Sales Funnels – The Ultimate Guide (Everything You Need To Know)

Sales Funnels - you hear about them often in digital marketing circles... but what are they and how can they help your business?

sales funnel

A sales funnel is a series of steps that pass prospects through your marketing and sales process until they become customers. 

It starts with acquiring leads, who are then nurtured by the business to make a purchase.

Sales funnels (also known as the sales pipeline or purchasing journey) have been used for decades in traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to increase customer conversions, but they have recently gained popularity as digital marketers use them to track and improve online conversions.

With a sales funnel you can:

Get More Leads

Your sales funnel can help you grow your customer pipeline and get more leads.

Improve Customer Acquisition Costs

Your funnel can help you improve customer acquisition costs.

Get More Customers

Your sales funnel can help you convert more leads into paying customers. 

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What Is A Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a series of steps that pass prospects through your marketing efforts and sales process until they become leads and customers.

If you understand the sales cycle for your business (the length of time it typically takes to convert a new customer), and you understand what your ideal customer needs to learn about your business to convert, you can build a sales funnel to help guide them to making a purchasing decision.

It typically starts with acquiring leads, who are then nurtured by the business to make a purchase.

Sales funnels have been used for decades in traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to increase sales and improve retention and sales with existing customers, but they have recently gained popularity as digital marketers use them to track online conversions.

The idea behind this system is that people can be at different stages of their journey when exposed to your content or offers (which means it's not just about having one conversion goal).

This allows you to tailor your messaging for both those who just entered the sales funnel and those in the middle of their decision.

Why Is The Sales Funnel So Important For Your Sales Process?

The sales funnel is one of the most important tools in a business owner's arsenal to improve sales efforts.

A well-designed sales funnel, when properly executed, can help you identify what you need to do to increase profitability and provide more clarity on how best to allocate resources.

It helps reduce both churn rates and acquisition costs (new customer acquisition can be 5x more expensive then keeping existing customers) one by creating an easy path from signup to purchase; this allows businesses to focus on driving more profitable conversions rather than spending too much effort on prospects who would never turn into paying customers.

It can also help you identify which marketing channels are generating leads and helping to generate interest in your business, and which ones aren't.

Sales Funnel Examples

Sales funnels can take many different forms.

They can be campaign specific for an offer or promotion, pre-designed with specific pages and sales flow, or even used metaphorically to describe the general sales process a typical customer takes with your brand before transacting.

They can be as simple as a two-step process of first building an email list and then offering to sell the subscriber something in exchange for their contact information or something complicated like a six-step sales funnel process that starts by offering the viewer a free trial and ends with an upsell to turn it into a paid subscription.

Here are a few common sales funnel example for your reference:

Lead Generation Funnel

The lead generation funnel is designed to engage a prospect and collect their contact information in order to identify them as a potential customer.

The idea behind this type of sales funnel comes from the goal of obtaining a lead for marketing purposes.

This sales funnel starts with research to find prospects and ends when the prospect becomes an active customer, either through purchase or other requested action on behalf of the marketer.

Lead generation sales funnels usually involve three steps:

  • Searching for prospects via social media, paid traffic, SEO campaigns, webinars, etc.
  • Collecting contact information from interested parties in exchange for some kind of free content such as white papers, ebooks etc.
  • Building relationships by giving them valuable content and converting them with a call to action.

Appointment Funnel

The appointment sales funnel is a funnel designed to help you easily automate the appointment setting process so your prospects can easily choose a time to talk with you. 

By automating this process, a lead can choose a time to talk with you, get all the follow up emails and reminders they need, and jump on a demo or sales call with your team with very little friction.

The appointment sales funnel are often structured as follows:

  • Landing Page: A lead magnet is offered, usually in the form of an e-book or information product that will help them with their issue.
  • Lead Nurturing: This phase includes all forms of nurturing your leads via email and other methods to get more qualified leads from them by getting better insight into who they are.
  • Qualified Lead: The point at which you determine if this person has enough interest to schedule an appointment for one on one attention.
  • Booking Appointment: Allowing people to book time slots where salespeople can make appointments with qualified prospects over the phone or through tools such as Calendly.com.
  • Sales Call: This is the first in-person meeting with a prospect to discuss their needs and determine what business solution would be most valuable.

Webinar Funnel

The webinar sales funnel is a type of marketing funnel where you host a live broadcast event to your target audience, usually online.

Webinar funnels are often structured as follows:

  • Create a landing page that has the webinar information and entices people to sign up for it.
  • When they register, you can send them an automated message with more info about your product, service, etc. 
  • Send out reminders leading up to the event date so they don't forget and lose interest. Provide attendees with valuable content to help them learn about or decide on your product or service before attending the webinar.
  • Host the webinar where you introduce your product or service, speak about its features and benefits, and encourage attendees to purchase your product or service, answer any questions they might have.
  • Offer an interactive live chat feature where you have someone available during the live broadcast who will answer questions from attendees.
  • Follow up with all of the webinar registrants afterwards with the recording of the webinar and make sure they received the content you promised them. Offer a personalized follow-up email with your offer and engage leads to turn them into paying customers.

Featured Sales Funnel Content

The Social Media Profile Funnel

Want to get leads from your social media accounts? This free funnel template and strategy will turn your profiles into organic lead machines!

The Only Blog Sales Funnel You Need

Turn your blog into a sales funnel that converts visitors into leads and customers with this free strategy.

The Product Launch Funnel Case Study

How to build a product launch funnel that will turn your next product launch into a mega success.

The Four Sales Funnel Stages

The four sales funnel stages are: Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action


These also correlate to the Top Of The Funnel (Tofu), Middle Of The Funnel (Mofu), and Bottom Of The Funnel (Bofu). 


The first stage is about getting potential customers to know you exist; the next two stages are about engaging them towards a buying decision and spanning the final step of actually making a purchase.


A customer can be at any part of this process depending on their level of interest in your product or service.

sales funnel awareness stage

Stage 1: Awareness Stage

The first stage, awareness, is about simply getting your potential customers to know you exist.

In this modern age of over-saturation and information overload, it’s tough for any business to cut through the noise and be heard.

That’s where marketing comes in: with a well thought out marketing plan that includes strong customer acquisition tactics such as email campaigns or social media outreach; SEO optimization so people can find you when searching online; advertising on high traffic websites or publications—and more.

All these things work together to create brand recognition which leads to higher sales funnel conversion rates.

Stage 2: Interest Stage

The next step is to create interest in your product or service by educating the customer about what you have to offer.

Also known as the interest stage or interest phase, this is where you nurture your new leads.

This could be anything from an informational video, a blog post on your website with helpful information for potential customers interested in what you’re selling.

The goal here is simple: get them excited and make it easy for them to decide that buying from you would be awesome!

After this stage comes desire which is all about making people want something bad enough that at some point they just say “I want it now!” You can do this by creating scarcity—whether real or perceived--or through competitive pricing strategies like coupons and deals.

sales funnel stage decision

Stage 3: Decision Stage

A decision is the point in the funnel where your customer has made a commitment to take action on an offer.

This is the moment where all of your work so far finally pays off and you start seeing conversions.

A customer has made a decision to purchase, subscribe, or take some other action on an offer that's being presented so this is the stage where it’s time for them to make their final decision.

Decisions happen in every stage of your sales funnel, but the point at which they're most important is during this one.

At this moment, you want to make sure that any doubts or hesitations your customers might have are eliminated so that they can take positive action and move on with the rest of their sales funnel.

If you've done your job right in the previous stages, they should have no problem making a decision and will be ready to take the next step.

sales funnel stages action

Stage 4: Action Stage

When your prospective customers have reached the point where they want to take action, it’s time for you to provide them with a strong call to action.

Also known as the "bottom of the funnel," this is the stage where you turn new leads into new customers.

This is the stage where you start presenting your offer and a clear path for them to take in order to buy what you’re selling so whether that’s signing up now or placing an order, you need to make it as easy and clear as possible for them.

The goal here is just like every other funnel: get these people in buying mode so that they can reach their final destination which, of course, is a conversion.

How To Create A Effective Sales Funnel For Your Business

You're ready to get started now, right?


You want to create a sales funnel for your business, but where do you even start?

Start with these three steps:

  • Step 1 - Research
  • Step 2 - Creating Your Offer
  • Step 3 - Build Your Funnel 

Step 1: Research

The first step is to research your target audience and buyer personas. Who are they? What do they like and dislike? How old are they? Where do you find them online (forums?) These questions will help you figure out who your customers are, which in turn will shape how you sell to them.

The more time spent here researching and learning about these people the better chance of making a sale!

Next up is knowing your competition.

Keep tabs on their offers so that when someone goes looking for something similar it's easy for them to find YOU instead! This can also give you a better idea of what prices or offers to offer.

Lastly, have an understanding of where your target audience is going for information on the topic that you're offering (this could be other blogs, YouTube channels, their favorite influencer's Instagram account).

This will give you insight into how you can get in front of them and start building your marketing strategy.

Step 2: Your Offer

The first step in creating an offer is to figure out the value of what you’re offering.

You should be able to answer this question by explaining what your product or service does and why it's valuable for people to buy from you. It should be clear and easy for your sales team and sales rep's to communicate.

It’s also important to know the value of what you offer in comparison with your competitors.

This will help give you a better idea of how much to charge for your product or service and where to promote them - if they're priced too low, people might be less likely to buy from you because there's no perceived benefit in paying more.

And on the other hand, if the price is higher than what customers are willing to pay for and compare with their current alternatives, then they'll just go elsewhere and find something else that costs less.

Structure your best offer in a way that speaks to the customer’s desires and needs, in order to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Step 3: Build Your Funnel

Next, it's time to build your funnel.

Here are some important tools and tactics you can use when building an effective sales funnel for your business:

Landing Pages

Landing pages are the first thing people see when they visit your website.

They’re also the most important part of your marketing strategy, so why not make them as easy and effective as possible?

That’s where tools like ClickFunnels, Kartra, and HighLevel comes in.

With ClickFunnels, for example, you can build high-converting marketing pages without any technical knowledge or skills.

With ClickFunnels, building a landing page and capturing leads is super easy. You can easily drag and drop elements from their library onto your canvas to create beautiful designs for your website visitors in minutes.

And if you want to get really creative, there are tons of templates available for purchase on their marketplace that will help you stand out from everyone else online. Plus, it integrates seamlessly with MailChimp and other email providers so you can automatically send new subscribers directly into one of your pre-built campaigns.

All this means less time designing and more time growing your business!

Lead Nurturing With Email + SMS and CRM

Lead nurturing is a powerful way to increase sales in your funnel.

With email marketing and SMS, it's easy to stay top-of-mind with your prospects and help guide them through your funnel.

"Nurturing" is a sales term that means to help guide and inform your prospects using content, social proof, and sales tactics.

With tools like GoHighLevel and ActiveCampaign, you can create personalized emails and send them out at scale, or use SMS messages to reach prospects on their mobile devices.

You can also set up automated campaigns with their easy-to-use interface so you never have to worry about forgetting a customer again.

Don’t spend time manually sending out emails or texts when it takes just seconds with marketing automation tools.

Create Your First Sales Funnel


Want to build your first funnel from scratch? We recommend joining the One Funnel Away challenge by Russel Brunson of ClickFunnels. He'll lead you by the hand to start your first profitable sales funnel. The next challenge is starting soon!

Sales Funnel Software

So far, we’ve discussed the importance of sales funnels and what they are. But what about software?

What do you need to create a sale funnel in order to effectively grow your business with them? Well, thankfully you don’t have to worry about that!

There are many different tools out there for creating sales funnels but all of these options offer some variation on features including: templates, integrations (such as Zapier), A/B testing support (for emails), landing page creation, CRM integration, email list management and more.

Here are a few of the more popular options for creating sales funnels:

ClickFunnels

ClickFunnels makes this easy for anyone with no coding knowledge required. Create high-converting landing pages, lead magnets, and sales funnels quickly that look great on mobile devices in minutes using their simple drag and drop editor. 

See all ClickFunnels Articles:

Clickfunnels Start Here

The Ultimate Guide To ClickFunnels >>

Clickfunnels Start Here

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Kartra

Kartra is an all-in-one online business building tool that makes building your digital empire easy with a complete toolkit for online entrepreneurs. You can easily build sales funnels, online courses, and membership zones. 

See all Kartra Articles:

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GoHighLevel

GoHighLevel is an all-in-one software for sales and marketing professionals. This platform has been designed to automate your sales funnels, eliminate the need for costly external services; giving you more time and money to focus on what really matters: Your Prospective customers.

See all GoHighLevel Articles:

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ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is a powerful marketing automation platform designed to help you grow your sales pipeline and convert more customers with smart segmentation and automation features. Primarily email marketing, you also get a CRM and landing pages.

See all ActiveCampaign Articles:

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Sales Funnel Templates

With the proliferation of online sales funnel tools, it's now easy to find sales funnel templates for almost any kind of sales funnel. 

In fact, we've collected a massive list of "one click" sales funnel templates for ClickFunnels. 

All you need to do is have an active ClickFunnels account and you can load these high converting funnels into your account with one click with their "share funnel" feature. 

We've collected 46+ share funnels for:

  • Real Estate Sales Funnel Template
  • B2B Sales Funnel Template
  • Affiliate Bridge Page Funnels
  • Facebook Profile Funnel
  • Automated Webinar Funnel
  • Membership Funnels
  • Free Shipping Funnel
  • Tripwire Funnels
  • Ecommerce Funnels

And so much more! To get access to our million dollar funnel swipe file, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sales Funnels 

How do I create a sales funnel?

You can create sales funnel using many tools like ClickFunnels, LeadPages, GoHighLevel, and Thrive Architect by following these steps:

- Pick your desired landing page template.
- Design the content of each part in the sales funnel by using the drag & drop editor.
- Add a goal to trigger your campaign and set up notifications for lead nurturing, engagement, or conversion events.

What does funnel mean in sales?

A sales funnel is a series of steps that lead prospects through your marketing and eventually to purchase. The purchase can be anything from an ebook, website hosting service, ad space on your site- it all depends on what you're selling.

Do sales funnels really work?

Yes, they do. In fact, they're very effective in business! A well-made sales funnel helps you generate more traffic, generate leads, and get more sales.

What is a sales funnel in digital marketing?

A digital marketing sales funnel (sometimes known as a conversion funnel, purchasing funnel, marketing funnel, or customer funnel), is a sales and marketing concept that envisions the theoretical stages of customer interactions with a brand, product, or service as a customer journey moving through a funnel.

Conclusion - Are Sales Funnels Right For Your Business?

As you can see, sales funnels are important for any business that sells a product or service (online or offline).

They're awesome for improving the buying process with your products, generating new prospective clients, improving customer retention, and increasing sales.

Whether you're running paid ads, SEO, or getting sales from content marketing efforts, having a well optimized funnel will help you decrease customer acquisition costs.

What kind of funnel are you building?

Let us know in our Facebook Group, Born To Sell Online, where we regularly discuss funnels and digital marketing.