Without a doubt, content fuels your sales pipeline. At least, it should.
Whether it’s snackable content for easy consumption or “heavy” content for persuading peeps to buy from you, your content marketing goals should align with the sales pipeline.
Better said, your content should grow (from snackable to a full meal) as the prospect moves through the funnel.
The are three stages and seven steps you should consider when creating content that will nurture prospects through your sales pipeline.
I’ll outline each of them here, with some examples of what kind of content you can create for each step.
The Sales Pipeline
Let’s back up and first dissect the sales pipeline.
Whether you’re a solopreneur or you have a sales team, the sales pipeline gives a step-by-step look at how your potential customers are converted into actual customers.
For example, a new opportunity may fall into your lap, so you try and figure out what they’re looking for and if they’re qualified.
If they are a good candidate for your product or service, you’d begin nurturing them, or teaching them about the benefits of your services, and how you can solve their pain points.
From there, you’d give a demo or a proposal, and after the proposal review and consideration, you’d either win or lose the sale.
Our all-in-one CRM, Infusionsoft, has a unique and powerful way of describing the sales pipeline; they call it the Customer Lifecycle.
Here’s how they see things unfolding in the buying process:
[Image source: Infusionsoft]
According to the Customer Lifecycle, the sales pipeline has seven steps:
- Attract Traffic
- Capture Leads
- Nurture Prospects
- Convert Sales
- Deliver & Satisfy
- Upsell Customers
- Get Referrals
The immediate takeaway here is that you can create content to fulfill each of those seven steps!
Your Content Sales Pipeline
The way I see it, content coincides with the sales pipeline or Customer Lifecycle in three phases or stages.
So as a potential customer moves through the funnel, there are three stages — or areas — for content to be created:
At this point, the customer doesn’t know your company/brand. Your job here is to get your content seen by new and potential customers.
This can be done with these things:
- Social media sites
- Blog (posts can be a “snack” or a “meal”)
- Visual cues (think: infographics, videos, interviews, etc.)
Perhaps you’ve captured the interested party’s information (step #2 above), and they’re now on your marketing list.
You’re ready to gently tell them why they should choose you.
Once a person has gotten to know you, connected to your brand and brand messaging, and decided they trust you, they are in the consideration phase.
As mentioned before, they may have already given their contact info as a way to get more information.
This is where you want to nurture them (step #3).
Nurturing means educating the consumer on why/how your product or service is best suited to solve their problem.
Early consideration and awareness content can be similar, but after the lead capture, you should really focus on going deeper with your education pieces.
Try moving from snackable bites to a full meal with:
- Case studies
- White papers or reports
- Customer testimonials
- Different forms of social proof
Your main goal is to show your knowledge, your work, your happy customers, and ways in which you’re a thought leader, or authority, in your industry.
Once a prospect has let you know they’re thinking about buying, you move to the next stage …
I like to think there are two parts of Decision Content: Pre-close and post-close content.
Pre-Close Content falls under decision content because it is critical to making the sale.
Here’s what makes up Pre-Close Content:
- Sales presentation/collateral
- List of products & services with pricing
Post-Close Content happens AFTER the sale and targets your current customers.
Many people miss this step because they close the deal and think, “YAY! We’re done!”
But you aren’t done.
Smart and savvy business owners and salespeople want to squeeze every last drop out of what they already have — the low-hanging fruit — before they go foraging for new leads.
Post-Close Content allows you to do this with steps 5, 6, & 7 of the Sales Pipeline:
- Deliver & Satisfy: What content do you have to welcome new clients? How are you using content to ensure your new customers are 100% satisfied with their purchase? When/How/Where have you said THANK YOU?
- Upsell Customers: Once you know your client is happy, how are you using content to upsell them on other features, benefits, or packages? [Here’s an article with 7 tips for upselling]
- Referrals: Are you mining your current, happy customers for new blood? You should be! [Watch this short video from Constant Contact on how to ask for referrals]
How Content Fuels Your Sales Pipeline
As you can see, content is the helping hand guiding your would-be and current customers even when you’re not.
To start powering your pipeline with content by:
- Taking a closer look at your pipeline
- Assessing where you have content in place and where there are content “holes”
- Creating a plan to fill content holes
- Measuring which content is working and what’s falling flat
- Updating content regularly to remain relevant
How do YOU fuel your sales pipeline with content? Let us know in the comments section below!
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