Why the Right Message at the Right Time is Critical to Success

Buyer's Journey Through The Sales FunnelReaching potential customers with the right message and materials at just the right time throughout the sales process has become critical to winning business. The fact is, we are in a very competitive business environment, and your buyer’s attention span is getting shorter, which makes figuring out the exact timing and message very important to success.

Many companies use some version of a sales funnel process designed to attract, convert, close, and delight leads, turning them into paying – and hopefully repeat – customers. Generally speaking, the sales funnel follows the buyer’s decision-making journey:

Step 1: Problem/Need Awareness
Step 2: Information Search
Step 3: Alternatives Evaluation
Step 4: Purchase Decision
Step 5: Post-Purchase Evaluation

Companies also invest in developing sales collateral to help boost the sales process. These materials can include items such as corporate brochures, product fact sheets, white papers, case studies, and testimonials. The goal is to make sure your sales collateral pieces are serving a specific function in the sales funnel and are aligned with your buyer’s journey. With an intentional plan for designing and distributing your sales collateral, you can keep potential buyers informed and engaged as you lead them through their journey effectively.

Today, traditional sales collateral materials are being supplemented with stage-specific content that also helps to qualify, engage, and convert leads into paying customers. This strategic use of content, combined with sales collateral, increases both touchpoints with prospects and opportunities for conversation.

Below is an example of how sales collateral and content can be aligned with each stage of the buyer’s journey in order to successfully communicate with prospects and increase your chance for a successful conversion.

Stage #1 – Problem/Need Awareness (Top of the funnel)

People make purchases when they recognize they have a need or a problem to solve. The goal of your sales collateral in this awareness stage is to capture the attention of your prospects and compel them to learn more about your solution. Sales materials at this stage help shape the potential need or help position the product or service as the solution the prospect is seeking. They include advertisements, articles, and company overview brochures.

Stage #2 – Information Search (Middle of the funnel)

Recognizing a problem or need then triggers the next step, a search for more information. Strategies used to gather information can vary based on the size and scope of the purchase. The majority of buyers turn to an online search during their information gathering to find out more about their problem/need, potential solutions, and relevant businesses. Many also turn to social media and forums for recommendations.

At this stage, prospects aren’t looking for promotional content; they’re looking to learn more about potential solutions for their need or problem. Here’s where you can position your company as the industry expert and thought leader with content that helps them with their need, with no strings attached. Appropriate sales collateral and content at this stage includes web content, social media, blogs, product brochures, articles, and newsletters.

Stage #3 – Alternatives Evaluation (Middle of the funnel)

Following the information search — or sometimes running concurrently with this process — potential customers start comparing the alternatives that exist as solutions to their problem. Similar to the information search stage, the time spent in this stage will vary based on the type of purchase being considered.

One type of sales collateral that works well for this stage is a product (or service) “one-pager,” which delivers the value proposition for your offering and how it can be seen as the solution to the prospect’s pain points. Other relevant content and sales materials are online demonstrations, presentations, product fact or data sheets, product brochures, microsites, white papers, and FAQs. It’s important during the buyer’s evaluation process to position your solution as better than your competitors’ while the buyer is considering all of their options.

Stage #4 – Purchase Decision (Bottom of the funnel)

The purchase decision is the natural next step. By this stage, the potential customer has determined that they have a problem, investigated their options, decided which one is best for them, and now they’re getting ready to make their purchase decision. Bottom of the funnel content can help your potential customers feel confident in their decision to purchase your product or service. Materials that help with this include tailored client presentations, testimonials, and case studies that reflect various customer profiles, verticals, or business sizes.

Stage #5 – Post-Purchase Evaluation (Bottom of the funnel)

It may come as a surprise that sales collateral can be valuable even after the deal is closed. This is because the process doesn’t end with the sale. In fact, what happens after the sale can be just as important. If your new customers are greeted by a thoughtful onboarding process, personal attention, and all of the resources they need to use your product or service successfully, they’re more likely to confirm to themselves that they made the right choice. And when their expectations have been met or exceeded, they’re more likely to promote the product or service to others in the form of recommendations, testimonials, and/or product endorsements.

Necessary materials in the post-purchase stage include product use instructions or guides, product support materials, onboarding documents, customer appreciation materials, and feedback forms to evaluate the buying process. Post-purchase materials should help to retain customers and encourage repeat business.

So, if you want your business’ sales process to be as successful as possible, it is imperative that you align the buyer’s decision-making process with the corresponding sales collateral pieces for each stage. Need assistance defining your buyer’s journey or conveying meaningful messages in your sales collateral? Call us or visit our contact page – we’d love to learn more about your business.