What Is A Sales Funnel – The Beginner guide and real examples

One of Digital Marketing core concepts is Sales Funnel. The sales funnel always existing in your business whether you know it or not.

In recent years, with rapid changes in economics and user behavior. Companies, businesses are racing to improve and optimize the customer experience in the online environment, which is attached to maximize the value per customer.

That’s why the Sales FunnelCustomer Journey, Marketing Automation increasingly interested and thorough research in the strategy of the business online.

The article talks about:

  • What is a sales funnel
  • Why sales funnel important
  • Sales Funnel Vs Marketing funnel 
  • Sales Funnel Stages
  • Best example

Now, let get started!

What Is A Sales Funnel?​

A sales funnel is a process that includes many stages. Each stage has one goal to help you convert your potential customers to buyers and increase cart value through up-sell or down-sell. So, you can increase revenue, enough budget for ads cost, and give you the ability to pay more than your competitors to acquire customers.

A sales funnel is one of the main concepts of digital marketing. It can be confusing and hard to understand, but once you know it well and optimize it, your business will be successful within a short period of time. It is helpful for unknown businesses and can make it become multi-million-dollar marketing machines. Not to mention, you can build a career relating to this concept in business if you master it.

Why Sales Funnel Important​?

I remember the concept I have learned from Dan Kennedy, he said:

“Whoever can spend the most money to acquire customer wins.”

Dan Kennedy quotes - Whoever can spend the most money to acquire customer wins

Back many years ago, when the cost of advertising on Facebook and Google were low. For Example:

_ Product Price: $38

_ Ads cost: $10/Buyer

=> Profit = $38 – $10 = $28.

Thus, with $0.38/click. If 100 people click and have one buyer, you are breaking even.

And what you need to do is optimize the conversion rate on the sales page: Title, video, story, CTA, … Whatever you can do, for every 100 to the site, there will be one buyer.

Currently, the game has changed. Advertising costs are getting more and more expensive. With Google Ads, you may have to pay a few dollars or more for a click.

This makes beginners, small companies or people with a low budget, become unprofitable and bankrupt. Watch the video below to see Russell Brunson (CEO of Clickfunnels) explained.

If you are a fan of Shark Tank, you will find that sharks always ask these two questions:

  1. What is your CPA? (How much does it cost to acquire a customer)
  2. What is your ACV? (How much is an average customer worth)
what is CPA and ACV - shark tank

The sales funnel can help you fix this issue. Just like you go into Mcdonalds after you buy a hamburger. The staff will ask you: Would you like to have fries with that? Would you like to use a combo? Would you like to change to a large size?

I didn’t know the concept of a sales funnel before; I used to call it Upsell. As soon as customers buy, you will introduce other products, and the profits will mainly come from these products. Returning to the problem above, if I add an upsell product for $ 97. Then you can spend at least $38 or more than that to get a customer. It’s the same the quote:

 “Whoever can spend the most money to acquire customer wins.”

That’s how you grow your company, beat your competitors, sell more products, get your ads more seen out there… That’s how like all the things that you want in business all come off of that concept.

Sales Funnel Vs Marketing Funnel​

As mentioned above, most people think sales funnel and marketing funnel are similar and use it interchangeably. But for me, it’s different. The sales funnel is a part of the marketing funnel.

Traditional marketing funnel has four stages (AIDA):

  • Awareness: The customers know your brand, identify the problems they’re having and the solutions you provide.
  • Interest: Potential customers start to enjoy and interested in the content you share, the solution you provide.
  • Decision: Review and consider taking action (Buy, leave information, join webinar …)
  • Action: Call to Action (leave email, register for the webinar, purchase, ..)

You can see that the sales funnel is mostly at the Action phase (besides the webinar funnel). Here, the sales funnel will help you increase the card value by upselling other products. You can see the image below for understanding.


The marketing funnel is an entire journey of a visitor from “awareness” to a committed customer. It would include paid ads, blogs, video tutorials, email marketing campaigns, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) … 

Sales Funnel is part of the marketing funnel for converting, selling, and increase card value.

It would include squeeze page, order page, Video sales letter, … you can say this is a journey when potential customers start making decisions and become customers. Now, do you understand the difference between marketing funnel and sales funnel?

Sales Funnel Stages​

It depends on your products, services, and goals. The sales funnel will have different stages. However, it will have the following 5 main stages.

1. Traffic​

The first thing you need to focus on is traffic. In fact, not all traffic is created equal and not good at all. your goal here is targeting your specific audience, and drive them into the funnel. Each stage in the sales funnel will have a unique task, and it is closely related to each other. After all, what you want are conversions and profits. 

To do this, you need to identify some of the following:

  • Who is your dream customer?
  • Where are they hangout on internet (Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, Forum,…)
  • What are their problem?
  • Can your product (bait) solve that problem?
  • Does price reasonable, and do they have money to pay for it?

I know it’s really boring to do, but what if people came to your site, watched videos, read articles, etc. They love the idea, the product you bring, however, they haven’t enough money to buy? 

It always happens, and you cannot control it 100%. You only try to increase the number of potential customers to the highest possible through content creation and ad optimization.

And to do this, you need to know “Who you want to serve”, who will be watching your content, right?

2. Lead Capture – Bait​

The goal at this stage is to collect customer information and filter the right audience. Bait or lead magnet can be either free or low cost. Bait is a product at the lower tiers of the value ladder. However, it’s essential to help your customers stay with you. So if your lead magnet useless or bad, you’re failing.

Your lead magnet should have:

  • Make potential customers curious, interested, and valuable enough for them to provide information (email, phone number, …) or pay a small fee with a low-risk to get.
  • Despite the content start with a low price or FREE. But it must solve their problem and satisfied with the promise you made to them.
  • What they receive must have a higher value than the amount of money they spend.
  • Related to the next products. (For example, if you sell a book for $7 after the customer read it, they may not understand. Now, you can offer them the training courses. Next, selling the software to help them make it easier and finally introducing your done-for-you service.)

Do We Need to Create A Lead Magnet For FREE Or Not?

You should test both because each type will bring different advantages and disadvantages.

FREE: You will have more leads at a low cost. However, it is unlikely that they will buy the next product you sell. Therefore, you will need to sell more products to offset advertising costs.

Low-price: If a person has bought one, they will likely purchase many times. The cost to get the lead will be higher, but you will have:

  • List of paying customers (high-quality lead)
  • Offsetting the cost of advertising, and receive 100% profitable for the next product. 

In short, The bait will help you attract potential customers to join you at a low cost and risk to start, and from there will be more involved. When you use free content as bait, be sure to sell additional low-priced products soon afterward or shortly to recover advertising costs. In case you use a low-price product in the first place, you can accept break-evens or won’t profit to get a quality list and then will introduce more products to customers.

(Note: If customers do not buy or receive gifts from you, make sure they can’t see your higher products prices )

3. Core Offer​

This is the main product that makes up your brand with higher value, bringing about the primary revenue. Core offers are in the middle of the value ladder, and this is what you need to focus on.

You can have many sales funnels offering different products. But ultimately, it needs to focus on the core product. Because each time, you can use different bait, a different lead magnet to suit the market. Also, not everyone is willing to pay for your highest price. So please focus on the main product, because it’s your core competency, what you do best compared to your competition, which creates your brand when people mention it.


  • The core product may also be a bait product
  • In case it does not bring the brand, the core product is the best selling product and brings the most profit.
  • Each step on the value ladder can also be a “mini-funnel” sales funnel in a large sales funnel.

4. Up-Sell Or Down-Sell​

The product sold together helps you increase the card value. Upsell or down-sell pages will usually appear after the customer made a purchase.

Usually, the upsell offers have:

  • Discount when buying more quantities ( $20/T-shirt or $49/ 3 x T-shirt)
  • Custom version or a variation of the original product or service (if you are selling the book, you can offer them audio version)
  • An offer to increase subscription time for a reasonable price ($29/month or 290 annual)
  • Additional products (cross-selling)
infusionsoft price - sales funnel software
Keap – Infusionsoft price

If they do not eventually receive the offer, consider sending them a lower risk proposal.

Examples of down-sell include:

  • Another payment plan for the high-price product ($997 or $297 x 4 payment)
  • A smaller, cheaper version. (if they don’t buy the hardcover book, offer them the pdf version)
  • Limited trial period and discounts. (Most software company has a trial program or discounts in the first month)

In both cases, the idea is to make a great opportunity for selling- and provide the exact value your potential customers are looking for at present.

Pro tip: In the sales funnel, don’t up-sell (and down-sell) more than 3 times. If you think to upsell as much as possible is better, you’re wrong. You could have higher revenue. But you have caused the customer to have a bad experience and lost the opportunity for the next time.

5. Back-End Offer​

The highest price product or service that customers can use to solve problems in their lives. Now, we have made it clear that your ultimate goal is to connect each of your mini funnels together to create a complete sales funnel. Selling high-value products is not easy; it requires time and trust. To do this, you need to invest in the lower-level product to make your customers happy.

In fact, there’s no guarantee that your customers will simply move on to the next level of value once they have experienced everything you have to offer at the current stage. It’s really hard!

(They may leave after receiving everything you provide at a specific value.)

What you need to do is convince them that they will get massive value from the next highest level of your value ladder.

Note: At this point, customers will be in a state of confusion. They have received nearly full value from the previous stage of the value ladder. However, they’re not ready to go to the next step to the higher ladder. So instead of aggressively promoting your more valuable offer, you’ll want to keep them engaged with your brand. 

Basically, this involves doing whatever you can to continue providing value to them after they have purchased a specific product or service.

This means:

  • Provide personalized content in their preferred format, allowing them to make the most of the product or service they are currently using.
  • Provide high-quality customer service and support – from troubleshooting to the product guide you provide
  • If you can prove that your main concern is to provide value to your customers – even after they have given you money – they will be more likely to believe that the high-ticket offer of you is worth and reasonable.

Sales Funnel Examples

Ecommerce Funnel​

Website: https://www.spreadshirt.com/

Spread shirt is a website that sells T-shirts. What I like about this website is that I can design & customize my shirts and also create designs to sell them in their marketplace. Let’s see how they increase the card value.

First is the sale page. Here, customers can pick the color of the shirt and customize design if they want.

spreadshirt page - sales funnel

Because customers already like this, they will probably buy another product with the same design. Also, if you are a couple, you can buy one more for your friend by clicking on the Men / Women button.


And finally, customers also liked. At this point, Spreadshirt will introduce more best-selling models to attract customers. The customer can view more popular designs and put them into their shopping carts.


See, with a simple tactic, there is an opportunity to sell more and promote other products. 90% of e-commerce sites use this method, so if you haven’t applied to your business, let do it now.

Book Funnel (Or Free & Shipping Funnel​)

Website: https://milliondollarads.com/

Million Dollar Ads book created by Peng Joon. Inside the book, he going to revealing to you the different framework for writing his best performing ads, and though process behind each and every one of them so that you can model, swipe, and implement them immediately.


Before we go deep into, let me mapping the Million Dollar Ads funnel first to help you understand.


Free & Shipping funnel starts by promoting the low-price product but high-value. This funnel has 2 advantages:

  • Free products can attract many potential customers.
  • Customers still have to pay for shipping.

Many people will complain that $ 14.95 for shipping costs are quite high and not reasonable. Why not give away free 100%? Here is the reason:

  • You still need the money to pay for advertising, printing, and shipping. Therefore, in this case, the high rate is that you will lose money or break even (if you are lucky.)
  • We have a list of buying customers (high-quality leads)

Next, to recoup costs, after customers fill in the information, a special offer will appear for $37. Some people will buy it, and it will help you offset the advertising costs. Besides, this is also the reason they can spend more than $20 to acquire a customer(pay more than competitors.)


The book gives you the best Facebook ads content formula and example. However, that is not enough for you to make money. Here, they will introduce you to the course “Million Dollar Ads Masterclass” for $ 297. Because customers have already bought from you once, chances are they will buy more.

Now, Peng Joon starts to has profitable. Remember, the profit from the sales funnel doesn’t come from books but from upsell and the product you promote later.


After you know how to create an effective campaign, you already know how to marketing on Facebook, and you will encounter a new problem – SCALE.

When you start to make a profit, you are feeling excited. However, when you start to scale ads, you losing money. You try:

  • Changing out image
  • Duplicating Ad set
  • Chatbot follow ups
  • New Audience
  • Changing campaign Objectives
  • And more

and it’s still doesn’t work.

Right now, Peng Joon introduces you to the “Facebook Ads Secrets” course that will help you scale easier and more effectively. The price for this course is $ 347. Another opportunity to introduce other products and get more profits.


Finally, the thank you page. In this case, they will give you a link to create an account for login to the membership and receive the bonus.


Inside the membership area, you will see two things:

  1. Bonus they promised
  2. Promote the upsell products again to increase conversion rates, get more profits, and increase customer value.

Free & shipping funnel is one of the popular sales funnel that many marketers and companies used to grow their business online. (Russell Brunson, Dean Graziosi, Tony Robbins, Grant Cardone, Fiber Fix, etc)

Webinar Funnel​

Webinar Funnel is often used to promote products valued at $ 400- $ 1997. Here is an example.

Website: https://cfdesignschool.com/

The website create by Kathryn Jones, she is an expert in create high-converting funnels and web pages without code, photoshop or design skills required. 

Before we go deep into her funnel, let me show you the map first.


Steps in the funnel:

  1. Register Page: The registration page clearly explains your benefits when joining the webinar. 
  2. One-Time-Offer Page (OTO): They introducing a special offer for $37. This page helps them offset the cost of ads.
  3. Live Video: Teach what she promised and introduce specials offer.
  4. Special Offer Page: She recaps what you will get and promote special offers. Also, the page has multiple payment options instead of a one-time payment – $997. It helps them increase conversion rates and suitable for more people.

Cfdesign doesn’t list as many benefits as other sites. They only focus on 3 core elements. These are the problems and false beliefs that many people have and solutions.

  • Your website is ugly
  • Spend more budget to design your website/funnel
  • How to use a “design facelift” to explode your sales,even if you suck at selling

The next page is the OTO page promoting “Design Hacker Tool Box” for $ 37. Some customers will buy this product here; it helps Kathryn to offset the cost of advertising to get people attending the webinar, filter out high-quality leads list, and increase competitive advantage.


If there is the first time creating the webinar funnel, you should do a live webinar. In this case, you can see Kathryn using the video uploaded and play on Youtube. I think she goes live training many videos before, and this is the best video with high conversion rates.

After you do some live training, pick the best video, and set it automatically on your sales funnel – Auto Webinar Funnel.


The content of the live training will teach what promised on the register page, and it is a step by step to introduce and direct people to the product. It was a special offer, high value, and priced at $ 997.

At the end of the video, she will provide a link to the sales page.


To help increase conversion rates better, she came up with 3 option payment plans to help people easy to buy. Most people have a hard deciding whether to buy a product for $ 997. Have multiple payment options:

  • 3 payments of $ 397 
  • and 7 payments of $ 197 

Will make it much easier for customers to make decisions. Of course, most people would expect their customers to pay one time for $ 997. However consider:

  • 3 payments of $ 397 = 3 * 397 = $ 1197
  • 7 payments of $ 197 = 7 * 197 = $ 1397

Not bad, right! Webinar Funnel is a best way to promote product from $400 – $1997, so if your business has similar product or service let’s try it.

Want to see more sales funnel examples? Read [Top 9] Sales Funnel Examples That I Funnel Hacked


Today, costs for advertising (Google, Facebook, Youtube, banner, native ad, etc.) are increasing. Competitors appear in your market more and more. This is inevitable that you cannot change. Therefore, Sales Funnel is a crucial skill you need to have to help your business survive and increase competitive advantage.

Now I want to hear from you.

How do you think about the sales funnel? Do you have any challenges when you build?

Let me know by leave a comment below!

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