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What is a Sales Funnel? How to Create Your Marketing Sales Funnel

Emily R

If you have entered the world of marketing your products and services online, you need to understand the answer to the question, “What is a sales funnel?” Marketing sales funnels, or conversion funnels, work more like drip coffee filters than funnels.

What is a Sales Funnel?

When you make coffee, you don’t want the ground solids in your cup. They’re scratchy and uncomfortable to swallow. You only wish to have very fine particles, water, and solutes in your cup.

Likewise, with visitors to your website, you’re looking only for the finest selection of qualified customers: those likely to make a purchase. You cannot spend time on those who will not likely pay for your product or service, and you need to filter out the unlikely buyers and funnel the quality customers to the sale.

How Does a Marketing Sales Funnel Work?

Sales funnels involve a number of steps designed to take customers closer and closer to the funnel’s target, which, generally, is a sale. As the group of visitors nears the goal, the group loses individuals, until only the highest quality potential customers reach the last step … the sale … of the funnel.

Clickfunnels’ blog illustrates a marketing funnel like this:

What Is a Sales Funnel - Focus on Leads Before the Sale

The Top of the Funnel is the Widest

An example of an online sales funnel, for a retailer, for example, might be getting visitors to a website via search engines or social media. If you have done your due diligence with search engine optimization (SEO) or social media marketing (SMM), your top-of-the-funnel group may include many visitors. Many, but not all, probably have a superficial interest in your niche.

That’s a broad population, and you don’t want to spend your business’ resources on handling every one of them. Some of those visitors will reach the site, see that it’s not what they were looking for, and immediately click away to do something else. They’re not interested; the funnel narrows.

The Marketing Sales Funnel Narrows

Those who stuck around to look at your site may be a little more interested. Maybe they read your copy, view your infographic, take a look at some photos, or otherwise view your content.

You want your call-to-action, or your initial offering, near the top of the funnel, to present a low risk for the customers: something that costs no more than an email address or a very low-value action, such as a “like” or “follow” on Facebook or Instagram:

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Your remaining site visitors, at this point, either click on your call-to-action or eventually click away; the funnel narrows again. Those who click through seem to have more interest than those who click away.

As the group continues through steps, clicking through your funnel, lower quality clients click away, and higher quality clients continue closer and closer to your target. The funnel narrows, and eventually, they reach the destination.

It’s kind of like meeting someone you’d like to know at the grocery store. You don’t walk up and say, “Hey, I want to marry you.” You start with a casual nod of the head or a smile in passing: low-risk, non-committal, and comfortable.

Here’s how Hubspot illustrates its sales funnel, including calls-to-action:

What is a Sales Funnel Call to Action

The Sales Funnel Steps Are Easy and Logical Upsells

The sales funnel is nothing new. Before the internet came along, we were already participating in sales funnels. Look at this exchange:

  1. The first low-risk decision: “I’ll have a turkey sandwich with everything.”
  2. An even lower-risk option: “Including the jalapenos? They’re spicy!”
  3. The second low-risk decision: “Yes, I like jalapenos.”
  4. The first upsell … a slightly higher-risk, but easy decision: “How about some extra avocado? It’s only 25 cents if you purchase a drink with the sandwich.”
  5. Accepting the upsell: “Yes. I’d like avocado, and I’ll have a lemonade.”

You already know how the rest of it goes. The customer started with a $4.99 turkey sandwich and ended up buying a drink, extra avocado, a bowl of soup, some potato chips, and a high-end desert coming to about $20.00. Each decision has been made easier by the previous decision, and the logical sequence takes the customer through a series of choices that make it easier to say, “yes,” than, “no.”

The customer goes away paying about $10 more than expected, but happy because he had satisfying chips and dessert and walked away feeling full and relaxed. By breaking the journey into easy, tiny steps, it was smooth and painless.

How to Build Your Marketing Sales Funnel

Now that you understand what is a sales funnel, you can find a number of tools online to help you build your sales funnel. Clickfunnels and Leadpages are two popular options, and both allow you to split-test your web pages, use simple templates, collect data from opt-ins, create check out pages, and try them out for free.

What is a Sales Funnel Chart


Using Clickfunnels, for example, you can take advantage of pre-built funnels. It’s pre-built funnel templates include …

  • Live Demo Funnel
  • Bridge Funnel
  • Video Sales Letter Funnel
  • Squeeze Page Funnel
  • 2-Step Tripwire Funnel
  • Lead Magnet Funnel
  • Ask Campaign Funnel
  • Summit Funnel
  • Membership Funnel
  • Cancellation Funnel
  • Sales Letter Funnel
  • Auto Webinar Funnel
  • Reverse Squeeze Page Funnel
  • Invisible Funnel
  • Application Funnel
  • Webinar Funnel
  • Daily Deal Funnel
  • Product Launch Funnel
  • Homepage Funnel
  • Hero Funnel
  • Survey Funnel
  • Storefront Funnel

What is a Sales Funnel Split Test


The Clickfunnels permit A/B tests, which it calls “Split Tests,” so that you can compare the results of two different options in your sales funnel. Split testing makes it easy to improve your funnel based on visitor data.

Designed to help anyone easily build their funnel, Clickfunnels uses drag-and-drop page design, and its Backpack feature helps users create a shopping cart tailored to your business’ needs.

Another Clickfunnel feature, Actionetics, sets up automated email campaigns segmented to different lists, based upon user actions and profiles. Clickfunnels explains its features, like Backpack and Actionetics through simple, easy-to-understand videos. It’s about as simple and easy as sales marketing funnels can get.

What is a Sales Funnel Backpack Video


Now that you understand a little more about sales funnels and have your answer to “What is a Sales Funnel?”, it’s time to get to work on your business’ marketing sales funnel. Remember that you can get started with free trial funnel builders, and, if their features seem effective, you can subscribe. A well-built conversion funnel will save you and your co-workers enough time to justify the cost, and you can use the funnel to grow your online business.

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