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A Beginner’s Guide to Sales Funnels: Getting Started with Sales Funnel Stages – ClickFunnels

A Beginner's Guide to Sales Funnels


If you want to grow your business, you’re going to need to know how to build a sales funnel. There’s simply no other way around it. Your company’s success may very well hinge upon it. If you’ve grown frustrated with a lack of success and stagnant growth, the key to overcoming these challenges may very well lie in developing an effective sales funnel.

But far too many people have very little experience with the sales funnel process. Even if they know they need to become familiar with it, diving into the topic can feel intimidating. If you’re in that camp, you’ve come to the right place.

This is a helpful guide for people who want to learn about sales funnels in just a few minutes. Perhaps you’ve only heard the term before but wanted to know more. Maybe you want to know how to create a sales funnel. Or perhaps you’ve wondered why you should care about them in the first place. This guide will answer your questions and get you started on the path to mastering the art of sales funnel.

What is a Sales Funnel?

Okay, let’s get started off with the basics of an online sales funnel. Here’s a simple sales funnel definition: a sales funnel is a type of marketing strategy designed to turn people into interested customers who buy from you. The whole process starts off with a wide audience and gradually helps the most promising customers move along until they’re regularly purchasing the product or service your company offers.

The sales funnel isn’t necessarily a new thing. In fact, it’s been around for over a hundred years. The concept of a sales funnel was first introduced back in 1898 when an ad agency executive named Elias St. Elmo Lewis came up with the idea. He sought a way to explain the buying process and develop a more effective manner of converting customers. The result was the classic funnel structure with the funnel broken up into four stages. We’ll discuss the stages later, but it’s a model that many organizations still use today. Even as marketing continues to evolve, knowing the basic sales funnel can still be helpful.

History of Sales Funnels have evolved.

Sales funnels aren’t always about selling a specific product. They can be used for that, of course, but there are many different types of sales funnels out there. Some may be used for generating leads, others may be used to bring people to your business’s physical location, while others may be used for generating applications. Whether it’s a lead generation funnel, product funnel, or otherwise, all operate under the same principle of turning people into loyal followers of your brand

A Look At Sales Funnel Stages

Now that you know what sales funnels are, let’s take a look at the sales funnel stages as originally outlined by Elias St. Elmo Lewis.

Sales Funnel Stages

1. Awareness

Sales Funnel Awareness Stage

This stage involves informing people that you exist. Most companies don’t have the luxury of being a universally recognized brand, so your first step needs to make them aware of who you are and what you can do for them. Think of it like an introduction, but one intended to get them to pay more attention to you. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how you stand out from the crowd. When building a sales funnel, this is one step you have to nail since you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

2. Interest

Sales Funnel Interest Stage

The interest stage is all about establishing a relationship with the potential customer. It’s where they look deeply into the problem they’re having and see if you can solve it. The brand doesn’t take a passive role in this either. You need to be constantly working with them, providing them with valuable information as to the solutions you provide.

3. Decision

Sales Funnel Decision Stage

Here’s where the person comes to a decision on how best to tackle the problem they’re facing. That solution comes from you, and they want to know more. In other words, they start looking very carefully at what your company does and what you offer. They haven’t decided to give you money yet, but they’re moving in that direction. If they like what they see, they can move on to the next step.

4. Action

Sales Funnel Action Stage

Everything’s been leading up to this moment. This is where you close the deal and the customer purchases from you. You’ve made the sale and hopefully gotten a lifelong customer in the process.

These steps are usually abbreviated as AIDA, and they were the standard for decades. The AIDA funnel isn’t the only sales funnel out there, however. Some add steps to the process, while others simplify things even further. With so many sales funnel examples out there, let’s look at one in particular.

Russell Brunson’s Sales Funnel

DotComSecrets - 7 Phases of A Funnel

We’re talking about the one ClickFunnels CEO Russell Brunson describes in his book DotCom Secrets. There are some notable changes with this sales funnel.

Above the whole funnel is a cloud labeled as “Traffic,” which represents all the potential customers you could have. Starting out the funnel is a stage called “Bait.” That’s basically where you have something that attracts customers to you, usually in the form of something offered for free. The next stage is “Front End,” which is a product or service that is a little more valuable and costs a little more. The next stages — “Middle” and “Back End” — are similar in that they feature progressively more valuable items that also cost more, all the way until you get to the most valuable and expensive option at the very end of the funnel.

You may notice that the important difference in this funnel is that the prospect is making purchases throughout. The funnel doesn’t end with a single purchase; rather there are always items and services to purchase during the process, and it finishes with a recurring payment option. The best sales funnels will usually include a step that revolves around retention, ensuring customers keep coming back.

Sales Funnels Are The Future

As Russell Brunson explains in this video, sales funnels are the natural evolution of the website. When the internet first burst onto the scene, every company felt like they needed to build a website. Now, they need to create a sales funnel that emphasizes their strengths and reaches new prospects. Without it, they’ll be at a disadvantage from their competition.

Are you ready to build your first sales funnel? Nervous that you’ll mess it up? Don’t be. ClickFunnels offers you the tools you need to easily create an effective sales funnel thanks to pre-built templates that have already proven to convert leads.

If you want to give ClickFunnels a try, you can with a free 14 day trial. Then you can experience how successful working with ClickFunnels can be.

ClickFunnels Free 14 Day Trial

Recommended Reading

Sales Funnels 101: The Mechanics Behind Selling Online

Sales Funnels: The Ultimate Guide

Give Your Sales Funnel a Jaw Dropping Makeover



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