The sales funnel explained

November 19, 2013 by

Our 1962 Ford F-100 truck sat neglected in the driveway for years. This summer, after some major elbow grease, my husband got it running and gave it a new coat of paint. When we were finally ready to take it for a spin, it wouldn’t start. Hoping it was just out of gas (the gauge didn’t work), we found a gas can and tried to carefully pour gas into the tank. But without a funnel, it spilled down the side of the freshly painted exterior and very little made it into the tank.

It’s like that with sales. Without considering your buyers’ journey through the sales cycle, many of your prospects may not make it to the intended destination—a sale. They spill out of the funnel before ever really getting to know your business.

To avoid losing prospects along their journey, let’s take a closer look at the sales funnel and the customer buying process.

A funnel is a tool designed to catch and direct a downward flow. The sales funnel does the same thing—catches prospects through engagement and brand awareness; and directs them toward a final sale. This path is not always linear. Prospects will enter the sales funnel in different spots and some will leak out of the funnel before reaching the end. But, the sales funnel provides a path as you plan recruitment, retention and nurturing campaigns.

Let’s take a closer look at the sales funnel and customer buying process.

The sales funnel is often used to describe the overall sales and marketing process. It can also be used to explain the customer buying process (their journey through the sales cycle).  According to Eloqua,1 a leading provider of marketing automation and revenue management software, there are five steps in the customer buying cycle.

  • Interest
  • Learn
  • Evaluate
  • Justify
  • Purchase

At each of these stages, you communicate with the consumer in a different way. For example, if someone has just learned about your company, you won’t immediately ask them to buy a product. Conversely, when they are ready to buy, you should not be giving a company introduction. Tailoring your message to fit buyers’ interests will ideally prevent your target audience from “opting-out.”

Click here to download an infographic that outlines your buyer’s behavior in each stage.

It takes some elbow grease to successfully move prospects down a sales funnel—especially ones you may have neglected for a while. But, don’t give up. Watch for my next blog with tips for utilizing a drip marketing campaign to get you up and running.


1 Eloqua. “EloquaU Power Hour: Lead Nurturing.” Topliners. Eloqua, May 2011. Web. 18 Oct 2013. <>.


Kristine Garrett

Kristine Garrett joined Brokers International in 2012 as a Marketing Project Manager. She brought with her a strong background in sales and marketing that she uses to write helpful blog tips and marketing ideas to grow your business. Kristine shares a hobby farm near Panora with her husband, farm critters and beautiful bulldogs. 11854-1/30/13

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