The Sales Funnel applied to Learning & Development – Thinking like a marketeer

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

An often-used model in marketing, the Conversion or Sales funnel outlines the steps and stages involved in the process of converting a stranger into a returning customer.

Through the stages of Discovery, Consideration, Conversion and finally Retention, the funnel enables you to visualise the flow through which a potential client will travel, from perhaps first landing on your website through to the conversion of a sale. The metaphor of a funnel is used to describe the way customers are “dropped in” and guided to the end sales goal. In the L&D space, the stages of the Sales Funnel, which identifies the customer journey, can be effectively aligned to the process of creating learning advocates in your organisation.

In the first phase, Discovery, as a marketer we’re endeavouring to generate initial awareness of our brand, product or service. In the L&D world, this is essentially about increasing awareness and interest in the learning initiatives you’ve put in place. Do you staff know about the content or learning initiatives available? Do they know where to go to find it? If not, consider how can we better drive awareness and promote the initiatives and what resources or activities we could set up in order to make our staff aware of the learning opportunities available. This could be regular creative campaigns, inter-department competitions, launch or promotion events and more – creating a “buzz” is key!

In the Consideration phase of the funnel, a customer starts to associate you with the solution you offer. At this stage, we need to be thinking about supplying our customers with the content that helps them in evaluating your product or service. From our perspective in L&D, we can think of Consideration as Engagement. Our staff know about the initiatives, they have maybe found some content to evaluate, but how do we get them to want to engage with the resources or platform further? As we’ve considered, we want to generate interest and a real buzz to get people to begin to engage but we also have to build trust in the programmes and ethos behind our activities. It could be a good idea at this stage to share case studies, how-to guides, demo videos and product descriptions so that your staff familiarise themselves with the learning content available.

At the Conversion phase, when potential clients are ready to become customers, we need to be ready to wow people to encourage them to take Action. Action for us can be taking a piece of content, signing up to a forum, watching a video, creating a playlist, or perhaps completing a quiz. Consider what “good” looks to you, as this is your benchmark for success. When you know what kinds of activities you want to see people engage with, consider supporting this messaging with learner testimonials and reviews so other staff feel encouraged by the recommendations of their peers. Make this process as smooth sailing as possible for your learners, so it’s easy to find, complete and review activities in order to move these learners on to the final stage of the funnel.

Beyond the funnel in essence, the Retention stage, where our aim is to retain loyal customers, for us in L&D this really means Advocacy. How do we create champions of our training, people who continue to use and find value in our initiatives? What can we do to build loyalty and repeat customers, who share with others and endorse your hard work? Think about how you can support your learners throughout their training cycle, with new resources, insider how-to guides, fresh ideas and innovations to keep them returning to your initiatives and sharing their positive experiences with their colleagues.

Ultimately, it’s the job of the marketeer to endorse the brand, products and services of a business and enthuse potential customers and prospects, and it’s very much part of our jobs as L&D professionals. To boost our organisation’s learning culture and overall return on investment, it’s essential that we endeavour to create learning advocates who believe in and actively endorse the learning initiatives and benefits of training throughout the business.

To discover how Sturdy Learning can help boost your organisation’s learning culture, check out our blog series or contact the team today via

Written By Ali Soper

Ali Soper is Creative Director and Cofounder of MicroLearn, a passionate team of eLearning creators, developing stunning, engaging and effective microlearning resources across a wide and ever-growing range of topics. Ali has a First Class Honours Degree in English and first started creating professionally deliverable eLearning content during her years at Jenison Digital Learning. She refused to accept that ‘click next continue’ was really the best way to learn so alongside her father Steve, the pair cofounded MicroLearn to deliver top class, bite-sized content which actually helps people to work better, safer and smarter.

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