Sales Funnel, what is it, its steps and how to optimize?

sales funnel
Excel Spreadsheets

Um sales funnel is a graphical representation of negotiation steps your prospects, leads and clients go through until you close the contract. The logic is that, regardless of the strategy, at each stage, some contacts give up the negotiation, tapering the format of the representation.

See in this article:
What is a Sales Funnel?
Customer Trajectory - the AIDA Model
Sales Funnel Steps
Structuring your company's sales funnel
Optimizing Sales Hopper Performance

customer prospecting worksheet

What is a Sales Funnel?

Contrary to what many sellers or managers may talk about, selling is not magic or having a number of tricks to get your customer to buy. Selling is a numbers game that can be organized in a process with well-defined steps.

This process is known as a Sales Hopper and is used control the follow-up of negotiations and prospecting of clients. As this process suffers losses along the way, that is, the number of sales made will always be less (or equal) to the number of opportunities that arise. Hence the analogy with a funnel:

Sales Funnel, what is it, its stages and how to optimize? 1

Customer Trajectory - the AIDA Model

First of all, let us understand the trajectory of a person until he becomes a client of any company by the model AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action), developed by Lewis:

Basically the model has 4 essential steps:

  • Attention - people know about your product or service
  • Interest - pay attention enough to know benefits, specifications and features
  • Desire - have enough interest to want to buy the product or service
  • Action - they actually buy the product or service

Although it is a simplification, it is a very useful simplification that brings us closer to a procedural model where the client goes through some stages. This will be the basis for the development of the sales funnel.

Inbound Marketing Funnel

Sales Funnel Steps

The standard sales funnel model illustrates exactly the path your customer travels to buying your product. This trajectory is divided in some steps that have a strong relation with the AIDA model:

  • Step 1 - Prospecting the customer - where you will call the attention his
  • Step 2 - Show Product - where you wake the interest and culture present in western Sicily ".
  • Step 3 - Negotiate - where you make the desire increase customer
  • Step 4 - Close Business - When you encourage him to take the action of purchase itself

This model has become increasingly important because it allows you to better understand the success metrics of each step and to succeed by improving points that are not performing well enough.

Assuming as an example a consulting firm, we would hypothetically have a client enter the site and fill out a contact form talking about the needs it has. From there a salesperson (or consultant) would contact.

customer prospecting worksheet

Differences in an Ecommerce

When we talk about ecommerce-related sales funnels, there are some important differences from the steps we just showed that are worth understanding. In any business where you have direct contact with the customer, some steps will involve telephone contact, face-to-face meetings and negotiations.

In the ecommerce sales funnel, all this direct contact does not exist and the steps change a little. In the process below we have Home> Search> Detail (enter the product page)> Cart> Checkout> Confirmation (purchase).

This model is a bit more complex than necessary. Normally in Light we measured some other steps:

  • Visit
  • Leads Acquisition - When You Get User Email
  • Opportunity - when the lead shows some interest in your product. In the case of LUZ, it is when he downloads a demo of a spreadsheet
  • Sell

Ecommerce Funnel

In this model, it is possible to measure the key metrics related to our site and the behavior of users who visit it.

Structuring your company's sales funnel

If you plan to start organize the stages of your sales process it is good that you understand very well how your customers buy from you. This is a pre-sale job that will help you in the next steps we will show. In that sense it pays to answer some questions like:

  • Who makes the decision (himself, boss, woman) to buy?
  • What is the demographic profile (gender, age, income) of the client?
  • What social class?
  • What kind of content (newspapers, magazines, internet, etc) does it consume?
  • Where do you get access (associations, company, places you visit) to it?

One legal tool I recommend for this process of understanding who your client is is the map of empathy:

empathy map

If you have been able to understand the profile of your key customers, you are ready to structure the steps in your sales funnel. There is no right rule, but try not to get too far from a funnel between 4 and 7 steps. Remember, the more steps, the more complicated it will be to measure and monitor the process the entire time.

customer prospecting worksheet

Customer Prospecting

The first step in every sales funnel is to prospecting clients potential. Here you can have one or more ways to get to it. As we speak there is no magic formula and no right process. It all depends on your reality and on who your target audience is. Much of content marketing has been used to get more potential customers.

This first contact can be done in different ways:

  • Organic searches on Google (SEO)
  • Social Medias
  • Email Marketing
  • Paid media (adwords or website advertising)
  • Newspapers, magazines and portals
  • Participation in events
  • Blog posts
  • Free Ebooks
  • Explanatory videos
  • etc.

After this first contact, the intention is to get an email or phone so that the contact can return. From the moment you have a contact from your prospect, he becomes a lead. To understand more about attraction and conversion of leads, you need to read about inbound marketing.

Leads Qualification

Before you get upset and get in touch with all your leads in a next step of your sales funnel, know exactly which to dispense. I say this because it can be very laborious and not very rewarding to get in touch with people who are not interested in what you want to sell. THE separation of hot and cold leads It will help you a lot in the day to day.

To decide which leads are good and which ones are bad you need to understand their reality. Usually this is done with statistics and have a customer prospecting worksheet or software can help you a lot.

For example, by analyzing your past sales, you realize that 80% of your customers are large companies, above 1.000 employees. Is it worth directing your sales team's effort with companies of less than 10 collaborators?

First contact

The first contact can be made in a variety of ways, from a call or internet chat to a face-to-face meeting or skype call. Anyway, the most important thing here is:

  • Understanding your client's need (knowing the profile of your target audience and having qualified leads helps a lot)
  • Learn in detail how your competitors work (so you can talk about services or products that they've used or intend to use)
  • Know the profile of your client and the most interesting type of communication to have with him
  • Ask the right questions

If you do this process well done, it will surely be closer to moving to the next step of your sales funnel.

customer prospecting worksheet

Decision and Follow Up

Depending on the type of company you have, at that point you will submit a proposal with numbers and scope of what will be done or delivered. If the customer had a good conversation, this is the time to show effectiveness.

For this, remember that some things count a lot:

  • Quick replies, by email or phone.
  • Putting into practice possible customer requirements (changes in the scope defined above).
  • Make sure your price is competitive compared to competitors.

Contract Closure

This is the final part. An important detail is to make sure that the expectations related to term, delivery and quality of the product or service are aligned. Some companies have longer trading cycle. It's normal. Set deadlines to maintain contact with your lead and try to understand your purchasing influences.

Optimizing Sales Hopper Performance

If you make and monitor multiple leads, you will have a result that will allow you to determine the percentage of leads that result in sales and what you need to increase your sales. If you conclude that 1 of each 20 people you connect realizes the purchase, you know you will have to make 100 bindings to perform 5 sales.

If you want to double your sales the following week, you will have to make 200 calls in that part of your sales funnel. Monitoring results is a way to make you (or your sales team) less discouraged by rejections. And it can also help you determine the effectiveness of changes in your ways of selling, evaluate the results of sales training and serve as a goal that you always have to overcome.

If you really want to optimize your performance, it's good that you know how to answer these questions:

  • Is your sales funnel structured in the best way?
  • Are the people you contact the best leads?
  • Does your solution solve flaws that competitors' services or products do not?
  • Are you measuring the performance of each step?

I believe that if you follow these steps you will be closer to having a more organized sales process and funnel and converting to better results.

customer prospecting worksheet

How is your sales funnel?

Share with us the steps to your sales funnel in the comments. If you can tell the percentage in each step will be even more interesting!

Excel Spreadsheets


  1. Hi Danielle, thanks for the tip. We really pay more attention to the blog than to youtube

  2. Very good post. I just met LUZ and I think you could better explore YouTube for your sales funnel. I accessed the channel and I think it has very little content compared to your blog.

  3. Bruno, look at our posts on sales funnel. Monitor all stages of the survey by checking the conversion percentage (or loss) from one stage to the next.

  4. Interesting the post. But how to monitor? Number of links versus number of sales? What other indicators could be used? Thanks for the tip.


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