A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps out the journey a customer goes through when making any kind of purchase. The model uses a funnel as an analogy because a large number of potential customers may begin at the top-end of the sales process, but only a fraction of these people actually end up making a purchase.

As a prospect passes through each stage of the funnel, it signifies a deeper commitment to the purchase goal. Most businesses, whether online or conventional, use this model to guide their marketing efforts in each stage of the sales funnel.

Understanding the Phases of a Sales Funnel

To create a successful sales funnel, we need to start by understanding the four phases of a sales funnel. These four phases include the awareness stage, the relationship stage, the sales stage and the upsell stage.

Awareness Stage
In the Awareness Stage, your goal is to let people know that you exist. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make people aware of my business?” In truth, there are many ways to reach your target customers and build brand awareness:

Content marketing is one way to build an audience and create brand awareness. Writing articles can drive traffic to your website through SEO and social media while also allowing other people to see you as an expert in your field.

Video is another tool that can help build awareness. Videos can allow people to see who you are as a person and form a deeper connection with you. Videos can also be used to demonstrate a product (or service) or share other ideas.

Paid advertising can be a great way to reach your target audience quickly. Paid ads often allow you to target people by preferences or demographics.

Word of mouth and referrals will start to generate awareness for your business if your products or services and content are good. While getting customers through referrals is nice, it can be hard to plan and rely on this method. Instead, build a real marketing system that provides predictable revenue and results.

Relationship Stage
Once people become aware of your brand, you want to continue to build a relationship with them in the Relationship Stage. In this stage, ask yourself how you can build trust and authority so that people will feel comfortable buying from you. Think about what communication channels will allow you to communicate with your audience most effectively.

Email marketing is a popular choice for online marketers because it is relatively inexpensive. Once someone joins your email list, you can keep communicating with them by sending emails. You can even use re-targeting to show ads to people who visited your site before so that you can continue to build brand familiarity with those prospects.

Sales Stage
After your prospects have been through the Relationship Stage, send them to the Sales Stage so that you can close the sale. In this stage, ask yourself what is the best way to get people to pay. If your Relationship Stage is well designed, then selling should be easy. Your customer will already want to buy your products or services. However, you can still improve your results by having a strong Sales Stage.

For example, say your selling event tickets for a high-profile tech conference, the Sales Stage might consist of a landing page with a video and a list of featured speakers. It could also list other benefits of attending, like being able to network with other successful individuals and businesses.

Upsell Stage
Finally, the Upsell Stage is where businesses can make more money by selling additional related products or services to their customers. Think back to every drive thru order ever, if you’re on the ordering side and you’ve asked for a cheeseburger, more often than not, your operator will ask, “Would you like fries with that?”. That’s an upsell.

Asides from generating more revenue for your business, upselling can also improve the customer experience. Some people purchasing a ticket to your live conference might be willing and even wanting to pay more to consult with you directly.

When designing your upsells, think about what other products or services that your customers might want. Can you upsell a more expensive product or service that can help them even more? Or can you cross sell them a similar product or service that they might be interested in?

Ultimately, a well designed sales funnel focuses on building relationships. Building a strong relationship is the key to success. Having a relationship building mindset will allow you to provide more value for your customers and therefore drive more growth to your business over the long term.