What is a Sales Funnel? Stages, Benefits & How To Build One That Converts

Whether you purposefully created one or not, your brand already has a sales funnel that helps you get new leads. All your touchpoints make up your marketing funnel, from your social media posts and blogs to paid ads and email campaigns. 

But if you’ve never taken the time to optimize it and map it out strategically, it’s probably full of holes that lose clients before they can make a purchase. 

In this post, we’ll show you how to create a sales funnel that converts, the key marketing stages you need to think about, and quick strategies for optimization. 

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is the journey customers go on when looking for your product or service. 

It consists of six key stages, starting from the awareness stage and ending (ideally!) in the repeat purchase stage. A well-built sales funnel allows you to nudge your potential customers toward a purchase. On the other hand, a poorly designed funnel will have gaps that potential customers fall through on their buying journey. 

Benefits of Building a Sales Funnel

There are some important benefits of building an effective, optimized sales funnel. 

1. Reach Potential Customers At The Right Time

Not all potential customers will be ready to buy from you from the first encounter with your brand. In fact, it takes around eight touchpoints with a potential client before they’re ready to buy from you. 

An optimized sales funnel allows you to deliver relevant, timely marketing messages to your customers throughout their journey. You’ll be able to hit those all-important touch points and make sure you don’t hard sell customers too early in the funnel. 

2. Easily Answer Questions & Queries

Your sales team should only be dealing with warm leads, which means people at the very top of the sales funnel might not get the attention they need from your team. By developing an effective sales funnel, your ideal clients can get questions and queries answered without involving your sales team too early in the process. 

This not only helps to nurture potential clients right at the start of their journey, but it also allows your sales team to spend their time more productively. 

3. Significant Time Savings

A well-developed sales funnel allows marketers to filter out poor-quality leads and focus on the best potential clients. Not everyone who enters your sales funnel will be the right customer for you, so distinguishing between ideal and bad leads early on will save your team time and effort and add to your bottom line. 

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6 Stages of a Sales Funnel

Marketing funnels vary in size, shape, and complexity depending on the industry, the size of the company, and the marketing budget. However, when it comes to how to create a sales funnel, there are six general stages that you can then tailor to suit your sales process. 

Stage 1: Awareness

At the very top of the funnel (the largest section) is the awareness stage. This is where you find the largest number of people. They’re not ready to be paying customers yet, and they’re having their first interactions with your company. At this point, they know your brand exists but don’t know much about you or what you offer. They’ve likely found you through a Google search, recommendation, or ad. 

Stage2: Interest

The first interactions with your brand will interest some potential clients, and they’ll move into the interest stage. Here, your potential customers spend more time getting to know your company and offerings through your website, social media channels, and reviews. 

Stage 3: Evaluation

Now they know a little more about your brand, some potential customers will move onto the evaluation stage. Here, they might talk to your customer service team to get questions answered, or they might begin comparing your services to competitors. This is an important stage for potential clients, so it’s important you answer their questions and show them you are the best company for their needs. 

Stage 4: Negotiation

This is where your potential customers get in touch with your sales team and begin the process of closing a deal. Ideally, you’ll have warm leads who know a lot about your products and services, so closing the deal should be easy for your team. Most potential clients have a purchase intention at this stage, and they’re trying to get the best deal. 

Stage 5: Sale

This is the bottom of your sales funnel and where your sales team closes the deal. Your new customer has negotiated terms and is happy with the product or service you’re offering. Once the prospect pays, they are officially a client and have made it through your sales funnel successfully. 

Stage 6: Renewal

There is a final stage to the marketing funnel that many marketers disregard, but it’s important to boost the lifetime value of your customers. 

At the end of your service or the life of your product, your customers should come back to you for renewal or repurchase. By nurturing your existing clients and staying top of mind, you’ll ensure they re-enter your sales funnel at the negotiation stage when the time comes. 

How to Build a Sales Funnel That Converts

Sales funnels can seem complicated, but they don’t take a lot of effort to set up. All you need to do is identify your customer journey and add key touchpoints along the way. Here’s a simple strategy for building a sales funnel that converts potential leads into paying customers. 

1. Analyse Existing Customers

Start by deeply understanding your existing customers; how are they finding you? Where do they spend time interacting with your brand? What are their needs and goals? 

The more information you can gather on your existing customers, the easier it is to map out the client journey. 

2. Engage Your Target Audience

There is no such thing as a unique product or service anymore, so you have to grab your ideal client’s attention and stand out from competitors. It’s not good enough to be competitive on pricing; you need to provide incredible value to lead your industry.

The easiest way to capture leads and keep them interested is by posting regular, valuable content across different channels:

  • Create a high-value blog filled with how-tos, guides, interesting industry news, and free information. 
  • Make sure your website has a dedicated FAQ page for customers in the awareness stage of your marketing funnel.  
  • Boost your website’s SEO to ensure you show up in relevant organic searches
  • Regularly post on social media to show your products, services, client testimonials, and fun updates. 
  • Use targeted ads to capture leads in the evaluation stage before they find your competitors. 
  • Invest in a digital PR campaign to boost brand awareness and increase website traffic to targeted content. 

3. Create an Optimized Landing Page

Landing pages highlight a specific service or product and help lead your potential clients to a sale. The best landing pages communicate who you are, what you offer, and how you help your clients reach their goals. 

Include testimonials, explainer videos, graphics, and a clear call to action that encourages prospects to take the leap and work with you. 

All of your free content should eventually funnel to your landing page – this is where clients in the evaluation stage will decide whether you are the right fit for their needs. 

4. Create a Powerful Email Campaign

Email campaigns are great for nurturing leads and remaining relevant throughout their customer journey. It should start with educational, valuable content that shows you are worth being in their inbox and eventually lead to a pitch for your product or service. 

Don’t use your email campaigns purely for promotion; instead, use them as a touchpoint to establish trust, brand authority, and value in the eyes of your ideal clients. When they finally reach the evaluation stage, you’ll naturally be the first choice. 

5. Follow Up

You don’t want customers to buy your product or service and then fall out of your sales funnel forever. Instead, increase the lifetime value of each lead by keeping them nurtured at the bottom of the funnel. 

This involves creating a strong follow-up campaign through email and re-targeted ads that answer questions, offer support and continue to give value. 

Recurring communication with existing clients means you can up-sell additional products or services, renew contracts or subscriptions more easily, and build a more loyal customer base. 

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; a well-structured sales funnel is key to consistent sales and an effective sales cycle. Focus on giving plenty of free value through content marketing and ensure you have a consistent presence online to keep your brand top of mind with customers in the early stages of the funnel. 

Looking for effective ways to boost brand awareness to get more clients at the top of your funnel? Linkifi can help you create a winning digital PR campaign that gets your brand featured in leading industry publications – get in touch now to find out more

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