7 Key Stages Unveiled: Navigating the B2B Sales Funnel

Created On:
April 21, 2023
Updated On:
May 8, 2024
Stages of the B2B Sales Funnel

The B2B sales process is complicated. You might be launching excellent campaigns and providing the best customer support, but still end up with a low customer retention rate. 

The primary reason why most B2B sales fail is that it's a long process. Initially, the salespeople are all enthusiastic and trying and coming up with new ideas to convert a lead. But, gradually, when the lead takes time to convert, most sales reps give up. 

According to statistics, 44% of salespeople give up after following up only once, and 92% give up after the 4th. 

Now, we all know that follow-up is the key. To know what to do throughout the process, you need to study what worked. And this type of information comes from the B2B sales funnel. 

Read ahead to learn what b2b sales funnel is, the different B2B sales funnel stages, and how to create a b2b sales funnel.

What is a B2B sales funnel and how is it structured?

It is a guide/representation of a B2B company's customer journey from the first interaction to their conversion and afterward. 

It helps marketers understand different stages in a buyer's journey and find the cues that can convert a prospect into a loyal customer. It's crucial for customer acquisition and retention. 

Please note that the B2B sales funnel isn't the same as the B2B sales pipeline. While the former is a guide on the buyer's journey, the latter is the seller's journey to make a sale. 

A typical B2B sales funnel divided into three layers—top, middle, and bottom. These layers depict 7 different stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Consideration
  4. Contact
  5. Evaluation
  6. Purchase
  7. Loyalty

Different Stages in B2B Sales Funnel

Truth be told, a B2B sales funnel is indeed more complex than a B2C sales funnel. After all, the stakes are way higher in the B2B industry. A B2C buyer's journey might begin with awareness and directly jump to purchase. 

The reasons why a typical B2B sales funnel has 5 to 7 stages:  

👉 The product/service is expensive

👉 A wrong decision can affect the entire company/organization

👉 There's a team involved in the decision making

👉 They need to understand how the product/service works

👉 They need to understand the complex features

Because of the above reasons, B2B customers take a lot of time to reach the purchase stage. 


The awareness stage is the first stage of the funnel. In this stage, a customer realizes they have a problem. It's called "awareness" because the customer tries to learn more about their problem at this stage.


After realizing they have issues, in the next stage, the buyers try to look for products that can solve them. In the second stage, the prospect/customer shows interest to solve their pain points, this is why it's called the "interest stage". 


In this B2B sales funnel stage, the customers may or may not have shortlisted a few sellers/suppliers, but they are definitely considering some. 

In the consideration stage, buyers try to source brochures, check out YouTube videos, or ask their network to refer to a product/service. 


The contact or engagement stage is the most important part stage in the B2B sales funnel, as it single-handedly decides the buyer's future with the company. In this stage, the customer/prospect comes in contact with the seller. It can be through referrals, ads, outreach programs, etc. Although rare, sometimes, B2B buyers tend to jump directly from the awareness to the "contact" stage.

Also, note that a buyer may contact more than one seller for one product. So, try to showcase your expertise and answer any questions they may have to help them make an informed decision.


After contacting several suppliers/sellers for the product, customers take time to evaluate which product/service works best for them. In this stage, customer testimonials and social media presence can influence the buyer's decision.

To make yourself stand out as a seller, you should arrange a meeting or send an email highlighting the perks of choosing your product.


This is the peak of the sales funnel. As the term sounds, buyers buy the product/service at this stage. 

The product demo is one of the industry-approved ways of sealing the deal in the purchase stage.


Many marketers don't include "loyalty" in the B2B sales funnel (in theory). But to make accurate strategies and hit the bull's eye in terms of ROI, it's important to include the loyalty stages as well. 

The best way to push your customers up to this stage is excellent customer service, reasonable pricing, and constant upgrading of the features. It's icing on the cake if you can create good content and relevant guides (that will help their businesses) to keep the customers in the loop. 

Is B2B Sales Funnel Still Relevant?

Thanks to the internet, the B2B industry underwent significant changes in the past decade. In the 80s and 90s, a B2B sales cycle began with cold calling, and a simple meeting in a golf club could make a purchase. 

In 2023, the B2B sales pipeline doesn't look anything like it was. Cold calling has become an extinct sales practice. On top of that, the buyer has become more informed than ever. 

According to a recent study, more than 50% of B2B buyers get inspiration from the sellers' websites and apps. 

This is why the "evaluation" stage has become such a walk on a tightrope. With a decent online presence, good reviews, and an excellent website, you can push the customers to the next stage. 

Talking about relevance, YES B2B sales funnel is still a relevant marketing strategy. The stages have changed a little, but the process remains quite similar. To say the least, a sales funnel plays an active role in increasing ROI. 

Things to Update in a Business-to-Business Sales Funnel

To be relevant in the market, sellers must adapt their sales teams to the new funnel. 

Here are a few changes that you should make to keep your funnel relevant and working.

#Remove Sales Pitching  

Traditional B2B sales techniques have gone through dramatic changes in recent years. One of the major changes is the decline in the sales pitch. 

If you want to update your sales funnel, the first thing you need to do is remove the sales pitch from the "contact" and "consideration" stages. 

#Be the Advisor 

Evaluation is the trickiest stage in a sales funnel. By that point in a buyer journey, you are aware that the prospect is thinking about you and hundreds of your competitors. Yet, you cannot risk pitching any of your products. All you can do is provide them the materials they need to make the buying decisions, aka…play the "advisor" role. If necessary, create a "buyer's guide". 

#Include SEO in Your Strategies

Now that outbound techniques like cold calling have gotten out of the routine, it's time to adapt to the new ones—inbound strategies such as SEO (technical, on-page, and local). 

The technical SEO will help your customers find you through Google image search, the on-page SEO will help you rank on SERPs, and local SEO will make it easier for locals to find your business. 

Why is the sales funnel important for B2B businesses?

To Create Data on Customer Behavior

The B2B sales funnel typically consists of several strategies, such as awareness, interest, consideration phase, etc. These stages include various sales processes, such as lead qualification, sales pitch, proposal, closing, etc. 

By tracking customer behavior at each of these stages (and processes), you can gain valuable insights into their customers' buying patterns.

For example, if a high percentage of leads drop out of the funnel at the evaluation stage, it could indicate that

  • Your product is too pricey
  • It needs improvement
  • Your demos need improvement
  • You need better material to influence their decisions

Similarly, if most leads drop out at the loyalty stage, it could indicate 

  • Bad customer service
  • Disappointing product features
  • Bad user experience

You can adjust your sales process to better align with the needs and preferences of your customers by taking a look at the data. One look at the statistics, and you can identify areas where they need to improve their sales and marketing strategies, such as messaging, targeting, or product offerings.

To Segment Customer Base

Customer segmentation is a marketing strategy that involves dividing your customer base into small groups for more advanced, targeted content creation and ads.  

By collecting data on customers' behavior and pattern, you can segment the customer base. This segmentation will help you to launch more personalized campaigns, reduce sales efforts, and target specific customer groups more effectively.

To Streamline the Sales Process

If you have just started your company, it might not be hectic. But, as the business expands, the sales process gets too complicated. From generating leads to providing customer support, it takes too much effort to keep everything on track.  

The B2B sales funnel can help to streamline the sales process by mapping out the sales process and identifying the key stages and actions. It eventually increases productivity and reduces time spent on tasks that are not effective.

To Create Clear Path for Lead Nurturing

A well-defined B2B sales funnel provides a clear path for lead nurturing. It enables you to identify which leads are most likely to convert and then focus your efforts on nurturing those leads through the sales process.

With a detailed, systematic sales funnel, salespeople have access to "asking the right questions". They will know which questions to be asked to which segment of their audience. 

For Tracking & Analysis

The sales funnel of business customers allows you to track and analyze your sales data. This includes conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, and other key metrics. 

In addition to identifying areas where you need to improve your sales process, it also helps you make data-driven decisions.

To Improve Customer Experience

The business-to-business sales funnel can help to improve the customer experience by providing a clear and consistent sales process. 

A detailed sales funnel will highlight "what worked" for which audience. Most importantly, it will show what "didn't work" with the previous customers. 

This way you can improve your strategies and help customers have a better experience than before. In the long run, this can build trust with customers and increase their satisfaction with your brand.

How to Create A B2B Sales Funnel to Close a Deal?

The funnel is a framework that helps you, B2B marketers, to engage with potential buyers effectively throughout the various stages of the buying process. 

Here's how you can use the B2B sales funnel to close a deal:

Use Data to Find Your Target Customers 

This entire funnel is nothing but a sales guide/tool. It's supposed to make things easier for your sales team. 

So, use the data you have collected to determine the characteristics of your ideal customer and create buyer personas. You must have proper data on their business type, business size, their needs, pain points, buying patterns, etc. 

This information will help you decide on the right platform for outreach campaigns and launch them to your niche audience. 

Optimize the "Awareness Stage"  

To make a sale, you need leads. And, to generate leads, you want to make your target audience aware of your product or service. 

You can do this through advertising, social media, email marketing, and other channels. The goal is to create interest and encourage potential customers to learn more about what you offer.

Use information from your sales funnel before launching ads, social media campaigns, and email marketing campaigns for better results. It will show what works and what doesn't.

Create Content Aligned with Customers' Preference 

Once you have created awareness, you want to convert interested parties into leads. You can do this by offering valuable content. Another way of generating leads is content marketing—creating relevant content optimized with SEO. This catches the attention of your potential customers. 

Once they visit your website or social media handles, it requires the user to provide their contact information in exchange for access. This will again help in creating highly qualified leads. 

Nurture Leads

Once you have generated leads, you need to keep them engaged and interested in your product or service. You can do this by sending targeted emails, providing personalized content, and offering relevant information that helps them understand how your product can solve their problem.

Use information from the sales funnel to understand what type of content works best for your clientele base. 

Play the "Advisor"

When a lead is ready to buy, you need to make the sales pitch and provide them with all the information they need to make an informed decision. This includes answering their questions, providing product demos, and addressing any concerns they may have.

Study your B2B sales funnel to learn what questions to ask, how to answer their questions, what kind of demos worked, and the common concerns of your previous/existing customers. This will help you influence their purchasing decision. 

Follow Up

After the sale, it's important to follow up with the customer to ensure they are satisfied with their purchase and to encourage repeat business. 

This can include sending a thank you note, providing ongoing support, and offering additional products or services that complement their initial purchase. This will keep the customers longer in the loyalty stage.

By following these steps, you can use the B2B sales funnel to effectively close a deal with potential customers. Keep in mind that the sales process is not always linear, and some customers may require more nurturing than others. 

However, by providing value at every stage of the funnel, you can build trust and establish a strong relationship with your customers. Make sure you use the information available on your previous customers for long-term success.

Key Metrics to Track in Your B2B Sales Funnel

Tracking key metrics in your B2B sales funnel is crucial for understanding the health of your sales process and identifying areas for improvement. Here are some key metrics you should consider tracking:

1. Lead Generation Metrics

Total Leads: The number of leads generated within a specific period.

Lead Source: Where your leads are coming from (e.g., website, referrals, events, social media).

Conversion Rate by Source: The percentage of leads that convert to opportunities or customers by different lead sources.

Cost per Lead (CPL): The cost associated with acquiring each lead from different marketing channels.

2. Pipeline Metrics

Sales Pipeline Value: The total value of all deals in your sales pipeline.

Pipeline Velocity: The speed at which deals move through your pipeline from initial contact to close.

Average Deal Size: The average value of deals in your pipeline.

3. Conversion Metrics

Opportunity-to-Win Rate: The percentage of opportunities that result in closed-won deals.

Win Rate by Sales Rep: The percentage of deals closed by each sales representative.

Time to Close: The average amount of time it takes to close a deal from initial contact to close.

Conversion Rate by Sales Stage: The percentage of leads that convert to opportunities and opportunities that convert to closed deals at each stage of the sales funnel.

4. Customer Metrics

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The cost associated with acquiring a new customer.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): The total revenue a customer is expected to generate over their lifetime.

Customer Churn Rate: The percentage of customers who stop using your product or service over a specific period.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score: A measure of how satisfied your customers are with your product or service.

Final Thoughts

The B2B sales funnel is essential for businesses because it helps to understand customer behavior, streamline sales processes, and improve data tracking and analysis. 

By focusing on each stage of the funnel and optimizing your sales process, you can increase your sales and, eventually, ROI. So, if you have started your B2B company, start creating your sales funnel.  


What is the difference between a B2B funnel and a B2C funnel?

The B2C sales funnel is simpler in comparison to its B2B counterpart. The former has around 4 stages, but the latter can have 5 to 7 stages, depending on the company. 

Also, the B2C sales funnel is targeted towards individual consumers, while the B2B funnel is for a segment of their audience—a group.

How does content marketing fit into the B2B sales funnel?

Content marketing plays a crucial role in every stage of the B2B sales funnel. In the awareness stage, informative blog posts, whitepapers, and educational content help attract prospects and establish your brand as a thought leader. In the consideration stage, case studies, comparison guides, and product demos help educate prospects about your solution and its benefits. In the decision stage, testimonials, ROI calculators, and free trials can help push prospects towards making a purchase decision.

Can automation tools help with managing the B2B sales funnel?

Yes, automation tools can greatly aid in managing the B2B sales funnel. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho CRM help track and manage leads throughout the sales process.

What role do customer testimonials play in the B2B sales funnel?

Customer testimonials serve as social proof and can significantly influence purchasing decisions in the B2B sales funnel. They provide credibility and reassurance to prospects by showcasing real-world success stories and experiences with your product or service.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my B2B sales funnel?

You can measure the effectiveness of your B2B sales funnel by tracking key metrics such as conversion rates at each stage of the funnel, average deal size, sales velocity, customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), and sales team performance.

What are the common pitfalls to avoid when creating a B2B sales funnel?

Common pitfalls to avoid when creating a B2B sales funnel include:

  • Failing to clearly define your target audience and ideal customer profile.
  • Neglecting to align your sales and marketing teams and their goals.
  • Overlooking the importance of lead qualification and nurturing.
  • Ignoring feedback from customers and failing to iterate on your sales process.
  • Relying too heavily on outdated or ineffective sales tactics.

How can I tailor my B2B sales funnel to fit my specific industry and customer base?

To tailor your B2B sales funnel to fit your specific industry and customer base, conduct thorough market research to understand your target audience's needs, pain points, and purchasing behavior. Customize your content and messaging to address the unique challenges and preferences of your industry and buyer personas. Continuously gather feedback from customers and adapt your sales process accordingly to better serve your target market.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

  • dfbvrsg
  • svsv

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Author’s Details

Rajnish Das

Rajnish Das is an in-house writer at SmartWriter and SmartLead. She writes product-oriented, data-driven content for B2B SaaS audiences and educates them on marketing and sales topics. Her expertise includes outbound marketing techniques like cold emailing and LinkedIn outreach.


Edited by:

Charu Mitra Dubey


People will also read

Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is Smartlead's cold email outreach software?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead's cold email outreach tool helps businesses scale their outreach efforts seamlessly. With unlimited mailboxes, fully automated email warmup functionality, a multi-channel infrastructure, and a user-friendly unibox, it empowers users to manage their entire revenue cycle in one place. Whether you're looking to streamline cold email campaigns with automated email warmups, personalization fields, automated mailbox rotation, easy integrations, and spintax, improve productivity, or enhance scalability with subsequences based on lead’s intentions, automated replies, and full white-label experience, our cold email tool implifies it in a single solution.

How does the "unlimited mailboxes" feature benefit me?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Our "unlimited mailboxes" feature allows you to expand your email communications without restrictions imposed by a mailbox limit. This means you won't be constrained by artificial caps on the number of mailboxes you can connect and use. This feature makes Smartlead the best cold email software and empowers you to reach a wider audience, engage with more potential customers, and manage diverse email campaigns effectively.

What do you mean by "unibox to handle your entire revenue cycle"?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

The "unibox" is one of the unique features of Smartlead cold email outreach tool, and it's a game-changer when it comes to managing your revenue cycle. The master inbox or the unibox consolidates all your outreach channels, responses, sales follow-ups, and conversions into one centralized, user-friendly mailbox.

With the "unibox," you gain the ability to:
1. Focus on closing deals: You can now say goodbye to the hassle of logging into multiple mailboxes to search for replies. The "unibox" streamlines your sales communication, allowing you to focus on what matters most—closing deals.

2. Centralized lead management: All your leads are managed from one central location, simplifying lead tracking and response management. This ensures you take advantage of every opportunity and efficiently engage with your prospects.

3. Maintain context: The "unibox" provides a 360-degree view of all your customer messages, allowing you to maintain context and deliver more personalized and effective responses.

How does Smartlead ensure my emails don't land in the spam folder?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead, the best cold email marketing tool, ensures your emails reach the intended recipients' primary inbox rather than the spam folder. 

Here's how it works:
1. Our "unlimited warmups" feature is designed to build and maintain a healthy sending reputation for your cold email outreach. Instead of sending a large volume of emails all at once, which can trigger spam filters, we gradually ramp up your sending volume. This gradual approach, combined with positive email interactions, helps boost your email deliverability rates.

2. We deploy high-deliverability IP servers specific to each campaign. 

3. The ‘Warmup’ feature replicates humanized email sending patterns, spintax, and smart replies.
4. By establishing a positive sender reputation and gradually increasing the number of sent emails, Smartlead minimizes the risk of your emails being flagged as spam. This way, you can be confident that your messages will consistently land in the primary inbox, increasing the likelihood of engagement and successful communication with your recipients.

Can I integrate Smartlead with other tools I'm using?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Certainly, Smartlead is designed for seamless integration with a wide range of tools and platforms. Smartlead offers integration with HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Clay, Listkit, and more. You can leverage webhooks and APIs to integrate the tools you use. Try Now!

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

What type of businesses sees the most success with Smartlead?

No, there are no limitations on the number of channels you can utilize with Smartlead. Our multi-channel infrastructure is designed to be limitless, allowing you to reach potential customers through multiple avenues without constraints.

This flexibility empowers you to diversify your cold email outreach efforts, connect with your audience through various communication channels, and increase your chances of conversion. Whether email, social media, SMS, or other communication methods, Smartlead's multi-channel capabilities ensure you can choose the channels that best align with your outreach strategy and business goals. This way, you can engage with your prospects effectively and maximize the impact of your email outreach.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Do you provide me with lead sources?

Smartlead distinguishes itself from other cold email outreach software by focusing on limitless scalability and seamless integration. While many similar tools restrict your outreach capabilities, Smartlead offers a different approach.

Here's what makes us uniquely the best cold email software:

1. Unlimited Mailboxes: In contrast to platforms that limit mailbox usage, Smartlead provides unlimited mailboxes. This means you can expand your outreach without any arbitrary constraints.

2. Unique IP Servers: Smartlead offers unique IP servers for every campaign it sends out. 

3. Sender Reputation Protection: Smartlead protects your sender reputation by auto-moving emails from spam folders to the primary inbox. This tool uses unique identifiers to cloak all warmup emails from being recognized by automation parsers. 

4. Automated Warmup: Smartlead’s warmup functionality enhances your sender reputation and improves email deliverability by maintaining humanized email sending patterns and ramping up the sending volume. 

5. Multi-Channel Emphasis: Smartlead places a strong emphasis on multi-channel outreach. You can reach your prospects where they are with the LinkedIn outreach feature.   With Smartlead’s cold email automation software, you're always one step ahead in your outreach efforts, enjoying the freedom to scale your initiatives and seamlessly integrate with other tools—all while maintaining a focus on maximizing the impact of your outreach.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

How secure is my data with Smartlead?

Ensuring the security of your data is Smartlead's utmost priority. We implement robust encryption methods and stringent security measures to guarantee the continuous protection of your information. Your data's safety is paramount to us, and we are always dedicated to upholding the highest standards of security.

How can I get started with Smartlead?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Getting started with Smartlead is straightforward! Just head over to our sign-up page and follow our easy step-by-step guide. If you ever have any questions or need assistance, our round-the-clock support team is ready to help, standing by to provide you with any assistance you may require. Sign Up Now!

How can I reach the Smartlead team?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

We're here to assist you! You can easily get in touch with our dedicated support team on chat. We strive to provide a response within 24 hours to address any inquiries or concerns you may have.

Powerful Automated Email Marketing that Drives Sales.

  • All Features Included
  • No Credit Card Required
  • Free Warmup Included