Sales Funnels for Beginners: Understanding Sales Funnel Stages

Sales funnels have become an inevitable ingredient for successful growth in business. We’ve come to a point where growing a business online is practically impossible without a good sales funnel. There seems to be no way out other than creating a funnel that will consistently convert your audience into customers. It is very frustrating to be stuck between mediocre sales levels and stagnant growth.

However, a sales funnel could be exactly what you need to get out of that position. The truth is, not many people have experience dealing with sales funnels. There’s plenty of online content available for people to familiarize themselves with the idea of a funnel. However, once you jump further into the topic, you will find that it is more complicated than you anticipated. If that’s how you feel, you’ve come to the right place to learn!

This guide will teach you the basics of a sales funnel in no time. Whether you want to learn more about funnels in theory or you want to create one, we will answer your questions and guide you through the process of conquering sales funnels.

Let’s jump right into it with a quick and easy definition of a sales funnel.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

In order to understand the basics of sales funnel, we must go way back to its definition. If you look inside a dictionary, you’ll find that a sales funnel is a type of marketing strategy designed to turn people into interested customers who buy from you. While this definition seems quite broad, it is absolutely correct. The sales funnel process starts with a wide audience of potential customers. It gradually shrinks into these narrow passages that help promising customers find their way to your product.

You might think that sales funnels are a new trend in online business, since most online gurus are praising them nowadays. However, believe it or not, sales funnels have existed for over a hundred years. An innovative ad agency executive named Elias St. Elmo Lewis came up with the idea of a sales funnel way back in 1898. The idea came to him when he was trying to explain the buying process to create a more efficient method of converting customers. He came up with the classic funnel structure that consists of four stages. We’ll discuss the four stages below but, before we get into that, it is interesting to observe that even though marketing strategies are constantly evolving, the idea of a sales funnel has stuck around for over a century.

This leads us to conclude that mastering sales funnels is an inevitable part of your marketing journey. It is important to acknowledge that sales funnels are not always about selling a product. Yes, there are many sales funnels out there that take customers to a product page but there’s also other types of funnels used for generating leads, bringing people to the physical location of the business, or generating applications. However, no matter what type of a funnel you’re interested in, they are all based on the same principle of turning visitors into loyal customers.

The Stages of a Sales Funnel

Here are the four sales funnel stages that were originally created by Elias St. Elmo Lewis back in the 19th century.

1. Introduction

The first stage of a sales funnel is awareness. This is sort of an introduction where you need to put your product or business in front of people. Unless you own a recognizable brand, your first step to a sales funnel would be introducing your business to a potential audience. This includes letting them know who you are, what you offer, and how you can help them.

The goal of this introduction is to:

  1. Make yourself stand out and
  2. Capture their attention.

If you do so successfully, the audience members will proceed to the second stage of the funnel. Keep in mind that you only have one shot to make a first impression – so make it a good one!

2. Solution

Now that the potential customer is aware you exist, you have establish a positive relationship with them by providing a solution to their problem. At this stage, the customer needs to reevaluate their problem and see whether your product or service can be the right solution. This doesn’t mean that you need to passively sit back and wait for them to make up their mind. Instead, keep providing them with valuable and reaffirming information to guide them in a positive direction, that is, toward the third stage of the funnel.

3. Decision

Once you get them interested, the customer will be thinking about possible ways to solve their problem. This is where you want to teach them more about your business and what you’re offering. They will take a closer look at what your company does and how you can help them. However, they haven’t yet decided to make a purchase, but they do have a desire to move in that direction.

4. Action

This is the final stage of a sales funnel where desire turns into action. In other words, if you’ve successfully guided a person to this stage of the funnel, you’ve closed the deal and made a sale. The quality of your product or service will determine whether this one-time buyer turns into a loyal lifelong customer.

This is only the basic skeleton of a sales funnel. Depending on the company or their product or service, some businesses tend to extend the process into additional stages. You will find free sales funnel examples out there such as the Russel Brunson’s Sales Funnel described below.

Russel Brunson’s Sales Funnel

This sales funnel is described in detail in DotCom Secrets, a game-changing book by the ClickFunnels CEO Russel Brunson. If you take a look at this funnel, you’ll see that it’s different than the original structure. The cloud illustrated above the funnel represents the entire audience of potential customers, aka the traffic that goes into the funnel.

The first stage of the journey is the “Bait.” A bait is usually something that the company is giving away for free in order to attract the audience into the funnel.

The second stage is called “Front End” and it represents a product or service that offers value and also comes at a specific price. The following stages labeled as “Middle” and “Back End” build up on the front end by providing more valuable items that cost more.
The entire process is structured in a way that it leads the buyer toward the most valuable and the most expensive option at the end of the funnel. Unlike with the original structure, this type of sales funnel encourages the prospect to make several purchases throughout the journey. These types of funnels usually end with a recurring payment option to retain the captured leads.

Sales Funnels Are the Way to Go

Russel Brunson describes sales funnels as the natural evolution of the website. It is necessary for every company to build a sales funnel, just like it was necessary to build a website back in the day. Without a proper sales funnel, your business is likely going to lose customers to the competition.

By now you should be familiar with the basic structure of a sales funnel and ready to create your own. ClickFunnels provides all the tools you need to create an amazing funnel without much technical experience. They offer pre-built templates and other features that will help you build a successful funnel. If you want to give it a shot, try ClickFunnels with a free 14 day trial.

By default, Clickfunnels comes with an in-built, tested and proven conversion sales funnel. You can find already built funnels for digital products, physical products, eBooks, courses, webinars, seminars, memberships and much more. Furthermore, you get templates for opt-in pages, checkout pages, sales pages, and thankyou pages. You basically have to add your own copy and images and your tailormade funnel is ready for use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *