The Truth About Sales Funnels for Coaches (And How To Create Your Own)

sales-funnel-for-coaches

If you’re a coach trying to grow your business online, you’ve likely come across the term “sales funnel.”

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusing (and conflicting!) information going around about sales funnels for coaches. 

You must run ads! If you run ads, you’ll fail! You need video! Don’t rely on video!

It’s enough to make you want to burn it all down and give up.

But what if I told you sales funnels don’t have to be confusing or conflicting? In this post, I will walk you through every step you need to create your own sales funnel that fits your personality and goals – not the other way around. 

Because the truth is, the best sales funnel for you is the one you’re willing to build and use. 

Keep reading to discover:

  • What is a sales funnel for coaches?
  • Types of sales funnels for coaches
  • How to create your sales funnels

What Is a Sales Funnel for Coaches?

A sales funnel is a process that guides potential clients through a series of steps toward making a purchase. 

It helps you nurture leads, build relationships, and ultimately convert interested prospects into paying coaching clients.

But what exactly does a sales funnel for coaches look like? Let’s dive deeper into the different stages of a sales funnel and explore how each step contributes to the overall success of your coaching business.

At the top of the funnel, you cast a wide net to capture the attention of your target audience. You can do this through various marketing channels such as social media, email campaigns, or content creation. 

The goal here is to bring potential clients into your funnel and create awareness about your coaching services.

Once you have captured their interest, the next step is to take them to the middle of the funnel – the consideration phase. 

During this stage, prospects now know who you are. They also know they have a problem to solve. At that point, you need to nurture them with conversations or content that helps them consider your coaching program as the obvious solution to their problem.

Finally, the bottom of the funnel is where the actual sale takes place, with the ultimate goal of converting prospects into paying clients who are ready to embark on a coaching journey with you. 

This is where you present your offer in a compelling way. You need to address any objections or concerns they might have as well as emphasize the value they will receive by investing in your coaching services.

With all of that being said, these three steps can manifest in different ways depending on the type of sales funnel you have. Let’s get into that next.

Types of Sales Funnels for Coaches

There are probably hundreds of different sales funnel variations available for coaches. I’m going to cover the three most common types you’ll find for online coaching.

1. Lead magnet funnel (or email funnel)

The lead magnet funnel is one of the most common and popular sales funnels for businesses online, let alone coaching businesses.

This funnel focuses on offering a free resource or lead magnet in exchange for contact information, such as: 

  • Video trainings such as webinars, masterclasses, or workshops
  • Live events such as challenges or virtual summits
  • PDF resources such as eBooks, checklists, or templates/scripts
  • Free discovery sessions
  • Quizzes
  • Short video sales letters (VSL)
  • And so much more!

The purpose of the lead magnet is to provide value upfront and capture the interest of your target audience. By offering something of value for free, you can attract potential clients and start building a relationship with them.

Once you have their contact details, you can nurture the relationship through email marketing.

 By sending regular emails with valuable content, tips, and insights, you can stay top-of-mind and position yourself as a trusted advisor. 

Over time, you can introduce your coaching services and make personalized offers to those who have shown interest in your lead magnet. This type of funnel allows you to build a list of qualified leads and convert them into paying clients through consistent email communication.

This funnel is structured as follows:

  • Top of funnel: free resource/lead magnet
  • Middle of funnel: consistent emails
  • Bottom of funnel: free discovery call or sales page

For example, Karel from Anchored Awakening offers this free self-love guide to welcome people to her email list:

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This type of sales funnel is effective for people who enjoy emailing frequently. As an email marketing coach and provider, this one’s my favorite. 

But it’s not the only way to keep in touch with your audience. Let’s look at a few other funnel types.

2. Video funnel

A video funnel differs from a lead magnet funnel in one way:

Instead of capturing contact information, you capture attention.

Video funnels typically rely on paid ads to retarget users based on what they’ve watched. Here’s how it can work as an example:

  • You launch a series of videos to spread awareness about a problem you help solve
  • Using paid ads (such as Facebook ads), you retarget everyone who watched a specific portion of those videos with a second series of videos diving deeper into the topic
  • You retarget everyone who watched a portion of Series 1 and Series 2 with a final video that encourages people to book a discovery call with you

The advantage of this model is how simple it can be to run. No crazy tech needed – just something to record your videos, the ad platform, and a calendar page to book a call.

The disadvantage is that you need an advertising budget to be able to retarget video viewers. But even as little as $2 a day per retargeting video can help you gain traction!

3. Social selling funnel

Finally, you have your social selling funnel. This type of sales funnel relies on the relationship you build with your social media followers instead of relying on retargeting ads or email marketing.

Like video funnels, this is incredibly low-tech and can make it easy for coaches to start building an audience. It can be as simple as this type of funnel on Instagram: 

  • Top of funnel: Reels and carousel posts that attract 
  • Middle of funnel: Daily Stories that encourage people to DM you
  • Bottom of funnel: DM conversations where you send qualified leads a link to book a call or purchase a low-ticket offer 

Let’s go through an example with Dark Grove Press. Melissa is a book editor, but she’s also a coach and course creator who helps authors plan, write, and edit their first novels for self-publication. Here’s what one of her recent Reels looks like:

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It helps authors with a common problem: the unique premise of their book. New and aspiring authors may come across this reel and start following Melissa for more helpful advice.

In her Stories, she reposts some of that content… but she also expands on it for her Middle of Funnel followers.

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Sometimes, she’ll invite people to DM her for more info about her one-on-one services. But in other cases, she’ll direct people to her course instead, which is another path for people to make it to the bottom of the funnel.

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Now, while social media funnels can be simple and effective, they do come with one big risk: 

You don’t own the platform and your audience.

That’s why I encourage coaches to grow their email list as soon as possible. But you can still pair list-building with a social selling strategy if that’s how you show up best!

How To Create Your Sales Funnels

So, how do you go about creating a coaching sales funnel? The truth is, there are a million ways to approach the process. 

And there isn’t one specific way that works best for everyone.

This is why the next section is set up to be funnel-agnostic – meaning, you can follow along and build a custom coaching funnel that works for you, regardless of how you like promoting your coaching business!

Let’s get into it.

1. Identify your target audience and transformation

Before creating a sales funnel, it’s crucial to know who you’re targeting as your ideal client. Define your ideal coaching client and understand their pain points, desires, and motivations.

Take the time to conduct thorough market research and gather insights about your target audience. Understand their demographics, interests, and challenges they face. This information will help you tailor your sales funnel to their specific needs and preferences.

2. Map out your coaching funnel

Before you create a single step of your sales funnel, it’s important to map out the entire journey first. That’s because each step will give context for where your leads have been, what they know, and what they need at any given moment.

We’re going to map out your funnel starting from the bottom, then the top, and finally with the middle. That way, you can reverse-engineer the entire journey because you know where your leads need to end up!

A. Start with your bottom-of-funnel in mind (BOFU)

The “bottom of the funnel” is the step where people are ready to buy. For many coaches, this means booking a free discovery session, while for others, it means reading a long-form sales page or watching a video sales letter.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re selling high-ticket coaching, you should aim to get people on a discovery call first. While it’s definitely possible to automate your coaching business with sales pages and other AI sales software, you do need to know a lot about your clients and have a dialed-in offer in place for that to work.

On the other hand, if you offer lower-ticket items, your BOFU may look different. Some examples of low-ticket coaching products may include:

For these types of coaching offers, your BOFU can be:

  • A text sales page
  • A video sales letter
  • A conversation in the DMs 
  • An email sales sequence leading to a simple checkout page

For example, Evelyn Weiss hosted a mini-coaching program that lasted 7 days for $97. She promoted it via email and linked the sales page in the emails.

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B. Choose your top-of-funnel channel (TOFU)

Your top-of-funnel content is what leads people to first raise their hand about being potentially interested in your coaching.

At this point, they’re not yet ready to book a call, let alone buy from you. They’re only just dipping their toes in your world and finally accepting the call to dive deeper.

For example, let’s say they’re reading your coaching blog. If you’re running a lead magnet funnel, they may get a pop-up asking them for their email address. In this case, the TOFU content is the lead magnet, and what got them to this content was your blog!

Your TOFU lead magnet can be discovered in a variety of ways, such as:

For instance, Feminine Sales Academy is using ads to advertise a paid lead magnet as their TOFU:

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If you’re running a video funnel, the first series of videos is your TOFU content – it essentially takes the place of your lead magnet. 

And if you’re running a social media sales funnel, any of your discoverable content is your TOFU content. This could be short-form videos, feed posts, or other types of content, depending on your social platform of choice.

C. Determine your middle-of-funnel strategy (MOFU)

In the middle of the funnel, people begin to consider you as a potential solution to their problem. This step starts to get them ready to take action on your BOFU action.

The way you structure your MOFU depends on where you want people to end up in BOFU, but it also depends on where people came from. For instance, if you want people to book a call, what needs to happen for people to take that action?

Your lead needs to believe that booking a call will be helpful to them. And for that to be true, they also need to believe:

  • You’re an expert in the niche they need help with
  • You’re trustworthy and credible
  • There’s a good chance you can help them

At this point, they don’t have to be 100% convinced that you can help them. But that’s what your free discovery session is for. 

So, how can you help shift their beliefs to help them trust you and see you as the true expert you are? It depends on your method of capture from TOFU. 

For instance, if you’ve chosen a lead magnet, your MOFU content will likely be emails. The goal of your emails will be to funnel people into taking action toward your BOFU, such as booking a call or checking out a sales page.

But if you’re running a video funnel, your MOFU will simply be more videos showcasing your coaching expertise.

If you’re running a 100% social media-based sales funnel, your MOFU content can be something like Stories on Instagram.

No matter your medium, you can use your MOFU content to:

  • Share stories that show your expertise
  • Explain common mistakes people make about your coaching niche
  • Inspire your leads to take action
  • Shift your leads’ perspective
  • Build rapport with your leads

For example, Scott Perry from Creative on Purpose uses his Instagram Stories to entice his audience to message him for more info about his free training.

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Once people message him, he can not only share the training but also have a DM conversation with these people and move them to BOFU if it makes sense!

3. Build a minimum viable sales funnel first

Once you’ve mapped out every step of your sales funnel, it’s time to build it out. But before you get the temptation to sink hundreds of hours (and potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars) into your sales funnel, pause for a moment.

There’s no use investing tons of time and money into a coaching funnel if you haven’t proven it can work yet. This is why I advise you to build a minimum viable funnel first.

A minimum viable funnel is exactly what it sounds like: the minimum possible setup required for your coaching sales funnel to work.

For example, let’s say you’ve mapped out the following funnel:

  • PDF resource as a lead magnet
  • Nurturing email sequence
  • Discovery session

Before you design a fancy PDF and set up 10+ emails that lead to your free discovery session, you should first see if people are interested in this specific lead magnet.

For example, you can create a rough version in a simple Google Doc before you get it designed. 

If you’re creating a video coaching funnel, consider going live on your organic social channels with several video topics to see what gets the most engagement. 

And if you’re leading people to your email list, don’t create a long, automated email sequence right away! Instead, you can set it up to have a single welcome email that leads to your regular coaching newsletter.

At this point, you can send emails at the frequency you’ve decided on. You’ll get to experiment to see what types of emails resonate with your audience. 

Once you find your groove, you can add the winning emails to an automated sequence!

Additionally, consider keeping your tech stack simple in your minimum viable funnel stage. For instance, you can use Paperbell to:

  • Create your landing pages for your free or paid digital offers
  • Set up your free discovery sessions and paid coaching packages
  • Host your digital resources

You can do all of the above without setting up a website or fancy funnel! A simple sales funnel can do the trick and validate your messaging much more quickly.

4. Expand your proven sales funnel

You’ve set up your minimum viable funnel and started getting traction? People are opting in for your lead magnet, engaging with your content, and booking calls on your calendar.

At this point, you’ve got two options:

  • Leave your sales funnel as is, or;
  • Expand your proven sales funnel.

I want to clarify that leaving your coaching funnel as is can be a good option. Why fix what’s not broken? 

However, expanding your funnel can help you leverage what’s working and start reducing the manual labor involved in your sales process. 

For instance, if you create a long email sequence to nurture your leads, you won’t have to rely on sending frequent emails anymore. And if you invest some time or money to design a winning lead magnet, you can boost your coaching brand.

Here are some ways you can expand your sales funnel:

  • Create a longer email sequence
  • Design a sales page instead of directing people to a checkout page
  • If running ads, try new hooks, angles, and creatives
  • Turn your first lead magnet draft into a more polished version

Keep changes minimal with each iteration. If something breaks and you’ve changed multiple things at once, it’ll be difficult to pinpoint what broke!

5. Scale the reach of your funnel

Once you have a proven sales funnel for your coaching business, you’re only limited by how many people that funnel can reach!

At this point, you can keep doing what you’re doing. Or, you can scale what you’re doing to reach more people with your funnel.

Option 1: Ramp up your organic content creation

If you’re currently getting leads for your coaching funnel via organic methods and want more leads the organic way, there’s not much else to do but ramp up your organic content creation.

You can also leverage additional platforms by reusing your content. For instance, if you’re currently making it big on TikTok, why not share your TikTok videos as Instagram Reels?

Optionally, you may also decide to hire an assistant to help you with content creation.

Option 2: Use paid ads

If you’re fully tapped out on the organic side of things, consider adding paid ads to the equation.

Paid ads are nothing more than organic content with money on them. You can take a winning message that’s already proven to convert and set up ads to help it reach more people.

Option 3: Get other people to promote your sales funnel

If you don’t have the bandwidth to scale your organic reach and don’t want to sink money into ads, consider trying affiliate marketing instead.

With affiliate marketing, you can either pay your affiliates for every new client or pay them for each new lead in your sales funnel.

But affiliate marketing isn’t the only way to get other people to promote your sales funnel. You can also use PR strategies to borrow other people’s audiences, such as appearing as a guest on someone’s podcast or publishing a guest post on someone else’s blog. 

There’s no greater example of the power of guest podcasting than fellow email marketing coach Liz Wilcox. Over the last two years, Liz has appeared on over 100 podcasts to speak about email marketing.

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The result? She now has nearly 10,000 members in her $9/month email marketing membership. And she never paid a penny in ads.

That’s because several podcast hosts allow Liz to share a link to her sales funnel. The more podcasts she can appear on, the bigger her audience becomes for her funnel!

Launch Your Coaching Sales Funnel to Grow Your Business

There you have it – you now have everything you need to build your own coaching sales funnel that makes sense for you and your business! No need to squeeze yourself into someone’s strict definition of what the right sales funnel for coaches should look like. 

By continuously refining and optimizing your sales funnels, you’ll be able to attract more dream clients, increase your coaching revenue, and make a greater impact on the lives of those you coach.

And the easiest way to get started with a simple yet effective sales funnel is with Paperbell! Not only does Paperbell automatically create landing pages for your coaching packages, but it also handles payment processing, calendar bookings, automated emails, and so much more. Give it a try by claiming your free account!

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By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
October 9, 2023

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