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One of the best tools in your digital marketing kit is an effective sales funnel that guides your prospects toward conversion.
95% of buyers choose to buy from businesses that provide them with an informative sales funnel to guide their purchase process.
We’re going to take an in-depth look at what a sales funnel is, the different stages within a sales funnel, and everything you’ll need to develop your own sales funnel.
A sales funnel or sales pipeline is the guided journey that your visitors take to become paying customers.
Sales funnels allow you to educate your potential customers about your product at each stage of the process, helping them make an informed purchase.
Understanding exactly what happens at each level of your funnel is essential because it tells you:
To really grasp what’s going on in your funnel and how to improve it, let’s break down the 3 different levels of the sales funnel process.
The top of the funnel (TOFU) is called the awareness or discovery stage, and this is where you make first contact with your audience.
They’re experiencing a problem and searching the web to learn more about it and how to identify it.
This is where they’ll first learn about your business, and because attention spans have shrunk to just 8 seconds, you need to make a powerful first impression.
Your goal at the top of the funnel is to turn as many site viewers into leads as possible.
Staying in contact with those leads is how you’ll continue to guide them towards an eventual purchase.
By the middle of the funnel (MOFU), there will be fewer people on this sales journey.
Those that remain are leads who fit your ideal customer persona and are actively looking for solutions to their problem.
This is where you can qualify your leads whilst establishing your authority in their problem’s niche.
Your goal in the middle of the funnel is to get your leads interested in your business and emphasize their desire to find a solution.
Creating content that answers their questions and empowers them with the ability to articulate their problem is where your focus should now be.
As the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) is reached, even fewer people will remain in your sales funnel.
Here, you present your product as the best solution for your qualified lead’s problem and explain why they should choose to do business with you over anyone else.
You’ll need to present your leads with your sales proposal and allow them to go through a process of negotiation and comparison with other possible solutions.
A successful sales funnel will win your lead’s business and convert them into loyal customers.
Now that you have a better idea of the journey people take within a sales funnel, what can you do to get them there?
The 4 sales funnel stages are easily remembered with the acronym AIDA:
Let’s examine each stage of the funnel and look at what content you can utilize to enhance them.
The different stages will show you how to approach your potential customers.
The first stage of a sales funnel is called the awareness stage and forms the beginning of your marketing and sales pipeline.
You’re giving your business the exposure it needs and getting people to discover it.
It isn’t a sales pitch, it’s about creating awareness around your product or service in ways that are valuable to your audience.
The most common way to reach your target audience is through social media.
It’s essential to have a social media presence because consumers tend to trust brands more when they have a following and good engagement.
There are several ways you can use social media to attract visitors:
The content you should be producing and publishing here can take the form of:
Make sure you produce relevant content, so when prospects search for an answer to their question, yours will show up.
Pay attention to the questions people are asking on Facebook groups and Reddit regarding your niche, and write articles that answer those questions.
Your goal in this sales funnel stage is to form a relationship with your prospects and aim to help them solve their problems.
This is also called the lead generation stage because one of your biggest aims is to gather the details of interested viewers.
Here are some places to focus on when you’re crafting the interest stage of your customer journey:
Usually, people won’t give you their contact information without getting something in return.
To convert site visitors and generate leads, you’ll need to present a lead magnet.
Offer them a free, yet valuable, item in exchange for their email address:
At this stage, leads have done their research, taken an interest in your brand, and are now considering making a purchase.
This is the stage where prospects drop off significantly, which is something you want to minimize if possible.
Since they’re still deciding, this is the time to reach out to them and show that your brand is the right one for them.
You can do this by using:
You’re going through the process of qualifying your leads based on their interests and behavior.
Find out if your business is a good fit for their needs, and show them that your product is right for them.
The final stage of the sales funnel is centered around turning qualified leads into customers.
You’ve got to nurture the relationship with your customers.
Give them time to adapt, but let them know you’re there to guide them.
You also want to keep your existing customers happy, and here are some suggestions on how to do that:
Now that you know the “how-tos” of your sales funnel, let’s get into “why” they’re a key element in your sales process.
A sales funnel acts as a kind of pathway that guides people through the buying process.
This pathway also guides you and your sales team by making it easy to unify your sales and marketing efforts.
Once you marry your marketing activities to your company’s sales model, the benefits to you and your customers are impressive.
Because your sales funnel illustrates how you turn viewers into leads and leads into customers, the sales process is simplified for everyone involved.
Here are the people who benefit from a well-defined sales funnel:
These people and groups of representatives get a load of value out of this one aspect of your online business.
When you set up your sales funnel, you should include a detailed list of questions and information your prospects will need at the different stages.
With that sales funnel script on hand, your salesperson knows exactly what your prospect needs, no matter which stages the prospect’s in when they reach out.
Your potential customer will never feel trapped in sales conversations that they're not ready for.
You can (and should) link your sales funnel to an email campaign as well.
Even when you’re not physically there, you can set it up to stay in contact with your audience and nurture your leads.
When you’ve had your sales funnel working for some time, you’ll be able to start streamlining your sales process.
The longer your sales funnel has been running, the more you and your sales team will be familiar with what it takes to keep your leads moving to the next stage.
Being able to answer queries and objections as soon as they come up will make your conversions swift and smooth.
Your customer engagement will be positive and create trusting relationships between you and your growing audience.
One way to convince your potential customer that your product is right for them is to get them into your sales funnel ASAP.
The longer your prospects are out there researching other ways to solve their problem, the less chance you have of converting them.
By introducing prospects to your sales funnel sooner, you’ll prevent them from looking elsewhere for their solution.
You’ll also show them that you’re trustworthy and an authoritative source of information regarding the issues they face — you may find they become repeat customers.
Having loads of leads in your funnel isn’t necessarily a good thing.
You or your sales reps might have your hands full with all those people who may not actually want or need what you have to offer.
Instead of that overflowing sales pipeline, you want more qualified leads who are on their way to the purchase phase.
A great sales funnel with a savvy marketing team helps you retarget leads based on their online behavior and then either keep them moving through the funnel or let them go if they’re not interested.
This way, you’ll only spend time and resources on qualified prospects and dismiss bad leads early.
To improve your sales process, you need to track your marketing and sales efforts.
When those elements are separate, it can be tricky to pin down how successful they are — that’s where your sales funnel comes in.
Sales pipeline builders often come with built-in management software that allows you to track your conversions and sales at every level.
Here are some performance markers to look at when you’re measuring your sales funnels’ success:
Once you have these values in front of you, it's easy to gauge where your sales and marketing teams are working well together.
It also clarifies what needs to be changed or rebuilt to optimize your conversions.
To really see how a sales funnel works, you need to get inside of one.
That’s why we’ve chosen a couple of examples of successful sales funnels for you to have a look at.
You’ll see how these sales teams guide prospects through the different sales pipeline stages.
Time to get some sales funnel inspiration!
Gaia is an online streaming platform where users can enjoy yoga classes on-demand, as well as meditation and other esoteric workshops.
Although its exact net worth is unknown, it’s one of the most successful alternative streaming companies with 202,000 members across 140 different countries.
The sales funnels built by Gaia’s sales team are efficient and well designed:
Gaia lead magnet and sign-up form
Gaia pricing plans
Because Gaia’s niche is pretty narrow, they ensure their success by making their platform available and compliant globally.
The sales process itself is a little longer than it should be (sign-up is a 3-5 step process), but they do give away a ton of value for free.
Their sales funnel is also fully integrated with their email marketing, so their leads never feel like they’re left out of the loop.
This is a tactic that all sales funnel builders should implement!
Netflix is a popular online video streaming service that eliminates commercials.
By paying a monthly subscription fee, users can stream or download films and tv series to a Smart TV or device.
Part of their success is down to their easy-to-navigate website and sales funnel stages:
Netflix adverts on Facebook
Netflix payment plans
While they used to offer a 30-day free trial, they no longer need to because their brand is now a household name.
Netflix also emphasizes their security, so their audience trusts them more readily with their data.
Their sales funnel management software keeps their pages running, even when the service itself is experiencing some downtime.
There are definitely some strategies here that you can use in your own sales funnel.
We suggest you keep your UX as simple as possible, safeguard your leads’ data, and promise a powerful guarantee when you make your offer.
A well-defined sales funnel helps you improve your entire sales process.
You need to conduct competitive research to see how other businesses have built out their sales funnels in your niche to achieve this.
By combining the best elements of your competitors’ sales pipelines, you’ll give yourself an edge over them as soon as you enter the market.
When you get started with building your own sales funnel, there’s a standard process you should follow:
1. Map a future customer’s purchase process — At which points are they faced with sales decisions? Where do those points align with your own company’s sales cycle?
2. Get a second opinion — Ask a sales rep, marketing team, or colleague to take a look at your plan and point out any weak spots
3. Review the process — Especially if you work with several sales reps who need to understand the goals in your own sales funnel stages and how you’ll measure success
4. Revisit your sales pipeline — After a couple of months, you should rework, remove, or redo any elements so that your sales funnel continues to evolve and improve
Preplanning the journey for your customers means doing a lot of research upfront.
Here are a few of the resources you need to develop to give your sales funnels the best chance at success right from the start:
These resources are also incredibly useful if you’re seeking outside investment in your company.
As a new business, you may not yet have tangible results to show them, but your resources and planning can give them an idea of your predicted sales performance.
While having some prospects drop off of your sales funnel is part of the funneling process, what happens if you lose too many?
There are a few clear indicators that your funnel has sprung a serious leak:
While these markers might strike fear into your sales and marketing teams, there are things you can do to find and patch up the holes.
When fixing a leaky funnel, the first step is to go through your sales funnel from start to finish.
Remember that plan you set up when defining your sales funnel? Well, now you’re going to revisit it and look at any spots where your user experience (UX) can be simplified.
Step 2 is to find out how long it takes for your sales team to respond to your leads.
1 hour or less is widely accepted as a good lead response time — the quicker you reply, the more likely those leads are to convert.
The next place to look for holes in your sales and marketing approach is with your disqualified leads.
These are leads that drop off of your sales funnel because something in your messaging is missing for them, even though they fit your buyer persona.
Retargeting those leads or developing a separate marketing funnel that’s better for them can help you plug a gap in your current marketing strategy.
An even better way to catch and correct any issues with your sales funnel is to build your funnels with powerful, all-inclusive software.
Simply put, it’s the easiest way to create an entire sales funnel, especially if you’re just getting started.
Using sales funnel software is also the best way to keep track of your sales.
Managing all these features in one place gives you a complete picture of your sales and marketing journey.
Besides sales funnel management, you can do the following:
We’ve also thrown in lead management software, so you can host and tag your contacts all on one powerful platform.
The pricing of this software is inexpensive yet inclusive of everything you need.
For $0/month, you’ll have access to:
Want to build even more funnels and scale your business?
Just choose from one of our 3 standard payment options: the Startup plan, Webinar plan, or Enterprise plan, and watch your business grow.
systeme.io pricing plans
If you’re after something a little more specific, you can contact our sales team, and they’ll create a custom pricing plan that’s perfect for you.
Commit now to one of our annual payment plans, and receive 30% off plus free migration!
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Building the perfect sales funnel isn’t difficult when you’re armed with the right information and tools.
Make sure you know what your future customer expects at every stage of your funnel, and take your time to plot your sales and marketing strategies.
After a Google search on your competition, thorough planning, and the right platform by your side, your sales pipeline can only succeed.
Streamline your sales activities, and build your first funnel for free with systeme.io today!
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