What is a Sales & Marketing Funnel?

The Sales & Marketing Funnel is a marketing process that helps you generate leads, convert them into customers and retain them for the long-term through different stages of the customer journey. This guide will help you understand how to build an effective sales funnel step by step.

1. What is a Sales & Marketing Funnel?

A sales and marketing funnel is a method of lead generation and lead nurturing that turns prospects into customers. It’s a process, but it’s also a visual representation of where you are in the sales cycle.

The Sales & Marketing Funnel starts with leads, which are people who have expressed interest in your product or service. In order for these leads to become paying customers, they must be nurtured through several stages: Awareness (A), Consideration (C), Decision (D), Purchase (P), Loyalty (L) and Referral (R).

Leads can enter at any point on the graph; however as they progress through each stage they become more qualified as potential buyers.

2. The 3 Stages of the Sales & Marketing Funnel

The first step in your sales funnel is the awareness stage. This is where you are showing up and being visible to prospects. You’re telling them about yourself and your product/service, but they aren’t buying anything yet. You can think of this as a cold call or an email blast or even just putting up a flyer at a local cafe or bar. The point is that you’re trying to get people’s attention, so you want to make sure that whatever method you use isn’t going to turn them off before they even give you a chance!

Next comes interest stage—this is where people actually pay attention enough for their curiosity to be piqued by what you have said/written/heard about yourself in the awareness stage and now they want more information before making any decision one way or another (i.e., buying). They might subscribe (for free) so they can see what else comes next; follow along on social media; sign up for an upcoming webinar; fill out an application form—whatever it takes! The key here is getting these leads into some sort of digital database so they can easily be contacted later once they’ve decided whether or not what you offer makes sense for them right now.”

2.1 A – Awareness

The first step to getting your products or services out there is creating awareness for them. Awareness can be generated through a variety of channels, including:

  • Word of mouth. The best marketing you’ll ever do is to have satisfied customers tell their friends about you. Word-of-mouth marketing has been proven time and time again as one of the most effective ways to reach new prospects and get people talking about your brand.
  • Referrals from existing clients or partners who trust you enough to refer others to work with you on projects or purchases is also an effective way of generating awareness for your business in addition to building trust among potential customers who don’t know what kind of service they will receive if they do decide to give it a try.

2.2 I – Interest

In our example, the prospect has been reading an article on your website and is interested in learning more about your product or service. The prospect will now do some research into the topic by looking at other websites and online forums to find out more information.

The interest stage is often triggered by a piece of content you have published, such as an article or blog post. This can also happen when people see a tweet that links back to your site with relevant information on it.

2.3 D – Decision

The decision stage is where a prospect is deciding whether or not to buy. If a prospect isn’t sure about your product or service, they will not make a purchase. The decision stage is the most important part of the sales process because it determines whether or not you will get paid for your work. You cannot afford to skip this step!

2.4 A – Action

In the action stage, prospects become customers by taking some kind of desired action. The action can be as simple as filling out a form or clicking on a link to more complicated interactions such as visiting your store or making purchases. Action stages are often used in sales funnels where they serve to convert prospects into customers who have made an initial purchase or commitment from you.

Action stages allow you to track how many visitors take the next step in your funnel, which can be useful for evaluating potential success and driving future growth (and revenue).

3. How to Build a Strong Sales & Marketing Funnel

The sales & marketing funnel is one of the most important elements in your business, so it’s imperative that you have a strong understanding of how to build one.

Here are the steps:

  • Create a marketing plan (this will help you define your target audience, the value of your product and more)
  • Define your target audience (this will help you create content that resonates with them)
  • Define the value of your product or service (this will give buyers confidence in purchasing from you)

3.1 Awareness Stage – Publishing Content that Generates Downloads and Leads

  • Content Marketing

Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing valuable content that addresses your target audience’s needs. It’s more than just blogging—it includes e-books, videos, webinars, and other types of content. The goal is to attract visitors and convert them into leads (the next step in the sales funnel).

  • Lead Generation

Lead generation is a process through which you collect contact information from potential customers or clients who may need your products or services. This could be by collecting their names and email addresses on an online form or by asking them for information via phone calls or emails. In either case, you’re getting people interested enough in what you have to offer so that they provide some level of contact information so that you can follow up with them later on down the line when it comes time for conversion.

  • Download Leads: When someone visits one of your landing pages (a specific web page designed solely for capturing leads), they will see an opt-in form asking them if they’d like more info about what it offers—and where they would like this info delivered (e-mail address). By giving away something free such as an ebook or whitepaper as part of this process helps build trust between customer/client before making any kind purchase decision – something known as Lead Nurturing which works well when paired with lead generation strategies such as contests etcetera!

3.2 Interest Stage – Using Email Marketing Campaigns to Nurture Leads and Build Relationships

Email is an extremely powerful tool for sales and marketing. It’s the most effective channel to reach your target audience, with a high open rate and low cost per acquisition.

You can use email marketing campaigns to nurture leads and build relationships. When people sign up for your emails, they’re giving you permission to contact them again in future campaigns—which means you don’t need as much lead generation as other channels require.

Email marketing also allows you to automate time-consuming tasks while still having full control over the process:

3.3 Decision Stage – Creating Educational Webinars to Convert Prospects into Customers

As you know, the sales funnel is a powerful tool that can help you convert prospects into customers.

Now, while there are many ways to get leads and move them through your sales funnel, webinars are one of the most effective tools for converting prospects into customers.

Why? Because they’re educational!

That means when people see a webinar invitation, they want to learn something new. This gives you an opportunity to teach valuable information about your product or service in an engaging way. The best part? Your prospects don’t have to sit for hours on end—they just need time enough for one lesson.

3.4 Action Stage – Providing Excellent Customer Service to Retain Your Customers and Create Brand Advocates

When it comes to retaining customers, there are two things you want to keep in mind:

  • Customer service is the most important part of your company. If your customers are happy with the experience they have with you, they’re more likely to come back and make future purchases.
  • The final stage in the sales and marketing funnel is customer service. This is where you can provide excellent customer service and create brand advocates – people who will tell their friends and family about how great your business is.

Building an effective sales & marketing funnel requires planning, consideration and plenty of research into what your audience wants at each stage of their customer journey.

  • Planning: You can’t market your product without knowing how you’re going to do it. You need a plan and a budget, so that you don’t go over the top or under-budget.
  • Considering your audience: You need to know who your target audience is and what they want from you before you start any kind of marketing campaign.
  • Researching into what your audience wants: Getting feedback from potential customers is key in understanding their needs, as well as finding out how best to communicate with them.


We hope you gained some valuable information about sales & marketing funnels and how to create them. If you’re looking for more resources on the subject, we highly recommend checking out our new book, Losing Funnel Focus. Need a CRM to help with all this, we recommend HubSpot.