Difference Between Marketing Funnel and Sales Funnel

January 23, 2023

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It doesn’t matter if you are in sales or marketing or if you are a developer, if you are in a meeting and someone is going on and on about funnels but you have no idea then you are missing out.

When someone is talking about funnels it’s either sales or marketing…

  • But is there a difference between the two?
  • Are sales funnels different from marketing funnels?

If so, how?

That’s what we’ll cover in this article…

But before that let’s look into

What is a funnel?

Funnel means we start with a large number of prospects at the top and a few sales at the bottom.

When marketers or salespeople talk about funnels they are referring to the process that a prospect goes through before converting into a paying customer.

Next comes the point – How is a marketing funnel different from a sales funnel?

Marketing Funnel

Marketing means spreading the word about a business or its product/service. A marketing funnel is an approach that guides the prospects throughout the journey, i.e. from the moment they come across the brand’s message to the moment they decide to take action.
In B2C marketing funnels: This means the marketing funnel ends when the customer makes a purchase.
In B2B marketing funnels: The funnel typically ends when the prospect decides to fill a form to get connected with a salesperson.

The aim of marketing funnels is to essentially help the prospects get acquainted with the brand.

Sales Funnel

As you can notice above, a marketing funnel is usually used to draw the attention of as many prospects as possible. The goal is to attract prospects and quickly turn them into potential customers.

The moment when such prospects get attracted and develop an interest in buying a product or service, they will enter the sales funnel. From this moment, they will become sales prospects who will be targeted to purchase. If you think of marketing and sales as a single funnel, the sales funnel lies at the bottom.

Usually, if marketing generates 100k leads and about 20-30% of people become prospects for the sales funnel.

Marketing Funnel vs Sales Funnel

Marketing Funnel

Sales Funnel

Used to advertise and generate leads

Used to convert prospects into paying customers

It is placed at the starting of a funnel

It is placed at the ending part of a funnel

It focuses on creating awareness

It focuses on qualifying and converting leads

It focuses on promotion

It focuses on the negotiation

Generating interest is the target

Closing sales is the target

They are both different yet complementary. Effectively combining the two is incredibly important to make a successful sale.

Your prospects need to trust you to purchase.

An effective content marketing funnel deploys the step-by-step method to build that trust over multiple reimpressions.

Whereas, A sales funnel allows brands to visualise each step that prospects take on the path to conversion. Each step can be optimised to increase conversions in the end; if one of these steps shows a higher-than-expected drop-off rate, it can be analysed to see what’s wrong and test out possible improvements.

Therefore, despite having a huge difference between them, the marketing funnel and a sales funnel must be combined together to close a deal.

Basic understanding of Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel is made out of five components

  • Building awareness
  • Maintaining interest
  • Consideration
  • Intent
  • Action

Building Awareness: Focuses on making the brand heard. It starts with research about the target audience followed by intense marketing campaigns through direct cold emails and calls, social media ads, events, and webinars just to make sure they are heard.

Maintaining Interest: This step involves giving information about the company, product and services. This is the most important stage for brands to start a relationship with the leads.

Consideration: This is where the prospects start to see the difference that the product/service can make and they start to become interested in the product or service.

Intent: This stage is for the prospects who are interested and are actively looking to buy.

Action: This is where the prospect takes an action to express their intent. In B2C funnels this is usually purchase and in B2B marketing funnels this step is a form-fill that introduces the sales team.

The marketing funnel can be divided into two phases:

  • Lead generation
  • Lead nurturing

Lead generation: Consists of running marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness. Like online ads, viral campaigns, content marketing, cold emails and cold calls. This is done to inform the target audience about the offerings and products.

Usually, this means creating an attractive landing page about your product or service and monitoring/optimizing to get better conversions.

Lead nurturing is a process of building trust and engagement by sending emails, newsletters, etc. to keep them interested and on top of their mind.

At the end of this stage, the marketing funnel turns into a sales funnel.

Basic understanding of Sales Funnel

Since awareness has been built already in the marketing phase, the next step is to understand the prospects’ needs and problems i.e. discovery and then show them how you are the best choice for solving those problems.

Once they are convinced that you are the best person to solve those problems all that’s left is negotiation, closure and maintaining the relationship.

Components of a typical sales funnel

  • Intent
  • Discovery
  • Interest
  • Evaluation
  • Negotiation and decision
  • Sale
  • Repurchase

Intent: This is when the prospect just filled out the form. It’s really important to cut this part short. And make sure that one of your salespeople connects with the prospect ASAP. The biggest reason why most deals never happen is because of delay. If the prospect submits a form today he is interested in talking about a solution today. But if you contact him 3 days later you are likely to lose the deal.

  • Because he may move on to other problems. Or…
  • He might close with one of your competitors in the meanwhile.

Either way, if you don’t connect with the prospect immediately, you are almost guaranteed to lose the deal.

Here’s the best part. It’s not very hard, you can use the automatic lead capture and WhatsApp chatbot feature to auto-connect with the prospect instantly after he submits the form. Plus the automation works even when you and your team are sleeping. This ensures that when you are ready to connect with the prospect you are already on top of his mind.

Discovery: This is basically the first phone/zoom call between the prospect and your sales team. This is where you try to identify if they have a problem that you can solve. Figure out how bad the problem is, and how soon the prospect wants to solve it. This is the most important interaction as moving on, your approach and effectiveness for the entire sales pitch will depend on your insights from the discovery call.

Interest: This phase is about showing the prospect how your product/service solves the problems identified during discovery. Once the prospect starts to feel that you have the solution to their problems, he’s hooked. And as his interest goes higher, he’ll start to spend some time getting to know about your products and services. He might go through your business website, read the blogs and collect some information. And the best part is with TeleCRM website tracking you can monitor every interaction that the prospect has with your website.

Evaluation: This is where the prospects try it out and see if it is really the right fit for them. By this stage, they have already compared your solution with others and you have emerged as their favourite. Just answer their questions and doubts and they will be ready to move to the next stage.

Negotiation and Decision: By this stage, the prospect is almost ready to decide but they still want to get the best deal they can. If you negotiate purely on the price you might get into dirty arm twisting or even lose the deal. There are 2 ways to ace this situation.
Discover and pinpoint his problems and show how you are the best solution he can get. This will give you a clear edge over your competitors.
Collect all the data and develop a clear understanding of what the prospect knows and thinks about you. So now you know exactly how interested he is and what’s the best way to negotiate. This establishes you as a pro and helps you avoid dirty negotiation tactics.

Sale: This is where you ask the prospect to make the payment and seal the deal.
With TeleCRM you can also create pending payment opportunities to maintain a list of all the prospects who are in the presale stage so that you can always have a list of prospects whom you can retarget for getting payments.

Repurchase: The sales funnel doesn’t just end after closing the deal, you have to build and maintain a relationship with all your customers so that whenever they have an additional problem that they want to solve they’ll always come back to you. Also if you have a list of loyal customers with whom you have a strong relationship you can reach out to them whenever you have a new product, or upsell offer.

Key benefits of having a structured sales funnel

  • Boost in sales: Taking a structured approach to sales helps boost the overall results.
  • Identifying problems: When every step is tracked, monitored and measured, it’s easy to identify problems and optimise to improve the overall results.
  • Automation sales process: Once you have a standardised list of steps in your sales process you can then automate some of these.

Also Read: 4 types of telemarketing that will grow your business

Summing up

Jargon aside the combination of perfectly optimised marketing and sales funnel is the shortest route to building a profitable fast-growing business. Because at the end of the day for a business owner, it’s not a marketing or sales funnel. Rather it is a customer acquisition funnel. Hence ultimately you need to understand, optimise, combine, and deploy both marketing and sales funnel effectively to generate and grow sales.

Article Author

I have a talent for capturing complex concepts and ideas clearly and concisely, and I have written several articles and blog posts on various topics related to personal and professional development. My writing has been published in several online and print publications and has been well-received by readers for its thought-provoking content and practical advice.