How to Know if You Really Need a Sales Funnel

“I want to sell more of my online decorating services but I really don’t think I need a sales funnel. What can we do instead?” – Really Awesome Client

My mind started to jump to tactics and sales and marketing methods, but then it came to a halt.

Everyone who sells anything has a sales funnel.

Note from Kate: This got a little long, but I promise there’s a point. The details have been changed to protect the innocent, but I had a conversation with a client that went just like this, and I thought you should read it. 

So I asked her, “Why don’t you think you need a sales funnel?” It’s so hard, but I’m getting better at asking, “why?” rather than jumping in and answering. 

“Well, I’m not greedy, I don’t need a bazillion sales. And I don’t want to come across as slimy or pushy. So, I just want to put it out there for folks who are interested. They can buy it if they want to. But I would like a few more sales each month.”

“Okay, I see,” I said. “Tell me a bit more so I can get the full picture. How do clients find out about you? I know you already have a website. Do you tell anyone about your services? How do you let folks know you’re available?”

“Of course I tell people. And last month I was featured in our city magazine. I’m pretty active on social media, but I could be more organized. And I blog sometimes, that helps people know about me. I’m in the top 10 for my city when people do a search for decorators.”

“Great, if people want to find out more about you, what do they generally do?”

“Most go check out the pictures on my website. Some call and I direct most of them to my website too. That’s where my best photos are.”

“You do have beautiful photos – you’ve done some great work. So, obviously, those photos will tempt people who want similar looks. What happens next?”

“I have a form they can fill out on my website for more information, but most just call me. I go over how I work and pricing and talk to them about what they need and their budget. Many hire me on the spot, but some need some time to think and call me back when they’re ready.”

“Do you ever feel sleezy or pushy when you’re talking with prospective clients?”

“No – I definitely don’t push. I used to feel weird talking about my prices when I first started, but not now. I’m actually kind of priced low now that I’m getting more media attention.”

“Cool. What if you did the same thing, but automated a few pieces to make it easier on yourself to sell your new online service?”

“That sounds great!”

She already has a sales funnel. If you’re selling anything, you already have a sales funnel. 

Yes, you need a sales funnel because that term just describes the steps of taking buyers through a buying process.

Simple funnel model

Others break down the steps slightly differently or into more steps, but this captures the high level well.


At the top and widest part of the funnel model is awareness. Before anyone can buy something, they must be aware of it. The funnel represents a wide number of people who are aware of your product or service.


The second level of the funnel model is interest. Some of the people who are aware of your product or service will show some interest. This means they will search for or ask for more information.


In the third level, some of the people who express an interest in your product or service will make the decision to purchase your product. This is like putting your product in a shopping cart.


And in the fourth level, some of the people who make the decision to buy go ahead and take the actions required to make the purchase. This is separate from the decision because a portion of the people who decide to buy will put the item back or abandon their cart.

Sales funnel example at the department store

Imagine just running into the store to grab a high-end lipgloss for your sister’s birthday. You know – that one she won’t buy for herself, but you know she loves it. 

You pass the archway to the shoe department and spot the greatest pair of pale leather sandals ever (Awareness). As the sales associate is wrapping your fancy cosmetics, you think about what outfits those sandals would complement. 

Since there’s time before the party, you swing by the shoe area to try them on (Interest). They are fabulous. And they work wonders for the sundress you’re wearing now. It would be silly not to get them (Decision). You smile and hand your debit card to the sales clerk (Action).

Does your business need a sales funnel?

Yes, you do need a sales funnel

Yes, my client did (and you do) need a sales funnel. What she didn’t need was an aggressive set of popup windows bombarding her site visitors, one-time offers, limited time deals, and one-click upsells. 

If you’re selling now, you already have a funnel.

I follow someone online who loves to say that she doesn’t do sales funnels. She claims she just doesn’t have them, so no one needs them. And that’s just not true.

But what she’s talking about is just one type of automated funnel that is full of hype and in-your-face messages. She’s right, she doesn’t have or need any of that. 

What she does do though is attract attention with social media, podcasting, and videos. Then she gives away great information for free and builds interest in her products. She writes very convincing sales letters that also give away additional value, leading customers to decide to buy. And she automates the purchase and checkout, making it easy for customers to take action. And that’s a funnel.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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