So often in sales we end up sharing content with our buyers that they simply don't find relevant or valuable. This is because to really connect with our buyers, we first need to take a walk in their shoes. If our buyer has not even fully understood that they have a problem yet (early stage) but we are sharing client testimonials with them (late stage) they're likely not to care. They don't care due to the fundamental disconnect that exists between the buying stage that they're at and the selling stage that our content speaks to. The following is a guide to understand the buyer's funnel and which content is relevant at each stage. Read on!
The Buyer's Journey
Phase 1: Awareness
We begin in the middle of the story. At this stage the buyer is already facing an inefficiency, a lack of resources or confusion. They have a problem. Sometimes they see an opportunity and they need a magic carpet to get them there. They have already done some research and they are trying to frame or name their problem. Out of the mist, your business appears.
Fact: By the time a prospect engages with a sales team, they've already done the following:
- Used search engines to research information about the product or service
- Read blog posts about the product or service
- Asked for feedback and input from their peers in LinkedIn groups and other online communities – Koka Sexton, LinkedIn
The buyer is in this stage when searching for analyst reports, e-books, whitepapers and expert content. Phase one buyers need educational content on overarching issues, root problems and upcoming opportunities.
Content Example: eBook: 3 Client Trigger Events You Must Be Monitoring
In the above example, questions that our buyers might be asking themselves include:
- What tools can I use to identify trigger events?
- How do I monitor what my clients are doing and saying?
- What conversations are my buyers having that I should know about?
Our job is to create content that speaks specifically to these questions. In doing so we present ourselves as a trusted information resource while passively gaining visibility for our company and the solutions we offer.
Phase 2: Consideration
No one can make this journey alone. Often buyers in this stage will now reach out to peers, consumer reviews and trusted resources to help them shape an image of a viable solution. They have identified what their challenges are, they see the opportunities, but they need reliable advice to understand all the available tools for reaching their goals.
Fact: “The more unicorns, gurus, and ninjas you’re connected with, the higher your social capital skyrockets. It’s psychology 101, just in the social sphere. Figure out who your buyers like and trust already, and connect with them to gain likeability and trust by extension.” – Jill Rowley, Social Selling Pillar #2: Always Be Connecting
I know the buyer has progressed to this stage when they ask about digging deeper into webinars, podcasts, live interactions and videos. Content they need will be visually stunning and valuable in mastering specific problems or market changes.
In the above example, we provide an online workshop to our prospects so that they can learn about the value of social selling in general as well as a bit more about our training program (i.e. our solution).
Phase 3: Decision
This is the big finish. All roads lead here. The buyer must make a choice and contenders fade away because there can be only one. If the buyer is happy with their choice, they will want to follow this trusted pathway time and time again. In the end, the winning sales professional is the one who makes sure the buyer has what they need to seize the prized solution.
Fact: “So many people have social selling wrong; they think social selling is LinkedIn usage. In fact, social selling is meeting and helping the buyer through their buying journey online, where CONTENT is King to this process.” – Jamie Shanks, Does Your Company Have What It Needs For Social Selling Success?
Every experienced sales professional recognizes this stage. The buyer is looking for case studies, live demos, product trials or a slot to run their credit card. Content should guide them to their best solution and offer them actionable steps to secure it.
Content Example: Social Selling Success Story: Steve Jackson & the 5X Phenomenon
In this last piece of content we are explicitly helping our prospects connect the dots between our solution and their desired out-come of making more money. Your "decision stage" buyer content should be doing the same. Now that the buyer knows they have a problem, are aware of implications and educated on potential solutions, these pieces of content need to position our solution as the obvious choice.
The Light at the End of the Funnel
The short version of this story is that getting your content out there is essential in laying the groundwork during every phase of this buying journey. More importantly, your content needs to be VALUABLE at every stage of the buying journey and in order to provide value you must identify where your buyer is and what questions they're trying to answer. By doing so you will be helping your buyer throughout their journey resulting in more of them selecting your solutions during the decision stage.
As always, let me know if you have any questions below or feel free to use the "Let's talk Social Selling" button to book a call together.