An overwhelming 98% of people browsing the internet at any given moment are just looking for information or entertainment. A sales funnel is how you target and turn them into customers.

That’s what I’m focusing on today. I want to help you build an effective sales funnel for your business! The idea is to use the funnel to turn the leads (who would have slipped through the net) into sales.

So, in this guide, I’ll show you five real-world examples of effective sales funnels and explain how you can use them to build your own!

Let’s dive in!

The Sales Funnel 101

I’ve found generating leads and driving traffic are two of the toughest challenges for any business. But nurturing those leads - filtering out unqualified ones — and converting them into sales is harder still.

That’s where a sales funnel comes in.

A sales funnel is a roadmap of how a cold lead (a potential customer unaware of your product or service) becomes a paying customer.

Credits: Sloovi

Each sales funnel has stages to guide prospects through their buying journey. Broadly speaking, there are four:

  • Awareness - It’s when the prospect becomes “aware” of your company, product or service. They may click on your ad, respond to your cold email or find you on Google. It’s the first touchpoint.
  • Interest - Your prospect tries to figure out if you can deliver what they need. They could be collecting information on you, your competitors or the solution.
  • Desire - The prospect is warming up to your offer. They’re checking out your pricing, deals, testimonials, reviews, etc.
  • Action - Your prospect decides to become a customer.

A good sales funnel clearly defines those stages. It also captures the right prospects (so there are fewer unqualified leads in the mix, saving you time and resources).

Lastly, a sales funnel helps you get and deliver the perfect amount of information at every stage of the process - no more, no less.

How Sales Funnels Work: 3 Steps

You saw how a prospect moves through the four stages of a sale. Let’s shift gears now and focus on the funnel itself. Every sales funnel has three working parts:

Top of the Funnel - TOFU

The top of the funnel “captures” leads. It’s where all the lead generation happens. Webinars, cold email sequences, Google ads, YouTube, socials, podcasts, case studies, e-books, blogs, word of mouth — essentially any platform that helps you reach a pool of potential customers can form the top of the funnel.

Credits: Pipedrive

It’s where a prospect enters your sales funnel and you deliver your value proposition. You try to build awareness of your company, give away something valuable for free (also called “bait”) or just educate them.

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A lot of these leads will never qualify. A good sales funnel will filter them out. But some of those leads will qualify – the following part of your funnel is all about nurturing them!

Middle of the Sales Funnel - MOFU

The middle of the funnel qualifies and nurtures the leads at your disposal. In this part of the funnel, you’ll often find people actually interested in (and capable of) making a purchase.

Credits: Pipedrive

They aren’t ready to pull the trigger yet, though! Their research becomes more focused as they become more aware of you and your competitors. They’ll be looking for testimonials, product comparison blogs or reviews.

Since they’re not ready to make a purchase yet, you want to use the middle-of-the-funnel initiatives to gently deliver helpful information. For example, if you typically source leads through cold outreach, you might send them a practical case study or a comparison guide.

The middle of the funnel can also separate leads by their quality. You can filter out prospects most likely to convert and then target them with a focused and personalized approach.

Bottom of the Funnel - BOFU

The bottom of the funnel is where you find your hottest leads. Your prospects have done their homework and they’re ready to make a decision!

Credits: Pipedrive

This is also where you’ll convert your prospects. For example, you could offer a free trial, a quote, a consultation or a discount. The idea is to make the sale irresistible to convert as many qualified leads as possible.

Sales Funnels in Action (Real-World Examples)

Now that we understand how sales funnels work in theory, let's take a look at a few different versions 'in the wild'.

Inspiration is great, but copying someone else's sales funnel typically doesn't work. You need to think about your buyer and build based on how that person typically finds information and makes decisions.

1. Wordstream’s Sales Funnel

Wordstream helps small businesses with online advertising and their sales funnel is so effective that it’s made them one of the fastest-growing companies in America.

Their site gets 2.6 million monthly visitors organically. They also have a vast library of helpful blog content to help leads from different sources effectively navigate the sales funnel.

Credits: Nichepursuits

Here’s how their funnel works in practice:


Wordstream has attracted a huge loyal following by offering free content and tools. Firstly, they rank high on Google for more than 300,000 keywords, which alone brings a lot of organic traffic.


Secondly, when you open their landing page, they invite you to try two of their free tools for business advertising: the free keyword tool and the Google Ads Performance Grader (which reports how well your Google ads are performing.

The free tools and SEO ease visitors into Wordstream’s sales funnel while providing a teaser of the value that would come if they opted for a paid plan.


Next, they offer a valuable library of blog content to help companies grow their business. They also have a strong presence on YouTube for conducting educational webinars, which helps prospects in different sectors relate to the content and see almost tailored solutions.


Finally, once Wordstream’s sales funnel has moved a prospect down to the bottom, they offer product demos to seal the deal!

2. Gillian Perkins’ $72,000 Sales Funnel

Gillian Perkins is a masterclass in building an automated sales funnel. She uses her funnel to sell her YouTube creator course, which has generated $72,000 in sales and has a solid 4-6% lead conversion rate.


Leads enter Gillian’s sales funnel through the links she posts on her YouTube channel or Pinterest page. She also publishes blogs. All her content is tailored for YouTube creators (her target audience) and she hooks them in with free resources like a pre-recorded workshop or a YouTube launch checklist.


She then drums up interest by signing people up for her email newsletter in exchange for the free resources. (If you’re in sales, you’ll notice this can become a phenomenal lead gen list.)

She also has a programs section on her website where students can enroll in her paid training program. However, the trick is that enrollment is closed most of the time. Want to join her exclusive training program to become a member of that club?

You’ll need to hop on the waiting list!


Then, Perkins uses the email list to nurture prospects. She has an automated sequence that sends sales emails based on how the lead interacts with her site. This is something I’ve covered in my drip campaign article and it’s always a good idea when personalizing at scale.


When a spot opens up, the lead gets an email to register for the course. They click the link and it redirects them to the checkout page. It’s all pretty streamlined and effortless!

With just two lead magnets, Gillian has generated thousands of dollars in revenue using this sales funnel. Once it’s set up, the system works by itself. She doesn’t need to interact with the leads actively — it’s all automated.

3. Netflix’s SaaS Sales Funnel

Netflix relies on the classic trial lead magnet to bring people into its sales funnel. And while the free 30-day trial was axed a couple of years ago, that strategy was how Netflix first gained traction. It can work wonders for your SaaS sales funnel, too!

Credits: FunneKarma


Netflix has a massive online presence, including a YouTube channel with almost 30 million subscribers. They post teasers and trailers to bring visitors to their landing page.


The landing page is simple, with only a button for getting the 30-day trial and copy that reads “cancel anytime.” There’s no mention of payment methods or pricing plans.

The next step in the funnel is the plan page. Here, Netflix reiterates that you won’t be charged until the trial ends and that they’ll remind you three days before it does.  It’s a risk-sensitive way to transition people onto the pricing page.


Then comes the pricing page, where visitors can compare and select the plan they want to try. If you’re in SaaS, free trials are always a great idea – they have less friction than having a lead book a demo, so they can try everything out for themselves.


If, at any point, the lead leaves the funnel and decides to cancel, Netflix now has a way to send them emails with offers and reminders. Similarly, even in B2B SaaS, you can use reactivation sequences or nurture campaigns to ensure the leads convert.

After all, now they have a relationship with you!

4. Buffer’s Microconversion Sales Funnel

Netflix has a wonderfully complex funnel, but Buffer proves you don’t need a bulky, overcomplicated sales funnel to convert.

Credits: Buffer

Here’s how their minimalist sales funnel works:


The team at Buffer offers a bunch of free tools and resources for marketing and social media. These resources feed their funnel with 1.5 million monthly visitors, some of whom will necessarily be qualified leads.


The landing page has four elements to maximize conversions: a lead magnet of a free trial that doesn’t require a credit card, a demo video that shows how the platform works and social proof in the form of typical growth numbers.


There are multiple CTAs across the landing page, all leading to their free trial magnet.


Since the entire funnel is just one prominent CTA, it’s a simplified process. You could call it a micro-funnel. But hey, don’t knock it! This micro-funnel has brought Buffer 4.5 million users and $16 million in revenue.

5. Zoom Sales Funnel

We’ve seen how effective freebies and trials can be in baiting a sales funnel. But there’s one powerful lead magnet we haven’t touched on yet - the freemium offer. And Zoom has used this model to generate billions in revenue!

Credits: Zoom


Zoom is a household name, so lead generation isn’t a problem. They get plenty of organic traffic. Plus, they also run ads. It’s easy for leads to become aware of what Zoom does. The challenge lies in the following steps of their sales funnel.


If a lead wants to try Zoom, they can head to their website and landing pages. All of them allow leads to sign up for free to test the main features. It’s all so simple it doesn’t take more than a few steps to complete!


Once Zoom has moved you to the middle of the funnel, they’ll try to upsell their services. The paid Zoom plans include extra features like a higher participant limit, calendar support and AI. On the other hand, other competitors like Google don’t have the same features.

Plus, you’ve already started using Zoom – why switch?


If you’re a highly qualified lead looking for Zoom to use with your entire team, upgrading will be a no-brainer (and that’s what they’re aiming for).

How to Build Your Own Sales Funnel

Remember, a good sales funnel feeds into the right target leads, accurately filters out unqualified leads and guides prospects to the sale with minimal friction. At each stage, it delivers and demands just the right kind and amount of information.

As outlined in the examples, sales funnels can look drastically different. But they all move their prospects through the same four stages: awareness, interest, decision and action.

Keep those elements in mind because you’ll structure your strategy around them!

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Map Out Your Offer

When building a funnel from scratch, start where the lead enters your sales funnel. That means the top of the funnel - the part where lead generation happens - where the lead magnet works its magic.

Then, decide on your lead magnet. You’ll use it to warm up cold leads. You can offer freebies, free trials, freemium subscriptions or demos. Pick what makes the most sense for your funnel.

For B2B sales funnels, demos are always a great lead magnet. They allow you to start talking to the prospect sooner!

Once you’ve got a list, map it onto different funnel sections. You can offer multiple products or services at every stage. Or just one product throughout the funnel. Your funnel can be as complex or as simple as your audience needs them to be.

Drive Traffic

You don’t need a deep and complex understanding of buyers' motives and pain points to get your sales funnel going. You just need to know what problem you’re solving and who might benefit from it.

You can do that by imagining yourself as the customer and walking through their buying process. Take note of the inflection points and points of friction. Use these insights to segment your target audience. It’ll save you money and time in the long run (more on that in the last section).

Once the system is up and running, you can make adjustments and tweaks based on results. But you will need to know at least the basics of who you’re targeting (which I assume you already do) to generate some traffic.

The easiest way to drive traffic is also the most expensive. Paid ads can bring you plenty of targeted visitors. But, depending on your budget, the cost goes up quickly. If you’re in a sales team, work with your marketers to determine the best ways to target your ideal leads.

In some cases, depending on the deal size, it might even be best to use the account-based marketing approach.

Organic traffic is another way to go. It’ll take some patience and technical know-how of SEO, but organic traffic alone can feed your entire funnel when done right. Plus, you can repurpose your articles as sales collateral. Vice versa, you can turn your sales case studies into blog posts.

If you have a social media following, leverage it. Are you becoming a thought influencer on LinkedIn? Start sharing your insights to build connections and attract warm leads!

Craft Enticing Landing Pages

Here’s the thing: everyone wants to go overboard with landing pages. So, in this article, I encourage you to keep it simple. Don’t bog it down by trying to be too fancy or saying too many things at once.

Write a clear header that tells the reader precisely what you’re offering. Complement it with an attention-grabbing image and add a prominent CTA (call to action) to your lead magnet, demo scheduling or any action you want the leads to take.

Brian Dean of Backlinko has an excellent landing page with only one CTA that lets you sign up for his newsletter:

Credits: Backlinko

Testimonials and other social proof (ratings or certifications) are a powerful way to boost conversions.

As the old saying goes, “We buy on emotion and justify with logic.”

You can also sandwich your CTA between the footer and the social proof. Another option is to embed it within the features or services section.

Keep your copy clear and straightforward and respect your lead’s time. After all, you’re not trying to waste it – you’re trying to help them make the best decision.

Nurture Leads in Your Sales Funnel

This is the part of the funnel where you build relationships. You want to provide value to your prospects and, in the process, help them understand your company or product better. It helps build trust, qualifies new leads and shortens the sales cycle.

To do that, you can write blogs, host webinars, create case studies and send email campaigns.

For example, send targeted and personalized emails based on the prospect's interests or behavior. If you have B2B contact data, you could send them case studies with clients who were in the same industry or struggled with the same challenges.

At this point, you can also score your leads. Segment them into priority categories and communicate with them accordingly. For example, a lead who has demonstrated interest and is qualified would be a 10, making it more worth your time to communicate with them one-on-one or by using account-based marketing.

The nurture part of your sales funnel should naturally lead to deals!

Upsell and Cross-Sell in Your Sales Funnel

Your customer journey doesn’t have to end with one purchase. If you have the room for it, you can sell upgrades, add-ons and complementary products to the customers you’ve converted.

There’s the upsell - where you encourage your customers to buy a higher-end version of your product or service. It’s a solid strategy because selling to cold leads always has a lower conversion rate when you contrast it with selling to existing customers.

Or you can sell add-ons or bonus features with your product, AKA cross-sell.

Depending on your product, you might have to do some digging to discover customer pain points your other products can solve. Then, frame the cross-sell as a way to maximize the value of your product or get additional benefits.

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Optimize Your Sales Funnel

The first run of your funnel will be a test. Treat it as such. Keep an eye out for the transition points between stages and how many leads you lose in each.

Then, audit the leads who convert: what is their Lifetime Value? Can they grow with your company?

Review your channel costs in comparison to the quality of your leads.

The ultimate goal is to get as many high-quality leads as possible while paying only for the most effective channels.

Identify any ‘leaks’ in your funnel - points where you’re losing leads. You can then optimize and improve conversions for that stage (and conversions overall).

Don’t be afraid to come up with and test hypotheses. For example, in one test, you might offer case studies in the Decision stage. In another, you might invite leads to book a demo right from the Interest phase. Test away until you find the winning formula!

Your Roadmap to Conversions

Long story short, when building a sales funnel, focus on capturing leads most likely to qualify with a relevant lead magnet or the right sales pitch. Then, nurture those leads by providing them value and building trust.

And even once they convert, don’t forget to ask for a referral.

Yes, building a sales funnel in this omnichannel era will require you to work with your marketing team, but that’s a good thing. After all, you want to be where your leads are.

And once they’re ready to make a decision, your number will be the first one they dial.