The sales funnel is a marketing process that is used to convert prospects into paying customers. It is a multiphase process that begins with a potential customer becoming aware of a product and then progresses through multiple stages before the customer makes a purchase.
To sell a product, you need to know the stages in the sales funnel and have a good understanding of how the prospects journey through the funnel.
Knowing how your prospects journey through your sales funnel helps you understand what they are thinking and doing at each stage of the purchasing journey.
These insights allow you to invest in the right marketing activities and platforms, create the most relevant messaging during each stage of the funnel and turn more prospects into paying customers.
In this guide, I will walk you through all that you need to know about the sales funnel stages and the messaging relevant for each stage of the funnel, But first, let’s get to know what a sales funnel is before talking about the stages.
Table of Contents
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a visual representation of the journey from your potential customer’s first contact with your brand to a completed purchase.
It helps your sales team understands where they need to follow up or modify the sales process due to drop off in the funnel.
What are the sales funnel stages you have?
From the moment prospects hear about your product until the moment they make a purchase (or don’t), they pass through various stages of your sales funnel.
That journey through your funnel may change from one potential customer to another, but in the end, they will evaluate it based on their interest level.
They will think about the problem they are trying to solve and conduct competitive research to make sure your offering is the best solution to their pain points.
In general, there are four main stages in the funnel:
The first stage of the funnel that prospects land in is known as the “awareness” phase because it’s where prospects first become aware of your product. They may hear about your brand from advertising, social media, word of mouth, or any other channel.
How and why those people move down the funnel depends on your sales and marketing team`s ability, of course.
The leads in the middle and bottom of the sales funnel stages are those that you want to pay the most attention to because they have moved beyond the awareness stage to interest.
An example of the awareness stage would be a potential customer learning about your brand for the first time. Perhaps they clicked on one of your ads, found your website via a Google search, read your blog, or heard a colleague talking about your product.
At this stage of the funnel, they are still identifying their challenge. They have many questions as they are trying to verbalize their problem and are looking for a trusted source of information.
At the top of the sales funnel, your potential customer wants to feel confident that your solution is the best answer to their challenge.
From a digital marketing perspective, prospects want easily accessible content that will guide them through the topics that matter to them, including videos, blog posts, and even quizzes. This process is part of the lead generation process.
In this first stage, your untouched prospects turn into Contact made prospects. More specifically, they are now your Leads.
It’s time for you, the sales team, to ask relevant questions and qualify your lead to ensure they are the right customers, which brings us to the next stage.
Strategies to Use at the Awareness Stage
#1. Develop a clear and concise brand message and mission statement
#2. Clarify your targeted customer’s demographics and psychographics
#3. Specify in your messaging what challenges your product solves
Here Are Ways To Build Awareness About Your Company:
#1. Company website
#2. Social media posts
#5. Independent research
#6. Radio ads and Print
#9. In-person events
Tips to Use At The Awareness Stage
To determine which marketing campaigns are working best, look at the marketing analytics for your website and see what keywords and messages appear to be resonating with your ideal audience.
#2. Interest Stage
Once prospects have learned about your brand, they will evaluate it based on their interest level. They will think about the problem they are trying to solve and conduct competitive research to make sure your offering is the best solution to the problem.
At this point, you have filtered your prospects and those still in the sales funnel should be “ideal customers.”
In the middle of the sales funnel, your lead is diving deeper into the specifics of the problem. At this point, they might not necessarily be evaluating solution providers such as specific companies and their products or services. Instead, they’re looking for the types of solutions available to them.
In the first example, they have yet to decide whether to buy a software solution for in-house support teams or outsource support altogether. In the next example, they aren’t sure if they just need a mattress topper or if they should buy a new mattress.
As you get to talk to them and ask them questions to find out whether your offer is the right fit for their challenge, your Leads become Qualified.
Strategies for the Interest Phase
#1. Create blog posts relevant to ideal customer avatars.
#2. Identify the top keywords your target prospects are using when they look for information online.
#3. Drive quality targeted traffic to your website or social media platforms.
#4. Create engaging content that addresses your ideal customer’s challenges.
Here are some ways you can promote your product in the interest stage:
#1. Email marketing campaigns
#2. Blog posts
#3. Social media accounts
#4. Free trials
#5. Retargeting campaigns
#6. Tips for the interest stage
The goal is to engage with your prospects and establish trust so they are interested in subscribing to your email list. To boost the likelihood they will opt-in to receive emails and updates from you, focus on producing quality content and images for your website.
Some companies give away eBooks with useful information targeted at their target consumers as an incentive to join their mailing lists.
Other brands offer discount codes to encourage prospects to make their first purchase
Armed with information about your brand, prospects will dig deeper into your pricing and packaging options. Sales pages, webinars, and calls are beneficial at this stage to help sway prospects to make a purchase.
Awareness and its close cousin, attention are scarce commodities in our fast-paced world. People learn to tune everything out, so it takes more effort for an advertiser to break through the clutter and noise to reach their ideal audience.
In this stage, prospects actively seek the solution that best meets their budget and challenges. They may research multiple offers. Your brand’s goal is to stand out with the best answer to its challenges.
You want to build trust and rapport with potential customers at this stage of the funnel. Product reviews and testimonials can show the value of your solution and how it helped previous customers solve similar problems.
Let the potential buyers know about your offers, pricing, and packaging so they can make an informed purchasing decision.
Strategies for the Decision stage
They include social media posts, landing pages, or ads featuring lead magnets such as:
#1. Newsletter subscriptions
#2. E-book downloads
#3. Niche-specific calendars
#4. Quizzes, polls, or surveys
#5. Relevant workbooks or how-to manuals, often in PDF format
#6. Samples or free trials of your product
#7. Online events such as free webinars, or contests
#8. Templates or checklists valuable to the problem
#9. Free tutorials or training
Here are some ways to promote your product at the decision stage:
#2. Case studies
#4. Tutorial videos or Demo
#5. Product comparisons
Tips for the Decision Stage
To achieve this, use more attention-grabbing elements such as great images of your product, videos, and enticing descriptions.
You can partner with social media influencers to help in promoting your brand and product. If you have sales already, you should also use product reviews to encourage potential customers to buy.
Beyond your product pages, you can boost decision-making by creating blogs with relevant content, offering free shipping, or making generous promotional offers.
Ultimately, the goal for this stage is to convince the prospect that they not only need the product but they specifically need it from your brand.
All your efforts boil down to this stage: whether the potential customer makes a purchase or not. If they did not, the deal isn’t lost forever. You can create nurture campaigns to ensure you stay on top of mind of the targeted market.
Your company’s priority now is to successfully fulfill the prospect`s needs and expectations. To accomplish this, you may offer additional support or educational materials on your product.
Helping them learn how to perfectly or effectively use your product will give them more value from your offer and boost their satisfaction with their purchase.
Strategies to Use At The Action Stage
#1. Build the relationship with befitting, relevant emails
#2. Follow up quickly on any questions and queries about your brand or offers
#3. Feature bundled packages, limited-time pricing specials, or offer discount or promotional codes
#4. Perform live demonstrations or consultations
#5. Utilize retargeting techniques
Here are a few ways you can promote the action stage:
#1. Customer or Insider success tips
#2. Special offers
#3. Training videos or Product use
#4. Bundled packages
#5. Follow-up email marketing campaigns
Tips to Use At The Action Stage
To boost the likelihood of a purchase, focus on ways you can make it easy for consumers to buy. As you build your list of email subscribers, you can improve sales with various types of email marketing strategies.
Closely examine your digital sales process and even consider testing the checkout process to see if anything could influence whether they make a purchase.
Consider monitoring small changes to see if you can influence the conversion rate for the website. For instance, you might want to consider adding reviews to the checkout page to see if it boosts the number of people who eventually decide to buy.
The key benefits of a sales funnel are that it can help marketers identify and qualify leads, convert those leads into paying customers and track and measure the success of their marketing campaigns.
Understanding the sales funnel stages helps marketers understand a customer’s purchasing journey, while also identifying what level of this journey the customer is at and what message to shoot at them.
These insights can be leveraged to decide which marketing platforms and activities will best guide the customer toward making a purchase.