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What the F$%! is a Sales Funnel?


By Jane Copeland

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If you don’t know what a sales funnel is, you’re probably leaving money on the table.

Putting a sales funnel in place is one of the fastest ways to grow your business.

Because …

>Your talent isn’t enough.

>Your hustle isn’t enough.

>Your passion isn’t enough.

If you want to thrive online, you need a sales funnel that works.

Don’t panic. I get it. Sales funnels are NOT glamorous. Or even fun to talk about (unless you live and breathe online marketing, like me). The name “funnel” even sounds a bit sinister, like you’re going to force someone into doing something.

But you know what? It isn’t like that at all.

So what the heck is a sales funnel anyway?

A sales funnel is like a love note that makes an emotional connection with your customer…

And it’s a process that creates and opens up the opportunity for your dream customer to work with you.

(Hello, Sales Funnel. You’re not so scary after all!)

Let’s Talk About What a Sales Funnel Is

If you’re a visual learner like I am, your first inclination is to imagine the funnel itself. Like an ice cream cone, the sales funnel has a wide mouth at the top that eventually narrows down into a sharp point.


Essentially, your entire marketing system will become part of this sales funnel. Each color represents a different aspect of your marketing plan.

Prospects will flow from the top of the funnel and eventually make their way down to the tip. As the funnel narrows down, you’ll discover that a few target customers weren’t right for your product or service, and that’s okay. Your funnel will naturally weed these prospects out.

Remember, you only want the most qualified leads to continue down this funnel, since they’ll be more likely to convert into paying customers. By the time a prospect reaches the end, they’ll have turned into happy, loyal customers – if you’ve done things right.

Now that we understand the basics of a sales funnel, let’s breakdown the three key stages.

Stage 1: Attracting Prospects/Creating a Lead Magnet

In order for a business to actually be a business, it must make sales. And to make sales you need leads. Therefore the start of your sales funnel consists of “something” to attract those leads. In the image above, the red colour represents this stage.

You can attract your prospects in several ways:

  • Meet them in-person or online
  • Use online advertising to drive paid traffic to a lead magnet
  • Use a lead magnet or optin form on your website

All three are great choices, and I recommend that you use a combination of them for the best results. But if you’re just starting out and unsure of where to begin, your best bet is to start with the second bullet: a lead magnet or opt-in offer.

You may have subscribed to one of these already without even realising it. Essentially, a lead magnet is when readers give their email addresses in exchange for something in return.

That something in return is usually a (free) valuable piece of content that helps the reader in some way. It can be a worksheet, e-course/e-guide, series of email lessons, or anything similar.

The more value you can give your audience here, the better, since they’ll be more likely to progress further along your sales funnel if you offer content that helps them.

Your opt-in offer can live on your homepage, after each article, or posted as a link on your favorite social media platforms. The idea is to get it in front of as many eyes as possible so potential customers are attracted to your site and what you have to offer.

One of the best ways of getting your lead magnet in front of the right people, is through Facebook advertising. This is essentially where you pay to get your lead magnet in front of prospects who are your ideal customer.

By the way, it’s worth noting here that there are several types of sales funnels. I tend to teach four types. They are:

  1. Lead magnet funnel
  2. Direct application ad funnel
  3. Content marketing funnel
  4. Launch funnel

Don’t’ worry too much about that right now, just be aware that a sales funnel will look a little different depending on what the outcome you are after is (and also what stage of your business you are in).

There is one key element that most effective sales funnels have, and that is an email list. We’ll talk about why that is a little later on…

Join the FREE Build Your Sales Funnel in 5 Days Challenge here >>

Stage 2: Engaging with Your Prospects

Once you’ve captured a few email addresses, you’ll want to progress towards the yellow level of the funnel, which we’ll call engaging with your prospects.

Now, before you get ahead of yourself, this is NOT the time to sell to your prospects. Instead, you’ll want to keep delivering more value so you can form a relationship with that prospect.

You can think of this in terms of Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: you’re not going to sell until your prospect knows, likes and trust you.

How do you develop a relationship with potential customers?

Essentially by delivering value and being useful. This means helping them solve a problem they might have by sharing useful content. This content can be in the form of:

  • Weekly blog posts
  • Newsletter updates
  • Podcast episodes
  • Social media posts
  • YouTube videos

Stick to one medium and deliver a piece of content on that platform each week. So if you prefer creating videos, add a new one to YouTube each week and send your prospects an update via your newsletter when it’s ready.

This is also why your email list is important. Email gives you direct access to your potential customer and allows you to share information and build a relationship overtime by doing so.

Stage 3: It’s Time to Sell

After building an engaged email list and a tribe who know, like and trust you, your audience should be ready to buy. Welcome to sales in the modern, digital age. The good news is that you’ve already done most of the hard work.

Choose a sales route that you’re the most comfortable with. What this means is that you want to play to your conversion strengths.

You’ll also need to consider what your conversion vehicle.

People often think that a sales funnel involves an online product where the sales vehicle is the sales page. However this isn’t always the case. Some other excellent conversion vehicles are:

  • Email sequences
  • Webinars
  • Phone conversations
  • Speaking from the stage
  • Videos

Sales do not just happen due to the sales page is my point.

The other thing is that depending on what stage you are at in business will also influence your sales route and conversion vehicle.

For example, if you are just starting out your goal might be to start working one-to-one with clients. Therefore your sales funnel might have the goal of opening up the opportunity for your prospect to get on a call with you. Your conversion vehicle will be the call and not necessarily your sales page.

I have a background in telephone sales and I have used that skill immensely since starting my online business. I’ve successfully sold high end coaching packages using online marketing that lead to a telephone conversation with my prospect. I played to my conversion strengths.

Be sure to consider what conversion vehicle will be and play to YOUR strengths okay?

As you can see putting in place a sales funnel is important. With a strong sales funnel in place, there’s no reason why your business can’t become a lead generating and sales machine.

Do you need to set up YOUR sales funnel? Watch this video.. 



Join the FREE Build Your Sales Funnel in 5 Days Challenge here >>



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Jane Copeland - to view all of Jane's blog post click here

Jane Copeland is an Australian entrepreneur and head of The Business Made Beautiful Academy – an online business school for women utilising her unique Next Top Coach ™ System. She is also a digital marketing authority, publisher of the award winning blog and author of the book Boardroom to Baby. Jane's obsession with internet marketing and her teachings, have helped many people across the globe to stand out from the crowd and redefine their version of success. Learn more about Jane’s programs here.

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  • Great breakdown of funnels, Jane!

    Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with my business and reframing things in terms of simple elements of a funnel helps me quickly realize where I need to focus our efforts (email, better opt-in conversions, sales page, etc.)

    Keep the great content coming! 🙂

    • Jane Copeland

      Thanks Vic and yes exactly right. Sales funnels are not as “scary” as most people might think especially when you break them down and realise the parts are essential to doing business.

  • Erica Trokey

    Excellent breakdown of the sales funnel process! Such great advice to stick to your strengths and not try to do every option available. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed but this helped give some perspective in not trying to “do it all”. Thanks for sharing your insight!

    • Jane Copeland

      Hey Erica, yes sometimes when we try to do it all nothing gets done! Glad you took some value from this article. Thanks for your comment x

  • The tweet that you have embedded in your blog, “A sales funnel is like a love note that makes an emotional connection with your customer.” How did you do that? I have been googling for widgets to do that and have come up empty. I LOVE that and tweeted it out because I like that quote so much! 🙂

    • Jane Copeland

      Hi Tiffany, yes that quote is great and it describes what a sales funnel is beautifully. If you want to learn more about how to set one up for your business hop on my free build your sales funnel in 5 days program here >>