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Designing a Sales Funnel

If your team doesn't work from a standardized sales funnel, check out our 6-step sales funnel template below.

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There's a reason why a good journalist starts a new article with an outline before they start writing an article.

With a defined outline, writers ensure they address each point in the correct order.

Without an outline, writers sometimes forget to include a crucial argument, or construct their paper in an illogical manner.

So, how can you make a sales funnel that works for your team?

Typical sales funnel steps

Sales cycles can differ depending on the type of business and product you sell. A B2B sales funnel is not comparable to that of B2C or retail organizations, and the SaaS industry is in a class of its own for a number of reasons (here's why).

However, there are certain standard steps (usually 5-7 steps) that most teams follow to some extent. For example, here is a typical 6-step sales funnel for B2B:

Sales funnel illustration
  1. Prospect - source leads to contact through outbound outreach or gather them from marketing.
    Key activities: perform territory and/or account analysis, conduct pre-call planning and research,...
  2. Qualify - i.e. by offering prospects relevant content they would want to read/download or by directly reaching out to them and inquiring about business.
    Key activities: identify potential power sponsor, stimulate interest, get pain/need admitted,...
  3. Engage - presenting your offer, whether by showing them a pop-up with a product or conducting an in-person demo.
    Key activities: define customer's opportunity drivers, Determine competitive advantage,...
  4. Negotiate - handle objections and nurture the prospect into buying.
    Key activities: get power sponsor to admin pain/need, propose joint execution plan, align internal resources,...
  5. Close - get the prospect to buy from you.
    Key activities: get necessary documents signed, establish success metrics baseline,...
  6. Nurture or repeat business- upsell or generate referrals from your customers.

It is important to understand that the steps within each sales funnel do not always occur in the same order and may have different durations. After all, you can't expect every lead to act in the same way regardless of what they buy.

The SaaS Sales Funnel

The SaaS sales funnel has several distinctive features compared to other businesses:

As a result, the SaaS sales funnel typically has a longer and more complex sales cycle and involves more touchpoints and decision makers along the way. It tends to be consultative sales - they prioritize sales engagement and nurturing as a means of building a long-term relationship with the customer.

Ready to build your own?

A quick search will reveal several variations on the above funnel. Some sales funneles have three steps, others have eight. Despite the many variations, every sales funnel will take your deal through these steps of the sales funnel: finding prospects, qualifying them, getting them to commit to you and closing.

Here's the thing: no matter what you read on the Internet, there is no one perfect sales funnel that will work for every sales organization.

However, there is a perfect sales funnel that will work for your sales team, but you are the person who must design it.

When designing a sales funnel for your team, consider the following points:

  1. Your organization's key KPIs
  2. Clearly defined phases in your pipeline
  3. Structured lead qualification criteria, aligned with the phases in your pipeline
  4. The activities your salespeople should undertake at each stage in your pipeline

The challenge is knowing which steps to include and which to omit when designing your sales funnel. Is it worth breaking down each step into its constituent parts (e.g., making contact in cold emails and cold calling), or is it more important for your team to have a quick, streamlined funnel with only five steps?

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