In 1898, E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a model that mapped a theoretical customer journey from the moment a brand or product attracted consumer attention to the point of action or purchase.[1] St. Elmo Lewis’ idea is often referred to as the AIDA-model, an acronym that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. This staged process is summarized below:
Getting this timing right prevents losing prospects by bombarding them with too much information or giving them the hard sell too early. This is why moving prospects through the funnel is often called “nurturing.” Seventy-eight percent of business buyers seek salespeople who act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry. Prospects should ideally only receive the information and sales help they need when they need it.
If the deal is won, your sales reps move the deal to the won stage in the pipeline and begin onboarding the new customer. Some leads may slip through the cracks for reasons that are beyond the control of your sales techniques, like budget constraints. It is important to keep a record of the lost leads too so you can track the reasons why you lost them, and nurture those prospects in the future to win back their business and relationship.
Intuitively speaking, it makes sense to try and minimize the time spent on each stage, so that you shorten the length of your average sales cycle. That said, remind your sales reps to exercise discretion when doing this—they shouldn’t rush their leads into the next stage of the process if their lead isn’t ready to move on. Remember: no one likes a sales rep who’s too pushy or aggressive, and moving your lead along too quickly can ultimately backfire on you.
Exits from stage – Similarly, seeing an excessively high number of people falling out of a particular stage is an indication that you aren’t doing enough to answer their questions or you’re asking them for too much of a commitment too early. Add more content to give them the information they need to move forward or make it easier for people to convert (e.g. don’t ask for a phone number when they’re downloading a certain e-book).
You’ve given the prospect all of the information they need to make a decision by this point; they simply need to make it. Lots of people get stuck in this part of the sales funnel, so it is your job to nudge them closer and closer to making a sale without being too pushy. A great option would be to throw in a bonus for free to to offer a limited-time discount.
This is exactly what it sounds like—the total number of opportunities across each stage of your sales funnel. Here, you’ll want to ensure that you have a good balance of leads in each stage of your sales funnel. If you notice an excessive amount of leads in any one stage, this might mean that your reps are struggling to move them down the funnel, which is cause for concern.
If you're wondering what a sales funnel is, simply imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of that funnel, some substance is poured in, which filters down towards one finite destination. In sales, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will reemerge out from the other end. 
It’s important to note that there is not a single agreed upon version of the funnel; some have many “stages” while others have few, with different names and actions taken by the business and consumer for each. In the diagram below, we’ve done our best to pull out the most common and relevant funnel stages, terms, and actions so this information is useful to as many marketers as possible.
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