Why a Service Business Needs a Sales Funnel…Badly!

May 10, 2023

I’ve been asked many times why a service business needs a sales funnel, when the leads flow in through word of mouth. The obvious answer would be to get more clients. But time strapped as we are, I’d say there is more to the story.


Don’t worry… it’s normal.

As a matter of fact, it’s a good thing.

Because it means, ….you already have your potential clients well into the sales funnel.


We’ve spoken about making killer proposals, and about nailing a discovery call (a.k.a. planning call or strategy call or sales call).

But how do you get your prospects there?

I say it’s about time we have a look at the sales funnel for service business. You know… look at the bigger picture.

Why a service business needs a sales funnel?

I’d like to present 2 scenarios.

Each of them represents me in my business at different stages of my journey.

Scenario 1: I am the do-er in my business, the technician. Word of mouth is doing its job. Sales leads come in fast and steady. All I have to do is follow the leads. A sales funnel? Why would I need one?

Scenario 2: I introduced a stepped sales process to my service business. Not because I wasn’t doing well before, but because I want to do better. 

  • The penny dropped that when you have a systematic and repeatable process, you'll be able to serve more clients. 
  • I’ve noticed my potential clients are happier because I’m no longer dealing with them in an ad hoc way.
  • I’m no longer working with potential clients just because they fell through the door, only to find out they weren't the right fit clients further down the track.
  • Thanks to my stepped sales process, I have freed up time and energy to focus on other areas.

What Is A Sales Funnel For A Service Business? 

But what is this sales funnel for a service business I keep talking about?

In simple terms, a sales funnel is a group of processes that will take someone from stranger to client. 

There is not just one sales funnel for service business. Line up 10 different service business and you will have 10 different sales funnels. Heck, every service in your business potentially has a different sales funnel.

As a result, anyone trying to give you (or sell you) a sales funnel template is selling you a dud.

That said, there is some commonality. Every sales funnel for a service business should have 4 definite steps in one shape or form.

What Are The 4 Key Sales Steps Every Service Business Should Have?

Step 1: Get Strangers To Know About You.

Step 1 of the sales process for service business is about putting yourself out there. Getting exposure.

This can be through a referral, but it can also be through paid advertising, organic marketing, going on some else’s podcast as a guest, speaking on stage. You name it; the purpose is to get your business in front of people who don’t know you (yet).

I’ve noticed it’s usually at this stage people stalk your business. You caught their eye. Now they want to check you out in a non-committal way.

As I said, it’s a good thing, but you don’t want to leave it untapped. You want to indulge their ‘stalker’s cravings’ and be good at it too. Your website needs to be up to scratch, so does your social media (however you’ve decided fits your business).

Because you caught their attention, now you want to keep it.

Step 2: Capture The Leads

Those people stalking your business, obviously you want to know who they are.

Because once you do, you can start nurturing them in different ways.

SO, step 2 of the sales process for service business… offer a free eBook, a free worksheet (like a free checklist), get them to do a quiz (people LOVE quizzes!). You get it,… usually you offer something for free or at a low price offer.

The price is… their email address.

And TA-DA…your casual stalker has turned into a lead.

From there, your email marketing machine can start working.

Step 3: Work Through The Prospecting Phase

As you nurture the leads, you turn them into prospects.

This usually means… the infamous discovery-call-slash-planning-call. We spoke about it in episode 86 of this podcast and blog. You can find it here.

I’m a fan of doing a planning call, but depending on your service business, it could also be a free demo.

Step 4: Sign The Proposal

The outcome of the planning call can go two ways: either you find your prospect isn’t ready, in which case the prospect drops back to step 2 of the sales process for service business, the nurturing phase.

It’s important to not write these prospects off at this stage, because I’ve found on many occasions they will come back when they are ready. Just keep nurturing them.

But for me, in the vast majority of cases, my prospect will turn into a client.
And the final step across the finish line is the proposal.

I will not get into detail about proposals, because this is something we’ve talked about extensively in multiple episodes. You can find them here, here and here.

Note: People can enter at different points of the stepped sales process, but you still want to work them through the funnel.

What A Sales Process Looks Like In My Business?

I mentioned my own loose definition of a sales funnel for a service business.

But I have my own way of looking at it. (I told you no two sales funnels should be the same!)

In my event business, I try to move strangers through the leads phase and into the prospect phase as quickly as possible.

Here’s how I do that:

I work it in such a way that when strangers enter their email address; they receive a free worksheet that helps them plan their event to a point where they are ready for a planning session (step 3) with me. It usually prevents them from dropping back to step 2, the nurturing or leads phase.

From there, I automate and systemise the last 2 steps of the sales funnel for a service business as much as I can to make it reliable and repeatable.

  • Prospects book their own planning session appointment (discovery call) so there is no needless back and forth on email. It’s efficiency that is appreciated by both sides. 
  • The planning session always happens in the same way. I’m not talking about a strict and scripted chat, so you may want to go back to episode 86 if you’ve missed that one.
  • My proposal is ‘an individualised template’. I speak in detail about this in episode 83.

Which brings me to my last point… and this is important.

When you change from thinking of a sales funnel as a system for attracting more clients and replace it with the idea of a reliable, time-efficient and repeatable process, then you get why a service business needs a sales funnel. I’d say more than anybody else.

Because… who has time when you run a service business?

Need some help? <H2>

If you’re currently in scenario 1 and you’re keen to get your service business to scenario 2, then I encourage you to book a call with me. I help service providers package up their expertise and build systems and processes that will take your business to the next level.

It will help you become…

  • More consistent
  • More time-efficient
  • More reliable
  • More profitable

Take this FREE 2-minute Quiz

Discover how to use your unique personality to systematise and streamline your digital service business or agency so you can scale without sacrifice (do more and work less!)

Subscribe on your favourite Podcast player