A sales funnel is an intentional, strategically-designed approach to running a business: A sales funnel is the path that your potential customers take as they decide whether or not to buy from you.
A sales funnel charts the flow of contacts from the moment they first hear of your business or become aware of the problem that your business’ products or service solve, all the way through to the point where they decide to become customers. (In fact, a good sales funnel charts the flow of contacts beyond that point, too!)
Every business has a sales funnel whether they realize it or not, because they have contacts who follow a “path” from hearing about the company to purchase. Unfortunately, most companies don’t realize that they have a sales funnel and instead they leave this path up to the customer to decide if and when and how they want to take it. A smart business, on the other hand, knows that they have a sales funnel and that their contacts are on it. And, they intentionally design their sales funnel to efficiently move contacts through so the right ones become customers faster.
Engineering an efficient sales funnel is all about creating and fine-tuning the marketing and sales activities of the business to keep the right contacts moving forward toward a sale.
A sales funnel is sometimes also called a sales pipeline (although “sales pipeline” sometimes has a slightly different definition within a company’s sales department).