The concept of content marketing has already become the new paradigm of inbound marketing. Sales reps are now just as responsible for deploying well-distributed lead nurturing initiatives as marketers. For a prospect to become a fully fledged customer, however, requires careful consideration of the distribution of content. Sales enablement is tightly related to the right content assets being delivered to the right people at the right time. So let’s go back to basics and remind ourselves about the particulars of the 5 stages of the buying cycle:
- Stage 1: Awareness
a prospect has a need, which your business can fulfill. At this stage it’s all about visibility and generating awareness.
- Stage 2: Consideration
the lead has discovered you and is generally evaluating if your solution is better than your competitors’.
- Stage 3: Preference
the prospect shows interest in a particular product. This is often a decisive point for a potential purchase.
- Stage 4: Evaluation
the lead is carefully considering your solution. At that stage, providing details is essential.
- Stage 5: Purchase
the prospect has taken a decision and has purchased your product.
In order for an optimal prospect engagement and lead nurturing to be achieved, sales reps should be fully aware of several stages. Firstly, at what stage does the lead currently reside? (Marketing automation tools such as detailed contact profiles are fundamental to that process). Secondly, it is crucial to define which content assets are suitable for each stage.
Here is a list with 5 content assets that sales reps should use together with the particular stage of the buying cycle they are intended to support:
1. Blog posts
The power of blogging goes without saying. Latest statistics show that companies that blog get 97% more inbound links; additionally, an impressive number of 70% of customers learn about companies through articles rather than ads. Blog posts are the strongest weapon for the awareness stage of the buying cycle: use your core expertise to educate people, spread it further into the public domain, and get optimal exposure for your business. This is also a perfect opportunity for you to sow the initial seeds of your future prospects’ problems and needs.
2. White papers
Writing a short visualised report built around a specific topic is another strong educational tool with higher relevance for Stage 2. Providing a prospect with a thorough analysis of a subject of value to him will definitely give you some advantage over your competitors but the lead will still be far from the purchasing decision.
Here's an idea of how you much you can expect to pay for quality white papers.
3. Case studies
When you’ve reached Stage 3 and the prospect has started showing some interest in a particular product/solution from your company. In order for the critical evaluation process to have a positive outcome, you should inform your leads on how exactly your product/service can solve their problem/need. Case Studies are a great asset for reaching that goal because they are authentic, analytical and often – describing previous cases that prospects can identify with.
Often, before taking the final step and actually becoming your customers, leads need more “solid” proof of your concept, something that will provide them with that specific feel/overview so they know if your product will solve their need. Demos are the most suitable asset for successful prospect engagement in that phase. They are your secret weapon: provide your lead with a great experience in a demo version, and you are guaranteed to win him as a customer.
Reaching the bottom of the funnel is what all your efforts have been directed towards. But this stage also demands providing content assets in order to achieve an even higher goal: turning your customers into promoters. In the language of inbound marketing, your collateral has to “delight” the prospect. What better way to achieve that than organising a “Customer Success” Webinar with up to 10 customers, answering all their questions about the usage of your product?
Choosing the right asset from a company’s tremendous amount of collateral can be harder than it seems. Sales reps should not only have a broad perspective on where their leads are in the buying cycle; they also need easy access to a diverse range of pre-identified and evaluated material. This harks back to the importance of marketing automation solutions, but also brings in the role of mobile sales technologies as a means towards a successful outcome of lead nurturing initiatives.