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  • Writer's pictureNiki Sprague

How to supercharge your sales and marketing funnel in 2021

If you do a lot of cooking, a funnel is a must-have kitchen utensil. With a large, open, top that decreases in size to form a small(er) opening, a funnel allows cooks to transfer liquids (or small grains) from one source to another … without making a huge mess. Fun fact: Funnels can also be used to separate egg yolks from the white part!

There are many other uses for a funnel (and many other industries that use them) however, for the purposes of this article we are going to focus on the marketing and sales funnel.

We’ll go into a bit more detail about exactly what a funnel is (including its history), breakdown several steps to optimize your funnel, and share some of the best tools in the market for managing your funnel (hint:

First, some history.

A (very) brief history of the sales and marketing funnel

The sales and marketing funnel — originally (and sometimes still) referred to as the purchasing funnel) was first introduced to the world by a gentleman named E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898.

Besides having a pretty cool name (do we call him “E.” or “E” or “E. St.”?), Mr. Lewis’s idea evolved into the AIDA-model in 1924 thanks to William W. Townsend.

AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action) is the foundation for the original marketing and sales funnel.

“A sales funnel is a great way to showcase your product or service value proposition and help educate the customer along the way. Each step of the funnel should bring the customer closer to a purchasing decision. When designing a funnel, make sure the experience is seamless on every type of device with clear CTA’s.” – Jon Torres, Marketing Consultant at

Awareness: the buyer knows about (is aware) of your service/solution/product

Interest: the buyer has shown some level of interest via a landing page visit, a website click, or some other digital method (note: there are other “old school,” non-digital means of showing interest as well)

Desire: the buyer takes that interest to the next step by focusing their interest on a specific brand or service or product your company offers

Action: the buyer takes a specific action, moving them closer to becoming a customer

While sales and marketing funnel is the most common term, organizations refer to it as the customer funnel or the sales funnel or the marketing funnel or the conversion funnel.

No matter what you call it, all funnels have the same goal: Move a lead from prospect to a new customer.

The funnel has come a long way since 1898.

What does the modern-day marketing and sales funnel look like?

If you do an image search for the “marketing funnel,” you’ll quickly realize that most organizations have evolved the original AIDA concept into a word salad of other terms and concepts.

Interest is sometimes called consideration. Action is sometimes called conversion.

“Evaluation” and “purchase” are often tacked on after “action.”

Some expand the funnel to post-purchase and include stages like “loyalty” and “advocacy.”

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