What is a Sales Funnel?



Here's the best definition of a sales funnel you'll likely ever hear...


Some novice marketers mistakenly think that building a sales funnel is a distinct method or type of marketing. I've heard people refer to this as 'funnel marketing' and there is a belief that there are other methods of marketing which they could use, besides building a sales funnel.

This is a misconception.

The decision making process of every prospect is a journey. The sales funnel is just a term we use to represent the tactics you put in place to help influence their journey and their decision. If you don’t have a sales funnel, it simply means you don’t have comprehensive marketing systems in place. Every tactic you use to guide and influence your prospect’s decision is part of your sales funnel. So every business has one. You just might not have one that has been strategically thought-through.

Here’s the reality. Your future customers, clients or investors will not go from being anonymous prospects to raving fans in a single step. That is a transformation process with many steps in between.

If you look at it from your prospects perspective it’s a decision funnel where they are trying to figure out how to eliminate the many options at the top of their funnel, to the one they will eventually decide on. It’s a complex journey that could take them days, weeks or in some cases, even months.

What you do to influence that journey is what we refer to as your sales funnel.

You influence their journey by developing systems which guide and pull people through their decision making process in such a way that it results in your favor.

So the funnel is the same for them as it is for you. It’s the same journey, from two different perspectives. Their intricate decision making process, and your efforts to guide their decision.

Your most effective marketing system will mirror the journey of your prospect, and influence them as they make their way towards a decision.

Here’s the challenge; most marketing managers have only a high level understanding of this journey. They understand that the prospect is trying to wade through their options and come to a decision, but they ignore the intricacies of this process and so they fail to influence enough prospects to create rapid growth.

A big part of designing a successful sales funnel is understanding where the problem areas are in the first place.

Einstein once said;

If I had only one hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve that problem in less than five minutes.

And this is also true for your marketing. If you can accurately identify the components of their decision funnel, you could create matching steps in your sales funnel, which are designed to influence the outcome of each of their individual steps, keeping the prospect on the path towards you.