As a seasoned sales leader, you already know the steps in the sales funnel intimately. But what you may not know as well is how content aligns with customer acquisition and retention in the buyer's journey.
Three Basic Stages of the Sales Funnel
The sales funnel can be a complex item, but we'll simplify it here to three basic areas: top, middle, bottom.
- The top is where strangers (unqualified leads) enter your world, on a journey to becoming a prospect.
- The middle is where that stranger, now a prospect, is starting to weigh solutions to his or her problem.
- The bottom is where the sale is made.
Top of the Sales Funnel: Attract
At the top of the sales funnel, we need to attract strangers. It's all about getting found. We know nothing about these prospects. Think of this as looking for love.
We need targeted content and inbound marketing to help them find us. Strangers are looking to solve their problems, to be educated, and content can help by answering questions and hinting at generic solutions. Top of the funnel content often includes keyword-rich blogs, optimized for search engines and promoted through social media. Other kinds of content include social media, e-books, whitepapers, checklists, how-to videos and webinars, to name a few.
On our side, we're looking to find out a little about them. Do they really have a need for your product or service? Do they have a budget for it? If the answers are yes, then they can move down to the middle of the sales funnel. (If either answer is no, we put them into a lead-nurturing bucket to be ready to move them through the sales funnel when and if the answers are yes. After all, they came to you for a reason initially.)
Middle of the Sales Funnel: Educate
Our prospect—no longer a stranger—has found us. It's our first date! And he or she has started to learn about the best solution to solving his problem. This means he is now more likely to commit to buying from someone—and that may as well be you!
We want to show him why your offering beats the competition—and there's always competition. Offering content that targets his problem in reward for his contact information and some basic information allows us to do that. Using landing pages accomplishes this—he fills out the form and we provide him with educational information. Content offers at this stage are more related to your offerings. Think about case studies, FAQs, product sheets and webinars, for example.
Bottom of the Sales Funnel: Convert
Your prospect is now ready to buy. At this point, we don't want to offer to schedule meetings or simply put a Buy Now! button up. Those won't convert our prospect to a buyer. We have laid the groundwork and now want to show our qualified lead why they should buy from us. We can use free trials, a live demo, product training and other things that tip the scales in our favor to encourage the lead to buy. This will help your sales force to close the deal faster. What's not to love about that?
Do you need help establishing your inbound marketing efforts? Word Technologies Inc. can help you establish your digital channel presence, create the content that will move your prospect through to the end of the sales funnel and beyond and measure the success of those efforts.
To help you with your inbound marketing journey, download our free workbook on Social Media Prospecting.