Unfortunately, the reason why we call it a marketing funnel instead of a marketing journey or marketing waterfall is that not everyone who enters your funnel will end up buying. At each stage in the buying process, you lose some potential customers, but a good marketing funnel will keep those losses to a minimum and produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing.
Hello Sunil.. thank you for your feedback, it’s great to hear that you are finding this article useful. Re your question: yes, it makes sense to follow-up as often as you need to to reach the decision-maker. At the early stage of cold calling / emailing / SMS you may have to follow-up 6-12 times with a combination of cold calls and cold emails before you get to kick-started with your prospective customer. Obviously if they unsubscribe or say no then you have to respect this. At later stages, non-response would indicate that your prospective customer no longer sees (or has doubts) about the potential value of the solution you are selling. After following-up 2 times at a later stage, I would make it easy for your prospect to voice their concerns by communicating something like: “I’m struggling to reach you, perhaps we could hop on a call for 5 minutes as I’d like to understand your current thoughts rather than assume you are no longer interested in progressing.”

Following their information search — or sometimes running concurrently with this process — potential customers start comparing the alternatives that your article has discussed. Again, the time spent in this stage will vary based on the type of purchase being contemplated. Choosing a restaurant might be as simple as deciding, “Well, I feel like Chinese food, not Mexican, tonight.”

Data insights are again the key to funnel optimization. Three other data-driven technologies follow analytics and sales reporting as the most popular sales tools: account and contact management (65%), sales forecasting tools (56%), and customer relationship management (CRM) systems (58%). The latter is a particularly crucial tool for optimization, enabling your business to organize all customer-related data in a central location.

Some business owners are moving away from the term “marketing funnel” because they think it’s too mechanical or simplistic to describe the lead nurturing sequence by which customers move from awareness to purchase. I think it’s still a useful way to describe a complex process and it’s a good visual to imagine the entire process from start to finish.

If you don’t know much about SEO, there’s a great course about SEO available here, but basically, this is the practice of making sure your blog posts or other website pages show up in search results when someone types in a certain phrase. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find keywords in your industry that have a high volume of searches and a low level of competition, though keep in mind that “competition” in Keyword Planner only tracks competition for paid ads, so it might not be the best indication at competition for general search engine results. Moz is a great tool to check out if you’re interested in doing more keyword research on competition.
This is VERY important (as you can see above)! You can use a simple spreadsheet to make this happen quickly. Tracking your leads will help you understand where to tweak your funnel AND understand what is working. For me, it took me almost a year to realize my best deals were coming from one deal source. Once I realized that, I leaned in hard to that one source—my business exploded and my time to vet leads plummeted!
But if you still use separate tools to email and call your leads, then visibility into their different touchpoints at different stages in the funnel can be difficult to figure out. Use a sales funnel software with built-in email and phone instead. You can create email templates in your funnel software to quickly reach out to leads. Even better, you can automate sending out the first welcome email to new leads using workflows.
Depending on what you’re selling and who you’re marketing to, you might answer that question in a number of different ways. For example, if customer service is a big deal to your potential customers, you may want to focus your marketing on how great your customer service is. You might want to include testimonials about your customer service, awards your customer service department has won, statistics about response times…you get the idea.
If you’re running a marketing services business, you might create content about how to choose a marketing agency, pricing guides, whether a company should go contract or hire in-house, etc. The above examples are non-promotional, educational content resources we’ve created for our readers who are considering hiring marketing agencies – i.e. in the middle of the funnel (MOFU).
An event scheduling tool allows you to schedule events like conference calls, lunches, and so on right from the CRM. These events become part of your calendar and serve as another way to help you move your prospects and customers down your sales funnel. You can associate contacts and deals to your events. You can also update information like dates and times from the calendar view.
Trials / demos: Trials and demos are a great idea if you can easily take a portion of your finished product and provide it for free. Doing this will allow your leads to experience your product with very little commitment on their part. The downside of using trials or demos, is that since they are not stand-alone content, they can be perceived as incomplete offerings.  
Lead nurturing is the process of actively engaging with leads via email campaigns. By interacting with leads, whether top, middle or bottom, with relevant nurturing campaigns you keep them interested and groom them into paying customers. With CRM software, you can utilize tools like sales campaigns to be in contact with leads from the time they enter your funnel to when they make a purchase. Send out scheduled emails based on lead’s behavior, use templates, and track the performance of every campaign in the CRM to turn your prospects into customers.
Let’s say that instead of just sending one email to your entire list, you instead separate them into lists based on the type of pizza they buy most often: Plain Cheese, Pepperoni, Everything, Specialty, or something else. Everyone in the “something else” pile can get the generic discount, but send people on the other lists special emails. For example, if you send a coupon for a one-topping pizza to the people who prefer plain cheese or everything pizzas, you won’t make a huge impact. That isn’t what they normally order. But send it to the pepperoni lovers and watch the orders roll in! Customize the discount you’re offering to make it relevant to what people order.
Your sales funnel is composed of the means you use to drive prospects and potential clients to your company and close the sale. Online, you may have a blog that you write to each day. Once you get prospects to your blog, you lure them with an offer so as to receive their e-mail addresses. Then you send out periodic email messages to find those prospects interested in a product that you would like them to buy.
First, a common language needs to be set up to ensure marketing knows when a lead should be moved from marketing’s control, and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, "marketing-qualified lead" (MQL) and "sales-qualified lead" (SQL) or “sales-accepted-lead,” which all sales funnels must embrace to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has a lead ready to talk to sales, the lead should be marked as an MQL, meaning marketing has gotten it to the point where they believe sales should take over. If sales agree the lead is sales-ready, they accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the handoff is complete. If not, the lead goes back to marketing.

The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
Hello Mark, I absolutely loved this article. It’s very thorough. I wanted to ask in Step 3 that is “Defining the Criteria for Each Stage” in each sub-step if the customer is not responding to sales call we are sending them back to the previous sub-step. In between each sub-step, can we put one more stage where we are approaching the customer one more time through Email or SMS where in we give them a last chance to move forward and if they don’t reply to it, then we put them back in the previous sub-step?
A proper lead generation funnel will help you to streamline your entire conversion process. You will be able to figure out how many leads make contact with your business and how many have actually become customers. This way, you will be able to find out why leads are converting and even why they are not. This is the sort of data that will help you tighten up your sales funnel and increase your conversion rates and in turn your revenue significantly.

Although I mentioned several times in this list the importance of participating in discussion rather than just dropping your links, that doesn’t mean you should never promote yourself. I like to use the 80/20 rule in this case. At least 80% of the time, you should be using social networks to share other people’s links and participate in conversation. You can share your own stuff about 20% of the time.

Unfortunately, the reason why we call it a marketing funnel instead of a marketing journey or marketing waterfall is that not everyone who enters your funnel will end up buying. At each stage in the buying process, you lose some potential customers, but a good marketing funnel will keep those losses to a minimum and produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing.


Let’s say that instead of just sending one email to your entire list, you instead separate them into lists based on the type of pizza they buy most often: Plain Cheese, Pepperoni, Everything, Specialty, or something else. Everyone in the “something else” pile can get the generic discount, but send people on the other lists special emails. For example, if you send a coupon for a one-topping pizza to the people who prefer plain cheese or everything pizzas, you won’t make a huge impact. That isn’t what they normally order. But send it to the pepperoni lovers and watch the orders roll in! Customize the discount you’re offering to make it relevant to what people order.
Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly. 
Let’s say that instead of just sending one email to your entire list, you instead separate them into lists based on the type of pizza they buy most often: Plain Cheese, Pepperoni, Everything, Specialty, or something else. Everyone in the “something else” pile can get the generic discount, but send people on the other lists special emails. For example, if you send a coupon for a one-topping pizza to the people who prefer plain cheese or everything pizzas, you won’t make a huge impact. That isn’t what they normally order. But send it to the pepperoni lovers and watch the orders roll in! Customize the discount you’re offering to make it relevant to what people order.
Matt Ackerson founded AutoGrow (Petovera Inc.) in 2010 as a conversion-focused web design agency. The company has since worked one-on-one with over 500 customers and clients to create their sales funnels. Matt is a graduate of Cornell University. He and AutoGrow have been featured in Techcrunch, Forbes, Inc, Venture Beat, Mashable, and Popular Science among others. He and the team write in-depth articles on digital marketing, sales funnel design, and also offer an advanced funnel training course here on AutoGrow.co
Caroline Donahue, CMO at Intuit, oversees numerous web-based products for which “the product and the marketing become one thing.”  The funnel changes because “with cross-sell and up-sell, you move from awareness to action instantaneously.” Instead of a Customer Decision Journey, her approach might best be described as a User Experience Journey into which opportunities for transactions are thoughtfully embedded.

But if you still use separate tools to email and call your leads, then visibility into their different touchpoints at different stages in the funnel can be difficult to figure out. Use a sales funnel software with built-in email and phone instead. You can create email templates in your funnel software to quickly reach out to leads. Even better, you can automate sending out the first welcome email to new leads using workflows.
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.
Example: There are many Teachable instructors who do this on a regular basis to get more traffic to their sites. Especially those who maintain an offline side to their business. You can check out this super interesting discussion in our private instructor Facebook group, The Teachable Tribe, to learn more about how they are putting this into practice (if you are not a part of the group yet, you can just request to join to view the discussion.)    
However, what Brunson cleverly conceived with ClickFunnels is to create a SaaS that can integrate with the world's most popular platforms and virtually anyone can quietly launch a funnel in hours as opposed to weeks of hefty coding and programming. As a fervent user of ClickFunnels myself, I can tell you that the system is impressive beyond measure.
As you can see, each color-coded section of the funnel pictured above corresponds to a stage in the buying process. The widest tier at the top of the funnel represents “awareness,” the point at which potential customers are beginning their information search. The second tier is “interest,” roughly corresponding to the evaluation of alternatives described in the purchase process above. And, finally, the third and fourth tiers, “desire” and “action,” are self-explanatory.
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