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Sales Funnel Vs. Buyer’s Journey: What’s The Difference?

Sales Funnel Vs Buyer Journey
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Confused about the difference between a “Sales Funnel vs Buyer’s Journey”?

Simply put, a sales funnel outlines the steps a business uses to guide a prospect towards a sale, while Buyer’s Journey mapping tracks the customer’s experience from the initial touchpoint to purchase and beyond.

This article uncovers the distinct roles each plays in influencing conversions, guiding you on how their interplay can enhance your sales tactics without complicating your strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Integrating the sales funnel stages with the buyer journey phases is crucial for addressing customer needs and fostering confidence in a business’s offerings. Data-driven insights are vital for refining sales funnel strategies.
  • An effective sales funnel requires clearly defined buyer personas, lead magnets, and landing pages for lead generation. It also requires strategies such as upselling or cross-selling on sales pages to guide customers from awareness to conversion.
  • Optimizing the buyer journey enhances the customer experience by providing personalized, relevant content and using tools like customer journey maps and automation to streamline processes, build trust, and encourage customer loyalty.

What is the difference between a buyer’s journey and a sales funnel?

Imagine the sales funnel and buyer’s journey as paths to acquiring something.

Buyer’s Journey: The complete process a client goes through, from discovering something new online to deciding to purchase it (and maybe even sharing it with friends!).

Sales Funnel: A guide for the store outlining the steps a potential customer might take toward becoming a buyer. Steps include:

  • Becoming interested
  • Comparing products
  • Making the final purchase

By understanding how these two concepts align, businesses can seamlessly turn someone curious into a satisfied customer.

Businesses thrive when they understand this flow and differentiate themselves from the competition. Here’s how:

  • Align the steps in their store’s guide with what the customer does on their journey.
  • Provide valuable information at each step through their website, blog posts, answering questions, showcasing engaging videos about the product, and maybe even having customer reviews.
  • Have clear directions that tell the client what to do next, like a “Buy Now” button.
  • Always analyze how people shop on search engines and adjust their plan to appear where customers are searching.

By following these steps, stores create a positive experience that encourages more people to become customers!

1. The Conversion Process Vs. The Complete Experience

The buyer journey for any company is rarely straightforward, but depending on your business model, target market, and audience, it can span a spectrum from relatively simple to incredibly complicated.

According to HubSpot, the buyer journey describes how a client’s path can be broken down into different stages, encompassing awareness, consideration, and the final decision.

Simply put, it is like viewing your business as one long sales network that starts at point A (initial interest) and ends at point B (successful conversion) after going through all of the steps in between.

the buyer journey mapping

The buyer journey can be seen as a more detailed process of the marketing funnel, considering various touchpoints (like social media, email, and search results) and the research potential buyers conduct throughout their journey.

Understanding your industry and developing clear buyer personas will help you customize the buyer journey model to your needs.

marketing funnel process

So, what is a sales funnel?

In digital marketing, the sales funnel is a series of intentionally designed pages marketers create to direct visitors toward a specific action. While a single sales funnel can be effective, businesses seeking expansion or targeting distinct markets profit from having multiple funnels tailored to various objectives and customer segments.

For example, the lead funnel is designed to collect leads by offering freebies like ebooks, webinars, or consultations in exchange for contact information.

Lead Funnel mapping

This type of funnel focuses on the initial stages of customer acquisition, aiming to convert website traffic into leads. A growing, engaged email list is crucial as it facilitates the transition from Cold traffic => Warm traffic => Hot Traffic and, ultimately, to paying customers.

In contrast, the Application Funnel is similar to the lead funnel but collects more detailed information from visitors (such as through forms or webinar registrations).

This allows companies to gain better insights into their target audience, personalize the customer experience, and implement effective lead qualification processes. Optimizing these funnels with elements like clear calls-to-action (CTAs), compelling landing pages, and lead nurturing strategies is crucial for maximizing conversion rates and overall return on investment (ROI).

Neil Patel application funnel
Source Image: Neilpatel.com

This funnel is often used for high-ticket products, consulting services, agencies, and real estate. Campaigns might include a dramatic product launch event with an introductory discount in conjunction with tactics like:

  • Email campaigns
  • Telemarketing calls
  • Social media advertising
  • and even retargeting (such as abandoned cart reminders).

Integrating these funnels with your customer relationship management (CRM) system helps track customer interactions across the buyer journey.

Ultimately, business success depends on guiding your target market through incremental steps. That’s where sales funnels play a pivotal role!

They encourage consumers to boost revenue and growth, especially those driven by emotion and impulse purchase behavior. Understanding different customer segments allows you to implement tailored strategies involving cross-selling or upselling opportunities.

2. The sales Funnel Is A Part Of The Buyer Journey

From our analysis, a sales funnel is an essential part of the buyer journey. It is often found within a larger marketing funnel and tailored to specific contexts.

The buyer journey can include multiple sales funnels, each crafted to lead visitors towards specific actions at specific stages, aligning with their level of brand awareness.

A successful marketing strategy depends on well-designed and effective sales funnels to ensure a consistent flow of potential customers through their lifecycle.

This involves understanding your industry and competition while monitoring metrics like website traffic, social media engagement (such as newsletter signups and blog comments), and search engine rankings.

Ultimately, focusing on customer retention, indicated by factors like positive reviews and a low churn rate, is essential for long-term success.

3. Tracking Results vs. Mapping the Journey

While conversion rates are essential, they shouldn’t be the primary focus when constructing your sales funnel. Think about how you’ll attract traffic and generate leads. The image below illustrates an example of sales funnel tracking.

Clickfunnels stats
Clickfunnels sales funnel stats board

Focusing solely on conversion rates is a common concern when designing sales funnels.

However, a funnel is unsuccessful without a steady flow of potential customers.

We need a multifaceted strategy to succeed in today’s saturated and competitive market. This image outlines our ideal sales funnel tracking approach.

Business owners are eager to understand the visitor-to-lead-to-customer conversion journey and upsell adoption rates. Prioritizing strategies that boost product sales is vital for success.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor include:

  • Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate
  • Profitability at the End of the Sales Process
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The sales funnel effectively tracks these metrics.

In contrast, the buyer journey offers a broader perspective.

It maps out how your business establishes brand awareness, reaches customers, and guides their experiences throughout their lifecycle (including purchase, remarketing strategies like abandoned cart reminders, etc.), ultimately fostering customer satisfaction.

Understanding your market and competition is crucial.

Consider the buyer journey as your business blueprint (either conceptual or technical), with the sales funnel as a powerful tool within that strategy.

Pre-planning customer stages using funnels and roadmaps, combined with tactics like:

  • Website optimization
  • Search engine rankings analysis
  • And A/B testing

Make achieving your company’s goals at each stage more attainable.


Now, you understand the difference between sales funnel vs. buyer journey.

The customer journey from the first spark of interest in your product, through shopping and purchasing, all the way up until returning or being completely satisfied with their purchase.

To be successful in business, you need a sales funnel and buyer journey. For most companies, this means understanding their customers from when they land on your website or social media account until after purchasing something.

Once you have figured out these key elements, creating an effective marketing strategy that drives sales without breaking the bank should become easier.

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Key Nguyen

Key is the brainchild behind Funnelsecrets.us. You'll often find him analyzing conversion rates, tweaking landing pages, and exploring new marketing automation software. He loves to write about sales funnel building and is always tinkering with the latest conversion optimization techniques!

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