Creating a sales funnel for your small business or startup is not a new concept. Although sales have come a long way since Glengarry Glen Ross, A.B.C. (Always Be Closing) remains an effective sales mantra, even for websites.

Sales Funnel

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What is a Small Business Sales Funnel?

Designated as a funnel because of its shape when depicted in diagram form, the sales funnel marketing strategy is a seamless path from lead to customer. It is the A.B.C. of internet marketing. At the widest part of the funnel are a broad group of potential customers. As the funnel narrows, a path is defined to guide potential customers to the narrow part of the funnel, where they become committed customers.

When sales funnels for startups were established prior to the internet, they may have followed a strategy that included purchasing a lead list or creating one from the Yellow Pages, making phone calls, following up with a mailing, and eventually setting up one or more appointments in order to secure a sale. Sales managers harped on the importance of following the sales funnel system and the salespeople who were able to skip the mailing step and advance straight to making the sale were revered.

Thankfully, the internet has changed the process, but the system remains intact.

Here is how small businesses and startups can implement a small business sales funnel on their websites:

1. Create a Landing Page

Assuming that you already have a small business website developed, creating a landing page that is instrumental in the sales funnel is critical. Using Leadpages or Unbounce, create a clean, concise page that delivers a strong value proposition and call to action. An effective landing page will also offer an incentive for visitors to sign up for an offer or subscribe to a newsletter. The contact information collected from the sign up incentive becomes the first line of direct communication. This contact information is the “lead” in the traditional small business sales funnel. Here are a few tips:

  • The landing page headline should match the copy on the ad or link that was clicked to arrive there.
  • Include a Call to Action above the fold (where users do not have to scroll to see it).
  • Add a video to increase conversions.
  • Use visual cues.
  • Offer a free trial or money back guarantee.


2. Present the Offer

Whether your website is offering a service or a product, the next step is to present the offer. Consider offering a smaller service or product to create commitment and pre-sell a larger product or add-on. For example, if your business offers custom artwork, the offer would be the artwork. The customization, frame, etc, would be the next step.

If your business offers a free trial for a software product or service, the free trial would be the offer and the next step would be the subscription and any added features. This second step converts the lead to an actual prospect or qualified lead who is likely to spend money with your business.

3. Upsell the Offer

Now that your prospects have either completed a purchase or are using a trial, it is time to hone in on their needs and offer paid products or upsells to the product they have already purchased. Now is the time to sell the expensive frame for the artwork. Now is the time to secure the subscription and any added services that will provide value to the new customer.

There are several tools that can be used for this step and include:

  • Email auto-responders
  • Webinars
  • Phone calls
  • Social media follow up

Once your startup is generating leads on an ongoing basis, it will be important to automate this third step as much as possible.

4. Offer a Downsize

Perhaps the customer was a bit overzealous with their original purchase or subscription. In order to retain customers, offer a downsize offer. For example, if you offer a monthly subscription, offer a step down option that will keep the customer, but allow for a less expensive option. If your small business offers custom art, allow for levels of customization and for purchase without the frame or other add-ons.

Customer retention should be an important part of the sales funnel and will allow for upselling at a later date. A highly effective sales funnel does not end when the customer makes their first purchase.

5. Keep It Going

Turn your startup sales funnel into a cycle once you have developed an initial customer base. Follow up with new customers:

  • To ensure their satisfaction
  • To offer new products or services
  • To request referrals, or additional “leads”

BONUS TIP: If you are still struggling to develop your startup sales funnel, try turning it upside down. Identify the end goal and then work backwards.


Small business sales funnels will look a bit different based on your business model, but following this basic guideline will get you there. Adding steps such as conducting demos or providing product samples may become critical parts of your successful funnel. With enough knowledge of your target audience and sales funnel testing, your marketing efforts will begin to shape up into an automated success.

If your small business or startup is struggling to create effective sales funnels, we are here to help.

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