What Is A Sales Funnel? (And Why Websites Don’t Work Anymore)

If you have been involved in sales at all, whether online or in the physical world, you probably have heard of the term “sales funnel.” And even if you have not been in sales but you’ve looked into learning how to market online, or sell things online, you may have run across this term.

Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard sales and funnel in the same sentence.

In this article I’m going to walk you through exactly what a sales funnel is. As you read, I think you’ll begin to see the real power of a sales funnel.

The best way to begin is to distinguish the difference between a website and a sales funnel.

Maybe I should have been more specific in my title of this article by saying that Websites Don’t Work Very Well For Sales Anymore. Don’t get me wrong, websites are still important, however they don’t do a very good job at actually selling your product or offer. Let me Explain.

The Problem With Websites

Let me create a fictitious example from the physical world.

Let’s say you saw an ad on TV for a wrench called Acme Awesome Wrench. So you go to the big box hardware store, and you walk inside. The first thing you see is about 20 isles of all kinds of products. Now depending on how much time you have, you might give up and just walk out right there. But you decide to see it through and you set off on a search for the wrench section. After several minutes of searching you finally arrive to find 14 different brands and types of wrenches.

Now you’re faced with the decision of either buying the Acme Awesome Wrench or one of those other wrenches. You decide you don’t have the time to do the research or study all of these wrenches right now, so you get frustrated and you walk out of the store empty-handed.

This is much like a website. There are lots of menus and other products; different pages to navigate; and so on. Often times there are simply too many distractions from the one product you might want to promote or sell.

So the person that you were advertising to, that may actually want the product you’re selling, actually did come to your page. But once they arrived there, they were too distracted or the page was too difficult to navigate for them to arrive at the one thing that they wanted to buy. So they end up clicking off of your page.

Maybe they’ll come back and try again later. And maybe they won't…


A Better Way…

Now let’s use that same fictitious example, and illustrate how a sales funnel would work better.

You see that same ad on TV for the Acme Awesome Wrench. Except this time, at the end of the ad, they give you an incentive to visit the store. If you do visit the store, you will be given a free guide on how to best use the Acme Awesome Wrench.

So you go to the hardware store again. But this time instead of walking in alone, you are greeted outside by a nice man named Mike. Mike introduces himself and asks your name and where you’re from. Mike then hands you the free guide as promised, and spends a few minutes talking with you about how awesome the wrench really is, and how it’s going to solve your problem.

Mike has given you valuable information already, and you haven’t even walked in the store yet.

But it doesn’t end there. Mike then guides you directly to the wrench section because he knows exactly where it is. Upon arrival there, and without hesitation, he reaches for the Acme Awesome Wrench and then hands it to you.

Mike then walks with you and helps you find your way to the checkout register, where you buy the wrench. You walk out of the store happy with your decision to buy the wrench because the process was educational, smooth and painless.

This is the perfect example of a sales funnel.

You gained interest in that specific wrench by seeing the advertisement. You were then offered value by being educating on how the product was going to solve your problem. You were guided, distraction-free, to the product you were looking for. And then you were assisted through the checkout process.

The entire process became a pleasant experience, rather than an unpleasant chore.

The “Nuts and Bolts”

So now that you have the general concept of what a sales funnel is, let’s take a look at the different individual elements of a sales funnel as they pertain to selling products and services online.

The first crucial element of a sales funnel is to acquire a lead; a prospect; a potential customer.

However, I am not going to discuss how to acquire leads in this article. That is a completely different subject that deserves its own article; perhaps its own book; or maybe even a mini-series.

So for the purposes of this article we will assume that you have acquired a lead, by using either a free method or paid method. To attract that lead, you have offered them a free give-away. An example would be a “how-to” guide on getting started using your product or service.

So now we have arrived at the entrance of the funnel…



The Opt-In page

When your lead clicks on your link to obtain your free “how to” guide, they will arrive at the Opt-In page.

You’ll hear the Opt-in page called different things depending on who you are talking to. Sometimes its referred to as a “Landing Page” or a “Capture Page.”  Some people call it a “Squeeze Page.”

Regardless of what name you give it, the sole purpose of the Opt-In page is to collect your lead’s name and email. Then, in exchange for their name and email, you will provide them with your free “how-to” guide.

This page is kept simple and distraction free. It contains very little text; just enough to give them instructions to enter their name and e-mail into a form and to then click a button to go to the next page.

The next page is the next step of the funnel.

The Bridge Page

The bridge page, much like the opt-in page, is a simple one. It will contain a small amount of text or a short video thanking your customer for showing interest in your product or service. Also, on your Bridge page you will give them instructions on how to access their free guide.

The bridge page also serves as a chance for your customer to get to know you a little better. People like to buy from people that they know, like, and trust. The bridge page is one more chance to build that relationship between you and your customer.

At this point you can give them a little more of your story. You can also offer them even more value by inviting them into your Facebook group, or to subscribe to your YouTube channel, just as an example.

The next page is where the rubber meets the road.

The Sales Page

This is where the actual selling takes place.

Up to this point you have presented the idea of and created curiosity about your product. You have also given them a free guide on how to get started using your product to solve their problem.

The Sales Page is where you tell them how your product will do just that.

This page will usually contain a large amount of text or a longer video (or both) explaining the product and how it will help the customer. Ultimately, it will go on to tell them why they should purchase your product.

This page you will also give the customer specific instructions on how to purchase your product. These instructions will guide them to the next page and what to do when they get there.

The next page is THE page that you have wanted them to end up on from the beginning…

The Checkout Page

The checkout page is exactly what it sounds like. You’ve used them before. This page is where the customer actually inputs their contact information and their credit card information.

On this page you also provide them with specific instructions on how to receive their product.

There are several ways to deliver products, especially if they are digital products. You can either email them directly to them or provide a link to a page where they will enter a specific code to access the download.

If it’s a physical product you will tell them how long they can expect for it to arrive.

Additional Offers

One of the best times to sell someone a product is after they have just purchased a product from you. Usually the next page in a sales funnel after the checkout page will be a page where you can offer additional products.

These additional products might be ones that would complement what they just purchased. They may be similar in price or they may be more expensive.

This page is sometimes referred to as an “up-sell” page for pricier products; or a “side-sell” page for items of a similar price.

These additional products introduce your customer to the next key component of your business… your Value Ladder

I wrote an entire post covering what exactly a Value ladder is in this article. But I’ll take a little time to give a simple explanation here.

Basically, a value ladder is where you gain a customer when they purchase an entry level, inexpensive product. Then as you build a relationship with that customer and gain their trust, you can then introduce more valuable and more expensive products.

Again, I will go into greater detail on that subject in another article. So look for that soon.

The Thank You Page

The Thank You Page is the end of the funnel.

Obviously, The Thank You Page is where you thank them for making a purchase. Here you also remind them of the next step which is how to access their products. On this page you also let them know the ways you plan to support them.

Lastly, The Thank You Page is also where you leave the door open to continue the relationship.

Continuing relationships leads me to the last thing that I want to talk to you about.


The Power of Email

Let me take you back to the entrance of the funnel…

What was the very first step your customer took when they entered your sales funnel?

They gave you their name an email.

The example I just gave you was the perfect funnel in the perfect scenario. The customer came in to your funnel, you guided them through the process, and they made a purchase.

Here is reality…

Most people don’t buy on their first exposure to a product. People are smart. They research the heck out of a product before they buy it. Usually a person needs to see to a product 5 to 12 times before they purchase it.

Email is the perfect way to do that. You can continue to educate them about your product. But more importantly, you can continue to build that relationship with them until they like and trust you enough to buy from you.

If you are familiar with internet marketing, you’ve heard dozens of times that “the money is in the list.” if you are new to the online marketing space let me explain.

The ‘list’ that marketers are referring to is their email list. When you collect that email in the first step of your sales funnel, the best thing to do is store that email automatically in a list inside of an auto-responder. (An auto-responder is software where you can store and manage emails).

Later, you can offer all sorts of other products and services to those people on your list:

  • Subscription type products and services (monthly recurring)
  • Higher priced products

But it’s not just about the money, it’s also about the relationships. Their email is how you communicate with them on a variety of levels:

  • You can offer them coaching
  • You can offer them support on your products
  • You can keep them up-to-date on new products and services
  • You can even find out from them what products or services they might be interested in

Your list is your greatest asset as an internet marketer. Business opportunities come and go. Platforms come and go. Social media platforms are always changing their rules.

Your list is always your list. There is power in email.

Please, please remember though….on the other side of that email is a human being that is seeking your help. Don’t just sell, sell, sell. Help them get what they need. Help them solve their problem. When you do that, you will find yourself getting everything YOU need.


Here are the main things I want you to take away from this article:

  • Sales funnels are more effective than websites in converting leads into sales
  • There is power in email
  • People buy from people they like and trust. So be yourself. Be honest. Run your business with integrity.

That’s a Wrap!

I really hope you found this article informative and valuable. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

  • Are you using sales funnels in your business?
  • Are you building relationships with your clients or customers using email?

Let me know!

If you want to learn from experts on how to build sales funnels for your business, click HERE

If you would like to learn how to start your own online marketing business, click HERE


Always be a help to people in your world….


Affiliate Disclaimer

There are affiliate links in this blog post. If you decide to make a purchase after clicking through one of these links, I earn a small commission for that. It does not change the price for you whatsoever. Prices do not change regardless of where you buy.

Any income claims, or claims of success are not necessarily true for everyone. Just like any other career or business venture, hard work and persistence is required. Many people succeed…and many fail as well. It is up to YOU to determine your fate.