What Exactly Is A Sales Funnel? How Does It Work?

In A Nutshell

The sales funnel, or purchasing funnel, is a consumer-focused marketing model that illustrates the theoretical customer journey toward the purchase of a good or service.

In 1898, E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a model that mapped a theoretical customer journey from the moment a brand or product attracted consumer attention to the point of action or purchase. St. Elmo Lewis’ idea is often referred to as the AIDA-model, an acronym that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. This staged process is summarized below:

  • Awareness – the customer is aware of the existence of a product or service
  • Interest – actively expressing an interest in a product group
  • Desire – aspiring to a particular brand or product
  • Action – taking the next step towards purchasing the chosen product


We begin with awareness.  This is the start of the process and usually the most exciting (except for the final action, getting conversions).  This is the step where a company begins it’s brand management and awareness, guerilla marketing, and bringing your concept outwards to attract potential clients.  This is where the interest starts, but only to services and products that are alluring enough to garner said interest.



How do you gain consumer interest? You begin by knowing your audience, understanding what will visually captivate them and stimulate their interest. The funnel gets tighter here as people who aren’t interested may go no further with your product. Without this knowledge base, you’ll just be throwing darts and hoping they land somewhere good.  Treating your interested customers like insiders, sending them email marketing updates, and throwing over some coupon codes will definitely help garner interest and lead the consumer closer to the final step, which is the purchase.



This portion is where the funnel gets even tighter as the target market is really niched down to those that are on the fence, but leaning your way. It is at this point that APM would suggest scheduling a call, sending a meeting invitation, or even an email (EM) with a discount or colorful information on the product that they may not already know. This is where the hook needs to be set, pain points identified, and a solution created.



Finally, we have made it to the MOST exciting part.  At this stage the consumer has gone from being aware of your product or service, to showing interest and desire, and is now looking to complete the funnel by entering into some form of agreement with your company.  This is make or break time for you, the seller.  Your funnel has done it’s work to get you here but now you must close the deal. For businesses that sell items this usually doesn’t become a major concern as they have stores where people browse shelves.  As an online retailer, speaker, coach, or media agency though, you must send your best pitch and seal the deal.

If you want some tips on how to create a sales funnel or a consultation on selling, shoot an email to me at ian@alpinepointmedia.com today or set up a conference HERE.

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