You might have heard of a sales funnel before and might have been told about how important it is to the success of any business, but what exactly is a sales funnel and how does it relate to your business?

A sales funnel is essentially the ideal process in which a company guides a customer through the buying process. The goal is to convert someone who might potentially be a customer into someone who is your customer. It’s a relatively simple concept which all business owners should keep in mind and maintain because it does play a significant role in the success of your business.

The Four Tiers

A basic sales funnel would consist of four different tiers: suspects, prospects, leads, and customers. The concept of the sales funnel is to lead potential clients through the various stages of your funnel, but with the end goal of them becoming a buying customer.

Suspects are individuals who may or may not be in your market. This is a tier you need to spend a lot of time carving down so that you have a better idea of who your target is and therefore will have a better chance of converting them into customers.

Prospects are individuals who have shown some interest in the products or services you have to offer, but may not be entirely hooked in yet.

Leads are individuals who have shown a definite interest in your products or services and have a high potential of becoming your customers.

Customers are those who have gone through your sales funnel and have come out of it as people who have purchased from you.

Online Business – Sales Funnel

Let’s say that you’re currently running an online business and you’ve launched a few advertisements for it already through Facebook. You have loads of people who have scrolled past your ad, but you have no idea whether they’re actually interested in what you have to offer or not. Those people are what we would call a suspect.

Now, if those individuals who are scrolling past your advertisement stop to read through your ad or to click through to your website, then they have shown signs of interest and would be considered a prospect.

Even better, if they spend lots of time browsing through your website, adding products or services to your cart or even reaching out to you with questions or comments, then they would be considered a lead.

When a potential customer has clicked on the check out button and has made a purchase from your website, then they’ve made it to the fourth tier and are considered a successful customer.

How To Start Your Sales Funnel

Having a website would be a great place to start. If people are searching for related topics to your website and they find your site and browse through it, then they would immediately move from a suspect to a prospect. Or if you’re running advertisements on social media and link your website to ads, then those who click into your site and come in from that channel would also be qualified as having been moved from a suspect to prospect.

The next step in the funnel would be to convert prospects into leads. You can use opt-ins to filter out those who may be just looking from those who are definitely interested. Once you’ve established who is actually a lead, you can proceed to convert them into customers by offering first-time discounts or other incentives.

At the end of the day, the sales funnel is just merely a way to describe the different steps it may take to move an individual who is considered a potential customer to being a paying customer.