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3. Types of Sales Funnels Explained

May 07, 202421 min read

13 Different Types Of Sales Funnels Explained

Did you know that the vast majority, a staggering 96%, of people visiting your website for the first time are not ready to make a purchase? This stark reality leads to an alarming 79% of marketing efforts never translating into actual sales.

For businesses, this represents a massive loss of money and wasted time invested into online marketing that fails to convert prospects into paying customers. Are you also hemorrhaging resources and revenues due to this inefficiency?

While you struggle, have you noticed your competitors seeming to rake in huge profits, outmaneuvering you in your own market space? It can be frustrating to watch them succeed where you have not.

However, there are proven strategies your competitors likely employ to circumvent the hurdles of low conversion rates and maximize their marketing ROI. Strategies that, once understood, could unlock the door to similar growth and profitability for your own business.

The pivotal question is: Are you ready to learn the secret to their success? To finally break through the barriers holding your business back from its true potential?

The answer:

SALES FUNNELS

As a marketer, building trust and maintaining regular communication with your customers is paramount for increasing profits. Sales funnels are a powerful weapon that enables you to effectively achieve this. Implementing a well-designed sales funnel can provide an extraordinary boost to your business, including:

  • Doubling the number of leads generated

  • Doubling your conversion rates

  • Ultimately quadrupling the number of paying customers

In this blog post, we'll explore the different types of sales funnels you can leverage for your business. It's a startling fact that 68% of companies have yet to identify or attempt to measure their sales funnel effectiveness. If you fall into this majority group currently, you're missing a massive opportunity.

The remaining 32% of businesses utilizing sales funnels are reaping substantial financial rewards. You too can turn this situation into a lucrative opportunity by tapping into the gold mine of sales funnel strategies.

But where do you start? What type of sales funnel is ideal for your business? These are valid questions, which is why we'll comprehensively cover the array of sales funnel models available to you.

Note that you can employ multiple types of sales funnels simultaneously for your business as well.

As we proceed through this article detailing the various sales funnel types, make sure to pay close attention - you don't want to miss the one perfectly suited to your needs.

Let's dive into exploring the different types of sales funnels...

The Lead Magnet Funnel

The Lead Magnet Funnel is one of the most common and effective funnel types used by businesses across industries. The core premise is to offer something of value upfront for free in exchange for a person's contact information (usually an email address). This "lead magnet" enables you to then follow up and nurture the prospect via email marketing sequences.

The funnel flow looks like this:

  1. Lead Magnet Opt-In Page

  2. Thank You / Download Page

  3. Email Nurture Sequence

  4. Sales Sequence for Paid Offer(s)

On the opt-in page, you promote the free lead magnet and its benefits. Common examples of lead magnets include:

  • eBooks/Reports (e.g. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Parenting")

  • Checklists (e.g. "Kitchen Renovation Checklist")

  • Cheat Sheets (e.g. "Keto Diet Food List")

  • Templates (e.g. "Social Media Content Calendar Template")

  • Video Courses (e.g. "5 Video Microsoft Excel Mastery Course")

  • Webinars (e.g. "How to Lose 10 Pounds in 30 Days")

The more valuable and specific the lead magnet is to your target audience, the better it will convert opt-ins.

Once they provide their email, prospects are sent to a thank you page with the lead magnet download. This page can have one-time offers or even start the nurture sequence.

The nurture sequence is a series of educational, value-packed emails that continue providing useful information and build trust/credibility with your brand. Naturally, these emails will also soft-sell your paid products/services.

At some point, you transition into dedicated sales sequences making your paid offers. Since the prospect is now a warm-up lead who knows, likes, and trusts you, they are much more likely to buy.

Lead magnet funnels work incredibly well because you attract prospects by initially providing an upfront win for them. This breaks down barriers to entry. You can then further nurture the relationship and establish expertise before trying to sell.

The Webinar Funnel

The Webinar Funnel is designed to sell higher-priced products or services by first delivering value through an educational webinar or video presentation. This allows you to build trust, provide social proof, and overcome objections before making the sale.

The typical flow is:

  1. Webinar Registration Page

  2. Webinar Confirmation/Reminder Emails

  3. Live Webinar (or Automated Webinar Replay)

  4. Pitch/Sales Sequence for Paid Offer

On the webinar registration page, you promote the webinar topic and the benefits of attending. This page has to convey the value proposition clearly to drive signups.

Once registered, the prospect gets confirmation and reminder emails building anticipation for the webinar day/time. The webinar itself is where you deliver upfront, no-pitch value teaching your expertise.

The final portion is the sales pitch and transition to your paid offer's sales sequence. This is usually the most profitable part as you've earned the audience's trust and attention. Common techniques are offering bonuses, skipping future fee increases, payment plans, and more to drive conversions.

Effective webinar funnels require great live delivery, sales ability, and the right paid offer matched to that specific webinar's promised transformation. When done well, they can drive thousands of dollars in sales from a single live webinar event.

Moving on to our next funnel, which is….

The Service Upsell Funnel

The Service Upsell Funnel is used by businesses that offer different tiers or packages of services. The goal is to first get the customer to purchase the basic/initial service offering, and then immediately upsell them to a more premium, higher-priced service package.

Here's how it typically flows:

  1. Lead Generation (Ads, Content Marketing, etc.)

  2. Tripwire/Front-End Service Offer

  3. Upsell to Premium Service Package

  4. Membership/Continuity Offer (optional)

The first step is driving leads interested in the services you provide through various marketing channels. For example, a web design agency may run Facebook ads promoting a reasonably priced website audit service.

This leads to the tripwire or initial basic service offer, which could be the $99 website audit in this example. Since it's lower priced, there is less friction for prospects to make this first purchase and become a customer.

However, immediately after they purchase and enter their payment details for the $99 audit, they are then upsold to a much higher-ticket premium service package on the next page. This could be something like the agency's full $5,000 website design/development service.

The pitch would essentially be - "Okay, you're getting this audit, but since you're serious about improving your website, why not go ahead and get our full premium design/development package as well at a hugely discounted rate today?" With one-click upsell capabilities, a percentage of customers will impulsively take this better deal.

Some businesses also offer membership/continuity programs, so this upsell funnel may have a final step attempting to sell a monthly recurring package as well after the initial transaction.

Real-world examples are:

  • Marketing/Advertising Agencies (basic service > full campaign management)

  • Business Consultants (strategy session > monthly coaching)

  • Software Companies (basic tool > enterprise suite)

The service upsell funnel maximizes average customer value by starting small, proving value, and then immediately upselling to higher-revenue service packages while the customer is already in buying mode.

Moving on to the next funnel in the list…

The Cross-Sell Funnel

The Cross-Sell Funnel allows businesses to increase their average order value by offering complementary products or services after the initial purchase. Unlike an upsell which is typically a premium version of the same product, a cross-sell is an entirely separate but relevant offer.

Here's how a cross-sell funnel typically works:

  1. Front-End Product Purchase

  2. Cross-Sell Offer Page

  3. Order Confirmation/Upsell Pages

  4. Membership/Continuity Offer (optional)

Let's say a customer purchases a basic product like a blender in an e-commerce store. After completing that purchase, instead of going straight to a thank you page, they are taken to a cross-sell page.

On this page, they are offered additional products that complement the blender like a portable blender bottle, protein powder, smoothie recipe eBook, etc. The pitch is that adding these items will enhance their smoothie-making experience.

If they accept a cross-sell, there may be another page attempting an upsell to a premium blender package or bundle. The idea is to maximize value extraction from each transaction.

Some real-world examples:

  • Amazon - The classic "customers who bought this, also bought" recommendations on product pages.

  • Clothing Brands - If you buy jeans, they'll cross-sell complementary shirts, belts, etc.

  • Tourism Sites - After booking a flight, they'll cross-sell hotel, car rental, and travel insurance bundles.

  • Membership Sites - Purchase an individual course, and they'll cross-sell bundled courses or membership access.

Cross-selling works because customers are already in a buying mindset after making the initial purchase. Offering relevant add-ons provides a seamless path for them to snap up more value-driven offers in the same transaction flow.

The key for businesses is identifying product/service combinations that make sense to cross-sell together based on customer purchase data and behavior patterns. An effective cross-sell funnel can significantly boost average order values.

Now let’s jump onto another profit-making funnel….

The Limited Time Info Product Launch Funnel

The Limited Time Info Product Launch Funnel is a strategic marketing approach used to create scarcity and urgency when launching an informational product like an online course, eBook, membership site, etc. It's designed to drive high sales volume in a relatively short period.

Here's typically how it works:

  1. Free Content/Training Priming Sequence

  2. Launch Announcement/Pitch

  3. Sale Window (Usually 5-10 days)

  4. Close Cart/Offer Expires

  5. Optionally Re-Open Cart Later

In the weeks leading up to the launch, there is a sequence of free, valuable content delivered via email, videos, live webinars, etc. This could be mini-courses, masterclasses, workshop training, and more. The goal is to provide a ton of upfront value for free to warm up the audience.

Once enough desire is built up, the actual product launch is announced along with the pitch for the paid offer, emphasizing the amazing discount/bonuses and the time-sensitive nature of this deal. Buzz and anticipation are amplified through affiliates and partners.

The cart is then opened for only a short window, usually 5-10 days max. Applying scarcity limits on the sales period creates massive FOMO (fear of missing out) for those interested. Urgency ramps up through frequent email reminders and countdowns.

When the timer finally runs out, the offer is closed and no longer available at that price point or with those bonuses. This scarcity window closes the majority of buyers who were on the fence.

Some businesses may then optionally re-open the cart again down the road, but without as much urgency or the limited bonuses.

This launch model allows creators to drive a concentrated burst of sales rather than a slowly building evergreen funnel. When done right, it's a powerful way to create huge windfalls of income.

Let’s see what’s next in the list of different types of sales funnels that you can use for your business is…

High-End Clients Sales Funnel

The High-End Clients Sales Funnel is designed specifically for attracting, qualifying, and closing sales for premium, high-ticket products or services often priced in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

The key difference is that this funnel has stringent qualification steps upfront to filter out prospects who aren't an ideal fit, either due to budget limitations or not having the specific pain points your solution solves. This saves time by allowing you to focus solely on the right prospects.

Here's a typical flow:

  1. Lead Magnet & Nurture Sequence

  2. Application/Survey (Qualification)

  3. Sales Call (Optional Discovery Call)

  4. Private Paid Offer Access

It often starts with a lead magnet like a video, PDF guide, quiz, etc. to build an audience of prospective leads interested in the particular transformation your offer provides. These leads are nurtured via email marketing.

At some point, there is an application, pre-qualifying survey, or other barrier to entry to gather information about the prospect's goals, challenges, and financial ability. This filters out the unqualified leads.

Only leads who make it through this qualification phase are given access to book a private sales call or strategy session. Some businesses have an additional "Discovery Call" step before the official sales call.

On the sales call is where you deeply understand the prospect's situation and present your premium program/service as the solution, going through investment details, and closing the sale.

Examples:

  • Consulting Firms like McKinsey, Bain, etc.

  • High-end masterminds like Genius Network, Platinum Plus

  • Premium Software/Technology Platforms for Enterprises

The key advantage is that you are only investing your sales team's time and energy on the hottest, most qualified leads. And prospects appreciate the vetting process to ensure it's a mutual fit.

This high-touch, personalized sales process is perfectly suited for selling expertise-based services, elite masterminds, and top-tier offers where prospects demand to build a relationship before investing large amounts of money.

Now let’s see what the next funnel has in store for you…

The Cancellation Funnel

The Cancellation Funnel is a strategic sequence designed to win back customers who are attempting to cancel a subscription or membership.

Here's how a typical Cancellation Funnel works:

  1. Cancellation Survey/Feedback

  2. Offer to Pause/Downgrade Instead

  3. One-Time Incentive Offer to Stay

  4. Exit Survey

When a customer initiates a cancellation, instead of just letting them quit, they are first prompted to provide feedback on why they are canceling through a survey or form. This gives you valuable insights.

Based on their stated reasons, the next step presents an option to simply pause or downgrade their membership to a lower tier instead of canceling completely. This gives them a breather while keeping them as a customer.

If they still wish to cancel after that, they are then given a one-time incentive offer to remain a member. This could be things like:

  • A limited-time discount

  • Adding bonus features for free

  • Extending their billing cycle

  • Bundling additional products/services

The incentives provided try to eliminate the key friction points they listed for wanting to leave initially.

Finally, if they decline all offers to stay, there is typically an exit survey to gather more feedback on why they had to cancel. This final input can help optimize future cancellation flows.

Examples:

  • Streaming Services (Netflix, Spotify) use this to combat subscriber churn.

  • SaaS companies employ these to reduce logo churn.

  • Membership sites utilize them to retain paid members.

  • Publications/Newspapers use them to keep print/digital subscribers.

The goal of the Cancellation Funnel is to first understand why customers want to leave, and then systemically remove those friction points by providing appealing reasons and incentives to stay. Even if they do cancel, the feedback provides valuable insights.

When executed well, businesses can remarkably reduce cancellation and churn rates by making customers second-guess their original decision to leave.

Let’s head on to the next funnel that can drive your revenue by selling other people’s products….

The Affiliate Sales Funnel

The Affiliate Sales Funnel is a strategically designed funnel that businesses use to recruit, manage, and incentivize affiliates to promote their products or services. Affiliates are third-party marketers who earn commissions for every sale they refer.

Here's how a typical affiliate funnel works:

  1. Affiliate Recruitment

  2. Affiliate Onboarding/Training

  3. Affiliate Marketing Resources

  4. Affiliate Contest/Promotions

  5. Affiliate Commissions/Payouts

In the recruitment phase, businesses leverage their audience, as well as marketplaces to attract potential affiliates interested in promoting their offers. Clear commission rates and terms are presented.

Once affiliates join the program, there is an onboarding process to get them set up, teach them about the products, and provide swipe resources like email scripts, social posts, banners, videos, etc.

Affiliates are given access to a private affiliate center or portal containing all the promotional resources, tracking capabilities, commission reports, and more. This makes it turnkey for them to market the offers.

To drive further excitement, companies frequently run affiliate contests and promotions with cash prizes, bonuses, leaderboards, etc. to incentivize higher sales volumes.

Finally, commissions are reliably paid out as affiliates make sales, often using affiliate marketplace systems or popular affiliate tracking platforms.

An effective affiliate sales funnel leverages the power of motivated affiliates to exponentially increase product/service visibility and sales volumes at a relatively low cost for the business.

The Tripwire Funnel

The Tripwire Funnel is a strategic marketing funnel designed to acquire new customers in a low-risk, low-friction way before attempting to sell them higher-priced core products or services.

Here's how a typical Tripwire Funnel works:

  1. Free Lead Magnet

  2. Low-Cost Tripwire Offer

  3. Profit Maximizer Offer (Upsell)

  4. Future Marketing Funnel(s)

It starts by providing a free lead magnet like a PDF guide, video training, quiz, etc. to build an audience of prospects. The goal of the lead magnet is to deliver value upfront and pique interest in your paid solutions.

The prospects are then pitched a low-cost tripwire offer - usually around $7-$37. This could be a small book, mini-course, tool, or single-product offer. The pricing is so low that it becomes an impulse purchase with little friction.

The key is that by getting the prospect to make this tiny initial purchase and become an actual buyer, you've now overcome the major psychological hurdle of the purchase barrier.

Immediately after buying the tripwire, they are presented with the chance to purchase your full-fledged, higher-priced profit maximizer offer through an upsell sequence.

Even if they reject the upsell, you've still acquired their email and banking info, allowing you to continue marketing to them through future funnel sequences to sell more products/services.

Example Tripwires:

  • $7 for a Kindle ebook novel

  • $27 for a beginner online course

  • $37 "secrets" video training series

  • $20 physical product like a health supplement

Tripwires provide a low-risk, high-value entry point into your sales funnel. If done right, a percentage of those tripwire buyers will gladly move forward and invest in your core product suite as well.

Self-Liquidating Funnel

A self-liquidating offer funnel is a type of sales funnel where the initial low-cost paid offer generates enough revenue to fund the advertising costs to acquire that customer. This makes the customer acquisition "self-liquidating" from a marketing spend perspective.

Here's how a typical self-liquidating funnel works:

  1. Lead Magnet & Capture Form

  2. Tripwire Self-Liquidating Offer (Front-End)

  3. One-Time Offers/Upsells

  4. High-Ticket Core Product/Service Offer

It starts by providing a free lead magnet like a PDF guide, quiz, video training, etc. to capture prospects' contact information through an opt-in form. This builds your audience.

The prospects are then pitched a low-cost tripwire or self-liquidating offer, usually between $7-$37. This front-end product could be an eBook, mini-course, small tool/software, etc. Priced low enough that it's an impulse buy.

However, the revenue generated from each tripwire sale is calculated to be enough to cover the advertising costs spent to acquire that buyer in the first place. So the funnel immediately recoups its marketing investment.

Once a prospect buys the tripwire, they are immediately hit with a series of one-time offers (OTOs) and upsells attempting to get them to purchase more products, continuity programs, etc. at higher price points.

If successful, customers move up to be pitched the core flagship high-ticket product or service which is often the primary revenue goal.

Examples:

  • Book/Course Funnels

  • Nutritional Supplement Funnels

  • Masterclass/Workshop Funnels

  • Software Trial Funnels

The self-liquidating aspect takes the risk out for the business by ensuring their ad spend to acquire a customer is immediately recovered through the tripwire sale. Any additional sales from the upsell and core offers are pure profit.

The Invisible Funnel

The Invisible Funnel, also known as the Embedded Funnel, is a type of sales funnel that is seamlessly integrated into an existing platform, system, or user experience rather than being an isolated, stand-alone funnel.

Here's how an Invisible Funnel typically works:

  1. The user enters an existing platform/app/experience

  2. Funnel steps are subtly woven into their normal user flow

  3. Upsells cross-sells, and monetization occurs organically

  4. User ideally converts to a paid plan/product without realizing it was a "funnel"

Rather than a separate dedicated funnel website or landing page, the Invisible Funnel lives within another piece of software, service, or system the user is already engaging with.

For example, a free app could have features like in-app purchases, subscription unlocks, or ads woven into the standard user experience as an Invisible Funnel.

The funnels are designed to be a natural extension of how the user interacts with the product/service, not an isolated disruptive funnel experience.

Premium plans, upgraded features, add-ons, consumables, etc. are all pitched contextually based on the user's current point in their journey and behavior.

Done well, users can move seamlessly through the funnel stages by taking desired actions, without feeling like they are in a "funnel" in the traditional sense.

Examples:

  • Free Apps (Invisible up funnel to premium plans)

  • Free Membership Sites (Embedded monetization)

  • Freemium SaaS Products (In-app purchase upsells)

  • Google/Facebook (Advertising sustaining free products)

The main benefits are reduced funnel friction and mental resistance since it blends into an existing user experience. However, it takes careful design to avoid being disruptive while still effectively monetizing users.

The Survey Funnel

The Survey Funnel is a type of marketing funnel that uses surveys or quizzes to gather data about prospects, segment them, and then present tailored offers or solutions based on their responses.

Here's how a typical Survey Funnel works:

  1. Lead Magnet to drive opt-ins

  2. Survey/Quiz delivering questions

  3. Segmentation based on responses

  4. Personalized product/offer recommendations

It starts by providing a free valuable lead magnet like an eBook, video training, tool, etc. to incentivize people to opt-in with their email address. This builds your audience.

Once they opt-in, instead of selling right away, you direct them to take a survey or quiz with strategic questions aimed at uncovering their specific pain points, desires, hesitations, demographic info, etc.

Based on how they respond to the survey, you can bucket them into separate segments representing their particular needs, situations, and buyer personas.

You can then follow up with each segment using personalized automated sequences that directly speak to their stated wants and problems from the survey. Within these sequences, you recommend curated products, services, or offers as the solution.

The personalization and relevant offers improve conversions since you've qualified their specifics upfront through the survey responses.

Examples:

  • Weight loss companies using quizzes to recommend meal plans

  • Supplement brands with quizzes about health goals/conditions

  • Banks using surveys to suggest financial products/services

  • Beauty brands with quizzes about skin types/hair types

The Survey Funnel excels at lead qualifications and providing hyper-relevant marketing. Rather than generically blasting the same offers, you deliver customized recommendations for exactly what prospects indicated they need.

The Video Sales Letter Funnel

The Video Sales Letter (VSL) Funnel is a type of marketing funnel that uses a pre-recorded video as the core sales presentation, rather than traditional long-form written sales letters or live webinars.

Here's how a typical VSL Funnel works:

  1. Traffic Sources (Ads, Affiliates, Organic, etc.)

  2. VSL Opt-In or Direct VSL Watch Page

  3. Video Sales Letter Presentation

  4. Order Pages for Offer(s)

Traffic is driven from various sources like website ads, affiliate promotions, social media, etc. to either an opt-in page to enter an email for the VSL, or directly to the VSL video watch page itself.

The Video Sales Letter is a professionally produced, often cinematic-quality video ranging from 20-90 minutes in length. It presents the core sales pitch, storytelling, and problem/solution overview, and makes the offer in an engaging video format.

Unlike a live webinar, the VSL is pre-recorded, allowing tight scripting, editing, and often higher production quality. Well-made VSLs can be extremely persuasive.

After watching the VSL, prospects are immediately directed to an order or checkout page to purchase the featured offer while it's top of mind. There may also be order bumps or one-time upsell offers as well.

Examples:

  • Health/Fitness Programs like Yoga Burn or BodyBoss

  • Investment Programs like Triple Cash Turbine

  • Online Course Platforms like Mindvalley

VSL funnels are great for automated evergreen promotion of products. Since it's pre-recorded, you can drive unlimited traffic volume to the same asset instead of doing live webinars. They allow for dialed-in conversion optimization over time.

However, they require solid video production skills and can be more costly upfront versus simpler sales letters or webinar funnels. But they can absorbingly captivate the audience's attention when done well.

Congratulations! You have successfully explored the various types of sales funnels utilized in today's marketing landscape. This comprehensive overview has equipped you with a strong understanding of the different funnel models available.

Now that you are aware of these powerful sales funnel strategies, you recognize the competitive advantage they can provide for your business when properly implemented and integrated into your operations.

To further assist you, here are some valuable tips on how to construct your own initial sales funnel:

Funnel Building Tips Here

With this newfound knowledge of sales funnel options, take a moment to reflect on which particular funnel type resonates most with your specific business goals, product/service offerings, and target audience.

Out of the funnels covered, such as the Lead Magnet Funnel, Webinar Funnel, Tripwire Funnel, and others, which one aligns best with your current requirements? Identifying the ideal starting point will allow you to craft a high-converting funnel tailored to your needs.

By thoughtfully implementing the right sales funnel strategy, you can gain a considerable competitive edge while facilitating more sales, higher revenues, and overall growth for your business. The potential to transform your company's performance is now within your grasp.


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Shuayb Azam

My professional Funnel Building is driven by my High Level (pun intended) of skills, enthusiasm and self-motivation.

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