Adopting a CRM with sales funnel management capabilities positively impacts sales teams’ performance. But what most users fail to realize is that it is not just a customer database; it’s also the most beneficial tool for managing the sales funnel and pipeline. It helps you define your sales process, identify leaks in the sales funnel, and streamline the conversion process to bring leads down to the bottom of the funnel.

That was an interesting article. I was looking on your page of scheduled webinars, and what about offering a webinar on segmenting your list? It seems that to use the marketing funnel idea you need to segment subscribers, so you’re not sending new subscribers something that should go to your “Advocates”. I’d love to see a webinar that really goes over how to use the funnel & segmenting together. Thanks.

No matter what kind of purchase we’re making or how much we intend to spend, all of us follow a relatively similar path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This buying process, or stages, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than 100 years later — it’s still the foundation of understanding buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.

Now, this basic sales funnel offers a simplistic view of the consumer journey and the stages buyers go through before making a purchase. So you can use this as a basic template for your marketing strategy. For example, you create brand/product awareness campaigns to build an audience, target this audience with ads to generate interest and deliver content to build emotional desire before hitting them with the big CTA.

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To help you get started, we’ve created a sales funnel template you can use to create something that works for your business. It’s a PowerPoint document with prompts that you can customize based on the specific stages you feel are the best fit for your customers. This template will help you think of each stage in your customer’s journey and what should happen in each stage. It will also help you map out your own sales funnel stages unique to your business.

In this stage, your lead has made an educated decision to purchase your solution. In turn, your sales reps present proposals, terms of contract, and other agreements to successfully win their business. The outcome of the opportunity may sway either way— win or loss—depending on the prospect’s interests at this stage. Although sales reps set the table for success—handling sales objections and negotiations—when it comes to closing the deal, win rates are quite unpredictable.


The Discovery stage is where your prospect’s interest is piqued. They are curious about your company and products and want to learn more. In this stage, you are sharing valuable educational content related to your prospect’s problem or need. This stage occurs while you are qualifying your prospect, conducting initial meetings, and defining their needs.
Why is the set of steps to conversion called a “funnel”? Because at the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people who take the first step. Then, as the people continue along and take the next steps, some of them drop out, and the size of the crowd thins or narrows. (And even further along in the process, your sales team gets involved to help close the deal.)
The cell phone theory comes from Duke University research on the human attention span. Basically,  we subliminally take in what’s around us even when we’re distracted with something else. Later, those subliminal surroundings appear to already be familiar. What this means is that people can remember your company simply by subliminally taking in the message from a display ad while they’re doing something else.
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. 

As people progress through your funnel, their intent to buy steadily increases. You always lose people with each new commitment you ask for (we refer to these actions “conversions”), but the more people you can get to convert at each step in your funnel, the more sales you will ultimately produce. In marketing, we call this process “widening the funnel.”


There’s even a convention that meets to address the “flipped” funnel. In 2015, Terminus put together their first #flipmyfunnel conference. Their goal was to raise awareness around the new funnel and generate solutions for how to adapt to it. In the spirit of best practices for the new funnel, the conference was a lead generation and customer acquisition event in and of itself.

In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.


There are various sales qualification techniques like CHAMP, MEDDIC, GPCT, BANT, and more but it’s best to choose a framework that best suits your customer journey. The most common sales qualification framework used by most businesses is BANT—Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. Only leads that meet the qualification criteria become potential opportunities and trickle down the funnel. Pushing leads without proper qualification into the sales funnel will clog your sales pipeline, and won’t necessarily lead to revenue.
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.

Private communities: This is a great way to establish a closer and continuous channel of communication between yourself/your company and your leads, as well as allowing them to interact with each other. You can create private communities to start conversations, gather feedback, or share updates and news. By starting a community, you are committing to being active and monitoring it regularly for the medium/long term, which can be very time consuming in future—so keep that in mind if you decide to go with this tactic.  


A good practice when managing your sales funnel in a funnel software is to be consistent in updating the lead stage. As leads progress down the funnel, you must be able to analyze the number of leads by stage in order to ensure your funnel is always full to the brim with leads. It’s also important to know what stage each lead is at to know what to do next. So once the lead has been contacted, move the lead from new to contacted stage. Actually, the CRM can move it down the funnel automatically.
Private communities: This is a great way to establish a closer and continuous channel of communication between yourself/your company and your leads, as well as allowing them to interact with each other. You can create private communities to start conversations, gather feedback, or share updates and news. By starting a community, you are committing to being active and monitoring it regularly for the medium/long term, which can be very time consuming in future—so keep that in mind if you decide to go with this tactic.  

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!
Yesterday I was in the Northridge Mall while my tires were being rotated at Firestone outside. When I walked in there a man was promoting Occulus, the 3D experience. . . for $5 a journey. I didn’t have any bucks so I declined. I was wondering why he didn’t use the email model of a free gift to get a subscriber; I mean a free trip using the mind altering adventure. Then I got to thinking about video and 3D in email, and it dawned on me the cycle of a company’s promotion is a like a trip into virtual reality–at least it could be a mind-altering experience for the recipient, especially for someone who’s tired of getting ads, ads, ads.
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