Regardless of how your type of business attracts customers, all potential customers will likely 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 a series of steps your prospects take as they “funnel” out of the crowd of all target customers to become a qualified lead and eventually make an actual purchase. The simplest version of these steps was first developed by advertising lawyer 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 known as attention – is the stage when your target customers first learn about your product. Interest describes the moment when a customer becomes interested in or becomes aware of your product. If the customer shows a preference or desire to choose your product over others, you have reached the desire stage. The action follows when the customer either starts a trial or actually buys the product.
Basic structure of a sales funnel
The basic structure of any sales funnel includes three main levels: the top, middle, and bottom. Each level is also usually divided into sub-levels.
tip of the funnel
All sales funnels start with awareness, the stage where potential customers must first become aware of your product or service. The top of the funnel is the widest section, as it contains the massive mass of potential customers you target with advertising as you spread awareness of your product. At this stage, you start researching your prospects and then targeting them with online ads, content marketing, cold calling, and email to convert them into leads.
The top section also includes the next step, interest, which starts by pursuing leads that may have had exposure to your brand, product, or service but don’t yet consider it something they want. This can be done through product demonstrations, service offerings, and by nurturing your leads through follow-up phone calls and other targeted marketing.
middle of the funnel
You enter the decision Phase with your prospect when you start sending proposals or estimates and negotiate terms. At this point, your prospect has decided they like your product or service, but must make the final decision as to whether they actually want to buy. Depending on your business, this can be a large or small part of the funnel. It can be a quick process from awareness to purchase, or you may need to follow up leads for a bigger sale.
bottom of the funnel
Finally, enter the action Phase in which you “close the deal” with your new customer. This is the decision-making phase for your prospects and the time you need to prove your worth and build trust to differentiate yourself from the competition. This can take many forms depending on how your product is delivered. Is it a single product or service, or are you bringing it into a subscription platform? In any case, the onboarding and payment transactions take place in this phase.
Depending on your business, some post-purchase funnels may have additional stages at the bottom of the funnel to create customer loyalty and build repeat business. This stage is all about maintaining post-purchase customer satisfaction to build a long-lasting loyal relationship with your customers.
Free Sales Funnel Template
Providing your team with a sales funnel that is unique to your specific process can go a long way in visualizing the steps each team member should take to close their deals. Download our free sales funnel template and customize it to suit your needs.
Download the free sales funnel template