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Marketing & Sales Funnel Foundations

Marketing Sales Funnel Foundations

In order to understand the customer's purchase path, we need to understand the funnel. This guide explains marketing funnels and illustrates how to use them to boost your campaigns. Although there are many types of marketing sales funnels we will learn about the general individual segments of the funnel: awareness, interest (AQA), action (SQA), opportunity, and customer. Discover how to create campaigns that drive customers through the funnel by analyzing touchpoints. 


From the very beginning to the end, a sales funnel illustrates the different stages of the sales process until the sale is made and the customer pays. Sales funnels can be found in many forms, and every company will have its own version based on its sales journey and CRM settings.

Imagine an inverted triangle as the shape of the sales funnel. Each layer of the inverted triangle represents a stage of the funnel. A marketing funnel stage is a model of how a customer goes from becoming aware of your brand (Stage 1) to purchasing your goods or services (Stage 5.)

Taking it from the top - lead generation

Lead generation is the founding principle of successfully deploying and understanding marketing sales funnels and the impact they hold on a robust pipeline. Most digital marketing professionals constantly analyze their pipeline based on the prospects they attract. 

Fundamentals of sales funnels [video 50 sec]

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: Is the customers' point of view is front and center. Asking "what is the customer's motivation?" OR "What is the value connection my product holds?" These are the essential questions continually discussed by marketing. 

Why do B2B businesses have funnels?

Been around for awhile

Demand waterfall funnels have been around for almost twenty years for good reason. They’re easy to explain and visualize. The metaphor fits well with how most business-to-business organizations view their go-to-market motion. We have the total addressable market at the top, people who are aware of our brand next, and so on until they become customers. The faster we attract people and convert them through each stage, the quicker we scale our business.

Aligns with KPIs

The demand generation waterfall helps businesses use key performance indicators that are meaningful to their business. When done correctly, businesses can use marketing qualified leads as a leading indicator for opportunity creation, which then leads to pipeline and bookings. Creating these metrics helps businesses predict future pipeline growth and revenue, which is critical when allocating marketing budget, determining sales headcount, and securing additional funding from investors.

Interested in learning more about how to use funnels to align sales and marketing? Check out our ebook (ungated).

Speed time to close

But that’s not all funnels are useful for. When properly leveraged, you can help your organization speed up time to closed business and improve efficiency at each cross-functional handoff. Almost as importantly, you can measure these gains in efficiency and communicate your department’s contribution to the business, which means job security and additional resources. These efficiency gains also look fantastic on a resume.

Identify lead sources

Conversion metrics can be used to identify which lead sources to convert at the highest rates and help marketing organizations determine which lead sources should be nurtured instead of passed immediately to sales. It’s also a great way to determine whether the definition of a marketing-qualified lead is in alignment with your ideal customer profile. I’ve also used conversion rates between inside sales meetings set and field sales qualified opportunities to identify misalignment in definitions of qualified leads and spot issues in sales processes.

The proof

Without conversion metrics, it’s difficult to prove to a department that the way they think of your prospects isn’t aligned with the rest of the organization. Data has a way of getting everyone on the same page.

General Funnel Stage Definitions

  1. Awareness - Capturing the consumer's attention to our brand through signals, page visits, ads, and/or search returns.
  2. Interest - Keeping the attention of the consumer by telling the customer about your product or service. Putting the consumer in a 'state of interest.' You know there is a desire when the consumer fills out forms, chats, downloads gated content, and/or attends an event.
  3. Action - The consumer is actively considering or desiring your product. At this stage, they are beginning to decide if the product or service will meet their needs. Typically they will attend a meeting that is initiated by inside sales
  4. Opportunity - The account executive has met with the prospect by this point and determines after the call and qualification discussion determines that an opportunity genuinely exists with the prospect. The prospect signals they are interested in proceeding to a deeper discovery of your product and perhaps pricing is discussed.
  5. Customer - The opportunity and now become a customer, made a purchase, sign contracts, and is engaging with the onboarding of your product or service. The customer is considered 'Closed Won.'

How did we do?

Funnel Events Technical Documentation

Funnel Static Event Configuration