Lead Generation Funnel Best Practices

Lead Generation Funnel Best Practices


The concept of sales funnels can feel misleading. A real funnel is designed to catch and condense everything you put into it, but not every prospect that enters the top of your sales funnel will come out the other end a customer. There’s bound to be some spillage along the way. However, that doesn’t mean you should settle for a slow drip of conversions. With the right approach, your business can generate more leads at the top of the funnel and more deals at the bottom. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn what a sales funnel is, the process and theory behind sales funnels, and how you can build your own using examples. You’ll also get access to free, downloadable B2B and B2C sales funnel templates so you can start building your sales funnel today.

What is a Sales Funnel?

Sales funnels are sales and marketing tools used to illustrate the steps of the customer journey. Think of a sales funnel as a visual roadmap that shows exactly where a prospect is in the buying process at any given time. A sales funnel is important because it allows you to understand what potential customers are feeling and thinking as they move along the path to purchase. Knowing where prospects are in their journey gives you the insight you need to identify the best marketing strategies. As a result, conversion rates and sales will increase over time. Good sales funnels guide prospects toward a purchase by capturing their attention, nurturing their interest, and ultimately closing the deal. When all goes well, sales funnels also set you up for good reviews and repeat customers.

The Sales Process

The sales process can be broken down into a general structure of top, middle, and bottom. The top of the funnel is where the customer journey begins, ideally before a buyer even thinks about becoming a customer. Creating brand awareness is always the first step in any typical sales funnel—this is why you need a for getting on a buyer’s radar. The awareness stage is the point where the buyer first starts to notice a brand. For businesses with , it’s also where the company starts to notice the buyer. In this stage, the potential customer explores a company’s services, reads product descriptions, and does competitor research along the way. They aren’t interested in anything specific yet; they’re simply seeking out a solution.

Marketers can capture the attention of prospects through their . There are several channels that companies can use for their sales funnel strategy, including:

  • Social media advertising
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing

No matter which channel you choose, it’s important to tailor the content to the you’re hoping to convert. You don’t want to lose a prospect’s attention by sharing information they won’t find relevant. Studying the characteristics and habits of your customer base can help you define your ideal prospect. Then, once a consumer starts to show interest in what you have to offer, they turn into a pursuable lead.

The Interest Stage

When a lead is in the interest stage, they’re done looking around—they’re now looking into specifics. Though they’re not often set on a particular company by this point, they’ve started to focus on one or two products that can solve their problems. This is where sales teams will start using , , and . They’ll look at which buyers they need to focus on and which ones they can leave on the back burner. Once prospects show more interest, they go on to the next stage in the customer journey. Moving buyers from the top to the middle is a delicate and often lengthy process. Businesses need to repeatedly demonstrate their value just to earn a prospect’s consideration (let alone their business).

The Decision Stage

When a prospect enters the decision stage of the sales funnel, it means they’re ready to make a purchase. They may still be considering a few options, but they’re prepared to buy. In the decision stage, it’s crucial to distinguish your brand and give the potential customer compelling reasons to choose you. See if you could offer one of the following:

  • Free shipping
  • Discount code
  • Bonus product

These types of tangible benefits heavily influence buyers when choosing one company over another. It’s also important to emphasize what sets your product or service apart—and what makes your company special—in your marketing materials. Make sure you have an FAQ section on your website, too. Seemingly small things can make all the difference as you guide prospects toward the bottom of the funnel. You’re approaching the moment when an interested buyer runs the risk of getting cold feet or going with another company—try to seal the deal at this stage.

Nurturing the Customer Relationship

Even if a deal seems inevitable, sales reps must continue nudging a prospect through the final funnel stages. Easing up on a prospective customer toward the bottom can cost you a win that’s been the culmination of a lot of people’s hard work. Instead, usher your potential buyers across the finish line by using the ASK process:

  • Ask questions
  • Solve their problems
  • Keep them engaged

If you actively engage your prospects, you increase the chances of conversion and the likelihood of establishing a fruitful, long-lasting relationship. In some cases, those relationships and the referrals that come from them can be even more profitable than the initial deal. Choosing the right CTA is also crucial at this stage. Using information you’ve gleaned from your prospect, reiterate what your product has to offer, tell them how it can solve their problems, and give them a reason to make a purchase as soon as possible. This will remind them why they were interested in the first place and boost your conversion rate for this stage.

Retention and Upselling

For many B2B, SaaS, and subscription-based businesses, the sales process doesn’t end with the purchase. Once a prospect becomes a customer, the sales rep turns their focus toward retention. Reps need to keep in touch with clients to make sure they’re still satisfied and to identify potential . Creating a sales funnel is an extensive process. It’s going to take research and effort to determine what methods will work best for your company, your sales reps, and your buyers. But by starting from the top and making your way to the bottom of the funnel, you can develop a seamless sales process that will allow you to retain more customers than you would without a comprehensive structure. Here are good strategies to follow when building a sales funnel.

Examples of B2B and B2C Sales Funnels

B2B Sales Funnel Example

Let’s review an example of a B2B sales funnel for a marketing automation SaaS business. This company wants to attract and retain more customers through a streamlined sales pipeline process. Here’s how their sales funnel might look:

  1. Stage 1: Awareness
  • The company displays targeted Facebook ads to its target audience.
  • Prospects become aware of the company and its products.
  1. Stage 2: Interest
  • Prospects are directed to a landing page with an option to sign up for an email list.
  • Prospects receive free introductory guides on how to use marketing automation for their business.
  1. Stage 3: Evaluation
  • The company offers a free trial of the automation platform.
  • Sales reps reach out to prospects to convert them into paying customers.
  1. Stage 4: Decision
  • Prospects become paying customers and make a purchase.
  1. Stage 5: Retention
  • Sales reps follow up to ensure a good customer experience.
  • Repeat purchases and customer satisfaction are prioritized.

B2C Sales Funnel Example

Now let’s look at an example of a B2C sales funnel for a company that sells mountain bikes. Here’s how their sales funnel might look:

  1. Stage 1: Awareness
  • The company purchases ads targeting outdoorsy Facebook users.
  • Prospects become aware of the company and its products.
  1. Stage 2: Interest
  • Prospects are directed to a landing page with an offer for a 10 percent discount.
  • Prospects are incentivized to make a purchase.
  1. Stage 3: Evaluation
  • The company sends nurture emails with new offers or discounts.
  • Cross-selling is used to create compelling offers for consumers.
  1. Stage 4: Decision
  • Prospects make online orders.
  1. Stage 5: Retention
  • The company follows up with customer satisfaction surveys.
  • Repeat purchases and customer satisfaction are prioritized.

As you can see, the process is very similar for both types of businesses—there’s no need to overcomplicate it. The biggest differences are in the length of the sales cycle and the level of sales rep involvement. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, effective sales funnels ensure you find and keep happy customers throughout the .


Creating a sales funnel requires careful planning and consideration of your target audience and their needs. By understanding the customer journey and implementing the best practices discussed in this guide, you can build a successful sales funnel that generates more leads and drives more conversions. Remember to continuously analyze and refine your sales funnel to ensure its effectiveness. With the right strategies and tools, such as Zendesk Sell, you can streamline your sales process and achieve better results. So why wait? Start building your sales funnel today!


Leave a Comment