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Is the sales pipeline the same as a sales funnel?

Considering the number of articles on the internet about this, it’s probably a common misconception that the two are the same.

The answer, of course, is no. The two are similar, but different.

And it depends on which side you are looking at it from.

A sales pipeline is structured from the perspective of a sales person - positioning each potential lead they have at a specific segment of the pipeline. It’s an extremely helpful tool in forecasting and prioritizing. 

A sales funnel, on the other hand, is the view of the customer journey from a prospects’ perspective.

It highlights each step the prospect has to take to become a customer

It’s represented by a funnel because there are always more prospects at the top, aware of or lightly engaging with your brand, than there are at the bottom, which is when they become your customers.

Each organization defines the exact stages of the funnel differently, somewhat based on their marketing / sales strategy. However, they usually look like the following.

1) Awareness - The prospect knows you exist. Maybe they saw an ad, or interacted with a social post, or clicked on a webinar link.

2) Interest - The prospect now is somewhat interested in you. This is usually indicated by them downloading a brochure or similar material, or attending a webinar. 

3) Desire - The prospect now actually wants to do business with you. Indicated by them booking a meeting with you.

4) Action - Now the prospect has bought into the hype, and is ready to do business!

Yup, there’s a couple of steps you can actually add to the funnel. 

5) Advocacy - This is when you wow the prospect so much that they actively spread the word and become free marketing for your brand

6) Resell / Upsell - A one-time customer is just a lost opportunity. At this stage, the customer should be ready to re-up their contract, and perhaps even do bigger business!

The sales funnel is a convenient tool that lets you plan individual strategies for your prospects. By tracking stage conversions, you can also measure how effective your campaigns have been at every level. 

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