August 18

Beginner’s Guide to Sales Funnels in 2021

It’s no secret that in today’s world, the best way to make money online is through sales funnels. The only way you can get more customers is by building a solid funnel that does the heavy lifting for you. If you want to be successful in this industry, it’s essential to know what a sales funnel is and how you can build one so that your business runs smoothly and generates more revenue.

Sales funnels are such an important part of making money on the internet because they’re essentially systems designed for turning visitors into leads, then leads into clients.

In this article, you’re going to learn everything you need to know to plan and launch your first profitable sales funnel with confidence.

Let’s dive in!

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a process by which you guide potential customers from the very first “touchpoint” with your company, to converting them to raving fans and customers. This means that someone who’s never heard of you can be convinced to buy something from you repeatedly and consistently.

In 2021 and beyond, trust is at an all-time low, so you can’t expect to make a sale as soon as someone finds your website or product.

You must structure and build a funnel that entices people to engage with your brand almost every step of the way.

How do Sales Funnels work?

There are many different types of funnels, but they all work using the same basic principles. Each funnel has a starting point and an ending point filled with steps designed to guide people through a process that causes them to become customers (or leads).

If you’d like specific tips on brainstorming and planning out your first sales funnel, be sure to download my Funnel Blueprint here:

Why Do You Need Sales Funnels?

You might be wondering, why do I need to build a sales funnel? Aren’t there other ways to generate leads and sales?

In short: No.  There really is no alternative.

Sales funnels are essential because they get consistent results for people and businesses. If you do not use a sales funnel, the chances of your business are pretty much poor.

A sales funnel is simply a set of instructions that guide your prospects through the purchasing process. It gives you a simple and very clear path for getting people from Point A to Point B, so that conversions become dramatically easier.

No matter where someone finds your lead capture page or how they’ve heard about your product, there will always be a place for them to enter your sales funnel.

If you’re thinking, “Why do I need a sales funnel? Isn’t the best way to sell my products direct?” The truth is that companies like Amazon and Apple wouldn’t exist if they hadn’t used a sales funnel in their business model. Even though they sell direct to consumer, companies like Amazon and Apple have created a seamless sales funnel for their products.

Effective Sales Funnel Stages

There are so many different types of funnels out there, but the best ones have five stages:

Stage 1: Acquisition – The first stage in your sales funnel is to acquire traffic from relevant and targeted sources. In this stage, you’ll find customers and leads who are interested in your business.  The longer you’re able to stay in this stage, the more opportunities you’ll have to convert visitors into customers.  It’s important that you don’t rush them out of your funnel because if you do, they’re much less likely to buy from you.

Stage 2: Lead Conversion – Once people are inside your sales funnel, it’s essential that you convert them into leads.  There are many ways to do this, but it all depends on your business model and the type of product you’re selling.  The bottom line is that you want to make sure people are sending their information to you before they leave your funnel. This way, you’ll be able to continue to follow up with them, making them much more likely to buy from you in the future.

Stage 3: Lead Conversion to Sales – The third stage of your sales funnel is lead conversion. This is the direct path from one lead into a customer, and they are far more likely to take this step if you’ve acquired them through a high quality source like Facebook ads or Google Adwords.  This whole process works as long as the traffic you’re getting is targeted and relevant to your business.

Stage 4: Sales & Repeat Customers – The fourth stage of your sales funnel is having customers buy from you.  This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s important that once you have a customer, they continue to feel engaged with your brand.  The simplest way to do this is by setting up a customer loyalty program.  This way, you’ll be able to give people incentives for being your customers in the first place.

Stage 5: Referrals & Growth – The final step of selling through a sales funnel is that once you have one successful sale, it’s essential that you get referrals from your customers.  If you give them incentives for referring people to your brand, they’ll be more likely to help you grow your business.

Sales Funnel Examples

Let’s break it down a bit further. “Sales Funnels” are nothing new. It’s essentially a catchy phrase for the way good business has always been done.

For example, a real estate broker uses a sales funnel:

1. Leads come from a website, an advertisement, or they get referred to the broker by a friend or family member.

2. Leads are contacted and given information about the available properties. They’re typically given two choices: one is much more expensive than the other but has more bells and whistles; the other is cheaper with less features.

3. They’ll choose an option and the broker will present a contract stating that if they complete inspections, etc., they’ll get the house for the price of their choosing.

4. If everything goes smoothly, the customer signs the contract and finishes all of the steps to buying their dream home (or whatever they’re buying).

5. The customer is happy and referred to a neighbor, who follows the same steps as described above.

Or a health & wellness coach could use a sales funnel:

1. He offers free sessions to “see if it’s a good fit.”

2. If they decide that working together is best, he charges them for the first session.

3. He sets up a plan so they can work towards their health and wellness goals together over the next month or two (typically this is getting them on a meal plan and doing some sort of workout).

4. He follows up with his client and helps them stay on track over the next month or two, charging for sessions as needed to help keep them on track.

5. If they get to their goal weight/size or whatever their end-point is, then he’ll recommend that they continue using him as a coach to maintain their progress and maximize the benefits they’re receiving from working with him.

So you see, sales funnels aren’t necessarily crazy, high-tech solutions. They’re simply effective, repeatable, and measurable customer journeys.

Beginner’s Friendly Guide on Building Sales Funnels

So how do you actually begin to plan, build, and launch your own sales funnel? Just follow these simple steps:

1. Begin with the end in mind. Write down all of the goals you want to accomplish by building a sales funnel for your business, whether that be increased revenue per month or more customer referrals and repeat customers. Need help planning your funnel goals? That’s exactly what you can get inside the free Funnel Blueprint!

2. Gather your team – If you don’t have one yet, get someone on board to help you with the process. This can be anyone from a freelance graphic designer to a full-time in-house marketing manager or sales associate.  As long as they have the experience and knowledge to assist you, it’s perfectly fine to go solo.

3. Start planning – Begin brainstorming ideas for the customer journey you want your customers to go through when they buy from your brand.  List out all of the steps you want them to take and prioritize each one based on how important it is for generating future sales.

4. Begin building – After you’ve got a preliminary plan set up, start putting together a list of resources (stock photos/video, tools like Infusionsoft, or other software like Ontraport) that will help you succeed in completing each step. Begin setting up your funnel and watching the money roll in!

5. Repeat – Over time, revise your plans as needed based on data and feedback from your customers to make sure you’re always providing them with the best experience possible.

How to Measure & Improve your sales funnel

When you start planning and building your sales funnel, it’s important to figure out how you’re going to measure the results. This is called “metrics”, as in the amount of customers or leads you acquire each month, week, day, etc.

The key metrics for your business will vary depending on what industry you’re in and the type of customers you serve. Typically, though, the more metrics you have for your business, the better it is because then you’ll be able to see what kind of an impact different changes are having on your business and make informed decisions as needed.

Ideally, you want to figure out how to measure every step in your sales funnel journey and set up different goals for each one. For example, if you’re a clothing brand, the goal of your funnel may be to get people to sign up for your email list by offering them a free resource or guide. The next step is to get more sales from that list through weekly emails with discounts and special offers exclusive to people on your list. The next step is to get more sales from that group of people by offering them special prices on their first item and then following up with them over time to make sure they get the best possible experience.

Here are some common key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your funnel performance:

  • Cost per Click (paid traffic)
  • Cost per Lead
  • Cost per Purchase
  • Return on Ad Spend
  • Sales Page conversion rate
  • Average Order Value
  • Number of Leads
  • Number of Customers
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery Rate

Keeping track of these in a notebook, spreadsheet, or the built-in tracker in the Funnel Blueprint will help you keep consistent progress and focused results in your funnel.

Common Sales Funnel Myths

After years of designing and building sales funnels for clients all over the world, I’ve noticed some common misconceptions that keep popping up when it comes to creating effective funnels. Here are my top 5 favorite myths, debunked:

Myth #1 – A sales funnel needs to be a long-term project that takes months or even years to finish.

Myth #2 – Sales funnels are only helpful for E-Commerce businesses.

Myth #3 – People will go to your website and naturally proceed through the funnel on their own.

Myth #4 – It’s hard to build a sales funnel from scratch, so I don’t even bother trying.

Myth #5 – You need to be a technical person to create sales funnels.

Please don’t fall for these myths and know that you can ABSOLUTELY succeed at funnels

Sales Funnels FAQs

A sales funnel “template” is a set of instructions or blueprints that you can use to build your own custom sales funnel. They’re pre-designed funnels I’ve built for clients in the past that have proven to be effective time and time again when used as-is or tweaked slightly for their market and product/service.

There is no single perfect tool for everyone, so you can see my current best recommendations for sales funnel tools on the Leaderboard Page. At the time of this writing, my favorite tools are Thrivecart, Thrive Themes, and Cartflows.

I’m always hesitant to give figures because they’re based on so many different variables, but the good news is that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars building funnels anymore like in the past. If you have a bit of experience with WordPress, you can launch a complete sales funnel for under $100!

Maintaining your funnel is very easy, especially if you’re using Thrivecart and one of the Thrive themes. That’s why I love them! You basically just need a web hosting package that allows you to install WordPress, purchase some products (that’s optional), and update your site plugins to keep it secure and fast.

I love and use the “Value in Advance” Strategy, where I build trust and authority with prospects before ever offering them something for sale. This makes it much easier to convert them to customers and raving fans over time.


So there you have it, the Beginner’s Guide to Building Sales Funnels in 2021.

I hope you enjoyed this article and got a lot of value out of it! If there is something I did not cover or you’d like to see me write an article about then please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

About the author 


John Whitford is an entrepreneur who has built over 12 profitable online blogs and businesses. He's also the founder of Unbeatable Tech, a data-driven digital marketing company that specializes in sales funnel implementation for both his own businesses and clients alike. John loves to be a beach bum while brainstorming new ideas for marketing strategies, but he's always excited to take on another project!

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