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    The 10 Basic Steps to Build a Bulletproof Sales Funnel

    July 4, 2016

July 4, 2016

The 10 Basic Steps to Build a Bulletproof Sales Funnel

“Sales funnels” – chances are likely you’ve heard that term thrown around when reading blog posts about business and marketing, but what exactly is it?

As a whole, a sales funnel is a system that nurtures leads, maximizes engagement and ultimately increases sales. It does this by moving all the leads you have in a logical step-by-step process from a visitor to a lead, to a prospect, to a customer and finally a repeat customer. Before moving any further, it’s important to know exactly what each of these terms mean.

Visitor: Someone who has been to your website, but hasn’t fully engaged with it.

Lead: Someone who has expressed interest and has given you a way to contact them. This is usually a name, email or phone number.

Prospect: Someone who is very interested in your product and is likely to become a customer.

Customer: Someone who has given you money in exchange for good or services.

Repeat customer: Someone who has purchased multiple products or the same product multiple times from you.

Free Bonus: Download the Free lean sales funnel cheat sheet for online businesses!

Why they’re important for any online business

Funnels have been around for a long time, way before the internet or online marketing. With most any major purchases, people don’t often decide immediately. They want to do pertinent research, ask their partner or think about it. What a sales funnel does is provide relevant information for where they are in the buying processes with the goal of moving or converting them to the next step. For example, to turn someone from a  visitor to a lead, you’ll probably need to educate them about your brand, provide value and show them what your company is all about and what it can offer to them, the buyer.


As you can see with Adobe’s example above, the number of leads that convert from one step to another become smaller and smaller. As a rule of thumb, you can expect a 10-20% conversion between steps. So, with the first step above, they started with 18,075,369 impressions, which resulted in 1,930,162 clicks or leads. 135,389 of them became prospects by viewing specific products and 9,174 of them ended up ordering. Depending on your business and funnel, these numbers can be higher or lower

Getting started can be tough, but in this post, we’ll go step-by-step with the 10 tips to setting up a funnel. It’s essential to read through all of this and prepare at least a clear, ideal shot of your funnel before starting. You don’t want to have too many hot leads that don’t have a predetermined follow up plan leaving them in limbo jeopardizing a potential sale/customer.

1. Determine Your Brand’s Goal

Obviously, every company’s goal is to make a sale, but your brand should also impact your customer in a positive way. Ask yourself how your brand, as a whole, impacts and benefits a prospect’s life.

If you have a marketing service for a specific niche, your overall goal could be to empower and educate to see them succeed in a fast-changing digital environment. Of course, you want them to sign up for your service, but it’s essential to take a step back and see the big picture before moving forward.

Take Away: What is your business’s goal and how does it benefit your customers?

2. Find Channels to Engage With People

This first step is to see from where your traffic will come. There are many different ways and places to fill your funnel and these are called channels. Some of the most common channels include:

  • Email
  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Paid ads
  • Promoted posts
  • SEO

There is no right and wrong answer for what channel works best for your business. The most important thing is to go where your ideal customers like to hang out. Do they have a forum or LinkedIn group that you could explore to see how many of them there are? Considering this is a crucial step to succeeding with your funnel and following marketing content, it’s vital to take your time and plan out this step.

If you don’t have the budget to get visitors to your site, you could consider using social media to build a following and give away your content, start writing a blog or work on basic SEO. For faster results, paid options like Google Adwords and Facebook ads are great solutions.


3. Prepare Some Killer Content

It’s important to make a good first impression to your leads. To do this online, you should always start by offering your customers the very best thing you have for free. This step takes people from being a visitor and turns them into a lead and nearly every company does it. From free trials, reports or videos, you need to have something to demonstrate your value.

I bet you’ve heard the line “content is king” and this is very true. To see amazing results, and to generate as many leads as possible, you’ll need an enticing free offer of killer content your leads want.

Coming up with content might seem difficult, but all you need to do is put yourself in your prospects shoes. What problems do they have, and how could you give them something to solve it? What would you want to download? What could help you?

Here are some great examples of possible lead magnets:

  • Easy step guides
  • White papers or reports
  • Lists of tools
  • Templates
  • Free trials
Free Bonus: Download the Free lean sales funnel cheat sheet for online businesses!

4. Start Getting Leads

Now that you have your content created and your channel selected, it’s time to give it away in exchange for an email address and maybe a name. The best way to do this is to set up a landing page. Sites like Unbounce and LeadPages give you proven templates to build from which you can sort based on conversion rate, so all you need to do is populate the content.

Here are some examples of great landing pages with terrific offers:

Michael Hyatt: Giving away his guide to discover how to shave 10 hours off your work week:


Crazy Egg: Seeing a heatmap of your website.


Unbounce: To build a high-converting landing page now.


For each of these pages, you’ll notice that they all have one thing in common. Their main offer is a full-width page, with one clear thing to do. Other industry leaders like Airbnb and Uber follow a similar layout because it works and converts.


5. Nurture leads with a Simple Autoresponder Series

So, someone has downloaded your free content, yay! Next, you need to let them know what your company is all about and what they can expect from you over the next few weeks.

These should be arranged using an autoresponder sequence. Once you start receiving more leads, you’ll be spending your whole day sending out emails if you’re doing this manually. A program like MailChimp or Aweber allows you to set up a basic series of emails that are sent to every person who downloads your content.

Autoresponder sequences don’t need to be complicated and you can always improve your once you have it going. To start, your welcome series should include 2 emails:

Welcome email: Welcome the new lead to your community with a short email. You could also ask them to do something in this email like asking a question and requesting them to reply.

Indoctrination email: This email re-affirms their decision to download your free content and teases them with all the amazing things they’ll get from you, as well as how their life is going to improve.

Here is a great example from the DailyWorth:


6. Prepare an Upsell

The funnel is all about taking incremental steps, so once you have turned your lead into a prospect by continually sending them great content, it’s time to turn them into a customer.

Being a customer doesn’t mean that they need to buy your most expensive product. They just need to give you money in exchange for something. A great incremental step is to offer a high value, low-cost product. This should be a severely discounted, have immense value and cost  anywhere from $5-$50, depending on your product.


The goal is to make the symbolic transition from a prospect to a customer, albeit, for a low amount, they will be a customer nonetheless.

You want these products to be more substantial than your initial offering. Ebooks, larger guides or swipe files are great examples.

7. Offer Your Core Product

At this point, a customer is well into your sales funnel. They’re interested in your business and have paid for something, so it’s looking good that you’ll be able to land the final sale.

Here you can try and call them directly to seal the deal or hit them with some automated emails selling them on your product. Aim for anywhere from 3-7 emails spread out over a few weeks.

If they don’t buy, all is not lost. You know they are customers since they’ve already bought something from you, but it might not be the right time for them to buy your main product. To keep them around, consider moving them back a step in your funnel and offer some other low-cost high-value products or even another freebies before trying to sell again.

8. Repeat Purchases

Odds are, for everyone who has purchased one thing from you, there is a percentage who would purchase something else from you. Whether it’s multiple products from your store or a customer who continues to subscribe to your service or app.

Understanding your customer’s needs and selling your main offering are important, but if you want to see some real revenue come in, you need to find ways to sell multiple products to the same customer.

Aside from your main offering what can you give existing customers that will help them? Here are a few examples:

  • Continued support
  • Premium version of your product
  • Dedicated customer service
  • Courses


9. Referrals

Referrals are the most valuable form of marketing, so don’t neglect them from your funnel. The key to a successful referral campaign is offering something that is mutually beneficial to the existing customer and new customer.

Dropbox is famous for their referral program and grew to be worth over $4 billion with the help of it. They offered existing members additional storage space for every new customer they referred. The new customer would also get the storage boost when they signed up.


Think about what you can offer an existing customer that they’ll love and what would make it more appealing for a new customer to come on board. Here are some examples:

  • Free month of your service
  • Additional support
  • iTunes gift cards
  • Other gift certificates


10. Plugs Leaks

Every funnel will always have occasional leaks and you’ll never know where they are until you start putting leads through it. A good first place to start plugging holes is with a cart abandonment series.

If your autoresponder system is powerful enough, you should always send at least a few emails reminding people who have visited your checkout page that their order is still waiting for them.

If they don’t reply, send a few more emails or follow up with a phone call to see if there are any questions you can answer to get them to buy. The reasoning is, if someone clicked the purchase link or visited your checkout page, they must be interested in buying. Life can always get in the way of a purchase, but if you remind them about it, you have a better chance of making the sale.


  • Start running your funnel and look where people are falling off
  • Implement an abandoned cart email to catch hot prospects
  • Always monitor your stats and look for ways to improve



Building a full-fledged sales funnel is no small task, but by starting with a straight shot of what your ideal customer will follow, you can build from there and then you’ll have the framework ready for a powerful automatic business machine.

What does your sales funnel look like? Let us know in the comments below.

Free Bonus: Download the Free lean sales funnel cheat sheet for online businesses!