The Four Steps for Sales Funnels & What to Do With Them

Whether you realize it or not, every business has a series of steps to convert potential customers into buyers – even yours. From the moment a potential customer hears about your product or service until the moment they either commit to buying or walk away, they’re following those steps. One of the biggest problems that a lot of businesses have is that they never take the time or put in the effort to analyze this process. They’re happy to sell in the same manner that a cowboy might shoot from the hip. Sure, they may hit the target, and they may even be good at it, but it can’t be argued that a gunslinger and a salesman wouldn’t benefit from understanding how the better shots get such consistent results.

Don’t worry, cowboy, we’re here to help with just that. The stages that carry someone from knowing nothing about you and your product or service to being a satisfied consumer are collectively called a sales funnel, and knowing how they generally operate is a surefire way to increase your performance as a seller. In this article we’re going to go over how they work, as well as go over a few sales funnel examples along the way. Knowledge is the best weapon you have in your arsenal, and we’re going to make sure that you’ve got exactly the right weapons to hit your target every time you fire. 

Level One: Making Them Aware

The awareness stage is the one that’s the most out of your control, though that’s not to say there’s nothing you can do at this step. This stage happens when a potential buyer learns about you, your company, and what you do for the first time. Getting your name out there is an important thing for any business. This step is why big businesses dump millions into advertising, and it’s why you recognize symbols like a pair of yellow arches, a swooshing check mark, and three circles in a silhouette of a mouse’s head and can know exactly what companies I’m talking about without further elaboration. How you make your presence known is important, especially because once you’ve put your name out there it’s almost entirely out of your control whether someone hears about you. You can push as much advertising as you want, and you should! But once your message is in the wilds, what happens to it is out of your hands. 

That’s why it’s important to make sure how you advertise is solid. Modern advertising is more than running commercials and putting up billboards. If you really want to take your advertising game to the next level, you might want to look into SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO utilizes keywords that drive natural traffic to your websites by increasing your ranking in a search engine’s algorithms. 

Level Two: They’re Interested! 

Like advertising, this step is one where you have limited control. In this level, the customer gauges their interest in what you’re offering. While interest in your product or service can be manufactured to a degree, this happens in the advertising stage as well. When you see an advertisement for a restaurant, you rarely ever see the restaurant simply tell you where they are and what food they serve. You’ll hear about how satisfying the food is, how it will cure your hunger, how you’ll feel when you eat what they’re serving. This is all designed to increase interest, and if successful will move the audience to the next stage of the funnel. Most failures to secure a sale happen at this stage; sometimes, the customer just isn’t interested, and they can’t be convinced otherwise. 

Level Three: Time for a Decision

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This is where you shine. Your audience knows about you, they’re interested in what you’ve got for them, now it’s time for them to decide what’s best for them. At this point, the customer has committed to, at the very least, imagining themselves enjoying your product or service. The good news is that this means they’ve done half the work for you! In this level they’ll be looking at prices, exploring options you offer, and actively engaging in research about what they can get out of your company. A traditional Decision step involves them interacting with you directly, where you can talk with and guide them through their decision making. You can personally show them alternatives if they’re not hooked by a particular thing, and you can use your charisma and know-how to convince them to commit to a purchase. You still see this in retail stores and car dealerships, and huge companies employ salespeople specifically to nail this stage for multi-million dollar deals. 

The second kind of Decision stage is increasingly common: hands off sales. As you can see here, an overwhelming majority or buyers do some or most of their shopping online. That’s a huge customer base that you can’t afford to ignore! For this, you want to make sure that your website is set up in such a way that it does the heavy lifting for you. Optimizing your digital marketplace is no small feat, but it’s essential to tap into that market. Landing pages, lots of information (but not enough to overwhelm), and plenty of deals will help push them over the edge and into the final step without you ever having to directly interact. 

Level Four: Time for Action

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This is the moment it’s all been leading to. The bullet is fired, but will it find its mark? In this step, the customer either commits to buying or walks away. Unlike other steps, this one is completely out of your hands. Even if you’ve done your job perfectly, there’s always that chance that a sale won’t land. That’s okay! No-one wins every time. But knowing how the sales funnel work is an excellent way to increase your efficacy and land more bullseyes. Go get ‘em, cowboy! 

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