In today’s competitive business world, having a well-built sales funnel is essential to the success of any business. A sales funnel simplifies the often confusing description of a business’s sales pipeline into an easy-to-understand graphical structure. It can be useful for any business, whether they have a small sales team or hundreds of reps executing large-volume sales. The funnel allows visualization of the customer journey from start to finish, improving sales processes, forecasting revenue, gaining insight into customers, and managing sales overall.

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a marketing concept that refers to the journey a potential customer goes through to become a paying customer. It is a series of steps that prospective customers take as they move towards becoming qualified leads and eventually making a purchase.

The concept was first introduced by advertising advocate Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 and is often described by the acronym AIDA, which stands for Awareness/Attention, Interest, Desire/Decision, and Action. The Awareness stage is when targeted customers first learn about your product, followed by Interest when they become interested in it. The Desire stage is reached when the customer demonstrates a preference or desire to choose your product over others, and Action occurs when the customer either starts a trial or makes a purchase.

Significance of a Solid Sales Funnel

An effective sales funnel can help increase productivity, make forecasting and insights easier, and improve customer relations. On average, the conversion rate across all industries is around 3.9%, with B2B tech as low as 1.7% and professional services averaging around 9.3%. A sales funnel helps businesses focus on and strategize with only those leads most likely to be converted, saving time and increasing productivity by not pursuing unqualified leads.

Additionally, using a sales funnel provides valuable insights about prospective customers as they move through each funnel stage, enabling businesses to better predict sales success and improve product or service development. A sales funnel can also help in identifying prospects who are not moving to the next funnel stage, allowing businesses to better understand their needs and improve customer relations.

Common Sales Funnel Strategies

B2B Consulting Sales Funnel

B2B services typically include consulting businesses like IT management, law firms, accounting, marketing agencies, and more. The B2B sales funnel is similar to other funnels but focuses more on educating prospective customers during the interest stage. Sales reps spend time explaining how the service can best benefit their business. Then, reps create a proposal that the customer may consider and negotiate before making a final purchasing decision.

Enterprise Sales Funnel

Enterprise sales involve selling products or services to larger, enterprise-sized companies. The sales funnel for these types of businesses is slightly different because the sales are typically much larger, requiring more relationship-building with each prospective customer. Sales representatives first determine if leads are qualified to purchase the product or service, and then conduct a demo and offer a sales pitch. If the customer is interested, sales reps can proceed with proposals or service trials before closing the deal.

SaaS Sales Funnel

Selling a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product is more complex than selling a physical item, but a sales funnel can still be beneficial. The process begins with making potential customers aware of your SaaS product through online ads, marketing, emails, or cold calls. Sales representatives then follow up with leads to nurture and qualify them, delivering sales pitches or conducting product demos to generate interest.

A proposal with pricing and service terms follows, and the customer considers the product, potentially asking questions or negotiating costs. The deal is won or lost as the customer makes a purchasing decision. The renewal stage is often crucial for SaaS products, which may come much later. Current customers may renew existing plans, upgrade to a better plan, or cancel the service.

Social Media and Email Marketing Sales Funnels

While brokerage, B2B, SaaS, and enterprise sales can be complex, a sales funnel can still be useful for businesses selling via social media and email marketing. This type of funnel follows the same AIDA steps, with social media posts generating awareness, emails to subscribed prospects attracting interest, an online event guiding decision-making, and offering the product to drive action.

General Guidelines

To create the most effective sales funnel for your business, it’s important to have a deep understanding of your sales pipeline and how each stage contributes to converting leads into paying customers. Here are the steps to building a successful sales funnel for your business in 2024:

Step 1: Define Your Target Audience

The first step to building a successful sales funnel is to define your target audience. You need to know who your ideal customer is, what their pain points are, and what motivates them to make a purchase. By imagining your ideal customer and considering their communication preferences and where to find them, you can build a sales funnel that effectively moves them from lead to purchase.

Step 2: Create Awareness

The second step is to create awareness of your business and offerings among your target audience. This is the widest section of the funnel, as it targets a large number of potential customers through advertising to raise awareness. To turn these potential customers into leads, research is conducted and targeted marketing methods such as online ads, content marketing, cold calls, and emails are used. The interest stage is the next step, which involves pursuing leads that have had some contact with your brand but are not yet interested. This can be achieved through product demonstrations, service proposals, and lead nurturing via targeted marketing and follow-up phone calls.

Step 3: Capture Leads

Once you have created awareness, the next step is to capture leads. This can be done by offering something of value to your potential customers in exchange for their contact information. Examples include eBooks, webinars, free trials, and more. It’s important to have a clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA) when trying to capture leads. Your CTA should be prominently displayed and explain exactly what the potential customer will receive in exchange for their contact information. The offer should be relevant to your target audience and provide value.

When designing your lead capture form, keep it simple and only ask for necessary information. The more fields a potential customer has to fill out, the less likely they are to complete the form. Typically, just asking for a name and email address is enough to capture a lead. Once you have captured a lead, it’s important to follow up quickly.

Research shows that leads who are contacted within an hour of submitting their information are much more likely to convert into paying customers. Use an automated email campaign or a sales rep to follow up with leads shortly after they provide their information. It’s important to provide a clear path for your leads to take the next step. This can be done through a series of automated emails or by assigning a sales rep to follow up with the lead. The goal is to provide enough information and support to convert the lead into a paying customer. By effectively capturing leads, businesses can increase their chances of success and maximize the potential of their sales funnel.

Step 4: Nurture Leads

While finding leads can be simple, nurturing and converting them into customers can be challenging. Nurturing leads is the process of building relationships with your potential customers by providing them with relevant and valuable information. This can be done through email marketing, retargeting ads, and more. The latter stages of a sales funnel involve engaging with customers through interactive content, demos, trials, social media, and other marketing channels. It is important to nurture leads to build relationships with potential customers. Customer relationship management (CRM) software like Pipeliner can be helpful for this process.

Step 5: Convert Leads

The ultimate goal of a sales funnel is to convert leads into paying customers. The next stage of the sales funnel is entered when proposals or quotes are sent and negotiations begin. At this point, the prospective customer has shown interest in the product or service but needs to make the final decision to purchase. This can be done by offering them a product or service that meets their needs and solves their pain points. This stage may vary in size depending on the business, with some sales processes being quick while others require more effort to close a larger sale.

Step 6: Upsell and Retain Customers

The final stage of the sales funnel involves upselling and retaining customers. This step is important because it costs less to retain an existing customer than it does to acquire a new one. By providing exceptional customer service and offering additional products or services, businesses can increase the lifetime value of each customer.

Upselling involves offering customers additional products or services that complement their original purchase. This is an effective way to increase revenue from existing customers.

For example, a customer who purchased a laptop may also be interested in purchasing a laptop case or additional software. Retention involves keeping customers coming back for future purchases. This can be achieved by providing exceptional customer service, offering loyalty programs, and sending personalized follow-up emails. By building strong relationships with customers, businesses can increase customer loyalty and reduce customer churn.

In addition to upselling and retention strategies, businesses can also benefit from collecting customer feedback. This feedback can be used to improve products or services and to identify areas for improvement in the sales funnel. By continuously improving the sales funnel and providing exceptional customer service, businesses can increase customer satisfaction and drive growth.


In conclusion, building a successful sales funnel is a crucial component of any business strategy. By understanding the customer journey from start to finish and effectively targeting potential customers, businesses can improve their sales processes, forecast revenue, gain valuable insights into their customers, and manage sales overall. By following the steps outlined in this article, businesses can create an effective sales funnel and increase their chances of success in the competitive business world of 2024.