11 Ultimate Sales Funnel Examples That Convert Like Crazy
You already know how a sales funnel works: your potential customers become aware of your company, use search engines and social media to do some research, check out social proof like reviews or comparison shopping sites, call your sales team with questions, and then buy what you’re selling (or not).
That entire customer journey from prospect to customer is known as the sales process, and can be visualized as a sales funnel.
But how can we optimize that? There must be a way, right?
Turns out, there is. In this post, I’ll explain how the sales funnel has evolved from a basic view to multiple phases. We’ll look at how different businesses use sales funnels to drive revenue by closing deals left and right, and how you can use the sales funnel model to increase your own team’s effectiveness and revenue.
What is a Sales Funnel and How Does it Work?
There are two reasons we use a funnel shape for this. First, the sales funnel works like a regular funnel. Liquid poured into the wide end moves down a gravity-driven path to the narrow exit and is not meant to go back up, the same way prospects move through the sales pipeline.
Second, the top of the funnel is full of leads, but as the leads move through the sales process, a number of them are lost along the way. Very rarely will all your leads turn into closed sales, and there is attrition at each stage of the journey. This is not always the fault of the salesperson, as there may have been unwanted or low-quality leads that fall away. This is all part of refining your audience and converting the right ones who make it to the bottom stage of the funnel.
The sales process has evolved significantly over the years. Today, customer-centricity is the backbone of successful businesses. Companies have realized that customers should be at the heart of everything they do. As a result, they have expanded the traditional “AIDA” model (awareness, interest, desire, and action) to add an additional phase on customer retention and loyalty.
Sales and marketing teams work to push prospects through the customer journey and down the funnel, establishing clear calls to action (CTA) for moving from stage to stage. Different models of the sales funnel will have different names for some of these phases, and some may tie in the phase the potential customer is in from lead to qualified lead to prospective, etc.
Stages of the Sales Funnel
Different organizations may have slightly different approaches or different names within the funnel. Let’s start with a broader view of the funnel’s three key sections.
Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
The top of the funnel (TOFU) is the first key section of the funnel. This section covers the beginning of the customer journey when customers become aware of the need and discover your business while looking for answers. The top of the funnel is typically broken into two stages: awareness and interest.
- The Awareness Stage is called such because it’s when the potential buyer becomes aware of the need for a certain product/service or determines there is a problem that needs to be solved. During the awareness stage, buyers are looking for lots of information, so that’s where search engines, social media, and marketing comes into play. Content types such as deep dive blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, industry reports, and educational webinars can be a great lead magnet for the awareness stage.
- In the Interest Stage, your prospects have become aware of your business and provide their contact information to you. They are now referred to as leads. During this part of the sales process, they are looking for different solutions and trying to figure out what is the right one for their needs. This is the stage where your prospect is reading expert guides, watching how-to videos, requesting demos, or booking meetings. At this point, the lead’s biggest concern is collecting the right information to make an informed decision. At the end of the interest stage, your lead may lose interest and drop out. This is normal in the process.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
The middle of the funnel (MOFU) is the phase in which prospects are well-aware of their need, and are researching different solutions. The middle of the funnel can be broken into consideration and intent stages.
- The Consideration Stage happens when the customer has come up with an idea of the features they need that can ease their pain points and are ready to consider the different products or services that include such features. They’re immersing themselves in product demos, training videos, product reviews, free trials, vendor comparison charts, case studies, and more. Concurrently, the salesperson should be considering whether the prospect is a good fit. This is done by asking qualifying questions and results in determining if the prospect is a qualified lead.
- A lead can be identified as being in the Intent Stage when they fit your ideal customer profile and are becoming highly engaged in the sales process. Keeping high-intent leads engaged is a salesperson’s top priority, showing them high value and great experience. This is later along in the process, so it’s also the time when leads have lots of questions, relay any previously unspoken objections, and address remaining pain points.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
The bottom of the funnel (BOFU) phase is at the end of the sales funnel where customers are equipped with all the information they need to make an educated decision and choose the right solution for their needs. The two prominent phases here include the purchase and loyalty stages.
- The Purchase Stage happens when all your marketing and sales efforts pay off. All previous stages are paving the way from awareness to action, and this is when it finally happens: you convert your prospect to a customer.
- In the Retention and Loyalty Stage, customers have, in effect, exited the funnel and landed in an exclusive club with fabulous benefits. An account manager teaches them how to maximize their new purchase while the club’s restaurant serves up fresh content and general training to keep them nourished.
In this stage, your customer feels so good about their experience, they can’t imagine leaving the exclusive club that is being your customer. They even become brand advocates, giving reviews, sharing their impressions on social media, and recommending your businesses to their network, which adds new prospects to your sales funnel and the sales cycle starts again!
If you’re using a good CRM system, you’ll see a variety of statistics like your sales funnel conversion rate, the points where prospects leave the funnel without buying (also known as funnel leaks), and lead qualification data. This data can be extremely helpful to companies of all sizes from small businesses to giant corporations.
11 Top Examples of Effective Sales Funnels
Let’s take a look at eleven of the best examples of sales funnels in action.
Close is a high-performance CRM aimed at giving sales teams the tools they need to record opportunities and keep track of their leads effectively.
Their headline draws the prospect in and gives a nice overview of what Close is about. A clean pay layout, meanwhile, makes it super easy for a prospect to enter their sales funnel. All the prospect needs to do is press ‘start a free trial’ and their service can begin. Once they do this, they’re now part of Close’s sales funnel.
With Close automation software, leads are scored in real-time based on thousands of data points. Prospects are then directed to either the self-serve funnel or, if their lead score is high enough, an Account Executive will reach out to consult them on how to get the most out of Close.
The benefit here is that sales reps aren’t tied down to responding to every lead that walks through the door. Prioritization through lead scoring allows reps to focus on the biggest deals with the most complicated use cases, spending their time answering questions and showing the prospect how effective the platform can be.
For smaller deals or those with standardized use cases, prospects are able to investigate the software, see how their problems can be solved, and even start a free trial all by themselves. (Yes, of course, that trial eventually ends—but only after showing the user how incredible our platform is!)
The end result? The sales team spends more time selling and closing high-value contracts, while the less complicated deals just roll right on in. That, my friend, is a win-win.
How to use this in your sales funnel: Don’t over-complicate your homepage with too much detail. Instead, focus on encouraging trials, demos, and sign-ups, or getting bottom- and mid-funnel prospects the information they need to convert. Then use lead scoring to prioritize the leads that come in, allowing your team to focus on the biggest and best deals possible.
Sendinblue is a SaaS company offering a cloud-based marketing communication software suite that contains tons of tools that can help you learn digital marketing and improve your company’s standing within your industry.
As soon as someone enters the Sendinblue website, they are met with a couple of different options to sign up for a free trial. A user can click the 'Sign Up Free' button on the top right of the screen or click the 'Take a Free Test Drive.'
If the prospect isn't quite ready to sign up straight away, they can scroll down the page and read more information about what Sendinblue has to offer.
The Sendinblue homepage is laid out in the above-mentioned AIDA model. They grab the user's attention at the top of the page with the standout words 'Prepare for takeoff', before building interest with information about the different tools Sendinblue offers.
Underneath the product offerings, users can navigate through the customer testimonials page, which builds their desire for the product before again being offered the chance to take action by signing up for a free trial at the bottom of the page.
Consider incorporating video testimonials on the page instead of the usual text-based version. Video testimonials can be highly effective in building desire for the product, as they allow potential customers to see and hear real-life examples of the product in action. However, it's important to ensure that these video testimonials are professionally produced in order to maintain a high level of authenticity. To achieve this, companies may want to consider investing in professional video testimonial production apps.
When a user clicks on one of three CTA's (Calls to action), they are brought to a simple landing page where they can put in their contact details. Then, Sendinblue can nurture the prospect through targeted email marketing and move the prospect down the funnel.
By taking up the free trial, the prospect also gets to try out the product for free and under no financial pressure; if they have a positive experience, they’re much more likely to end up becoming a paying customer.
How to use this in your sales funnel: Capture your site visitors’ interest right off the bat with an interesting visual or headline. Keep it short and intriguing. Then, draw users in further with interesting details that frame your product as the solution to their problems. Include current customer testimonials and social proof, then drive the whole thing home with a strong yet simple CTA.
Similar to Sendinblue’s homepage AI company Aura draws the user in with a bold headline. while putting one of the main benefits of their service right under the headline.
This hooks the reader and entices them to click on the ‘learn more’ button in case they need to know more before signing up for a free trial.
Companies offer free trials to allow users to try their service for free, usually for a limited time period. This gives users the chance to try out the software, get to know its features, and experience how the software can be the solution to the issue they’re trying to solve.
Free trials are a lead generation method aimed at hooking prospects with the aim of converting overtime to paying customers; while free trials may not make sense for all SaaS companies, they can be very powerful when used correctly.
Peter Cohen, the author of ’Practical Advice on SaaS Marketing,’ points out that a ‘’free trial without a well-constructed follow-up effort isn’t worth much’’. While free trials have their upsides, it’s important to note that they can still cost a company money in terms of any ongoing customer support required and any customer setup fees.
It’s important to note that the percentage of prospects who sign up for a free trial but don’t convert will be higher if a company doesn’t have a follow-up strategy in place. Those that still don’t convert after follow-up can be added to a retargeting campaign for future contact.
How to use this in your sales funnel: Offer users an option to try your product before buying in one of two ways. First, users can add a credit card signup when creating their trial account, which is later charged after the trial period, allowing users to continue using your product. A second option is to provide a free trial with no credit card required, where access to your product is cut off for that user once their trial period ends.
If your business provides services rather than products, a free consultation offer is often a great addition to your sales funnel.
The free consultation sales funnel is used in slightly different circumstances to the free trial funnel. Free trial funnels are commonplace in the SaaS industry, while ‘free consultations’ are used more frequently for high-end services, like business growth consultants.
Take, for example, Cobloom, a consultancy that advises SaaS businesses on addressing their audiences, developing targeted creative strategies, setting and aligning goals, and adjusting their pricing models.
Cobloom’s site encourages users to learn all about their different services, where at the end of every informational page resides a CTA to request a free consultation.
Using a free consultation works well, especially in knowledge-based services, as it offers potential clients peace of mind and relevant information they'll need if they need to hire a consultant without committing to an upfront spend.
If a prospect is interested in booking a free consultation, all they need to do is press the 'free consultation,' fill out the contact form, describe their company and book the consultation.
At the end of the consultation, providing the business is in a good place for growth, the Cobloom team can ask the lead if they’d like to move forward and become a client. This kind of situation takes the pressure off the prospect, particularly if their budget is tight or they're looking to save money.
How to use this in your sales funnel: Adding a Free Consultation CTA to your website is as easy as adding a form. Make contact fields like name, email, and phone number required information, but also include an option for your leads to tell you more about their situation so you have a leg up on your research before contacting them.
Jumio helps ensure your customers are exactly who they say they are—and that your business remains free of fraud and financial crime. With offices around the globe, Jumio has processed more than a billion web and mobile transactions.
So what makes Jumio’s sales funnel special? In addition to well-placed CTAs across their homepage, they also offer live chat to serve any of your needs.
Upon landing on their homepage, a chat window opens up asking if you’re looking for product info, need support, would like to chat with the sales team, or if you’re just browsing. Before being connected to your resource of choice, you’re asked to share your email address in case you get disconnected.
Those who select ‘Chat with Sales’ are instantly matched with a live sales rep to help answer questions, introduce product features, and otherwise build rapport. And if no sales reps are available, users are presented with an entire calendar of times and dates to set an appointment with a sales rep. How’s that for convenient?
How to use this in your sales funnel: Chatbots are handy, but live chat instills a sense of transparency and personalized attention that a bot can’t provide. If your team has the capacity, consider adding a live chat window to your homepage and setting your sales reps up to converse with curious leads that come in. After all, who could be better at answering questions about your product and encouraging new sign-ups?
OptinMonster is the king of ‘catch-all’ marketing funnels. The moment you land on the home page, you will see why. They have limited-time deals, exit intent pop-ups, lowered pricing, and great CTAs. But how do all of these sales funnel puzzle pieces fit together?
- Limited-Time Deals: Nothing drives urgency than a deal that’s about to expire. Encourage leads to strike while the iron is hot and before that deal expires.
- Exit Intent Pop-Ups: OptinMonster serves a pop-up showing that “70% of your visitors do what you just did, and never come back.” How’s that for awareness? The pop-up then provides a link to a 35% discount to encourage you back into the site.
- Strong, Repeated CTAs: No one needs to guess about what OptinMonster wants you to do. With four CTAs to “Get OptinMonster Now,” one “Get Started,” and one “Get Started Now”—all of which land in their pricing page—it really seems like OptinMonster wants site visitors to select a plan and get started.
- Lowered Pricing: And speaking of pricing, once users do land on that pricing page, they’re presented with four options, each with a red strike through the normal cost, and a significantly lower current price on display.
These four tactics are great examples of how you can include multiple different methods that will trigger urgency as part of your conversion technique.
How to use this in your sales funnel: These examples are all easy to implement and can usually be done in a day or two. Work with your web team to add promotional language, repeated CTAs, lowered prices, and a pop-up banner to your site. While some of those elements may require a bit of design work, most can be accomplished with simple text updates.
7. SmartPassive Income
SmartPassive Income’s free webinar sales funnel gives them the chance to build a personal connection with their prospects. This is particularly beneficial as a lot of their marketing states that they’ll work alongside prospects when they want to start their own business or start earning passive income.
Webinars can feel more personal for the prospect, particularly if they’re looking to know more about the solution being offered, the pain points it solves, and a plethora of FAQs.
With 72% of consumers preferring to watch a video over reading an article, it’s not uncommon for webinars to generate more leads than free downloadable resources like an ebook or a white paper. Keep in mind that you should always test for what works for your own audience. The best-performing lead generation assets in Close's free sales resource depository for example are ebooks.
ClickFunnels suggests that, on average, 20% to 40% of webinar attendees turn into qualified leads, while about 5% of attendees will purchase at the end. That’s a pretty good conversion rate. If we applied these stats to the SmartPassive Income example above, for every 50 attendees they attract to a webinar, 2 of them will become paying clients.
How to use this in your sales funnel: A great starting place for building a webinar series is to list out the most common questions your sales team gets about your product, then turn each of those questions into its own webinar. Schedule topics throughout the year, ideally with at least one each month, and start promoting your series on your website, in your email blasts, and on social media. Have interested users register on your website to collect their information and send them a link to you for the Zoom call and calendar invite. Look at that, now you have their contact info and an opportunity to show how your product solves their problems!
Meet Semrush, a global leader in search engine optimization — or, in layman’s terms, getting your website to show up at the top of your users’ Google searches.
Semrush is best-in-class for a couple of reasons: First, and unsurprisingly, they know how to get new leads to their website. But what do they do with them from there? Well, they convert them.
A benefit of being one of the best in your field is that everyone wants to learn from you. So Semrush has published an entire ebook library and placed it right in their main website navigation. With more than 50 titles spanning 7 different languages, there’s something for everyone.
Of course, each of those titles is a lead magnet in its own right, requiring your name, email address, and phone number to download. After entering their email address, the prospect has entered the company's sales funnel, and the company can then nurture the prospect down their sales funnel.
A lead magnet acts as an incentive for prospects to enter their details in order to receive a piece of content (e.g., an ebook, a report, a training guide, a video) that either educates them or solves a particular problem.
Lead magnets work well to increase the number of subscribers to an email list or blog and help transition prospects from the 'awareness' stage to the 'interest' stage of a sales funnel.
How to use this in your sales funnel: Get to work publishing how-to guides, best practices, and other relevant industry knowledge that your company excels in. You’re the expert in your arena, after all, and others want to learn from you. Save your documents as PDFs, then set up a simple form with required fields for name and contact information. After submitting the form, documents can be automatically emailed to the email address provided, or users can be directed to a landing page with the document download.
A sales funnel we’ve all probably entered at one time, or another is Netflix’s.
Netflix attracts new customers by offering them 30 days of free service before payment kicks in. As you can see in the two above screenshots, Netflix places a large CTA button that clearly tells the prospect that they get 30 days of free service.
Netflix utilizes a 7-stage sales funnel model that has proved extremely successful in attracting millions of subscribers worldwide.
The seven-stage of Netflix’s funnel are:
- Sales funnel landing page
- Plan introduction page
- Plan pricing page showing different upsell and cross-sell options
- Create account introduction page
- Create account sign-up page
- Payment method page
- Payment details page
The Sales Funnel guides the user step by step, all the way from entering their contact information to providing payment information at the end. Once the payment details are inputted, the user can enjoy 30 days of free service before their paid service begins.
When a user signs up for Netflix, their billing will auto-renew every month until they cancel. Interestingly a study by Fintech Startup Hiatus found that almost 62% of consumers have unintentionally paid for subscriptions because of an auto-renew feature. This means that there are probably quite a few Netflix subscribers who have meant to cancel their subscriptions but haven’t.
How to use this in your sales funnel: Require users to input their credit card details when they sign up for your trial, and have them agree to auto-renewed monthly subscriptions that begin immediately after the trial period. Alternatively, you can give users the option of selecting one-time payment subscriptions, or slightly discounted auto-renew subscriptions.
One of the things Dropbox does best is to provide an incredibly personalized experience on its website.
Anyone who lands on their homepage will first be greeted by an incredibly hard-to-miss “Start for free” call to action. But if the user isn’t ready for that, they can scroll down the page, where they’ll see questions that work to create a choose-your-own-adventure type of experience. For instance, the first question asks users ‘What can Dropbox help you do?” with clickable answers spanning getting free cloud storage, accessing online storage for the whole family, and simplifying work processes. Each of these options, of course, leads the user to a dedicated landing page with pricing and sign-up forms for each respective area of interest.
Additional actions down the homepage encourage users to learn about using Dropbox for work or personal use, investigate partner integrations, view customer stories, and explore pricing options. No matter what the user is interested in, Dropbox makes sure they can find a solution to fit their needs and validate Dropbox as the solution.
Of course, Dropbox is no stranger to lead conversion. They’re well-remembered for an incredibly successful explainer video that earned the company $48,000,000 in revenue from new users back in 2009. And it turns out, video is just as effective today, too. A 2020 report by explainer video company Wyzowl found that 89% of video marketers say video gives them a good ROI, while 80% of video marketers reported that video has directly helped increase sales.
How to use this in your sales funnel: When building or refreshing your website design, consider your target audience and their needs. Develop clear paths for each audience type, and create targeted landing pages specific to that user.
The final sales funnel example we’re going to look at is that of HelpScout. HelpScout provides an all-in-one customer service platform to more than 11,000 businesses in 140 countries.
In this example, the user has the option to start a free 15-day trial of the platform or book a demo to see the platform in action. If a prospect signs up for a demo, they are now in HelpScout’s sales funnel.
From here, HelpScout has the opportunity to utilize an email marketing service to send the prospect information prior to their scheduled demo.
Their home page layout is clear and concise; there’s no messy background, a clear CTA, and lots of social proof, making it easy for a prospect to either start a free trial or book a demo.
The ‘book a demo’ sales funnel is normally used when a company wants to target customers that need personalized help or advice. Demos are usually necessary for software services that have a higher price point and can be a great opportunity for a sales rep to show off the features and benefits of the software.
How to use this in your sales funnel: Create a clean experience on your website—especially your homepage—with one, or max two, clear calls to action front and center. These should be your highest-value calls to action. Two CTAs we’d recommend including are signing up for a trial, where leads can explore your product at their own pace, or booking a demo, allowing your engaging sales team can start building a relationship.
Why is a Sales Funnel so Important?
For most of us, a visual representation of even the simplest concept helps form a deeper understanding. By using the sales funnel concept with your team, it illustrates the path that a prospect needs to take to conversion. The sales funnel is important to ensure the sales team is properly screening for ideal customers from the lead sources that marketing efforts generate such as website visitors, trade show attendees, etc.
When salespeople and managers can understand each part of their sales funnel, they will be able to identify any issues in the funnel and work at fixing them quickly.
A sales funnel needs to be monitored and improved on a consistent basis, taking funnel leaks and patching them with better attention, sales training, marketing collateral development, and product improvements.
Sales managers and company executives can use your company’s CRM software to view where each contact is in the buying process, review each salesperson’s own sales funnel and look for leaks or clogs to see where they may need coaching or resources, and evaluate factors along the sales process that affect customer retention and loyalty — all using the sales funnel model.
How to Measure the Success of a Sales Funnel
During each sales funnel stage, there are factors that indicate success and metrics to look at on a regular basis including some of my tips to take your measurements to the next level.
Track beyond the total number of leads to include qualified leads.
Take this to the next level: Work with your marketing team on SEO optimization, google search analytics, and marketing campaign improvement and then analyze if the percentage of qualified leads increases each month.
Measure your closed-won sales conversion rate across the company and for each individual salesperson.
Take this to the next level: Track conversion rates from stage to stage of the sales funnel. You may find out that leads leak out of the funnel at the purchase stage because your competitor’s contract language is easier to understand. Use the feedback from your sales team to make changes to fix any issues that are losing sales staff.
Calculating the total cost spent on customer acquisition is an important variable to consider. In simple terms, this cost includes all of the marketing and sales costs you spend to acquire a new customer.
Take this to the next level: Measure both acquisition costs for leads and customers. Then calculate how long it will take you to recoup those costs from the customer’s revenue.
Lifetime Customer Value
Calculate the LTV to help determine how effectively your business model performs over time. Determine each customer’s base revenue and the value added from upsells and cross-selling. The LTV is equal to the customer’s actual (or projected) annual value times the number of years in an average lifespan.
Take this to the next level: Find your LTV, then put a strategy in place to increase retention and promote more upselling, thus increasing LTV. Be sure to start tracking LTV over time so you can measure the success of your strategy.
Sales Cycle Length
This tracks how long it takes to advance from one phase to the next along the funnel. It will give you a picture of slow spots in the sales process.
Take this to the next level: Find slow spots and work to bring them up to speed with training, resources, or other tweaks.
This tracks how many referrals you are receiving from existing customers and how many existing customers are sending you referrals.
Take this to the next level: Find exactly how these referrals are happening. Industry leaders could be sharing at trade shows, customer evangelists could be singing praise during podcasts, people could be endorsing your company on LinkedIn and social media, or forwarding your content marketing materials to their peers.
What About eCommerce?
If your company’s primary revenue stream is eCommerce, you might not have an individual sales team, but you can apply these principles in website design, SEO strategy, digital advertising, social media, and other tools like live chat, customer service systems, etc. Yes, the marketing strategies involved in e-commerce are a little different, but the customer journey is the same.
How to Use These Sales Funnel Examples on Your Sales Team
Understanding and visualizing the sales funnel stages helps close more deals, and while there are quite a few sales funnel models, most focus on moving a prospect from the awareness stage to the interest stage.
Once a prospect has entered the sales funnel, companies can then engage in targeted follow-up campaigns to further move them down the funnel toward a conversion. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, so take the time to set up your sales funnel using templates, case studies, and phone follow-ups that are appropriate for the prospect’s location in the funnel.
We’re pretty proud of the sales funnel tools built into Close and we think you will, too. You can try Close free for two weeks (you don’t even need to enter your credit card info). Plus, you can visit our directory of sales consultants who can help you optimize Close’s abilities. You can also find more than a dozen free resources on the Close resources page. These tools will have you putting the fun in sales funnels in no time.