparing features, pricing, and customer service delivered to them by each contending company. Here, referrals and word-of-mouth marketing can be essential in determining which solution they invest in. You can help sway the prospect by offering bonuses, discounts, or free shipping at this stage.

5. Purchase

The deal is done—you have won the battle. The prospect officially agrees to invest in your product or service, and they become a part of your business ecosystem.

However, the war isn’t over. To ensure that the customer continues using your solution to its best potential and achieves their desired results, deploy a well-designed onboarding process. This can be a necessary follow-up after purchase and significantly reduce client attrition.

6. Loyalty

As mentioned above, closing a sales deal creates a new relationship between your company and your customer. There are possibilities to add value, create loyalty, upsell, cross-sell, acquire referrals, and more. Continued marketing to your customers increases the chances of another sale or contract renewal, not to mention improving your organization's customer lifetime value (CLV).

You can ensure customers are loyal to your brand and make them advocates and evangelists by updating your solutions with market standards and delivering excellent customer service.

How to create a sales funnel fast

To create a sales funnel, you must first gather prospects who can move through it. Once you possess those prospects, you can track their activity and engagement to determine where they are in the funnel.

Here are seven steps to creating a sales funnel fast:

  1. Understand common consumer pain points

A good sales funnel is based on thoroughly understanding your existing consumers. The more consumer information you collect and analyze, your sales funnel will be more effective. Customer data may be gathered by actively connecting with your customers and recording their interactions with your digital and physical presence. \

Using this data, you may identify lookalike audiences and send out the appropriate messaging immediately to attract more prospects, and this can also lead you to create more enticing offers.

For example, if your ideal customer’s pain points include—

  • Being unable to manage multiple projects and do not have a dashboard to lend them a bird’s eye view of all assignments at once;
  • Lack of productivity and a lot of back and forth between task assignees about specific sub-tasks owing to a disorganized approach; or
  • Lagging behind on communication owing to little collaboration between key stakeholders leading to missed deadlines

 …you could implement a project management tool such as ClickUp or Asana to ensure your business and its individuals can stick to their projects' schedules, deadlines, and deliveries without missing a beat and incurring any additional costs.

  1. Define your business strategy

Your business goals will be unique to you, meaning you cannot copy a competitor’s strategy to register more sales.

Your business strategy may have milestones like higher quality leads, increased product demos or e-newsletter sign-ups, or more purchases. These goals allow you to specify what you want from each stage of your funnel, which is crucial for determining whether or not it is effective.

For example, if your business aims to secure more lead form submissions, you must create simplistic lead forms that lead to easy conversions. 

In such a scenario, form builders like HubSpot’s Free Online Form Builder or PopupSmart can be useful. Most of these tools don’t require technical expertise for automation, and you can create forms for lead capture quickly and easily.

  1. Capture the attention of your target audience

Your audience may constantly be distracted by the number of competing companies vying for their attention. However, you must catch their attention (and retain it!) across online and offline platforms to get them into your sales funnel. 

You can use captivating content that educates and informs prospects, convinces them that their needs are recognized and will be met, and entices them to request more information. 

Both organic (non-paid social media postings, blog articles, email newsletters, SEO) and paid content  (social media advertising, targeted keywords, influencer content) can catch your audience's attention. You must find ways to align this content and related marketing efforts with your target audience's interests and needs.

One great example of this is HubSpot which offers a plethora of content about everything about marketing, sales, websites, and much more. They have created dedicated sections for blogs, newsletters, videos, and podcasts, with the help of niche subject matter experts. This has resulted in HubSpot establishing itself as the industry authority in content marketing. 

Moreover, its Instagram and LinkedIn handle continuously churn out content backlinking to its website, thus, strategically pulling in clients through social media advertising. 

  1. Build a landing page with a preliminary offer

Your content should point your prospects in the direction of one thing in particular—which, in this case, can be a landing page. This is your opportunity to make a first impression. 

An excellent landing page explains your company's name, services, and requirements. You should curate your landing page, keeping in mind the single offer you plan to push. You can create different landing pages for different offers. Landing pages can be used to tempt visitors with a freebie and collect contact information. Most importantly, landing pages should include a call-to-action that directs the prospect further down the sales funnel.

If your goal is to increase purchases, guiding your potential customers to a well-crafted landing page is the way forward. No, you don’t need to code them for perfection—you can simply use landing page builder tools to create high-conversion landing pages in minutes! You can check out this article to get an idea about the industry's best landing page builder tools that you can try out for your business this year.

  1. Qualify the leads you acquire through the landing page

The leads you gather may not all suit your business requirements. Some may express interest but don't have an urgent need or the proper budget to become a paying customer for your organization—and vice versa. A prospect, for example, may join up for your e-newsletter but may not be your ideal customer profile. 

You will need to define a qualified lead and follow up with only those who satisfy your requirements.

For this purpose, you need professional help—someone to qualify and score each individual lead before processing it for ongoing nurturing efforts. Or you could employ a lead qualification and distribution software. You can check this article for the top 10 lead distribution tools to try out for your business in 2023!

  1. Nurture qualified leads with email-drip campaigns

After collecting email addresses from your leads and qualifying them, the next step is to keep them engaged with a compelling email campaign. A successful email marketing campaign begins by enlightening and educating leads, intending to assist them in understanding how your products and services may suit their needs. 

Once they have sufficient information about your brand, you should provide offers to your leads that compel them to become paying customers. You must never hammer your prospects with crass product pitches. Instead, motivating them to become customers can make a world of difference.

One good example is an email drip campaign from Bonsai that shows a rather aggressive nurture flow to call in more freelancers to use Bonsai to manage their businesses. Using strong subject lines, smack-in-the-face CTAs, and powerful offers placed in the headers, Bonsai makes a great effort to show potential customers why it is the best solution for them. The email lists are also clearly segmented based on functionality and legibility, marking a winning email drip campaign for this SaaS company. 

Bonsai Email drip campaign

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  1. Close the deal (or keep following up!)

At this step, the lead has either become a customer or decided not to make the transaction at this point in the funnel. In either instance, it is critical to maintain open lines of communication. Customers require a shift in focus from acquisition to retention and loyalty. 

You must return to your nurturing plan and reach out to individuals who only converted for a few months. While they may not convert now, this could alter in the future. 

In the case of acquired customers, you want them to return for more after they have paid for and enjoyed your products and services. Recurring communication will keep them interested. You can thank them for their purchase and encourage them to return with promotional (new launch offers) or educational (further product information) efforts.

One way to ensure an excellent continuing customer experience is introducing an onboarding email sequence into your sales funnel. does this well through a series of 8 emails sent during their 14-day free trial. Here are the stages:

  • Day 1: Authentication, Introducing the Building Block, Bookmark
  • Day 2: Use Case
  • Day 4: Value-Adding Content
  • Day 9: Discount
  • Day 13: CTA
  • Day 14: Final CTA
  • Day 24: Winback 
  • Day 34: Winback
  • Day 39: Winback
  • Day 54: Final Winback

The persistence at the end is commendable and can help your business reduce churn and gain back your customer’s interest in your product or service.

Your sales funnel can bring a dynamic transformation to your business, and you should feel free to adjust it in response to market and product developments. The main thing is establishing a sales funnel that effectively gathers many prospects and narrows them down to a smaller pool of loyal clients.

Convert leads into sales—using RevenueHero!

The sales funnel stage needs proactive communication between the salesperson and the client. How else can you determine whether the potential customer is qualified to invest in your product or service? A SaaS platform like RevenueHero can help you!

Suppose you want to increase your form-fill to demo conversion ratio. In that case, you should check out RevenueHero, an instant demo meeting booking software that can qualify and distribute all the leads in your CRM.

Using RevenueHero, you can do the following:

  • Automate everything from extracting data out of the forms filled to hosting the meetings;
  • Build segment or territory-based pods to route leads to appropriate sales reps;
  • Convert more form-fills into meetings to advance lead nurturing initiatives; and,
  • Qualify, route & schedule from any web form, whether on your website or social media.

RevenueHero aids you in visualizing your funnel activity and outcomes. You can effectively track how well you're progressing toward your conversion goals and keep your team updated on anomalies. The leads are also prioritized based on their revenue-making capacities, ensuring that your company registers profits to scale.

Here are some more features of this lead qualification and distribution tool:

  • Enables meeting scheduling in a round-robin fashion to automatically distribute them across the sales team and instantly create unique distribution logic.

  • Allows CRM sync so that the outcome of each meeting is registered in the CRM. This ensures that sales reps don’t chase unqualified leads and extract maximum sales from the funnel by simply checking in with the CRM.

  • Automates meeting workflows to enhance your meeting attendance rates and sends automated reminders and notifications with full context at each sales funnel stage.

Want to learn more about this platform? Schedule a demo TODAY!

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