For any business that is selling products or services, its buyers go through a journey that takes them from having never heard of the company to being loyal customers. But do you know exactly what that journey looks like for your business?
Visualizing the stages your customers go through, in what is known as the sales funnel, can offer your sales team significant benefits. Ones that will help meet the needs of prospects and increase sales revenue.
But, it’s not uncommon to wonder where to start when it comes to how to build a sales funnel you can visualize for your business. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what a sales funnel is, the core sales funnel stages, and some examples of a sales funnel template you can start with.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel describes the customer’s buying journey. It is the specific stages that a buyer goes through, from having just heard of a company to becoming a loyal customer.
It is referred to as a “funnel” because, much like a funnel, the initial stage at the top is the largest section, with the largest number of leads. Then, each stage gets smaller and smaller as it goes down and leads are qualified and worked.
Every business has a sales funnel, even if they haven’t exactly mapped out what it looks like. By taking the time to consciously create your sales funnel and visualize the stages of your buyer’s journey, you and your team can pinpoint any weak points in the customer journey. Thus, allowing you to create a near-frictionless buying experience for your ideal customers and perfect your sales process.
Sales Funnel Stages
Prospects pass through several different stages of the sales funnel, beginning with when they initially hear about your company or product to the moment they decide to buy (or not).
In general, there are four core stages of the sales funnel:
- Awareness: The largest part of the funnel, this is where the lead first becomes aware of your product or service, largely due to your team’s sales prospecting efforts. During the qualification process and initial sales efforts, some of the leads from this stage will move to the next stage of the funnel.
- Interest: After a prospect has learned about your offering, they’ll evaluate it based on their level of interest. They’ll think about the problem they’re wanting to solve and any pain points. They will then usually compare your offering to those of your competitors to make sure yours is the best solution.
- Decision: Now, the prospect is ready to make a decision. They may be considering several different options before making a purchase. This is when they will be comparing packages, pricing, and other factors to decide on the best fit for them.
- Action: At this stage, the smallest section of the funnel, the prospect becomes a customer or decides not to purchase from you. If they do buy your offering, they become part of your company’s ecosystem and the focus shifts to customer retention and upsell/cross-sell opportunities. If they do not buy, the prospect can go into a nurture campaign to try and turn them into a customer later on.
Not All Sales Funnels are Created Equal
Those four stages mentioned above are the core stages for a basic sales funnel. But, the full sales funnel may look a little bit different from one business to the next, depending on the sales model. The different stages in the purchasing cycle are unique to each company.
For example, some businesses break the “Decision” stage down even further into three stages: Consideration, Intent, and Evaluation. This is especially true for B2B companies and/or those selling higher-value products or services. B2B companies will also often see that a sales funnel broken down into more stages will be more applicable to their sales cycle than it would be for B2C companies.
So when it comes to your business and how to build a sales funnel that accurately reflects your sales model, you have to start by answering a few questions. Questions that will help you build out relevant stages. For example, how will the funnel be used in the organization? Is it for sales messaging, marketing campaigns, or sales and marketing collateral? You should also be looking at your sales process and asking how the sales funnel aligns with that.
Sales Funnel Template Examples You Can Start With Today
Some sales CRMs can help you visualize and track your sales funnel. But, if you don’t have that capability, you need a way to visualize the customer’s journey. With this, you will have a useful framework to use to analyze your business and identify where improvements may be needed.
Here are some options for a sales funnel template to help get you started:
This free, customizable sales funnel template from Smartsheet is a simple but effective tool to help reach sales and business goals. With this template, you’ll get a visual representation of your buyer’s journey and your team’s sales process, along with whatever sales data you decide to include. It can also be used as a scorecard to evaluate current sales progress.
With this free, customizable sales funnel template, you can map out your company’s major sales funnel stages and note the corresponding sales process activities for each stage. You can then easily see the journey that leads take with your business when they go from being an initial prospect to becoming a customer.
Available for either Excel or Google Sheets, this free template can help you manage your team’s leads, forecast sales revenue, & improve your sales process without spending any more money. You can customize your sales funnel stages and track important metrics that will update automatically.
This free sales funnel template from HubSpot, a leading sales CRM, can help you visualize and manage your team’s sales funnel. In this template, you can customize the funnel stages to fit your business and see the funnel stage of each deal. You can see who has been contacted, who has bought in, contracts sent, and who has converted to a customer.
With this free template from EdrawMax, you can easily create a customized sales funnel for your business. You’ll edit the funnel within the EdrawMax program and then it can be exported in Excel format from there. For this template, you will have to download the free trial version of EdrawMax.
Be sure to check out our post on sales funnel software tools if you'd like to level up to a more comprehensive method of tracking and managing your funnels.
Define Your Sales Funnel to Visualize Your Buyer’s Journey
Your sales funnel is an essential element that can be used to understand where excess friction may be present in your customer’s buying journey. Thus, helping to drive management decisions to optimize your team’s sales process and sales pipeline.
By using one of the sales funnel examples that we covered above, you’ll have a good starting point to build out the sales funnel that is most relevant to your business. Then you’ll have what you need to continue to make adjustments to the funnel as needed.
Focus on your buyer’s journey and try out one of these templates today!