7 Sales Funnel Stages: The Ultimate Guide to Funnel Optimization

by NAVID MOAZZEZ
Last Updated: Oct. 25, 2019

Are you ready to build the greatest sales funnel of all time?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

These are the 7 essential sales funnel stages as laid out by the master of funnels himself: Russell Brunson.

Russell is the co-founder of ClickFunnels and has created dozens of the best info courses for mastering the science of funnel building. 

His sales funnels have helped me grow my personal brand business exponentially, and this is the most ultimate guide you’ll find on the internet. 

It has all the core concepts and none of the fluff.

You’ll find a table of contents below so you can skip to the sales funnel stages that most interest you. 

Without further ado, let’s dive in!


7 Sales Funnel Stages for Maximum Conversions

The plan is that by the end of this epic guide you’ll have the basic architecture to crush it with funnels. 

It all starts with gauging traffic temperature and speaking directly to your audience.

From there you’ll…

  • Qualify subscribers
  • Qualify buyers
  • Offer massive value 
  • Rinse and repeat 

With enough persistence you’ll soon be able to maximize average cart value and upsell your biggest products.  

Stage #1: Traffic Temperature

Traffic temperature describes how aware a person is about the problems they have and how your product can solve them. 

Is your traffic hot, warm, or cold?

Here are the stages of awareness from coldest to hottest:

  1. Unaware (no idea they have a problem)
  2. Problem Aware (know they have a problem, but not sure how to fix it)
  3. Solution Aware (aware of problem and the different types of solutions)
  4. Product Aware (aware of the products that can solve the problem) 
  5. Most Aware (close-to expert-level knowledge about the industry)

The stages of a sales funnel can warm customers up from Unaware to Most Aware, but the best strategy is to target people who are at least Solution Aware aware to begin with.

Better yet, if you can somehow get yourself in front of the “Most Aware” leads (a.k.a. HOT leads), then making the sale becomes a piece of cake. 

This is what experienced marketers do best — they get in front of people who are already hot/warm and require less convincing. 

At the same time, there’s still a ton of money to be made with cold traffic — it just takes the right strategy to warm them up. 

Believe it or not, a lot of experienced marketers struggle with cold traffic. 

They crush it with warm traffic, but leveraging cold traffic is a different game.  

Warming Up Cold Traffic

Selling to someone who’s Solution Aware is relatively easy because they already know how your product can help them…but cold traffic is another animal altogether. 

Let’s say you’re in the autoresponder business and you’re speaking to someone who’s only Problem Aware. 

They’re aware that they need more customers, but they’ve never heard of an autoresponder before. 

In this scenario, you can’t just expect them to understand the value of your product. 

Instead, you have to take them from Problem Aware to Solution Aware by explaining how an autoresponder can help them get more customers.

Only then can you sell them your autoresponder. 

Advertising to Different Traffic Temperatures

On average, it takes 5-7 interactions before they’ll buy, but it can take even longer depending on how cold they are to begin with. 

Cold traffic might have to see your Facebook ad several times before they get curious enough to click.

Warm traffic usually converts best via endorsements from other industry leaders. When people see other knowledgeable folks giving you the thumbs up, it can take them from warm to hot fast.

At this point, they’ll be in the heart of you funnel and you can continue warming them up for bigger upsells.

Stage #2: Your Pre-Frame Bridge

The pre-frame bridge is how you segway into your offer, and it’s based on the customer’s mindset (frame) when they enter your site.

This is a short summary of the right pre-frame bridges for different traffic types.

As the saying goes, “Not all clicks are created equal!”

This means that you never know exactly how someone feels about your product when they first get to your site.

With hot traffic, your pre-frame bridge can be as simple as “Hey, I’ve got something I think you’ll like, check it out.”

It can be an email that you send out to your list or a blog post you share where you encourage people to buy. 

In this email I got from Neville Medhora, he leads with a snippet of great advice, then plugs his course and links to a helpful article:

The pre-frame bridge for warm traffic isn’t much different — they just might need a little extra “push.”

This push could be a recommendation from someone they trust or relevant case studies/testimonials.

Cold traffic, on the other hand, can be less predictable. 

They might be stumbling into your site after reading a horrible review…you never know.

What do you think is going to happen when you try to collect their email?

Probably nothing good.

Because of this uncertainty, your pre-frame bridge for cold traffic should be longer and more general. 

This way if they’ve come in with any negative opinions you can gradually win them over. 

On the other hand, they might not even know what you offer, so it’s important to start with the basics and go from there. 

Videos are usually a good pre-frame bridge for cold traffic because they don’t require as much effort to engage in, like this ClickFunnels video from Russell:

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If you speak to them in a language that matches their temperature, you can move quickly onto Stage #3:

Stage #3: Qualify Subscribers

Not all leads are created equal!

A huge email list means nothing if it isn’t full of qualified subscribers. 

How do you qualify subscribers?

By using a squeeze page, pop-up, or opt-in form that collects their email.

This is the pop-up that Amie Tollefsrud hit me with when I tried to exit her Rebel Nutrition marketing course site:

If someone is willing to put their email where their mouth is, then maybe…just maybe…they’ll be willing to buy. 

But how do you know if they’re ready to subscribe? 

Are They Ready to Subscribe?

Quick question: should you try to collect an email from an ice cold lead?

Nope.

If you send them straight from the first ad they see directly to your squeeze page, they probably won’t be ready to fork it over. 

That’s because they aren’t warm enough yet… 

Instead, send them to an article that communicates why a product like yours is valuable.  

This will get them in the mindset to enter a relationship with you.

You wouldn’t ask someone you just met for a bunch of favors, right? 

The same rules apply to lead generation (accept the favor is the email). 

First provide value and build trust…then once the karmic scales are tipped in your favor you can go for the email. 

Using Virtual Summits to Qualify Subscribers

Virtual summits can be powerful lead magnets and are one of the best ways to qualify subscribers.

What are virtual summits?

In a nutshell, virtual summits are webinars on steroids.

As the host of your very own virtual event, you’ll interview a bunch of industry leaders, package the interviews together, and give away free access to the launch…all they have to do is submit their email.

Once you have the emails, the next sales funnel stage will be to qualify them as buyers. 

Stage #4: Qualify Buyers

Once someone buys, they’ll usually buy again, and again, and again…

It’s just the first sale that’s the tough one, but once you get over the hump the floodgates will open.

With the right marketing strategy, you can take recently qualified subscribers and turn them into hot traffic fast and starting making upsells. 

The only question is, are they willing to whip out their wallet?

How to Qualify Buyers Immediately

The best way to qualify subscribers immediately is to make a really attractive right off the bat, but it has to be a deal that’s so incredible they just can’t refuse.

Billy Gene, one of Russell Brunson’s Affiliate Bootcamp instructors, takes this marketing tactic to the extreme.

He runs a promotion where people can by all of his courses for 99% off. 

You don’t have to go this crazy though…

Virtual summits work just as well (and they’re more profitable). 

Qualifying Buyers with Virtual Summits

Virtual summits are a cheat code to sales funnels. 

They warm leads up FAST so you can start qualifying buyers immediately.

After they register for the free summit launch, offer them a discounted all-access pass as a one-time offer.

For example, when I registered for the Food Revolution Summit, I was immediately sent a one-time-offer page where I could buy an all-access package for only $67 (discounted from $197):

If they bite, chances are they’ll bite again, and it’ll be time to see if they’re a hyperactive buyer…

Stage #5: Identify Hyperactive Buyers

Some people buy a lot of stuff in general.

These people are called “hyperactive buyers” and they’re the prized possession of any email list.

If you have at least 1,000 of these click-happy fans, your business will be set for life.

To identify hyperactive buyers, keep pitching them offers at different price points and continue moving them up the value ladder. 

The more they buy, the easier it will be to upsell them on your premium products later on…although with virtual summits you can sell them premium products right away.

This is what I did with my very first virtual conference back in 2014.

I did $20k in all-access pass sales, but I also made $40k selling Ramit Sethi’s $2,000-info course off the back end…and that was just in the first month.

Hyperactive buyers are ready to buy from Day #1, and that’s why it pays to have a full buffet of upsells and downsells at the ready.

Stage #6: Age and Ascend the Relationship

Sales funnel Stages #1 through #5 all happen in the “initial sales flow.”

With an irresistible offer like a virtual summit, all five stages can happen in just a few minutes…it just takes the right hook, bump, upsell, and downsell.

Stages #6 and #7, however, usually happen over the course of weeks, months, and even years. 

This is called the “Age and Ascend Relationship,” and it’s the path that most customers follow.

Over time, they move step-by-step up the value ladder:

As you can see, Russell likes to hook his leads with a free quiz, then immediately qualifies them with a Free + Shipping book:

Next he upsells them with the Invisible Funnel Webinar and offers insane value through a free training. 

Once they’re warm and toasty, Russell tries to sell them one of his premium info courses:

Somewhere along the line his goal is to get you on his continuity program: a monthly subscription to ClickFunnels.

Eventually though, products get to expensive to sell online, and that’s when you have to pull out the big guns in Sales Funnel Stage #7:

Stage #7: Change the Selling Environment

Selling something that’s worth more than $2k-$3k online gets to be a challenge because the resistance is too high. 

At this price point, you’re conversions are going to be better if you take the conversation off-line.

This means either running a live event or getting them on the phone with you or your sales team. 

I do the latter with my premium Virtual Summit Mastery customers.  

That’s is for the 7 Stages of a Sales Funnel, but no matter how well you execute each stage they’re useless without traffic…


Driving Traffic

Are you ready to turn on the customer tap?

The key is to connect with them wherever they already spend time online. 

For some niches, like women’s health, Pinterest and influencer strategy can be goldmines. 

Older audiences prefer Facebook and younger audiences spend more time on Instagram.

Where does your target audience hangout online?

These are some of the most common traffic sources:

  • Facebook groups
  • Niche forums
  • LinkedIn (B2B)
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Google search traffic 
  • Google Ads
  • Blogging sites like Medium

In the end, you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money on ads to drive qualified traffic, but you do have to understand your niche. 

Connect with your audience where they already hangout and go from there. 

To be honest though, this topic is pretty dense and there are a lot of rabbit holes to go down. 

If you want to learn more about turning on the customer flow, you can check out my epic Traffic Secrets review here. 

In my opinion, it’s the most comprehensive traffic generation course on the market. 


Deciding What To Sell: Tripwires, Upsells, Downsells, and Bump Offers

What does your audience want most?

This should be the main feature of your funnel. 

It can be tempting to use the best part of your offer as the one-time offer, but this is the wrong strategy. 

Instead, you always want to lead with the juiciest part of your offer. 

All the other offers either lure the lead into the funnel or boost your bottom line with extra purchases. 

Here are the different pieces of a sales offer:

  • Tripwire/Entry-level Offer: the entry-level offer designed to hook the lead
  • Bump Offer: an extra purchase they can make at the checkout cart
  • One Time Offer (OTO): an extra offer immediately after the checkout cart (usually an incredible deal on a big purchase…but they have to act now!)
  • Downsell: a less expensive offer if they say no to the OTO 

The right combination of these pieces can dramatically increase sales.

Pricing is important too, and we’ll cover that in detail later on…

Think of what your audience desires most and then feature it front and center.

The other offers play supportive roles and increase your average cart value. 

How to Price Your Offers 

Pricing your offers work best when you think of it within the context of your overall funnel strategy. 

Not sure what to price your product?

First, research similar products in your niche and use those as a barometer. 

Look at the low end and look at the high end, but keep in mind that if you can’t be the cheapest then there’s no point in being the second-cheapest. 

If that’s the case, it’s better to be in the expensive range and over-deliver. 

At the same time, never be the most expensive unless you have a really good reason for it.

The best pricing gauge, however, is how much value the product provides your customers.

As a general rule, you can comfortably price your product at one-tenth of the value it provides. 

For example, if your product helps people make/save $3k, then you know you can easily price it at around $300. 

Pricing Strategies for $297 or LESS

If the total price of all your offers is $297 or less, then you should keep the individual offers separate and sprinkle them throughout the funnel (they will not be sold as a bundle deal).

Each piece plays a different role:

  • Tripwire (hook offer)
  • Upsell
  • Downsell
  • Bump offer 

For the tripwire offer, you’re best going with a Free + Shipping or something similar (I cover this funnel in detail in my in-depth guide to sales funnel templates).

How you price the pieces of your offer in relation to each other can dramatically affect sales. 

The following pricing strategies work well at the $297-or-less price point:

Pricing Strategy #1:

  • Tripwire $7 – $27
  • Order Bump $12 – $47
  • One Time Offer (OTO) $77 – $197

Pricing Strategy #2:

  • Tripwire $7 – $27
  • Order Bump $12 – $47
  • 2nd Order Bump $37 – $97

Pricing Strategy #3:

  • Tripwire $7 – $27
  • Order Bump $12 – $47
  • One Time Offer (OTO) $77 – $197
  • Downsell $37 – $97:

Pricing Strategy #4:

  • Tripwire $7 – $27
  • Order Bump $12 – $47
  • One Time Offer (OTO) $77 – $197
  • 2nd One Time Offer (OTO) $97 – $297 (offered immediately after the first OTO)

Pricing Strategies for $297 or MORE

If your products are priced between $297 and $1,500, it’s best to package your offers into a single epic deal. 

PRO TIP: if you’re considering pricing at $297 or above then you might as well bump it up to $497. Research shows that it doesn’t take any extra effort to sell at $497. 

At this price point webinar funnels are usually the way to go.

Pricing Strategy #1: 

  • Tripwire $7 – $27 (offered on the countdown timer page before the webinar starts
  • Main Offer $397 – $1500
  • Order Bump $12 – $47

Pricing Strategy #2: 

  • Main Offer $397 – $1500
  • Order Bump $97-$497
  • One Time Offer $297 – $3,000 (usually a deluxe VIP offer)

Pricing Strategy #3: 

  • Main Offer $397 – $1500 
  • Order Bump $77 – $1500

Pricing Strategy for High-Ticket ($2000 or more)

With really expensive products ($2k+), you’re going to want to use a Webinar Funnel + a High-Ticket Funnel (I cover both of these in my epic funnel template guide).

Because of the high price point, you’ll want to change the selling environment and take orders over the phone.

Your sales team will decide how best to upsell and downsell them. 


Your Sales Funnel Workflow Plan

Here’s roughy how you should organize your tasks as you assemble your sales funnel stages:

  • Step #1: Creating the offer (logo, domain, colors, and piecing out your offers)
  • Step #2: Copywriting (including video sales copy, sales copy, and ad copy)
  • Step #3: Create the sales funnel stages
  • Step #4: Design the funnel pages (make the hardest, longest page first)
  • Step #5: Set up integrations (payment gateway, autoresponder, domain and permalinks)
  • Step #6: Product setup (members area, shipping, pricing, affiliate area)
  • Step #7: Follow up funnels (all the follow up sequencing that brings people back to your offer…including emails, texts, and segmentation)
  • Step #8: Final testing, build hype, and launch

These steps don’t have to be set in stone, but this is more or less what Russell recommends it in his courses and it’s how his team tackles funnels.


Still Want To Learn More About Sales Funnel Stages?

Thanks for taking the time to read my epic guide to sales funnel stages. 

A special thanks to Russell Brunson of ClickFunnels for taking the time to hack so many funnels and share what he learns.

If you want to learn more about funnel building, Russell’s Funnel University contains over three years-worth of fully hacked funnels from the best marketers in the business (and more are being added all the time). 

Mastering funnels can take your business to new heights (it certainly has with mine). 

How are you going to leverage funnels to grow your business?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Author: Navid Moazzez

CEO of Navid Media & Creator of Virtual Summit Mastery

Lifestyle entrepreneur, summit host, course creator, affiliate marketer and world traveling digital nomad. Join me here, on NavidMoazzez.com to learn how to host a wildly successful virtual summit so that you can grow your email list, influence and revenue (and take your online lifestyle business to the next level). Let's get started!

Affiliate Disclaimer: If you click on one of the links to tools, resources and products mentioned in the article and purchase via my link, it's likely I'll receive some sort of affiliate commission at no extra cost to you (sometimes you even get a better deal than what's offered to the general public and some extra bonuses from me). With that being said, I ONLY promote stuff that I personally use, trust and stake my reputation on, and happily share with friends and family. View my full affiliate disclaimer here.

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