Hi Matt, a really great article which pulls out many strengths. I’m a wedding photographer and I’m researching new ways to funnel visitors by their current; challenges, position in planning their wedding and then addressing short term buyers vs longer cycle buyers who are researching etc. Do you have any advice or examples which could be useful even if a different industry? Thanks Pete
As a software engineer myself, I can tell you that building funnels from an application standpoint takes massive amounts of work. There's a great deal of coding and integration that's required here. From email systems to landing page implementations to credit card processing APIs, and everything in between, so many platforms need to "talk," that it takes the bar too high for the average marketer. 
The sales process is not a straight line. This is why converting a lead to customer often takes its own course, and varies with business. Whether B2B or B2C sales, it’s important for sales reps to understand and visualize a lead’s journey; otherwise, they’re shooting in the dark. This is done by a series of steps which develops into what’s called the sales funnel—a concept that finds its way back to the 1890s.

Workflow automation tools can help you manage prospects through a sales funnel by helping you complete repetitive tasks in your sales process that are triggered by certain actions. For instance, in the Awareness stage, you may want your prospect to feel important after you’ve first met, so you send a “Nice to Meet You” email. You can automate this task in your CRM. For email template ideas, see our article on Sales Email Templates.
I just wanted to make that clear so that's all out in front and on the table. I'll get to that in a minute, but first I wanted to add some value and show you around ClickFunnels, but specifically a lot of people ask me, "Hey Josh, is this solution really worth it?" My question really back is, "How much do you really have to lose?" First of all, they offer a 14 day trial, plus, even if you paid for one or two months, the $97 a month plan, which is their StartUp Plan here, and it's plenty for those of you who are just now building sales funnels or you maybe you have a lead pages or optimized press or Instapage and you just want a little bit more horse power, ClickFunnels is the way to go.
The metaphor of the funnel is used because people drop away at each stage of a long sales process: for example, many of your unqualified prospects may have existing suppliers with whom they're very satisfied. Others may have needs which other competitors are better-placed to satisfy. Still, others may love your products, but not have the budget to buy them.

Prospecting and marketing are all the things you do to get people into the first of your sales funnel stages. Note that stages are broken into two or more steps wherever possible. A demo could be called a single stage, but in real life it involves a lot of things: contacting the customer, sending reminders, doing the demo, and then following up. Whatever your own sales stages look like, the support you need in managing them will be the same.
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