No matter how your type of business attracts customers, all potential customers are likely to ask similar questions and take similar steps to determine whether or not they will buy from you. A sales funnel is a chart that visually represents your customer’s journey. A sales funnel can help train and prepare your sales team or help you understand your product and sales experience from your customer’s perspective.
All sales funnels are made up of a series of steps that your potential customers follow as they “flow through” the mass of all targeted customers to become a qualified lead and ultimately make an actual purchase. The most basic version of these stages was first devised by publicity advocate Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Awareness/Attention, Interest, Desire/Decision and Action, or AIDA, describe the four stages that make up any sales funnel.
Awareness, also called attention, is the stage where your targeted customers first learn about your product. Interest describes when a customer becomes interested or aware of your product. When the customer shows a preference or a desire to choose your product over others, you have reached the desire stage. The action follows when the customer starts a trial or actually buys the product.
Basic structure of a sales funnel
The basic structure of any sales funnel has three main levels: top, middle, and bottom. Each level is also divided into sub-levels.
Top of the funnel
All sales funnels will start with sensitization, the stage at which potential customers should first learn about your product or service. The top of the funnel is the widest section because it contains the huge mass of potential customers that you are targeting with advertising when promoting your product. At this stage, you start by researching your potential customers, then target them using online ads, content marketing, cold calling, and emails to turn them into leads.
The top section will also include the next step, interest, which starts looking for prospects who may have had some type of contact with your brand, product, or service, but don’t yet see it as something they want. This can be done through product demonstrations, service offerings, and developing your leads through follow-up phone calls and more targeted marketing.
middle of the funnel
You enter the decision step with your potential customer when you start sending proposals or quotes and negotiating the terms. At this point, your prospect has decided that they like your product or service, but must make the final decision if they really want to buy. Depending on your business, this could be a large or a small part of the funnel. It may be a quick process from awareness to purchase, or you may need to keep looking for leads for a bigger sale.
Bottom of the funnel
Finally, you enter the stock stage where you “close the deal” with your new client. It’s the decision-making stage for your potential customers and it’s the time you need to prove your worth and build trust in order to stand out from your competitors. This can take many forms depending on how your product is delivered. Is it a single product or service, or do you integrate them into a subscription platform? In any case, the integration and payment transactions take place at this stage.
Depending on your business, some funnels may have additional steps down the funnel post-purchase designed to build customer loyalty and build recurring business. This step is about maintaining customer satisfaction after purchase to generate a loyal and lasting relationship with your customers.
Free Sales Funnel Template
Providing your team with a sales funnel unique to your specific process can be a huge help in visualizing the steps each team member needs to take to close their deals. Download our free sales funnel template and customize it to your needs.
Download Free Sales Funnel Template