Sales just don’t happen overnight. As a business owner there are multiple things you need to do to transform a lead to a potential customer and then finally into a paying customer.

The sales funnel starts as soon as someone become aware of your business and they start to move through the various strategies you have set-up to move them through the stages of the funnel and then finally out the other end as a paying customer.

In this article we’re breaking down the basics of a sales funnel to enable you to check that your marketing strategies are set-up in the best possible way to capture leads who then convert to sales.


Essentially a sales funnel is a marketing strategy that maps out the journey a customer will take from the time they become a lead right through to the end when they convert to a sale.

The precipice of a funnel is that at the top where the funnel is wider a large number of leads will jump in and then they will funnel through the different stages where naturally the leads will filter out and only the ones serious about purchasing from you will then work their way out the smaller end and you make a sale.

There are four basic sales funnel stages that we use as part of our Strategic Automates Sales System (SASS):

  1. Lead
  2. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
  3. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
  4. Sales


A lead is a person or business that has the potential to become a paying customer. Your leads will come from many different referral points:

  • Social media
  • Word of mouth
  • Email marketing
  • Advertising

It is important that you work out if the lead is qualified. Use your data to determine if the lead has come to you via social media from an article you posted regarding a product or service offering or if they are word of mouth – what was it that made them call you? You need to ensure the lead is qualified before you drop them into the sales funnel so as to not waste their or your time.

Nobody likes to be forced into anything so if the lead doesn’t seem like a quality lead, let it go.  

To find out more about our Strategic Automates Sales System (SASS) download it here


Marketing qualified leads are deemed to be more likely to become a paying customer than all the other leads. Marketing leads would have visited your website already to sign-up as a subscriber or downloaded something from your site.

Since the marketing lead would have already engaged with your business in some form it means they are already interested in what you are offering and interested to know more.


Sales qualified leads are very different to marketing qualified leads, the most distinct difference is that a sales lead is a prospective customer that you have found, vetted and deemed fit to move through to the next stage of the sales funnel.

In other words, the sales lead has made their way to you in an organic way. For instance, the lead could have met you at an Expo you were showcasing at, struck up a conversation and through your conversation you were able to determine if they were interested and at that point you got their contact information to drop them into the sales funnel.


The glorious end to your sales funnel…The SALE! You have put in all the effort to either entice potential customers via marketing or sales leads and now it has come to the pointy end of business where the qualified lead parts with their money to make a purchase.

It’s understandable that this might seem like the hardest part of the sales funnel, but in fact it is the easiest.

If you have taken all the right steps and generated a lead, determined their qualifications as a lead and taken them through the sales funnel it  means you’ve done all you can and if the lead pulls the trigger and makes a purchase that’s great, but if they don’t make the purchase there is still an opportunity for them to become a customer, it may just be further down the track. If the lead doesn’t turn into a sale take the opportunity to ask why and see if there is anything you can improve on.


Your work isn’t done once you have set up your sales funnel and leads start dropping leads in. It is of the utmost importance that you are gathering data from both leads that do an don’t convert to sales, analysing that data and utilising to continually improve your sales funnel and adjust accordingly to the markets needs at the current time.



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