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Sales Funnel Definition: An Explanation of the Shape and Steps

As you try to search for a sales funnel definition, there may be several explanations found online. Some people call it a sales pipeline. Others refer to it as a marketing funnel or a purchase funnel. Whatever term people may use, it follows just one basic principle, and that is capturing a lead to turn it into sales.

To give you a picture of what this sales funnel look like, it basically uses the shape of a funnel or an inverted pyramid minus the sharp bottom.
The sales funnel is an illustration of how the marketing process evolves from a potential customer chancing  upon a website, up to the point where this customer decides to make a purchase. This is the marketing strategy used by most businesses and it helps them get converted sales from leads.

Sales Funnel Explained

Nowadays, there are still marketing managers who make use of the linear chart that they have been used to for plotting out their marketing plan. While they might have heard about the sales funnel, it might be difficult to comprehend because they have not fully understood a sales funnel definition.  A sales funnel diagram is actually much simpler and involves a more straight to the point stages from the top down to the bottom of the funnel.

A sales funnel works in a way that from the top of the funnel the process goes down to the next stage after it has served its purpose. A linear chart on the other hand, has a flow chart that consists of several stages that needs to be followed step by step.

What is good about a sales funnel is that it has also adjusted with the trends of the times. With social media now considered as being a big player in the marketing process, a sales funnel can also be adjusted to include social media to communicate with leads online.

A lead or prospect is most commonly found at the very top of the funnel, while you see different other steps going down and finally the deal is sealed with  a sales at the bottom of the funnel. There can be several factors that may be considered, depending on the type and size of the business, as well as the strategy they want to undertake, to figure out what they want to place in the middle of the funnel.

Immediately after capturing your leads, you will want to segregate the ones who are keen on buying our product from those who are just merely “visiting”. While you go down the narrow parts of the funnel, you just continue to focus your attention to the needs of your selected leads.

Necessary Steps To Consider When Plotting Your Sales Funnel

Structuring a sales funnel needs careful consideration. You will need to do a lot of research and analysis. If you need some help in coming up with your own sales funnel, you can use the steps laid out below:

1. What to Put on Top

As you begin plotting the steps of your own sales funnel, you will need to decide what goes to the very top. We usually see awareness of the product, leads or prospects being placed on the widest area of the funnel. Remember that the first step, which is the top of the funnel, is the process of getting peoples attention to your business or product.

2. Sorting Your Leads

As you start acquiring a list of leads, you begin doing some necessary work of researching about your prospects. During this stage, you can start sending them relevant content to read, observe their activities, making necessary changes if you feel you need to and even giving more time just to observe your prospects. This will help you to successfully take in these leads into purchasing your product.

3. Analyzing your Marketing Strategy and Risk Evaluation

At this stage, you will need to carefully analyze the marketing strategy that you are willing to undertake and evaluate the risks involved. By this time, you are now preparing your qualified leads to commit into purchasing your product, and you have already eliminated those who are still undecided to make a purchase.

4. Closing the Deal

Before you take your prospects to buying the product that they are interested in, give them a good one time offer that can be too hard to resist. As you do this, remember that you need to be very extra careful not to distract their attention into buying your product, as this may only deviate them from heading down your funnel.

5. Creating an Improved Funnel After the Deal is Closed

The good thing about a sales funnel is that you can improve it once you close a deal.  As you look at a sales funnel definition, you do not see that it goes through a cycle. Businesses do not stop as they close a deal. They continuously take step to improve the sales funnel and it can involve adding or removing some steps in the funnel.

Setting Up a List Building Sales Funnel Blueprint

A sales funnel blueprint that can generate lists is what you should look for if you want your business to take off. It is important to focus on building your list initially rather than making a sale. If you are able to attract leads, it does not matter if they are qualified or not at first. There will be plenty of opportunity to get them back if you know what crucial factors are necessary in designing your sales funnel.

There are certain elements you have to include so that you can generate leads that contribute to your conversion rate.

Elements of a Sales Funnel

1. A Compelling Squeeze Page

A squeeze page or landing page is where you solicit opt-in details from leads. Some sales funnel experts find it ideal to keep the squeeze page simple. However, this is your first opportunity to capture information about your visitors. If you are unable to grab their interest the first time, it can affect your opportunities in generating sales later on.

In order to make a compelling squeeze page, you need to present a compelling offer. Target your audience’s needs. In a sense, you are already selling something valuable, so you have to make an interesting offer from the start and reel them in from there.

2. A Simple OTO

After securing the name and email address, you have to seize the opportunity to present a one time offer. You will need a simple offer or solution that addresses the problem of the prospect. Offer a range of product or services such as video tutorials or EBooks that addresses their needs.

Make sure that what you decide to offer is relevant and interesting without overdoing it. You can put forward at least two OTOs, but try not to throw extra sales pitches or the main product will lose its value. Provide links and instructions, preferably through email, so that the prospect can avail of your offer.

3. A Registration Page

You will need to set up this system after you have identified your definite buyers from the prospects. Moving leads to another registration page will help you keep track of your list that you can offer additional products or services to. This is where you close the deal in the sales funnel blueprint. The setup should be clear-cut and concise so leads will make the right decision of buying.

4. A Download Page

This is the page where leads can download the offer found in the squeeze page and OTO. In a sales process, this is where they acquire their purchase and you make a sale. You may want to offer another product, but focus on content as always. Just like the initial offer, keep the subsequent offers relevant and simple.

5. A Reliable Email Marketing System

After qualified leads opt in to avail of your OTO, you will need an email marketing system. If you do not know how to setup an email utility or auto responder, you can try an email marketing service provider. You can also learn from tutorials on how to set up the auto responder in your email account although that might take time. Once you have the system set up, you can focus on making other offers through updating your list.

6. Keep Your Leads Updated

You can do this in two ways. First, you can keep your qualified leads and subscribers updated by regularly sending emails containing helpful content. Second, create useful content that both attract and retain the attention of potential and existing leads. The key is consistency in driving traffic to your site. There are many ways to generate content to get traffic. There are also marketing entrepreneurs that can help you create email content that will keep leads interested.

Design Your Own Blueprint

If creating your own sales funnel blueprint presents too many unknown variables, it is better to hire a project manager. You can also choose to invest some effort in learning how to set up pages and auto responders. However, it will require time to learn online marketing ropes. You could lose opportunities during that period to build your list and make a sale. Try to remember that designing the business sales funnel is just as important as acting on that scheme. Before finalizing the blueprint, make sure all key elements meet your business goals.