Basic Startup Sales Funnel Challenges

There are many versions of sales funnels, here are the key components at each stage.

A.T. Gimbel
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May 28, 2024

I meet with many early stage entrepreneurs who are new to the sales process and/or are struggling to get their sales process going. There are many versions of sales funnels, but here is a basic one that we can talk through the key components at each stage.


This stage is often referred to as the “top of funnel.” How do I get leads for potential customers that would be interested in my solution? The focus is on figuring out which channels, messaging, and education get prospects into your process.


This stage is often referred to as the “middle of funnel.” At this stage you give prospects the information they need to make a decision. This information could be webinars, white papers, demos, case studies, etc. What is the right set of materials and messaging that resonates and brings you to the final stage of the decision making process.


This stage is often referred to as the “bottom of funnel.” What does it take to get potential customers to buy your solution? Executive meetings, trials/pilots, pricing, etc. all come into play at this stage. How do you get the right tools in place to close the deal?


After we have signed the customer, we now need to get them using the product and staying with us. Things like onboarding, usage/ROI reports, account review meetings, etc can help here. What does it take to get your customers finding value in your solution and staying with you? A retained (and upsold) customer is usually better economics than finding a net new customer to replace the same amount of revenue. Make sure you are clear who in the organization is involved and responsible here (i.e. sales, customer success, marketing, product).


The last stage is customers who are so passionate about your solution they refer you to other customers. This is sometimes referred to as promoters in NPS language. These customers love you and also participate in marketing activities with you.

There are many more nuances at each stage, but one thing to focus on is what parts of the funnel are working well and which are not. Are you getting lots of leads into the top of the funnel but they are not converting to sales? Or are you converting most of the customers you do get into demos, but are struggling to find more. Continue to test and adjust to make sure each stage is working well.

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