All about b2b marketing

What is a lead funnel?

“The way you position yourself at the beginning of a relationship has a profound impact on where you end up.”
– Ron Karr, Sales Growth Expert, Karr Associates

lead funnel stages

Lead generation is the beginning of your relationship with your customers. A lead generation funnel is simply a way of mapping and channelling potential customers or leads from a lead to a prospect, and then to an opportunity to a paying customer. Pour in leads at the top of the funnel (TOFU) and customers will tumble out of the bottom.

That’s the idea, except this theoretical funnel is prone to leakage and you’ll inevitably lose some leads along the way. Retaining leads as they move from attention to action is key, and this comes from a greater understanding of your customer.

So, what are the typical lead funnel stages?


You can only get out of the funnel at the bottom what you put in at the top. Map where your potential customers come into contact with your brand. Do they see an advert first? A social media post? Above the line marketing such as a TV, billboard or radio ad or below the line PPC ads, social media campaigns, search engine marketing, content marketing or events are all ways to raise awareness and educate your audience about your product or services.

Lead capture

In exchange for your prospect’s email address, you should be able to offer something valuable in exchange. This lead magnet, as it’s known, could be a free consultation, samples, a trial subscription, a white paper or piece of useful content such as an e-book or guide. Other ways to capture leads include your Facebook page or Twitter account, a blog post with a compelling CTA, offline marketing such as events or trade shows. Every touchpoint that your prospect has with your company should aim to capture their data and enter them into the top of the funnel.

Want more better leads


Now you’ve got contact details of those who have shown an interest in your products or services. The next step is to nurture these leads to demonstrate the value of your business, how you can solve their problem, and the unique value you bring. Because it’s personal, scalable and timely, automated email marketing is particularly effective at this stage; webinars, brand videos, how-to guides and promotions are also useful ways to keep your prospect engaged.

Close leads

In the final push for the marketer in the funnel, the prospect is encouraged to take action to be a conversion by requesting a quote, signing up for a free tour or trial or scheduling a phone call. They then become a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and are ready to be passed to the sales team for a sales pitch. Sales will conduct their own assessment to see if the lead is a good match for the business, often via lead scoring tool, before a lead is a sales qualified lead (SQL).

Opportunity leads

Now the lead is with the sales team, it’s a matter of convincing the lead to convert by identifying sales opportunities. The salesperson will nurture a relationship with the prospect and try and close the deal. Not all SQLs will be ready to buy immediately and may need more engagement and nurturing with regular check-ins and emails. The benefits of a robust database where you can track conversations and contacts really comes into play here.


At the last stage of the lead generation funnel, the prospect chooses to buy and is now your customer. It’s now up to you to keep your customer happy to ensure they remain loyal and possibly a repeat customer through loyalty campaigns and engagement.

Now you can build your own strong lead generation funnel and track your leads as they move through it.