What Is a Sales Funnel? How They Can Work to Get You Better Clients

What is a sales funnel

Have you ever felt that getting qualified leads for your business is a lot of hard work?

You’d be right. It usually is challenging to get a steady supply of the leads that you really want. You can spend a lot of time chasing business or sifting through leads, only to find that you’re trudging through projects that don’t excite you for clients that frankly, seem to be a lot of work to keep happy.

This is not to bag on clients – we all need them and the majority of them are great! However, let’s be honest and acknowledge that not every potential client who comes along is a good fit for your specific offer. 

The problem is, when a client is a poor fit, they tend to be more work and/or headaches for the business. You find yourself tearing your hair out trying to keep them happy.

Which brings us to sales funnels.

They’re not a “silver bullet” but they can play a key role in landing you the clients that you really want to be working with. The ones whom you’d describe as a “perfect fit…”

What is a sales funnel?

You might also see a sales funnel referred to as a marketing funnel – they are the same thing. The purpose of the sales funnel is to lead potential customers through a series of steps that take them from not knowing you at all, to becoming a paid customer.

If we refer to the world of online marketing, those steps might begin with someone seeing a post on Facebook or clicking on a paid ad. This takes them to a landing page that describes a specific problem that is close to their heart. They have the option of signing up for a free webinar on the problem. When they do so, their email address is now in your system and you can follow up with a series of emails. The goal is to nurture the lead through to becoming a customer.

Is there a perfect model for a sales funnel?

There’s no one set way to construct the perfect sales funnel, the best way to do it is by putting yourself in the shoes of the customers you want to attract. They might enter your funnel in all sorts of ways, for example, by going to a website that is shared with podcast listeners, or by clicking on a call to action you include with a relevant blog post.

The steps they follow should also be carefully planned with the persona of that ideal customer in-mind. Are they unlikely to have time for a one-hour webinar? Perhaps you condense it into twenty minutes or choose a different medium for sharing information. 

Besides the customer persona, you should also think about the product or service you are selling. We talk about “high-ticket sales funnels” a lot (Troy Dean and Dave Foy created a course to help business owners create them!). Basically, the higher the value of the product or service you sell, the more work you usually need to do to build trust with the lead before they will buy. 

The “perfect” sales funnel is designed to appeal to your target audience Share on X
What is a sales funnel

The stages of the sales funnel

If you were to do a quick Google search for “sales funnel,” you’ll find a few different models pop up, each with slight variations in the terminology they use. That’s okay, the general idea is the same and relates to the customer journey with your brand. So if we break down the funnel stages simply, they are:

  • Top of Funnel (TOFU) – This is where the lead enters your funnel. Typically, they’re trying to solve some kind of problem and are looking for information on it.  TOFU is the widest part of the funnel – the opening at the top. This reflects that you will usually get a lot more leads to begin with, but many will drop off. Usually, they will disqualify themselves if they’re not a good fit, so it’s important to be very targeted throughout.

    Examples of marketing activities: Content that addresses and defines the key problem, keyword research and optimisation, social media posts.


  • Middle of Funnel (MOFU) – This section of the funnel aims to show the prospect why your product or service is a good choice for solving their problem. At this stage, they’re usually exploring their options. A prospect may become a genuine lead here.

    Examples of marketing activities: Opt-in content, lead nurturing emails.


  • Bottom of Funnel (BOFU) – The lead is ready to make a buying decision. They may be interested in trying your product or service out to see if it will be a good fit, or they may want to talk directly with someone about it (especially if it is high-ticket).

    Examples of marketing activities: Free consultations or assessments, coupon offers, free trials.

The diagram below from Digital Brains sums up the funnel:

What is a sales funnel

How does this get me better clients?

There’s something that Troy says about “wrong fit” clients that makes a lot of sense here:

“… if these clients sound a lot like the ones you’re dealing with, and you're unhappy and want to make a change, you only need to look in the mirror and ask yourself how you attracted them.”

Creating your sales funnel can take a bit of work, that is, if you want it to effectively bring you those “ideal” clients. The idea is that if you define who it is that you’re trying to attract, then every bit of messaging in your sales funnel can be designed to appeal to them, while turning away those who won’t be a good fit.

On the other hand, if you were to give off the vibe that you’re “desperate for clients” or that you’ll serve anyone, well, “anyone” is who you’ll attract! A well-planned sales funnel is designed to attract only who you really want.

For example, let’s say you’ve devised a system to help people get better clients. You want people who are willing to put the time into following your system, rather than looking for a “quick fix.” You might include language around the amount of work required or how long it might take – this is one way to dissuade the “get rich quick” set.

At every step in your sales funnel there is an opportunity to help people self-select out of it. In a case study we highlighted recently, a weight loss coach uses a client quiz within her funnel. Ultimately, the results of this quiz will either take people to the step of booking a consultation or inform them that the program is probably not right for them. 

For some people, this concept is a bit uncomfortable. What if you need the money or miss out on the client? You could look at it like this: how much time and energy are you spending on low-budget, low-value clients? If that were directed at getting some high-value clients, how much better off would you be for the time spent?

Remember too, those low-budget, low-value clients tend to only refer more clients of the same type. This can keep you caught in a cycle where your time and energy are being sapped by yet more poor-fit clients.

A sales funnel can help you to break the cycle and level-up your business.

And finally…

An effective sales funnel takes work, but it can sure pay off when you have a steady supply of high-value, “right fit” clients.

One of the cool things about a funnel is that once you’ve done the initial work to set it up, you can have it largely running on autopilot (except for any calls or consultations, of course!) You can set up systems so that prospects who enter your funnel receive information or invitations automatically.

That’s not to say it’s a “set and forget” exercise. It’s important to monitor your sales funnel and figure out what is working well and what could be improved. Make adjustments as necessary to keep building your client pipeline.

If you want access to our free training on creating your own high ticket sales funnel, then click here. 

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Katie Joll

Katie is a writer who specialises in technology, small business marketing and travel. She loves nothing more than a good success story, so keep them coming in!

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