sales funnel stages

The 4 Sales Funnel Stages Explained – Optimize And Make Sales

Sales funnels are all the rage these days…..

………….Why? Because THEY WORK!!

In the world of online marketing, a sales funnel is critical because it offers you a way to convert leads into prospects, and your prospects into loyal customers.

Unfortunately, despite its significance, a number of companies don’t pay much attention to this crucial part of the sales process.

Imagine how you use a funnel in the kitchen…

…. Being wider at the top, it makes it easier to pour in ingredients, which pass through the funnel and gather at the bottom… eventually settling cleanly into the vessel at the bottom.

This is exactly how we use a sales funnel.

It passes all your leads through the sales process, pushing only the qualified ones further down, and ultimately generating SALES – which happens at the bottommost part of your sales funnel.

Here’s the reality check: Roughly a quarter of all your leads are actually ready to proceed through all your sales funnel stages!

So, how can companies use different sales funnel stages for a smoother sales process and better conversions? Find out in this article.

What We’ll Cover…

In this article, you’ll explore:

  • What a sales funnel is and how it works
  • What a marketing sales funnel is
  • The four different sales funnel stages to simplify your sales process
  • Key steps to promote your sales funnel to your target audience

What Is A Sales Funnel?

what is a sales funnel

A sales funnel is the pathway your potential customer takes, from browsing your website or clicking on an ad, to finally purchasing your company’s product or service.

While some visitors never leave the top of your sales funnel, others may travel all the way down to the bottommost part.

But here’s the good news: You have a lot of power to increase the number of people who reach the very end of your sales funnel.

How Does A Sales Funnel Work?

how does a sales funnel work

Imagine this….

…..A potential customer lands on your website via a search engine, a social media link, or an ad.

He has now become your lead.

This new prospect might read some of your blog posts or go through your product listings. While he’s still browsing your website, you gently nudge him to subscribe to your website.

To make this offer more appealing, you offer a lead magnet… a free thing in exchange for them signing up.

If they fill out your subscription form and submit their email address and other details, they now become your prospect.

You can now get in touch with them outside of your site via email, phone, and/or text.

So, What’s The Benefit Of Turning Your Visitor Into A Prospect?

Well, prospects tend to return to your website whenever you reach out to them with special deals or offers. This could include discounts or coupon codes, info about new blog posts and guides, or other interesting messages.

Your funnel narrows as the visitors pass through it, mainly because there are more prospects at the top of the sales funnel than actual purchasers at the bottom.

Your message is specifically targeted at your perfect customer avatar. And so, a sales funnel does a great job of filtering out leads that do not fit into this perfect customer avatar example.

What Is A Marketing Sales Funnel?

what is a marketing sales funnel

A marketing sales funnel is a visualization that helps you understand the process of converting your lead into a prospect, and your prospects into customers – all from a marketing viewpoint.

Marketers cast their net wide to seize as many leads as possible, and then gradually transform them into prospects.

And then, eventually, some of these prospects become customers.

In an ideal world, your marketing sales funnel would actually be more like a marketing sales cylinder, turning every lead into a paying customer.

But, this isn’t an ideal world, buddy!

So as a marketer, it’s YOUR job to convert as many leads and prospects into consumers as possible, so that your marketing sales funnel becomes a bit more cylindrical.

What Is The Correct Order Of Sales Funnel Stages?

correct order of sales funnel stages

Before we discuss the different sales funnel stages, here’s something that you should keep in mind….

There’s no single unanimously agreed-upon sales funnel design.

Some funnels are highly complicated, with many different pages and steps.

And some only contain a single page.

Remember, the design of your sales funnel will depend on several things.

You need to take into account not only your business niche, but also your customers and products.

Following a basic funnel design is the first part. And then, split-testing and applying micro changes to the funnel over time, to adapt it to your target customer base… is the next part.

Whether you’re just starting your online business or have been hanging around for a while, the key is to choose a funnel that has the highest likelihood of working in your niche, and then building each of the different funnel stages to maximize your odds of success.

Ever heard of the 80/20 rule?

According to this rule (also called Pareto’s Principle), 20% of what you do generates 80% of your outcomes.

By understanding the different stages of your funnel, you can concentrate your efforts on the four key drivers that matter the most: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

Check out my video below. In this video, I talk about the 20% of the process that needs your attention the most! If you want to run a prosperous online business, yielding massive sales and improving the customer journey, then these are important concepts to understand. .

Let’s break each sales funnel stage down one by one.

1. Awareness
The topmost level of a marketing funnel is the Awareness stage.

Your potential customer doesn’t really know who you are yet. They’re also unaware of what products or services you have.

So the objective is to make them aware of you and what you are doing.

After all, there’s no point in creating something if nobody is going to consume it!

So, how do you cultivate awareness among your target audience?

One easy way is to use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, such as social media ads or Google ads.

PPC ads are a specific type of interruption marketing, targeting those who are more likely to fit into your target customer demographic.

So you find these people, identify them in your ad metrics, and show them your advertisement.

The only downside to this is that it costs money… though it can absolutely be worth it, especially if your ad is a self-liquidating ad that pays for itself with one-time-offers and one-click-upsells!

Another potent way to increase awareness for your business is to leverage content marketing, crafting awe-inspiring blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, or social media posts to help answer the types of questions that your customer avatar would likely be asking.

For example… let’s say that you are a shoe retailer who sells jogging shoes online.

Your ideal customer, then, will likely be typing questions like this into Google…

“Where do I find shoes for jogging?”

If you do a good job of optimizing your content, so that it can be found by the search engines, then you may be the one they choose to help them answer that question.

This is a perfect opportunity for a pop-up, an affiliate link, an offer for a lead-magnet, a shout-out for your business, etc.

2. Interest
The next stage in the funnel is to build interest. This step usually starts with your opt-in page.

This is exactly where your squeeze page or the lead magnet comes in handy.

So you have people clicking on your ads, seeing your pop up, following your links, etc.

These people see that you are offering them a solution to their problem through your lead magnet.

All they have to do is give you their email address, and you will give them the ‘free solution’ to their problem, offering a ton of value in the process.

You develop a squeeze page, offering a PDF, a video, or some other lead magnet product that adds value to your prospect’s life. And the offer is so irresistible that they just can’t help but to take action.

Let’s consider an example….

Let’s say that you have a health and wellness business, and have prospects who already know you… thanks to your efforts on social media, along with paid Facebook advertisements.

You know that everyone who clicks on your ad is interested in your niche, because you are specifically targeting people who like Billy Blanks… which means that these are all customers in your target niche.

Now suppose you’re promoting a free video in your ad that promises to reveal a big secret to lose weight in just a week.

When your prospect sees this ad, there is a very good chance that they will be interested in your quick weight loss solution.

So, they take your offer… and give you their email address in exchange for the free video.

That’s how your leads chase their interest and enter your sales funnel.

Now that you have their email address, you can start to build up a relationship with them by delivering all kinds of value to them directly on the back-end with your autoresponder email sequence.

You can also work on building desire within this audience, which takes us to the next stage of the sales funnel.

3. Desire
During this stage of your sales funnel, provide your prospect with relevant and useful information. Communicate to them that you’re an authority in your industry, but try to do so without being snooty.

Present yourself as a pleasant and trustworthy personality.

Your prospect should be like, “Whoa. I’m definitely interested in whatever this person is saying. And I want that outcome!”

In essence, this is the point where you will use copywriting, sales letters, sales videos, headlines, bullet points, story-powered writing, etc. to convince your leads that you are their best hope of solving the problem they’re having.

Here’s a great tip to quickly transition from the interest to the desire stage: Make a one-time offer (OTO).

Creating a sense of urgency has proven to increase click-through-rates (CTRs) by at least 14%!

With the help of an OTO, you can encourage those who are already hungry for what you’ve got to quickly hit the ‘Buy Now’ button.

This is a fantastic way to recover your marketing costs.

After your leads proceed from the interest phase to the desire phase, you can start to utilize the most powerful marketing weapon in your arsenal: Your email follow-up sequence!

We’d recommend using the Gary Vaynerchuk ideaThe Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!

Once your leads opt-in, offer them more valuable content. Remember, the more, the better.

Throw some jabs BEFORE throwing your right hook (the offer).

Include super useful, super relevant content in your email sequences to help your leads know you, admire you, and believe in you.

This helps you to build a relationship.

Then, use your copywriting skills to urge them to buy from you.