What is a sales funnel and how to create one for your small business?

Author: Roxana Cunningham, Sales Funnel and Launch strategist

What is a sales funnel? And how will it make me more money?

We hear this term ‘sales funnel’ being thrown around in many sales and marketing conversations.

I have personally come across many people that all have a different understanding of this term. So lets break it down so you can get your head around what it means for you, and how it will benefit your business.

A Sales Funnel is a staged marketing process focused on converting a possible sales lead in to a subscriber (blogs, e-books, reports, videos) and then into a paying customer.

The product type does not matter. The products sold could be physical, virtual or professional services.

The Sales Funnel is also often referred to as a Marketing Funnel, Purchasing Funnel or Conversion Funnel. Below is a graphic illustrating the three stages that make it work.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the essential steps for building a high performance online sales funnel to help you convert more of your prospects into happy, repeat customers.

1. Here’s an example of a sales funnel:

Let’s say I have a chiropractor business.

I have a standard home page that says what I am called and has a few images.

I have a promotional message that leads to my ‘About Me’ page and has some more information about my services.

I also have a call to action that leads to my ‘Contact Page’ listing my phone number, physical address and email address.

Now, If I am lucky I will get some customers to come to my website who in their desperation have come across my services via my website listing on a Google search.

This is completely normal, but is no way optimal.

2. Now let’s picture a different scenario:

I offer a great looking FREE premium report about a topic of interest such as ‘How to get immediate relief from your back pain’. I put it smack bang in the middle of my home page upper third, so its the first thing you see.

In marketing speak they call this a LEAD MAGNET or ATTRACTION MAGNET.

I will offer this premium free report to my website visitor traffic. I get this traffic from various channels, including but not limited to advertising (Facebook and Instagram ads, Google adwords, you tube ads, Pinterest, tradititonal advertising), links from partnering businesses, email marketing and blogging.

In exchange for the report I will get a potential customers email address.

Since my goal is to get motivated customers I will start sending a regular article on topics of interest. On the bottom of those articles I will strategically place highly attractive limited time special offers.

In this attractive offer at the bottom of the article I may offer a free ‘spinal assessment’ valued at $97.

Once that prospect comes in for the assessment, even if they did not give me any money yet, they are already giving me something of value, their TIME.

This is an opportunity to increase the customer’s engagement, establish my value and build vital trust that I will meet their needs.

At that time, I will be offering a paid plan to resolve any issues I might find they have during the free assessment.

Chances are I will close on many of these leads as I’m using a well used persuasive tool called ‘the law of reciprocity’. After that first transaction and establishing trust I can then up sell or cross sell them in to different products.

This is a classic example of how to move a cold prospect in to a warm lead, and later in to a hot sales prospect who’s ready to buy.

3. So, to summarize:

In phase 1 – Awareness phase – we have a cold prospect and we are trying to make them aware of our existence through different methods such as blog posts or facebook posts.

In phase 2 – Engagement phase – we are trying to change the cold prospects to warm leads and have them opt in for our Lead Magnet and give us their email address so later we can keep nurturing them with more relevant content or free offers.

In phase 3 – Conversion phase – we are trying to move through the funnel and have a warm lead change to a hot one where we close the sale

So I want you to map out your online sales funnel. Here are some questions to ask yourself

  1. How are you attracting new visitors to your website?
  2. How are you converting website visitors into leads?
  3. How are you building a relationship with your leads?
  4. How are you turning the leads into customers?

Roxana Cunningham is a Sales Funnel and Launch strategist. For more tips join her free facebook group on