The sales funnel. Those of us in business have seen many examples of the sales funnel over time. They can be quite simple and also very complex! We want to move new and old leads to our business through a buying cycle and the sales funnel is a great way to visualize this process. There recently was an article in Inc. that says that infers that there really isn’t a traditional sales funnel anymore. The sales process is now more like a road trip that doesn’t go the straight and narrow path,and it takes many side trips along the way.
A great way to keep your leads informed as they travel through the buying cycle is to provide great content. Content is critical in every stage of the sales process from generating awareness about your company to helping convert leads to customers. As a content publisher, you need to provide different types of content at the different stages of the buying cycle. According to Hubspot, there are three stages that a buyer goes through as they think about purchasing a service or technology.
Awareness-This is where the prospect learns about your company or your brand via social media, blogging or informational pieces and they realize that they have a need for your product or service. Usually this involves some sort of pain point such as a marketing company not getting results or a server breaking down (to go to the extremes!). This is also called the Top of the Sales Funnel.
Research/Comparison/Validation-This is where the prospect identifies their problem and researches the potential solutions. They examine options and begin narrowing down the list of vendors that they would like to do business with. This is also referred to as the Middle of the Sales Funnel.
Purchase-The prospect narrows down the search and makes the decision about who to buy from. This is often referred to as the Bottom of the Sales Funnel.
In order to cater content to the stages of the buying cycle, you need to determine what type of content and what content channels will work best for each stage of the buying cycle. It is much easier to create content for Top of the Sales Funnel as you can use blog posts and social media to gain the attention of the prospect. For the leads that have moved further down the funnel to the Research stage, they are looking for more specific information such as ebooks, webinars, podcasts, case studies, customer testimonials and industry reports. The prospect is actually coming to your website to do research and to find this information. Having these publications available on your website via a call-to-action is critical. The leads that are ready to become your customers will require more detailed product information, analytical reports and assessments. Plus, don’t forget about keeping your prospects informed even after they have become clients!
It is important to remember that creating content for your future customers and your current clients is vital to keep your clients coming back to you as an informational source.
You can find out more on how to create a great content strategy for your company in our free guide: