What is a Sales Funnel & What is Its Modern Alternative

Do you know that companies have thrived or faltered based on the might of their sales funnel? You heard it right, the question of how successful a company would be is based on how well it works in selling. 

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It was a simple equation – load up the top with potential customers and watch as those who reached the bottom turned into loyal patrons.

But here’s the twist – the world of sales is in a perpetual state of flux, while the traditional sales funnel remains largely unchanged. The buyer’s journey no longer takes a straightforward route from awareness to consideration to purchase. In fact, these days, it’s more like a labyrinth of twists and turns.

As sales leaders, it is our responsibility to re-imagine sales and find an equally worthy alternative. Join us as we dissect the sales funnel, distinguish it from the flywheel, and unveil which model holds the key to unlocking your business’s full potential.

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is like a journey our potential customers take as they become our valued clients. Think of it as a roadmap with different phases, starting from the first interaction and leading to a successful deal.

Imagine the top of the funnel as a vast pool of potential buyers. As we move forward, we use specific criteria to filter out the most promising prospects, narrowing down their number.

What is Sales Funnel

As we continue along the customer journey, the pool of prospects naturally shrinks, leaving us with a select few valuable opportunities. The journey reaches its climax at the decision-making stage, where each deal is either marked as ‘closed-won’ or ‘closed-lost.’

As each deal progresses through these stages, the chances of sealing the deal change. The further a deal advances in the sales funnel, the more information is shared, making it increasingly clear how our product or service can benefit the customer.

Also Read: What is a Content Marketing Funnel Stages & Phases


At this point, the potential for a deal to succeed is significantly higher, unless, unfortunately, it takes a turn toward ‘closed-lost,’ which means the chances of success drop to zero.

In simpler terms, the sales funnel guides our customers from their first encounter with us to make a decision, with the aim of helping them realize the advantages of our offering.

Why Do You Need a Sales Funnel?

There’s a good reason to have a well-structured sales funnel in place, and it goes beyond just guiding leads to become paying customers. Let’s explore the six significant advantages it offers:

Why Do You Need a Sales Funnel

Targeted Sales and Marketing Approach

Picture this: Your potential customers can reach out to you at any stage of their journey, from early research to late decision-making. It’s essential to ensure that your marketing and sales efforts are aligned, providing the information they need, even when a salesperson isn’t directly involved. 

With an effective sales funnel, you can deliver the right message to your prospects, bridging the gap when you can’t have direct sales conversations.

Delivering the Right Message at the Right Time

A sales funnel empowers businesses to understand the customer journey clearly. It offers insights into the current stage of the customer, allowing you to tailor your message accordingly.

At the Awareness stage, where prospects are just getting to know your brand, they need content like blog posts, infographics, landing pages, and checklists to become familiar with your offerings.

When individuals have moved to the Desire stage, they already understand your business. Now, they need product overviews, webinars, demos, and case studies that nudge them toward taking action.

Efficiency in Time and Effort

A fully-developed sales funnel not only aligns your marketing and sales strategies but also saves you time by creating content that caters to all stages of the funnel.

For instance, you can create a blog post that addresses a specific pain point and share it with prospects in the Awareness stage seeking solutions. Simultaneously, you can craft strategic lead magnets offered to leads in the Desire stage.

Boosted Sales

When prospects are nurtured as they progress through the funnel, your sales can see a noticeable boost. If your sales funnel is well-optimized, you may witness a 47% increase in sales with nurtured leads compared to non-nurtured ones. 

Ensure your funnel is fine-tuned, addressing pain points and removing potential obstacles, so your leads eagerly reach the bottom, ready to make a purchase.

Enhanced Forecast Accuracy

Sales funnels aren’t just about the present; they can predict your future revenue. By using metrics like conversion rates from the Awareness stage to the Action stage, you can estimate the percentage of leads likely to convert and then multiply it by the total estimated deal size in the funnel. This method provides you with a solid sales forecast.

Your sales forecast relies on factors like the number of prospects in the Awareness stage, the estimated deal value, and the likelihood of the prospect making a purchase. This predictive power helps your business plan for the future with greater accuracy.

Also Read: Top 10 Digital Marketing Agencies You Should Consider to Grow Sales in 2024

How to Create a Sales Funnel – A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a robust sales funnel from the ground up is an essential strategy for turning potential customers into loyal patrons. It’s not just about having a funnel, it’s about nurturing leads and guiding them through the various stages. 

How to Create a Sales Funnel

Let’s break down the process into clear steps:

Understand Your Audience Through Data Gathering

To create a successful sales funnel, the foundation lies in understanding your audience. The more insights you gather, the more effective your funnel becomes. Remember, you’re not marketing to everyone but to those who align with your offerings. 

Ask your potential customers:

  • What challenges do they face in your field?
  • What are their fears and frustrations?
  • What are their goals and aspirations?
  • What have they tried to solve their problems or achieve their goals?
  • How well did it work?

This data helps you tailor content for each funnel stage, making your brand more relatable. You’ll also gain insights into product or service enhancements.

Capture Your Audience’s Attention

Your funnel won’t work without prospects. Attracting the right audience is crucial. Employ an agency well-versed in content marketing and SEO to broaden your organic reach. 

Use diverse content forms like infographics, videos, social media posts, and more. Reach your audience through:

  • SEO
  • Non-paid social media traffic
  • Referrals from other websites
  • Direct traffic from previous visitors

Include forms and pop-ups on your website to capture leads. You can also run targeted ads or manual prospecting. The choice depends on where your audience hangs out; LinkedIn might be ideal for B2B.

Create a High-Converting Landing Page

Landing pages, although not always popular, have the highest conversion rates, around 24%. When prospects click on an ad or respond to a CTA, they arrive at a landing page. 

This page should convey your company’s identity and unique benefits. The focus here is on capturing leads, not hard selling. Include a form for prospects to share their information. Your landing page should feature a clear and compelling call to action.

Offer Value

When prospects reach your landing page, don’t immediately ask them to make a purchase. Provide them with something valuable, like discounts or limited-time offers. Motivate them with access to gated content upon taking action. Urgency, like limited-time offers, can boost sales by 6% to 9%.

Nurturing the Prospect

To ensure the maximum number of prospects reach the funnel’s end, nurture them at the Awareness and Interest stages. Offer meaningful interactions through content like how-to guides, eBooks, checklists, surveys, and case studies. Involve your customer support team to guide prospects in maximizing your products and services.

Create an Email Drip Campaign

With leads captured, use email marketing to move them closer to a purchase. Provide valuable, educational content before moving into sales-oriented messages. Address their needs, overcome objections, and, at the end of the campaign, make an irresistible offer.

Maintain Ongoing Communication

Don’t forget your paying customers. Continue reaching out, offering educational content, and updates on promotions. Engage them on social media, building a community of trust and loyalty.

Upsell, cross-sell, and Downsell

Existing customers offer opportunities for additional sales. Promote complementary products to what they’ve already bought, or create downgraded offers for those hesitant to commit to higher-tier products.

Optimize Your Sales Funnel

A well-optimized funnel is essential for revenue projections. To achieve this:

  • Research your audience and create buyer personas.
  • Set measurable goals using Google Analytics.
  • Analyze and test landing pages, including A/B testing.
  • Maintain a strong social media presence.
  • Include social proof like testimonials.
  • Ensure strong and well-placed calls-to-action (CTAs).

Here is a real-life example of how to create a sales funnel for a fitness business;

Sales Funnel vs. Flywheel: The Modern Shift in Sales

In recent years, how businesses sell things has changed a lot. The old way, called the sales funnel, doesn’t work as well anymore. Now, customers have more control.

Modern customers have lots of information online. They act differently than in the past. They might get really interested in buying something, do research, and then suddenly stop, even if there’s no clear reason.

Because of these changes, some companies are trying a new approach called the flywheel instead of the old sales funnel.

The flywheel signifies a fresh perspective on business-customer interactions. It is grounded in the idea that happy customers and their word-of-mouth endorsements are what fuels its continuous movement.

In simple terms, the flywheel uses the energy of happy customers to keep it going. They either come back to buy more, or tell others about the business. This is unlike the sales funnel, which is more about guiding customers through a step-by-step process.

With the flywheel, it’s not just about moving customers along a set path. It’s about creating a community of happy customers who, in turn, help bring in new customers. It’s a way of doing business that focuses on keeping customers happy for the long term instead of quick sales.

So, in today’s world of sales, the flywheel is a new and customer-focused way of doing things that are becoming more popular compared to the old sales funnel.

What Is the Flywheel and How Does It Work?

The flywheel is a concept explaining the momentum generated when an entire organization focuses on delivering an exceptional customer experience. This experience results in happy customers who, in turn, drive referrals and repeat sales.

What Is the Flywheel

To set your flywheel in motion, you must invest significantly in strategies to acquire and retain customers. Once you’ve gained your initial customers and ensured their satisfaction, they become a driving force for your flywheel.

They may continue to buy from you or introduce new customers by recommending your business to their network. This is the key to keeping your flywheel spinning without constantly chasing new customers.

In essence, instead of relying solely on your sales team to explain your products or services, you harness the momentum generated by satisfied customers to fuel referrals and repeat business.

By adopting the flywheel approach, you have the opportunity to create a thriving community of customers who actively support and engage with new prospects. 

In the modern sales landscape, the flywheel surpasses the traditional sales funnel by leveraging existing customers to attract and connect with potential buyers.

Flywheel Sales Model – A Traditional Sales Funnel Alternative

Creating a successful flywheel involves understanding that your current customers are incredibly influential. Their stories and experiences are trusted by potential buyers, with online reviews holding as much sway as personal recommendations for 46% of consumers. To harness this power, ensure you have a wealth of use cases, customer testimonials, and references that highlight your product or service’s strengths.

Encourage your satisfied customers to become champions of your brand. Social proof, the idea that people look to others to determine what’s correct, is a potent psychological tool. Customer reviews carry 12 times more trust than manufacturer descriptions. Utilize social media to turn your happy customers’ experiences into compelling content.

Identify the forces and frictions in your sales process. Forces propel the sales process forward and include factors like providing accurate information, a deep understanding of the problem, effective listening, and responsiveness.

On the flip side, friction hinders the sales process. It occurs when prospects encounter too many hurdles, obstacles, or inconveniences during their buying journey. 

Identifying these areas of force and friction allows you to prioritize actions that add momentum to your sales efforts and remove unnecessary obstacles, creating a seamless and frictionless experience. This keeps the flywheel in motion and leaves your buyers satisfied.

However, good sales funnel management is an important aspect of a successful buyer journey. Make sure that you have a streamlined system in line for it or contact us for assistance.


What is a sales funnel, and how does it work?

A sales funnel is a model that represents the stages a customer goes through in the journey from being a prospect to making a purchase. It typically includes stages like awareness, consideration, and decision.

What are the key components of an effective sales funnel?

A successful sales funnel comprises elements like lead generation, lead nurturing, conversion strategies, and customer retention tactics.

Can you explain the benefits of using a sales funnel in business?

Implementing a sales funnel helps businesses with a focused sales strategy, delivering the right message at the right time, saving time, increasing sales, and improving forecast accuracy.

What are the stages of a typical sales funnel?

The stages of a standard sales funnel include awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase.

How can I build a sales funnel from scratch for my business?

To create a sales funnel, start by understanding your target audience, capturing their attention, building landing pages, offering valuable content, nurturing prospects, and implementing email drip campaigns.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in sales funnel design?

Common errors include not understanding your audience, failing to capture leads, offering irrelevant content, lacking proper nurturing, and not optimizing the funnel for conversions.

What role does mobile optimization play in sales funnel success?

Mobile optimization is crucial as many users access sales funnels through mobile devices. It involves ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and offers a seamless experience.

How do I use social proof to enhance my sales funnel?

Social proof involves using customer reviews, testimonials, and endorsements to build trust. It can be applied in various funnel stages to boost conversions.

What are the best practices for sales funnel optimization in 2023?

Current best practices include researching your audience, setting measurable goals, analyzing and testing landing pages, maintaining an active social media presence, adding social proof, and keeping strong CTAs.

What is the difference between a Sales Funnel and a Flywheel in marketing?

A sales funnel is a step-by-step process where customers move from being aware of your product to making a purchase. On the other hand, a Flywheel is a model focused on building momentum through customer satisfaction and referrals.

How does a Sales Funnel work for businesses?

A sales funnel breaks down the customer journey into stages, guiding prospects from initial awareness to making a purchase. It’s like a roadmap that helps businesses convert potential customers into actual buyers.

What is the concept of a Flywheel in sales and marketing?

A Flywheel is a model where customer satisfaction generates momentum. Happy customers refer others and create a cycle of growth. It’s customer-centric, aiming for long-term loyalty.

Why do businesses choose a Flywheel model over a Sales Funnel?

Some businesses prefer the Flywheel because it relies on customer happiness and referrals, which can lead to sustainable growth. It focuses on building strong, long-term relationships.

How can I optimize a Sales Funnel for better customer conversions?

You can optimize a Sales Funnel by understanding your customers, creating engaging content, using compelling calls to action, and continually testing and improving each stage for better results.

What metrics should I measure for Sales Funnel and Flywheel success?

Key metrics for success include conversion rates, customer satisfaction, referrals, and retention rates. For the Flywheel, focus on Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer growth.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when implementing a Sales Funnel or Flywheel?

Common mistakes include not understanding your audience, offering irrelevant content, not nurturing leads, and failing to track and adjust your strategy for better results.

How do sales funnels and Flywheels focus on customer needs?

Sales Funnels ensure the right message is delivered to customers at the right time, addressing their specific needs. Flywheel prioritizes customer satisfaction, as happy customers become advocates who attract others.

Give me a detailed comparison of the sales funnel and Flywheel models.

Sales Funnel is a structured, step-by-step process that guides customers from awareness to purchase, while the Flywheel relies on customer satisfaction and referrals to generate momentum.

Tell me how content marketing fits into Sales Funnel and Flywheel strategies.

Content marketing provides valuable information at each stage of the Sales Funnel, guiding customers. In a Flywheel, content builds trust, as happy customers share it, attracting new prospects.

Which approach is more customer-centric: Sales Funnel or Flywheel?

The Flywheel approach is more customer-centric as it relies on customer satisfaction and referrals. It places the customer’s experience and loyalty at the core of business growth.

What is a Sales Funnel & What is Its Modern Alternative

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