What is a sales funnel and how to create a free sales funnel

What is a sales funnel and how to create a free sales funnel
Ivan Pavlov
August 20, 2020
Last updated: August 20, 2020

What is a sales (marketing) funnel?

A simple definition of a sales funnel is all of the stages your clients go through – from lead to sale – combined. In other words, it’s the entire journey your customer makes from total unawareness of your brand to investing money in your product or services.

The reason it visually forms a “funnel” shape is because at each stage, more and more clients will end up dropping out – after all, not every person that interacts with your brand will go on to buy your product. But by understanding your customer’s experience at each stage of the funnel, you will be able to shape it into more of a “sales cylinder”, with more people making it to every step of the sales process and, consequently making a purchase.

However, it’s not just about the purchase. Getting familiar with your sales funnel is crucial to growing and retaining your client base.

Now, more than ever before, customer retention is key to creating a loyal following, expanding your business’ presence and maximizing profits. Mastering each of the sales funnel stages will help you guide people through their customer journeys and convert them into loyal clients who keep coming back to you time and time again. It’s not all about getting clients to buy – retention is where your key value is at. And successful retention is woven into each stage of the funnel, from beginning to end.

The sales funnel will also reveal important details about your target audience and the best way to communicate your brand’s message. Think of it as a key that unlocks the insights you need to tailor your marketing strategy and sales approach for optimal results.

Finally, your sales funnel helps identify strengths and weaknesses in your marketing and sales efforts. If huge numbers of prospects are dropping out in between certain stages, your sales funnel will very clearly reveal this ‘weak spot’. You can then adjust what you’re doing to minimize losses and use the funnel to track how well your new strategy works.

So if you want your business to have a chance of growing and lasting, getting to know the sales funnel, especially the way in which it works for your particular business – as well as tricks to get consumers to stay inside the funnel & not drop out – is crucial. In this article, we hope to help you do just that.

Let’s get a better understanding of what each stage is all about:

The 4 Stages of a Sales Funnel 

The stages your clients go through on their journey can be divided into four very distinct steps. Though some definitions of sales funnels outline more stages (by including others such as consideration and intent) we’ll be focusing on the fundamental building blocks of any funnel – whether you're looking at an eCommerce sales funnel or a retail one. Let’s dive in.

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Awareness

At the top of the marketing funnel, you have the Awareness stage. Here, consumers first interact with and become aware of your brand – whether this is through your ad campaigns, e-books, email newsletters, podcasts and even word-of-mouth recommendations.

The more people hear, see or come into any kind of contact with your product, the more leads this stage will generate, and consequently, the more you'll have going through the next stages of the funnel.

In this stage, your key goals are to get as many consumers as possible to
a) become ‘aware’ of your product / services / brand

b) go through to the next stage of the funnel

How do you do that?

Without sounding too clichéd, you really have to focus on your customer.

Yes, you might come up with an awesome video ad that goes viral.

Yes, you might target your prospects everywhere: on their socials, while they’re browsing the internet, and even as they’re walking past their bus stop (which, though somewhat stalker-ish and oftentimes downright annoying, does inevitably imprint your brand or product right into the very depths of the public’s consciousness…).

But if you haven’t identified and are not targeting their problem, while at least hinting that you have the solution, awareness won’t last very long, and you’ll soon be forgotten and replaced by your competitor. Needless to say, this won’t inspire them interact with your brand further and consequently won’t motivate prospects to move on to the next stage.

So in short, make sure you know your customer in detail, speak their language and provide them with a solution to their problem. Do this, and you’ll definitely pique their interest. 

Speaking of which…

Interest

So, you’ve managed to ‘hook’ your leads in & they now know you exist. We’re off to a good start. What next?

Well, this next stage is all about keeping the prospect engaged with your brand and interested in your product(s). This step of the funnel contains all those who responded to your marketing efforts in the Awareness stage and somehow interacted with the content that you produced to get your brand’s name out there. At this stage, potential clients are:

  • seeing what you’re all about and if you truly do have a solution to their problem

  • reading reviews and testimonials, studying your company and your products

  • trying to understand whether they trust the message you’re putting out there – do you truly care about your clients or are you all about the sales?

In other words, they’re doing everything they can in order to make the most informed decision possible.

The length of time that your client spends at this stage depends on a number of factors, but you can help them move through it much quicker. Some clients make an impulse buy and almost skip this stage altogether, whereas some need a lot more time. It’s up to you to make sure your reputation is up to scratch and that you produce the best impression possible, by ensuring that your current clients are happy & leave positive reviews. This way, interested prospects will move through this phase pretty quickly.

Which brings us onto the next stage.

Decision

They’ve done the research and read all the reviews. Or they’ve skipped the previous stage and are making an impulse buy. But whatever the case may be, your prospects have to actively decide to part with their money and make a purchase. There’s a reason the sales funnel narrows between this stage and the next – and that is simply that not everyone will be convinced to make that decision.

Some might argue that the decision is pretty much solely the consumer's responsibility and whether or not they make a purchase depends on factors outside of your control: they have to be in the right mood, feel sure about their decision, do lots of research… the list goes on. And while this might be true to an extent, what this kind of thinking is doing is essentially taking all of the power away from you, as the marketer and brand, and giving it away entirely to the customer.

But this could not be more wrong.

This final stage is when you could be actively losing out on customers, simply by not giving them the gentle nudge they need to commit to a purchase.

Coupons, free delivery, a time-limited discount – make them feel like they’re getting a good deal. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: they’ll feel like they’ve ‘won’ a great offer (something of a dopamine hit) and have a positive association with your brand (making them more likely to come back in case they get another good deal) and you get a customer who could potentially turn into one that stays loyal to your brand.

Action

You did it. You’ve listened to your client’s problem, shown them you have the solution and helped them make the decision to make that purchase. At this stage, you want to make the purchase decision as easy as possible for your client – with a strong call to action.

Essentially, the final stage of the sales funnel is where the ‘sale’ actually happens. But it would be wrong to assume that it’s just about the sale. This is also the stage in which you can determine your conversion rate to see how successful your funnel is at moving prospects through – and beyond – the funnel.

Basically, this is a culmination of all of the previous stages that your client has passed through. How happy your client is by this stage is what determines whether they’ll come back.

How does a sales funnel help with sales?

It’s pretty hard to visualize your company’s sales without the help of a sales funnel.

Not only does it help visually reflect your conversion rates, but it also helps when analyzing each and every stage of your customer’s journey – to see where you’re doing well, and where you need to change your strategy.

This is where numbers come in.

Let’s imagine that based on your metrics and the data you’ve been able to collect, at the very top of your sales funnel – in the Awareness stage – you’ve got around 100,000 people.  And as you move down into the Interest phase, that number drops down to 70,000. By the Decision stage, this turns into a measly 5,000, whereas the Action stage holds 1,000 clients. What would this look like?

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While we hope that this looks nothing like your sales funnel, this hyperbolized example really helps understand the value a marketing funnel has for any business. From the get-go, it’s easy to see above that there are huge numbers of people dropping out during Decision and Action, whereas things stay pretty stable between Awareness and Interest. This sales funnel allows you to see that you have an overall 0.01 conversion rate.

By this point, it’s clear that you’re attracting huge numbers of people through your marketing efforts and managing to keep them interested until they get to the Decision and Action (sale) stages. Using this information, you’d be able to analyze and alter your strategy to minimize these losses, by enticing more clients to start making a decision and taking action on it.

Your sales funnel not only helps you visually process just how many potential customers you’re losing out on, but also understand where it is that you need to alter your strategy in order to minimize these losses and increase the conversion rate.

How to build a sales funnel

In order to create your sales funnel, you’ll generally need to go through the following steps:

  • Identify your client and their problem

As mentioned above, you really need to know your client and understand their problem at the deepest level possible. You might have a few client ‘portraits’ with specific characteristics ranging from age to marital status. All of these will help inform your sales and marketing strategies.

  • Develop a marketing plan

Once you’ve identified your target audience it’s time to well…target them with awesome content! Adapt your message and tone of voice to speak their language and make it very clear that you’ve got the solution to their problem. Some examples include online and offline video ads, posters, Facebook ad campaigns, influencer marketing, and more.

  • Get leads

Now that your brand's message is out there with all that lovely content you're creating, use things like website forms and motivate your clients to refer their friends to grow your lead base.

  • Provide value

Create content that is not only directed at brand awareness – but also free educational materials such as videos, e-books, podcasts and PDFs. Provide value to potential clients and this will result in a much better, more trusting relationship with them which is so much more likely to result in sales.

  • Motivate prospects

Make clients more likely and willing to buy using sales, personalized coupons and time-limited offers. Combine these with a strong call to action and you’ll have yourself a winning formula.

  • Track and analyze

Track how many leads are in each stage of your sales funnel and see what your conversion rates are. Adjust your strategy and try new approaches to boost conversions. Get feedback from clients to see what you can improve on.

  • Stay connected

After the sale, reach out to clients to see how they’re doing. Reward customers for their loyalty with personal discounts.

All of these steps will help you build a strong sales funnel, which you can then tweak and modify.

Bitrix24 – a free tool for automating marketing companies and creating a sales funnel

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Okay, now that you know why your sales funnel is so important, where can you actually see yours? Better yet, where can you find the tools you need to analyze and optimize it to boost sales?

Well, Bitrix24 helps you do that and so much more!

Bitrix24 is a free CRM solution for your business that will help you track your leads, nurture them, and see them through the entire sales funnel and beyond. You can visualize this entire process with the help of the sales funnel that is generated by the CRM – and analyze it by generating reports.

For the majority of businesses, one simple sales funnel will not be enough. In Bitrix24, you can start off with sales funnel templates and personalize these to create your very own funnels with customized stages that are specific to your business and your clients’ journeys. Furthermore, with Bitrix24, you can create multiple sales funnels for different products or services. You can then go one step further and link these into sales tunnels – to find out how well you do in selling additional services, for example.

Not only that, but you can use the inbuilt analytics tools that help you see what’s working in each of your sales funnel stages. From the effectivity of your traffic sources, to how effectively each of your managers works with these sources, as well as how they process leads – all the info that you need to improve your strategy and your team’s skills is right inside Bitrix24.

And if that all wasn’t enough – we also have a great little tool that really helps improve your sales process and, consequently, your entire conversion funnel.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a way of knowing which leads are worth investing time and effort into?

Time travel is one option, but technology is still a little far from that. And while we're waiting – there's something much more convenient (and probably safer, too).

Bitrix24 CRM comes with an "AI Scoring" feature that automatically evaluates each lead and shows what will influence 'winning' or 'losing' deals, giving your managers the insights they need to tailor their approach for maximum sales and conversion rates. All this – and no jet lag from traveling across time and space.

So, what are you waiting for? Join over 7,000,000 companies that have grown their businesses with Bitrix24 – get your account today and get access to CRM, sales funnels, reports, AI Scoring and so much more:

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In conclusion 

Your sales funnel is the key to understanding how well your business is doing and unlocking its potential. Not only does it help by breaking down the complexity of the sales process into a manageable, step-by-step journey, with a clear visual depiction of how well you’re able to convert clients, but it also helps you to modify and adapt your strategy to your customers’ needs.

The result?

Happy, loyal clients, who keep coming back and choosing your business over your competitors – meaning bigger sales with higher conversion and retention rates for you!

 

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