What Is A Sales Funnel?
I’ve thrown the word “Funnel” around a lot lately, but I’m aware that a lot of people have no idea what it is.
So I thought I should just do justice to it once and for all.
However, when I decided to start publishing daily, starting October 1, 2020, I also decided to never publish Googled-up or heavily-researched posts. Wanted my posts to come straight from my experience and from my heart.
And if I did any research, it would simply be to complement my raw experience.
In fact, I hope to be able to include a lot of documentation – live posts about things I’m currently doing. Just so you can see my wins and losses, frustrations and celebrations, and the steps I’m taking to achieve something or improve any situation, all in real time.
Because of this, I might not be able to give you a straightforward, or generally-accepted, definition of a funnel.
In this article, I’ll use descriptions and practical instances to let you understand better what a funnel is.
Let’s start with where this concept got its name from.
The normal funnel you know!
That cone-shaped tool you can use to pour liquid into a container with a small opening, to ensure the liquid doesn’t spill all over.
The marketing funnel adopts that name because of the shape, in order to symbolize how people naturally interact with a business. A lot of people come in contact with a business, but only a fraction of those people end up becoming customers.
Everybody has a funnel!
I always like to start my talks about funnels with the fact that everybody has a funnel.
If you run any type of business, if you sell anything, you already have a funnel…even if you don’t understand what funnels mean.
From the explanation I already gave about funnels, let’s think about the sales process generally.
Let’s say you open a local store…several people would walk by your store and look at it, perhaps because it’s new. Most would see your sign post, and because of that, they become aware of your store’s existence.
Most people would only pass by and never enter, nor even give it a second look. However, some people, out of the multitude passing by, would decide to enter your store.
Some would only want to satisfy their curiosity because they were wondering what you’re selling. Some would come window-shop and simply look at the nice things you sell, without buying.
Some would even enter with the intention of buying, but for some reason (you don’t have what they want, or they can’t afford your stuff, or they don’t like what you have, or they simply don’t like you, or any other possible hundred reasons) they wouldn’t end up buying.
However, a small percentage would buy what you sell, whether it’s on their first visit or on another visit.
This sounds like normal business sales process, yea? But it’s a funnel nevertheless. Don’t care what else anyone tells you.
The only thing that separates the big winners from others is that they consciously and intentionally optimize/hack their funnels to get even better results (sometimes 10x or even 100x) from this otherwise natural process.
So, what is a funnel?
A funnel is simply the process you take your prospects through, from being strangers to becoming customers.
The reason what I described qualifies as a funnel is because it follows the three basic steps of any funnel: awareness, evaluation/consideration and conversion.
When someone gets to see/hear about/meet your brand for the first time, they become aware of it. They are in the first stage of your funnel.
No matter how great your brand or product is, you can only catch the attention of a lesser percentage of interested people. Not everybody that comes in contact with you/your brand/business would check it out. Most people would simply ignore you.
But those that check out what you do or sell just landed at the second stage of your funnel: evaluation/consideration.
They’re evaluating you and considering doing business with you.
Unfortunately, some would lose interest at this stage, perhaps they got disinterested or saw something that put them off or aren’t even qualified to do business with you. Those wouldn’t go beyond that stage. And that would be a larger percentage.
There however are some that would end up buying from you, now or later. These are the few people that get to the end of your funnel: conversion stage. That is, they get converted from prospects/strangers/leads/whatever to paid customers.
There are ONLY 3 steps!
No matter how complicated a person’s funnel is, or how sophisticated their marketing and systems are, it still follows these basic three stages – even if their funnel has 100 steps.
No matter how much someone sees your brand, if they don’t come in or follow you or opt into your list or engage your social media post or profile or give you a call, or request more info, they are still in the aware stage.
And no matter how much a person hangs around your business, even if they are your top follower or biggest fan or even use your logo as their wallpaper and attend your events, as long as they haven’t bought something from you – paid you money in exchange for your product or service – they remain at the evaluation stage.
They don’t convert into buyers unless they pay for what you sell – even if they are your top referrers and sent 100 customers your way.
And once someone buys from you, even if they are repeat buyers and keep buying every day or even become affiliates, they remain in the convert stage.
Steps, nomenclature or type doesn’t matter
Yes, I’m aware several people add several steps to their own idea of a funnel, but just look at their steps very well: each of them is only an extension of one of these basic funnel stages.
Your business can only have: aware, evaluate and convert. It’s the reason major ad platforms categorize their Objectives this way!
The name a funnel is given or the classification/type it’s given (which most times are proprietary to the gurus giving them) doesn’t matter: it MUST still follow these basic/natural stages, for it to work or even qualify as a funnel.
You’d hear “sales funnels”, “marketing funnels”, “conversion funnels”, and so on. They all mean the same thing, and they all follow the same basic steps.
Then you’ve probably heard different types of funnels, like “squeeze funnel”, “webinar funnel”, “presale funnel”, “application funnel”, “lead funnels” or “lead-generation funnels”, etc. They have different goals and varying steps, but they all follow the same three basic stages. That’s what qualifies them to be funnels anyways.
Let’s take a webinar funnel for example.
You tell someone a webinar is holding for “xyz” benefits; they become aware of your brand.
A larger percentage of people would look away, but they are already aware anyways. The people that register for the webinar are already considering or evaluating your business. This extends to actual attendance of your webinar.
And whoever buys your stuff at the end of the webinar simply converts.
It’s same three steps everywhere!
Your job as a business owner is to make sure you hack the “natural” funnel structure and consciously optimize it for greater results than the natural business funnel can ever give you.
If optimizing your funnel can only get you 2x results at each basic stage, then that becomes an 8x result (2x2x2). I mean, 8x the result you’re getting without a funnel. 8x your current sales without a funnel.
This is what separates you from your competition and helps you beat them hands down.
How do you optimize your sales funnel?
This article is already getting too long, so I’d have to write on optimization at another time.
But ideally, you want to start from the very beginning; from the top of your funnel.
How do you currently make people aware of your brand/product? If it’s just offline word of mouth, why don’t you try social media? If it’s organic social media, why don’t you try social ads?
You see the trend? That’s how it works.
You simply do this for each stage.
How do you currently get people to check your stuff out or come through the door? Answer that then think: what better way can I make people come check out my stuff? Or how can I amplify/optimize what’s currently bringing people through my door?
And for conversion, you ask: how am I currently making those that check me out become buyers? What exactly is making them buy? How can I amplify the efforts of that thing? How can I make more people buy?
Your answers to these questions will guide you into optimizing each stage of your funnel, till you, at least, 8x your current results.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you specific things you can do at each stage to optimize them and get an 8x result. But hey, my ideas will be restricted to online funnels. This is 2020! Lol.
What’s the essence of writing a great post without selling? You’re not the only one trying to 8x your business! 🙂
Since you’ve “evaluated” me thus far, if you think you’d need my help to set up a well-optimized funnel or help you optimize the one(s) you currently have, so that you can get even better results (aka more sales), then shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s discuss and see if you’re a good fit for my Septuplar Sales System Coaching Program. And if you are, I’d be glad to work with you on not just your funnel, but on EVERYTHING you need to consistently get profitable sales that will grow your business exponentially.
“Funnel” is just one part (the 4th pillar) of The Septuplar Sales System. If a basic funnel can 8x your current results, imagine what the other six pillars would do to your business. (And mind you, I don’t do basic!!).
Click that Compose button now and reach out to me so that we can get started fast! Again, it’s email@example.com.
May your business set you free!
PS: I’d love to read from you; what are your thoughts about this post?
Meet the Author
Hello! I’m Oludami Yomi-Alliyu. I'm on a mission to help driven entrepreneurs grow their business and attain freedom through consistent, profitable sales. This is why I created the Septuplar Sales System, out of my experience turning around my business failure and now consistently getting returns of over 5x my ad spend.Learn more