What Are Sales Funnels? Here’s a Breakdown and 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Them ASAP

If you’re new to the marketing game or just starting out as an entrepreneur, having a good sales funnel cannot be stressed enough. They’ll save you time, help you plan and optimize your website for more conversions, and ultimately — they’ll help you make more money.

Making more money and wasting less time?

You’d be hard pressed to find an entrepreneur who doesn’t want that.

Sales funnels will prove valuable from the get-go, so you should start planning and implementing one before you even start building your website. They’re a dependable framework to follow and incorporate into your marketing strategy, and it’ll make understanding where your sales are coming from — as well as what content to show prospective buyers and when — much easier.

Like anyone, you’ll probably tweak things as you go to make your funnel better and better. And that’s completely normal. As long as you stick to a successful funnel you’ll be able to create, maintain, and grow a more profitable business.

Now, really quick — if you’ve already started a website and a business but don’t have a sales funnel, don’t worry. Starting a sales funnel will only help you even more. Right now is the best time to start, no matter where you are in the process.

The good news is that if you use a sales funnel as part of your marketing and sales strategy, both you and your business will benefit.

And the even better news?

You don’t have to be a marketing or sales prodigy to start and use a sales funnel… but you can definitely benefit all the same.

What Are Sales Funnels?

A sales funnel is the process a potential customer (also called a lead or prospect) goes through to become a customer who makes a purchase.

It’s a marketing and sales concept that helps visualize the different parts of the buying process, including the actions the prospect takes during that process and the actions we must take as marketers/salesmen/business gurus to help move that person through it.

Sales funnels are for getting you in the right headspace to think about what the lead is interested in, what they’re struggling with, and what they want to learn or find out. If you can figure out how to best meet your potential buyer at their different levels of readiness, you’re more likely to create a positive connection and ultimately convince them to buy your product or service down the road.

Oftentimes, a sales funnel is also a visual representation of the customer journey — and it looks exactly like it sounds: a funnel.

The funnel is wider at the top to represent a larger pool of people who start as potential customers, and slowly gets smaller as people drop out of the funnel and decide not to buy. Only the smallest pool of truly interested people make it to the bottom of the funnel, where they actually consider taking action and purchase the product or service.

Ultimately, not all of them will convert and make a sale. But using a sales funnel will help you guide them in that direction, allowing you to consistently bring up relevant information, evidence, and a relatability that will hopefully be hard for a lead to ignore.

Effectively using a sales funnel will not only boost your sales — it will also help you get more (and better) leads. Which in turn will then boost your sales. It’s a little win-win circle.

The point is, each and every step of a sales funnel will focus on moving a lead closer toward buying your product or service. Since everything is planned out, you won’t have to worry about accidentally leading them backwards or in the wrong direction.

The 4 Stages of a Sales Funnel

As a quick disclaimer: there are lots of different ways to break down a funnel, and even different names to call a funnel. Sometimes they’re referred to as marketing funnels, and other times they’re referred to as sales funnels, purchasing funnels, conversion funnels, and more. There isn’t one end-all-be-all, singular version that is the “right” one. At the end of the day, the stages — and the concept of a funnel in general — are all to help you plan, strategize, and implement your marketing strategy. We really like the one we’re about to show you, so let’s jump in!

A sales funnel is typically broken down into sections that correspond to where the customer is in the purchasing process and what we (as marketers) must do to continue to move them through the funnel. Different models can show you a different number of steps, but here we’ll talk about the AIDA model, which has been around for years and is a staple funnel model in marketing.

There are 4 stages to this funnel, and they indicate both where the prospect is and what we need to do for them. The 4 stages are:

  • Attention/Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire/Decision, and
  • Action

Each step of the funnel will mean targeting a prospect in a different way, with different ads, different web pages, and different content. In order to do that, you need to get into the mindset of the prospect and think about what they need to continue through the funnel.

Let’s dig a little deeper into what these parts actually represent.

 

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Attention: This is also sometimes called the “Awareness” stage, and is at the very top of the funnel. Potential customers in this top level may or may not know who you are, what you do, what you offer, or if they even have a problem or need. In this part of the funnel, your job is to grab the attention of the prospect and introduce them to your company and what you have to offer.

When putting a sales funnel into play, grabbing attention can look like an introductory ad run on Google or even making a blog post to answer questions to a problem the lead may have. Prospects that are new to the funnel are considered to be Top of Funnel (TOF) prospects, meaning they typically have the least exposure or knowledge about a company or product.

 

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Interest: The Interest stage is typically when a lead starts to become interested in your company and product. They might know they have a need or a problem, and they might know that you’re an option to solve it. They’re trying to find out more information about what you have to offer, and are looking for knowledge. Here, your job is to increase their interest and give them the knowledge they need to view you as a worthwhile option — give them reasons why your product or service is the right choice.

Prospects that are somewhere in the middle of the purchasing process (not necessarily tied explicitly to the Interest level, but somewhere close) are typically considered to be Middle of Funnel (MOF) prospects. They have a little more understanding, are aware of either your business, your product, or even you as a potential solution. They are also likely comparing their options, including different companies, brands, and even different ways to solve their problem. In action, increasing their interest can look like running more specific ads with your product as a direct solution to their issue, sending them emails about the same topic, or having a landing page on your website specifically dedicated to that product.

 

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Desire: This is also referred to as the “Decision” stage. Further down the funnel, the prospect starts to desire a solution to their problem, and they know they want to make a decision. They will decide on a solution soon, but might currently be making final comparisons between options in order to make or break their decision. This is when you’ll build desire by talking about all of the benefits they will get — like how much easier their life will be with this product — and stick them with your ultimate sales pitch. Give them reasons to buy your product now! That could look like offering more information about the product, talking about the benefits, and possibly mentioning the price at this stage (you don’t have to wait until this stage to mention price though — it’s all up to you).

Prospects that are close to making a purchase decision are considered to be Bottom of Funnel (BOF) prospects. Similarly to the first two steps, actual ways you can build desire include ads or landing pages that specifically mention your product as the ultimate solution, or even an email stating that they get a special offer of some sort.

 

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Action: The final stage in the funnel is when the prospect is ready to take action — they are ready to purchase and just need that last bit of help to get there. Here is when you’ll drive them to take that final step and convert into a customer. Options you could take to give a prospect that final push include offering incentives like a money-back guarantee, a coupon, a free trial, or even a limited-time supply or discount to build urgency. This final stage is all about driving them to make the purchase.

 

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Understanding these 4 stages of the funnel will help you create the content your leads need at specific times in the buying process to continue on instead of dropping out. Naturally, different content will help people in different parts of the funnel, so understanding what each section or group of the funnel is interested in will help make sure you’re delivering the right message. There’s always wiggle room and nothing is ever absolute, which is exactly why you can tweak, tailor, and improve your approach as you go.

Something to keep in mind: TOF, MOF, and BOF don’t correspond to any single particular level of the funnel (as in TOF doesn’t only correspond with Awareness, and BOF doesn’t only correspond with Desire) — it’s more so just another way of keeping track of where your prospects are in your funnel. Some people might be at the top of the funnel and just starting their search for a product, but might already know they have a need, or might already know your company exists. Similarly, some people might be desiring to make a decision but still be in the middle of the funnel, reluctant enough to need more time and effort before they make a decision. It’s sort of a fluid concept!

What Funnels Look Like in Action

You might be wondering what a sales funnel looks like when it’s actually built out — because surely it’s not a literal funnel, right?

You’re spot on.

In reality, your actual sales funnel will take the sales funnel concept and turn it into a map or web of how your ads, emails, and more connect to make your prospective customers’ unique journey.

So…where do websites come into play in all this?

Your website won’t be your entire sales funnel, but it will make up a big and important part of it. A lot of your ads will probably redirect leads to individual landing pages, and the leads will most likely purchase your product on your website.

Because your website will be such an integral part of your sales funnel, it’s important to build your website with one in mind. A sales funnel oriented website will have easy-to-implement web and page tracking, easy page builders, a way for you to easily create content and get more qualified leads, a way for you to make an actual sale and track your converting customers, and more.

By the way — that’s exactly what the Limelight Theme does. It’s a WordPress theme that is specifically tailored to help you get more conversions, make better landing pages, and earn more money. If you’re wanting an easy way to build a website with a sales funnel and more profits in mind, check out our bundle option.

Overall, understanding the different parts of the funnel will help you map exactly what content you want to show your leads and exactly when you want them to see it. You can map or track your sales funnels so you can see the actual steps a person takes through a funnel (like starting on a Facebook ad, then going to a landing page on your website, then being added to an email list, etc).

Basically, a sales funnel in the real world is a map showing where leads started, how they got in, where you will push them to go next, and the different options you’ll follow through with depending on what action they decide to take.

The picture below is a great example of how a mapped out sales funnel could look. If you’re interested in a quick and easy way to map your funnels, check out this cool product!

5 Benefits of Using a Sales Funnel

So far we’ve covered what a sales funnel is, how they work, and why they can be useful. They’re a great tool for any entrepreneur to use, and definitely should not be overlooked.

Need some final reasons to be convinced?

Here’s a quick list of some of the benefits of using a sales funnel and why you should start using them ASAP!

 

1. A Great Sales Funnel Makes it Easier to Find Broken Pieces and Holes

The management and tracking that comes with a sales funnel makes it worth using in and of itself. Sales funnels will allow you to prepare and plan the exact steps a customer will take from the beginning to the end of their customer journey. If you notice your conversions and sales are low for one part of your mapped out funnel, you’ll be able to address it and fix it up.

For example, let’s say you have a Facebook ad that redirects a lead to a landing page on your website with a specific offer for your product. Your ad on Facebook is getting a decent amount of views and people are clicking on the link and going to your landing page. But for some reason, people aren’t converting and making the sale. Obviously, you could change something on your landing page to try to fix the issue.

By using a sales funnel, it will be easier to notice problems and trace them back to the actual source instead of guessing or accidentally trying to fix the wrong thing. This is also true for finding holes in your funnel, or ways you can expand on it to work a little better than before. Visualization and consistent management can be a lifesaver!

 

 

2. You’ll Address More of Your Audience’s Problems and Pain Points — and Stay Relevant

Staying relevant is a hard task for any business, but it’s absolutely essential for getting a lead to want to buy your product. You have to solve a need. And solving a need will help you stay relevant.

A whopping 79% of marketing leads never convert into actual sales. So when we emphasize that you need to solve a need and stay relevant, we really mean it. It can be the deciding factor.

If you’re not taking the steps you need to take to stay relevant and understand the customer’s needs, values, and experience, you won’t make a lot of sales. And that’s why sales funnels are such a great tool to use.

Getting in the mindset of a prospect will help you understand their problems and pain points. It will help you position your product or service as the solution to that problem — and the best solution, at that.

 

 

3. Retargeting Leads and Upselling Customers Will Become a Breeze

The sales funnel is shaped like a funnel for a reason — leads drop out of it and decide not to buy for one reason or another, and only the smallest pool of interested, qualified leads remain and ultimately go on to convert.

For those customers who don’t immediately purchase, sales funnels will help you retarget and send them information that may entice them to come back into the funnel. This can take the form of sending automated emails after they abandon their cart, or sign up for a newsletter but never purchase your product. If you have a mapped out sales funnel in place, you can set things up to happen automatically — not only making more leads convert than if you hadn’t tried anything at all, but also setting it up to happen so you don’t even have to think about it.

For those customers who do make a purchase, sales funnels will help you upsell and build on your sale, offering that customer add-ons or other products that you offer to compliment or go on top of their original purchase. With that same ability to automatically send a customer an email once they’ve purchased, you’ll open the doors to enticing them to upgrade or add on to their order. Again — all while setting them up to happen in advance.

It’ll be a breeze.

 

 

4. Never-Ending Strategic Potential

Sales funnels are meant to help you turn leads into paying customers or clients. You set up, track and manage every ad and landing page that you have out there and every possible route your customer can take. You can promote products in a step-by-step fashion and ultimately lead them from a free newsletter to your highest quality product.

One of the best parts about a sales funnel is that with a plan in place, you can change it and then directly track what those changes did to your strategy.

Want your sales funnel to focus on lead generation? Done. Want to focus more on your current customers and less on getting leads in order to upsell more products? Done. Want to easily track and compare the exact same landing page but with different headlines? Done. With a sales funnel in place it will be easy to add, change, or swap out content and promotions and visualize it in the process.

Keeping tabs on your marketing strategy and how everything connects will enable you to continue to build it out, adding more content, targeting more segments, or creating more specific and compelling ads and promotions. The possibilities are endless, and sales funnels will only help you keep better track of them all!

 

 

5. You’ll Start Making Money in Your Sleep

This one we mean quite literally. We mentioned this a little above, but an awesome trend in the marketing world that is insanely beneficial for sales funnels is automation. If you automate your sales funnels, you’ll definitely be rewarded. And boy, is it worth it.

In fact, 80% of marketers who used automation saw their number of leads increase, and 77% of users saw their number of conversions increase.

To build on that even more — Using marketing automation specifically generates about 451% (!!!) more qualified leads.

On top of having a killer sales funnel, automating it will keep you from having to manually do certain tasks — and not having to do tasks manually means you’re saving money. That also means that you’ll likely have a boost in sales too, since everything will be addressed automatically. After all, give an automatic system specific parameters and they typically won’t fall into common human errors like miscalculations or forgetfulness.

Here’s an example of how it works. Let’s say that you have a free product — maybe a How-To guide for your favorite recipes on your website — and in order to get it, a lead has to sign up for it with their email. Even though the sign up is on your website, you can use third party companies (which the Limelight Theme integrates with and supports, by the way) to immediately take that sign up and start an automated response system on a separate platform, like via email.

This exchange could start a sequence of automated emails trying to entice the user to consider purchasing your actual product instead of just using your free guide. Companies like ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and more specialize in integrating with website themes and sending automated emails, all in line and supporting your sales funnel.

The caveat here is that it’s hard to automate something if you don’t have the steps mapped out in advance…so you have to have a sales funnel set up first.

If you use a sales funnel and choose to automate it, you won’t have to walk through each process step-by-step and work manually to move your prospects through the funnel. The ability to plan out your marketing strategy and sales funnel enough that you can actually automate it means you will *literally* start to make money in your sleep.

The Results

Sales funnels have immense potential to not only help you manage your marketing strategy, but also ensure that you build on it in constructive, profitable ways. Broken down into steps, a sales funnel can help you understand a prospective customer’s journey to purchasing a product or service, including the types of content they need to see at specific times in order to convince them to continue on in the process. Using sales funnels in the real world typically means mapping out all of your contact points for customers and how they connect in order to visualize and manage the different parts of your funnel more easily.

Ultimately, sales funnels will help you build specific content for your audiences, generate leads, and convert prospects into customers. Using them will give you real, tangible, and profitable results.

The Limelight Theme will keep you sales funnel oriented as you build your website, or even help you convert your current website to have a funnel-oriented approach. With easy third party integrations, fleshing out your funnel to include your website, email drip campaigns, retargeting ads/offers/landing pages and more, the Limelight Theme can help you build your funnels, and build them quickly.

Sales funnels are a necessity for anyone just starting out, new to the marketing game, or simply just looking to boost their revenue and customer experience!

If you want to improve your marketing and sales, start using sales funnels ASAP.

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If you don’t currently use the Limelight Theme for WordPress, click here for more information on what we have to offer! The Limelight Theme was built for marketers, by marketers, and will help keep your website sales funnel oriented and optimize your marketing goals.