A sales funnel reflects the prospect’s journey or path that takes them from awareness to customer. It encompasses actions you take to create this journey or experience. Pipeline stages are the stages of opportunities or deals. They reflect the sales process from the salesperson’s perspective. See our article, 8 Sales Pipeline Stages Every Sales Team Should Have.
Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly.
Now your marketing automation funnel is giving you a boost at every stage: It responded within five minutes of their first contact, and that helped get you the chance to make your pitch. Now, after the pitch, you're ready to stay in contact and respond to objections in a friendly, targeted way. (And if they love the pitch, automation can help you stay in close touch until closing.)