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How to Build a Sales Funnel

The concept of a sales funnel is simple: You just think of a funnel, the wide mouth at the top that tapers to a small spout at the bottom, and imagine leads going in and conversions coming out.

But the reality of building a sales funnel isn’t as simple as picturing it happening. In order to build a sales funnel, you have to know a lot of information about your product, service and your prospects.

The challenge is that each business’s sales funnels are different. The way you build it often determines how successful it will be.


1) Know Your Buyer: Focus on What the Prospect Needs and Sees Your sales funnel won’t work if you build it for you. You have to build it for the prospect in question. What do they see? Read? Hear? How do they get to these communications? What factors interfere with their decision to buy? What problem do they need you to solve? Focusing on what you want versus what your prospects experience means your funnel will be useless to the needs of the people you’re trying to sell to.

2) Start at the Bottom Building a sales funnel doesn’t follow a linear path. You don’t start with how the prospect first encounters your communications, then work to the next step. You start with the last thing they see or hear before they say, “Yes!” Working backward from the yes point helps with clarity. You simply ask, “Why did they say yes?” and know what the second-to-last communication or consideration point was.

3) Focus on Engagement From the time your prospect enters your funnel until the time they convert, you are nurturing that lead. Think of the definition of “nurture.” Does slapping people with sales messages constantly sound nurturing? No. Focus your nurturing activities on building a kind, trust-driven relationship where you warm them to the notion of the product benefits over time. Walk them down a path, holding their hand, not dragging them kicking and screaming. What that means in execution is what type of resources and information can you provide to them and when? Can you engage with them socially outside of the sales cycle to illustrate a deeper interest in them beyond the sale? What questions can you ask or information can you share about you to make the exchange more personal?

4) Build a Magnet Now you know what your ideal customer looks like. You understand the type of person who will engage with you and ultimately will buy from you. Now build a traffic or lead-generation mechanism focused on that type of consumer. This informs your ad targeting, advertising copy, blog and social content, email outreach, sales letters and more. Because you started at the bottom and defined better the makeup and behavior of your perfect customer, your traffic mechanism will be more informed which will attract more of the right prospects rather than just anyone.

Translating Strategy to Execution

Those four steps help you think through the strategy of whom you’re talking to, what you’re going to say and offer and at what points along your buyer’s journey you’ll deliver the messages. The second piece of the puzzle is taking all that planning and putting it into action. That is done through building landing pages, content marketing and more. The last and third piece of that puzzle is each channel, yes, each channel can have sales funnel and then each funnel needs to be connected together. I’ll cover that those pieces of the equation soon.

What parts of the four steps to building a sales funnel have you done? Have you had trouble with any of them? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.


Nicole Hudson is an engaging thought leader in marketing strategy development, branding, demand generation, content marketing, SEO, social media, storytelling, social selling, marketing technology and lead generation. Her firm, Inbound Lead Solutions, focuses on sales, communications and marketing alignment with B2B companies, franchising, professional services, keynote speakers, authors, and consultants. Hudson’s marketing strategies have been recognized by Franchise Media Group in two consecutive years with Star Awards for social media lead generation, and by a Dbusiness Magazine award in 2016 for Marketing Consulting. Her work has been featured in multiple LinkedIn case studies on SEO, content marketing and lead generation. She published a book collaboration with Bulldog Reporter (Infocom), The Advanced LinkedIn PR Handbook. Hudson has developed social media strategies for three national television appearances: Be the Boss, Shark Tank and Undercover Boss. Nicole is a member of the International Franchise Association, Detroit Women in Digital, and AMA Detroit. She is a board advisor for Mother Honestly, a collective of women CEOs, executives, investors and career professionals; and a board member and marketing chair for Community Home Supports, a Detroit non-profit. Hudson is a recurring columnist in Career Mastered Magazine and a regular keynote speaker, content contributor, and trainer on sales, marketing, and communication topics.

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