Sales Funnel Stages & Definition: An Updated Guide [2022]

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a laptop screen with an icon that indicates sales funnel stages

Ever wonder about the journey of a customer? How do they enter your website, what makes them interested in your product, and what do they mostly do before making a purchase? The journey can be mapped by a sales funnel, a core concept that can take your business to unknown million-dollar heights. But what exactly is a marketing and sales funnel? What are all the sales funnel stages? Are online marketing funnels as effective as they seem? Let’s find out!



What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a digital marketing concept that maps the stages of your customer behaviour, from the moment they land on your website to the moment they leave or make a purchase. The model uses a “funnel”, an analogy that potentially guides your customers on what to do next, based on different tactics. Here’s a quick example:

Imagine a real-world funnel, where we pour people into a filter who came across your business. Unlike real funnel, not all of them will be filtered down to the other end – most of them will leave at some stage, but eventually, some of them will make a purchase. Now, the catch here is to optimize your sales funnel in a way that you best serve your audience. Their mentality should start from “what is this business” to “I am ready to buy this”.

This journey is mostly calculated in three sales funnel stages; top, middle, and bottom layer of the funnel. Mostly, the customer enters the top stage but struggles to make a purchase in the middle. So, what most marketers do is optimize their middle stage, so that customers can enter the bottom cycle.


Brick and Mortar Sales Funnel: Another fine Example

Another great example, taught by every marketer is a brick-and-mortar sales funnel.

The people at the top of the funnel are those that walk by your store. Now, some would walk in, some would just check, and some wouldn’t even bother to look. A small percentage will enter your store and go to the first rack. That’s the middle stage of the funnel. Some of them just saw a beautiful T-shirt on the next rack, they move to the other section. One of them decided to buy the T-shirt and eventually went to the check-out desk. That’s the bottom stage of the funnel.


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Why a Sales Funnel is Important?

As a business owner, you’re supposed to work in order to improve your sales and therefore bring new opportunities to the business. No matter if you’re running a services-based store, an eCommerce business, a YouTube channel, or any other business – the pain of missing out on sales is troublesome. After spending thousands on lead magnets, webinars, marketing, and content, your customer leaves your website, without buying anything. It happens, but it will happen less frequently if you optimize your website.

A sales funnel helps you understand what your customers are thinking, looking, and doing at each stage of their journey. With powerful insights, you can invest in those areas where the performance is low and create a strong message that “your business cares”. And when your customer realizes that you listen to their demands, they will happily make a purchase.


a pyramid showing sales funnel stages


Understanding the 4 Stages of the Sales Funnel

To fully understand what a sales funnel is, it’s essential to review the four stages. While every business has its own needs and demands, each step requires a different approach as you don’t want to convey the wrong message. Let’s look at each stage of the sales funnel:


The first of the sales funnel stages is when a consumer tries to know your brand: this is the awareness stage. The attention can come from any place, it can be a tweet, Google search, an Ad campaign, or a Facebook post that your friend just shared. The prospect of ‘awareness’ is when someone knows about your business and gets a highlight of what you offer.

When the chemistry is right, they sometimes directly buy from your business. If not, they will try to know more about your business and do some research. Most of the time, the awareness stage is courtship for a business. How you can improve this is by offering maximum information. This can be done via a helpful logo, a blog post, or a catchy Facebook description.


This is the second stage of the sales funnel when a customer takes a little bit of interest in your business. At this stage, they are still unsure whether to buy from you or not. They may do some research, compare your products with other brands, and might think of other options in the same niche.

If your website has incredible content, it will help them make the buying decision. If your business is only trying to sell from the start, you might chase your consumer away. The best strategy is to help the consumer make an informed decision. Help them with useful, informational content, not just sales pitches.


At the decision stage, your consumer has done all his research and is well aware of what they are going to buy. This is the time to make your best effort and offer maximum convenience to the customer. It can be in the form of free shipping, a bonus product, a discount code, or a competitive price. Whatever the case, make sure that they jump straight to the last sales funnel stage.


And last, but not least is the action stage, where your customer acts with your business and buys a product or service. However, just because your consumer reaches the end of the stage, doesn’t mean that your job, as a marketer, is over. You should again convince them to enter the first stage and therefore build their interest around some other product. To sum up, customer retention is the main highlight of the sales funnel’s bottom stage.



In conclusion, we’re sure that you’re now well aware of what a sales funnel is and how it works. Creating and optimizing an online marketing funnel is a complicated task, but once done right can lead to some amazing results. Take time to build out a sales funnel and get to know your audience in each step. Express gratitude, cultivate it over time and adjust your approach based on previous findings.

Disclosure: Links and ads, inside this article, are sponsored. If you purchase through them, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
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I'm the founder and editor of this tech blog. My mission is to help people providing tech news, reviews and tutorials of the products that I consider essential to be successful in traditional and online entrepreneurship.


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