Sales funnel creation is vital in building and growing a customer base. Learn what a sales funnel is and how to create one.
The vast majority of businesses rely on repeat customers to achieve growth and stability. But how do they reach those customers and keep them coming back for more? On the surface, the answer is pretty simple: Companies who want to reach new audiences and then turn those people into repeat customers use a sales funnel.
If you’re new to marketing, that term might leave you with more questions than answers. But we’re here to help. This step-by-step guide to sales funnel creation will help you understand what a sales funnel is, how it can help a business, and how it works to grow and nurture a client base.
What is a sales funnel? 🤔
As the name suggests, a sales funnel begins with a vast, diverse array of potential customers (prospects). As the funnel narrows, the prospects move through a series of steps with the goal of reaching the bottom of the funnel. In other words, they’re “funneled” from where they started (unfamiliar with the business) into a repeat customer base.
The exact steps within the funnel look may vary depending on the business and industry. But every customer journey has the same goal from top to bottom: draw in new customers, retain them, and grow the business.
Why are sales funnels important? 🙌
First and foremost, sales funnels drive customers to an end goal that usually involves a financial transaction that benefits the company. Ensuring a customer follows the four stages of a sales funnel (we’ll break it down below) brings capital into a business.
Sales funnels also help small businesses and independent growth marketers understand how their customers think. Sales funnel functions allow marketers to adapt to new trends and recognize places where engagement is dropping off or increasing. Attention to these trends is a crucial part of brand and business building.
Understanding the 4 stages of a sales funnel 🍀
While a sales funnel can be adapted and changed to bring in more customers or attend to the specific needs of a business, funnel building usually includes these four stages:
- Awareness. The goal of the awareness stage is to get the attention of prospects — customers who aren’t customers yet. This could mean getting the word out about a new product or a newly designed website. Anything that encourages potential customers to begin the buyer’s journey is essential to building awareness.
- Interest. By this point, prospects know your company exists and have at least a basic understanding of the business’s products or services. Now you can use strategies like content creation to further build their interest in your brand. At this stage of the sales funnel, you’re still not actively trying to sell, focusing instead on educating prospects and earning their trust.
- Decision. Once you’ve established awareness and interest, a prospect will decide whether or not to follow the funnel and make a purchase. At this point, a business might share valuable content, such as webinars, along with information about pricing, incentives, and packages to sway the prospect into becoming a paying customer.
- Action. Once the prospect has decided to either buy or not buy, they’ve reached the narrowest point of the sales funnel: the action stage. The percentage of people who move from the awareness stage to paying customers is called conversion rate — and you’ll know you have an effective sales funnel if your conversion rate is high.
A good sales funnel strategy doesn’t just turn prospects into customers. It creates loyal customers who continue spending money with the company. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t always work — you can’t appeal to everyone all of the time. Solid market research and targeting demographics will ensure the energy you’re putting into your sales funnel pays off.
How to build a sales funnel in 7 steps 🔨
Now that you have a basic understanding of what a sales funnel is and how it benefits businesses, let’s look at how to build a sales funnel into the marketing strategy for your business.
- Make a landing page. Drawing attention is a challenging step at the top of the funnel. Once you’ve done so, maintaining that attention is crucial. Interesting landing pages or social media accounts can spur interest, demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism, and encourage customers to follow the funnel.
- Offer something valuable. The end product should be the business's most valuable offering, but you might offer a free e-book or another asset with added value. In exchange, the prospect adds their name to your mailing list. Now you've converted a nameless visitor into a contact who you can keep informed of sales, product updates, and other developments that might help turn them into customers.
- Nurture prospects. The sales funnel can be a slow process, so engaging with interested prospects who may still be unsure if your product is the right fit is important. Businesses with email lists or social media sites should provide new content regularly to avoid losing the interest and attention of potential customers.
- Close the deal. Now that you’ve built awareness and nurtured interest, it’s time to seal the deal. This is a good time to offer a free trial, discount, or add-on that will appeal to your customer, show them that you value their business, and bring them back the next time they require your expertise.
- Keep the process going. The sale isn’t the end of the sales funnel. It might be better to think of it as a sales cycle. Customer retention doesn’t end with their decision to purchase a product. Follow-up email marketing or content marketing with satisfied customers ensures that your business or brand is never far from their thoughts and that you’re the first choice when someone needs your skills.
- Optimize your sales funnel. Use metrics to determine how your marketing efforts are paying off. As a business grows, the sales funnel may change focus. If a particular call-to-action doesn't impact the bottom line, modify it. Keep learning how your target audience navigates your existing funnel and implement ways to make it easier.
- Ask for recommendations. Asking repeat customers for recommendations or reviews helps convince prospects that there’s something to pay attention to in your brand or business. Highlighting testimonials on a landing page helps keep prospects on the customer journey.
Frequently asked questions 🗣️
How is a sales funnel different from a marketing funnel?
The marketing funnel precedes the sales funnel. A marketing funnel begins with a wide array of choices that are then whittled down as a prospect navigates the tunnel. A marketing funnel can also build brand awareness, functioning almost as a part of the top section of a sales funnel.
What is the difference between a sales pipeline and a sales funnel?
Both a sales pipeline and a sales funnel follow the same basic structure, but the information they yield serves different purposes. The sales pipeline lets Independents or sales teams provide specific information to clients at every step of the sales process. A pipeline is usually better suited to an already-existing customer base that’s open to buying new products or services.
What is a sales funnel manager?
A sales funnel manager is responsible for maintaining, analyzing, and growing sales and customer base. The sales funnel manager performs analysis with marketers, designers, and developers to bring awareness and interest to a business. They’ll ensure that the process of converting prospects into customers is as streamlined as possible.
Get started with Contra 🎉
Whether you’re an independent marketing expert or a business owner hoping to build a client base, Contra can help. Our 100% commission-free platform matches clients with the perfect Independents to complete their projects. If you’ve found business slowing down and can’t figure out why, the professionals on Contra’s marketing Discover feed can help.
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