What are the Stages of the Sales Funnel?

Plan your sales funnel the right way with this breakdown of the sales funnel stages.

In our last blog, we introduced you to the fundamentals of the sales funnel - what it is, why it works, and a quick overview of the five stages that make up this essential sales and marketing strategy. This month, we’d like to go a little more in-depth into those five sales funnel stages, and talk a bit about how you can use content marketing to make it work for you.

Stage 1 - Awareness

Nobody is going to spend one red cent with you if they don’t know you exist. That’s why the first step in your sales pipeline is creating and building awareness of your company and brand.

Building awareness is one of the fundamentals of content marketing, and where it shines. Content will help you not only optimize your online presence for searches, but it will also help you establish yourself as an authority in your field, and develop the kind of reputation you want to project.

When you are creating content for the awareness stage of the sales funnel, you don’t want to focus on hard sales, but on company culture, brand identity and reaching out to your buyer personas, getting their attention.

Tips: Include a sign-up option on your blog, so that you can send newsletters and relevant emails. Also include links to social media.

Stage 2 - Interest/Investigation

You’ve attracted the attention of a wide range of people. Now those who are in the market for a product or service like yours have started taking an interest and want to learn more about your company and your offering.

During this stage, they may start looking at specific products or services and their prices, but they also want to know more about who you are as a company, what you stand for, how you are involved in your community, and a whole lot more. They will spend some time reading your website and blog, following you on social media, and reading external information, like reviews and press releases.

In this second of the five sales stages, potential customers will be looking at not just the thought leadership and engagement type content, but also at the more sales-related content.

Tips: Send relevant and interesting information out about special offers, as well as engagement content, by email and on social media. This stage is ripe for lead magnets.

Stage 3 - Decision

Once your potential customer reaches this stage, you are almost there. They are ready to make a decision and choose which product supplier or service provider to go with, and this is your opportunity to reel them in.

They will have investigated your company and chosen you as one of their options based on the value you can offer, your level of engagement, and various other factors. Now, they need to make the decision on who to use, and what packages to buy.

Tips: Make sure your almost-customer has access to all the information they need to make a purchase once they have made their choice. This includes pricing, special offers, options and so on.

Stage 4 - Action

Your customer has chosen to use you for their product or service needs. Time to celebrate! Okay, maybe not yet. You’ve made a sale, and this is a critical step in the sales process. You can’t let the customer down, because that could have serious negative repercussions for you.

When your customer is making a purchase, make sure they can process payment easily, get their product or service quickly and without hassle, and that you engage in immediate after-sales care.

You might think there’s no opportunity for additional content marketing here, but this is a prime space to include additional information about related products and services, or background information on the item they’ve just bought. Some companies get super-creative with content at this stage, creating a fictional back-story for their product or including hand-written notes with the delivery, adding a level of entertainment and engagement.

Tips: Don’t be afraid to get creative with content at this stage. And always, always follow up - you could progress to stage 5 if you do.

Stage 5 - Repurchase

If your customer is happy with your product or service and wants more, they should be encouraged to come back to you for it. After-sales content marketing can be a huge boost for your sales.

Keep on going with the engagement, but also create a space where the customer can feel nurtured. During this phase, it also helps to encourage customers to leave positive reviews on external sites, provide you with feedback to help improve your product or service, and otherwise make them feel that your interest didn’t end when they made their purchase.

Next time, we’re looking at an automated sales funnel. Until then, let us know what works for you in your sales funnel, or ask us any questions you would like answered in the comments.

Want help building your sales funnel? Get in touch - we can help.

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