Sales Funnel – What It Is And Basic Stages Explained

By April 9, 2020 Blog, Sales

A sales funnel can also be known as a revenue funnel or sales process. This is the buying process that companies take customers through to make purchases.

It can also be defined as the process through which a company finds, qualifies, and sells its products to buyers.

Losing out on a sale is very hurtful to any business that is why many businesses make sure to convert their website visitors into purchasing customers by using a sieve kind of funnel with top, middle and bottom-funnel stages to understand the purchasing stages of the said customers.

Related: Classification of Sales leads

A sales funnel is a basic but core concept of digital marketing. To best understand a sales funnel, here is how entrepreneurial blogger and author Robert L Adams breaks it down:

“If you’re wondering what a sales funnel is, simply imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of that funnel, some substance is poured in, which filters down towards one finite destination. In sales, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will reemerge out from the other end. “

In marketing automation, Ryan Deiss, co-founder of Digital Marketer, often describes the sales funnel as a multi-step, multi-modality process that moves prospective browsers into buyers. It’s multi-stepped because lots must occur between the time that a prospect is aware enough to enter your funnel, to the time when they take action and complete a purchase.

Create A Ryan Deiss Funnel Using AWeber and AWtomator

The truth of the matter in sales is that most prospects won’t buy from your website at first glance, especially if they’re only just becoming aware of you today. It takes time. Thus, the funnel is a system that helps understand this and factors in the fact that psychology plays a huge role in purchases made.

Basic Stages of a Sales Funnel

The 4 basic Sales Funnel stages are:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Decision
  • Action

Shutterstock, as illustrated below, help us understand the sales funnel idea better.  the magnet to the left is the attraction of customers which happens from various platforms and various ways – from blogging to social media to paid ads and everything in between, how the visitors get to your website has some impact on the success of your funnel. When hey arrive – te Sales team takes them through the 4 steps while sieving these that get to the last stage of making purchases hence the bullseye.

Sales Funnel Concept Explained – Shutterstock

Understanding the Stages Of A Sales Funnel

1. Awareness

This is when they visit your website for the first time, which they found from an ad, Google search, a post shared on social media or another traffic source.

Customers are the most part important of any business and their coming to your site is very vital – and that sets off the Sales funnel or the sales process. Giving them a reason to come to your site or getting their interest has to be along the lines of solving a problem of theirs with an offer. And their interest can be gauged through online quizzes, email signups, ebook downloads, etc.

When you know the problem, and you build content to draw them in, then offer them a product or service to solve their problem, that’s when the real magic happens.

Note: When you have authority, prospects are more likely to enter into your funnel because they know that if they found you relevantly, that whatever it is that you’re providing must be of a great value. That’s just the nature of SEO and organic search.

2. Interest

This is how your engagement and content come into play – geared towards the retention of the customer. Your message needs to be consistent while pointing out how you are going to help solve the customer’s problem.

This is solely because the prospect has come to your site and is now searching for solutions – inadvertently expressing interest in your service or products. They are going to keep glued to your social media, subscribe to your mailing list for updates.

3. Decision

Getting your prospects to decide to purchase is a nightmare. But, personalized solutions like testimonials usually do the trick. Prospects will grow trust in you if they identify with a success story. This is the stage where the prospect is deciding that he wants to take advantage of your solution.

They are paying more attention to what you offer, including different packages and options, so he can make the final decision to purchase.

However, you get them to decide to act, flipping that switch isn’t simple. You need to present them with a great opportunity and use Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles, outlined in his 1984 book, Influence, in one way or another to move them through this stage:

  • Principle of reciprocity — This is achieved by delivering lots of value, either through whatever it is that you provided them as a free offer (lead magnet) at the very beginning of an ongoing exchange through your emails.
  • Principle of commitment & consistency — When people commit to something, they’re far more likely to purchase from you. That’s why getting them to agree to something like a free + shipping offer or by agreeing with something you’ve said in some way. This is a powerful principle in sales and if you pay attention to some of the best marketers in the world, you’ll notice that they work fervently to get your commitment to something, even if it’s very small in the beginning.
  • Principle of liking — When people like you (i.e. they relate to your stories) they are more likely to purchase something from you. How well you craft your story and convey that to your prospects is going to play a big role in whether they decide to act or not.
  • Principle of authority — How much authority do your products or services have? Are their respected people in your community that have endorsed it? Scientific studies that are backing it? Are you an authority? All these elements come into play in this process.
  • Principle of social proof — Do you have social proof? Are people on social media raving or talking about how great your products or services are? Do you have some other type of social proof? Best-selling books? Something else? You must present this to prospects if you do have them.
  • Principle of scarcity — How much scarcity have you baked into your email sequence? Again, people are smart, but when you apply the principle of scarcity, as in there is only a limited amount of some offer or time left before a discount expires or slots available for an online class, it entices people to take action.

4. Action

This is the final stage of the sales funnel and is usually the turning of a prospect into an actual buyer.

They’re signing the contract and clicking the purchase button.

Then the money is transferred to your bank account.

It’s important to state that there might be additional stages to your sales funnel. Your interaction with a customer doesn’t end with a successful stage.


Every point of its process is as important as the last one. And it is vital that at the end of the sales funnel, digital marketers assess their results with a conversion rate that puts into consideration the expenditure on attracting visitors to the website in relation to how many prospects turn into actual purchases.

Further, a retention plan of keeping purchasers will help the company make more success stories -inadvertently making it easier to turn newer prospects into new buyers.


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