Why is the Sales Funnel So Important to Master?

To guide buyers in making decisions, the seller needs to understand why buyers make the decisions that they make. In order to understand why buyers are making their decisions, we need to understand at what process in the buying journey the prospect is located.

The post details the important factors Program on Persuasion’s corporate sales training has identified about each of the three phases in the sales funnel. Through using this information, sellers can better establish themselves in positions of power, regardless of the buyer’s location.

The Sales Funnel

There are three areas in which any business can invest in order to grow its sales, the Top of the Funnel (TOFU), the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), and the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU).

Every prospect that you know is at one of these three stages.

All leads come into the funnel from “above the funnel.” When the seller engages the lead at the TOFU, we refer to the stage as “Qualification.”

Top of the Funnel (TOFU) & Qualification

Experienced sales people already know that we qualify customers by making sure that they have a need, a budget, and the authority to make a decision.

But the stage that Program on Persuasion’s corporate sales training calls Qualification is different. In our version of Qualification, the buyer is qualifying the seller.  

The key to getting through the Top of the Funnel is establishing Trust.

Establishing Trust

In order to develop trust in the business relationship, we need two ingredients. First we need Likeability, meaning integrity or character, but we also need to be competent in our field, or have Credibility. It’s not enough for the buyer to believe you won’t lie to them; they also need to know that you know your field. Our objective in the top of the funnel is to establish trust and cultivate rapport.

Most sellers have done this before. That means that if asked how to establish trust and cultivate rapport, most salespeople will tell how they did it last time, or give anecdotal evidence. What Program on Persuasion’s corporate sales training does, though, is develop a process that has a very high success rate every time, a plan for the future that identifies how to capture the magic consistently.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) & Consideration

Once we’ve established trust in the business relationship, we move with the buyer to the Middle of the Funnel. Here, we have created trust and earned the right to ask questions of the buyer. Program on Persuasion’s corporate sales training calls this stage consideration because the buyer is considering if they should move further with us. We also expand on the trust we have initiated with the buyer and establish ourselves as the buyer’s think partner.

The MOFU is the most difficult stage of the business relationship to navigate because it requires the seller to think from the buyers’ perspective while positioning ourselves as the think partner. The risk in this stage, however, is not that the buyer will opt out, but that they will grow stale.

The reason why so many deals go stale is not usually because of buyer disinterest but because they have more important issues to consider.

Each buyer has a to-do list, and until we move up to the top spot, the buyer will not take action. The key to getting out of the MOFU is learning how to create urgency, or reason for the buyer to heed your call to action.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) & Selection

Once the buyer has developed urgency, we move with them to the Bottom of the Funnel. This stage focuses on selection. When the buyer moves to the bottom of the funnel, they have decided to change their current situation, but they haven’t yet decided on our solution. In this stage of the business relationship, we as the seller focus on generating preference.

The biggest mistake that sellers make is sliding to the bottom of the funnel without the buyer, meaning that they did not establish trust or create urgency before trying to generate preference.


The sales funnel navigates us through the business relationship. The missing of the seller is to engage the buyer where the buyer wants to engage anywhere along their journey. As we compare the buyer’s journey to the sales funnel, sellers can determine where the buyer is stationed  and how to develop the business relationship. Program on Persuasion’s corporate sales training coaches how to establish trust, cultivate rapport, create urgency, and when it is time, how to offer a persuasive solution.

Photo by Tim Guow.