Sales Reps Should Play a Key Role at the Top of the Sales Funnel
We all know that buyers go through a journey before they make their purchase. While the buyer’s journey will vary from one industry to the next; the broad strokes of each journey is:
Awareness: At this stage the buyers have identified a problem or a need and are beginning to become educated through research. They are starting to discover products, trends and brands. As SiriusDecisions has stated “67% of a buyers journey is complete before they reach out to sales”.
Consideration: At this stage the buyer is beginning to evaluate specific products and is more likely to engage with sales.
Decision: The buyer commits to a specific solution or product.
For this post, let’s take our focus to The Awareness Stage which has generally been thought to be the purview of the Marketing Team, as content marketing plays a large part in providing answers to some of the buyer’s questions. Marketing content designed for the Awareness Stage should educate, entertain or inspire. Marketers are trying to position their company as the resource the buyer wants to turn to. Once the buyer starts to move to the Consideration Stage, the lead is handed off to sales.
However, Sales should also be playing an active role at this beginning stage, amplifying the content marketing has developed. The top of the sales funnel should not only be fed by marketing generated leads, but also through sales prospecting.
For most pieces of marketing content developed for the Awareness Stage, there should be a sales action to be executed. The sales team should be using this content to build credibility, usefulness and trust with potential buyers. Key to success at this stage is to keep the messaging consistent with the marketing content and not switch in to sales mode.
According to research done by the Rain Group: “buyers want to hear from sellers and want to hear from them early”. In fact 71% of buyers want to hear from sellers when they are looking for a new idea.
Sales can provide content that gives strong introductory material yet not demand too much from their prospect (ie. Introducing white papers, blog posts, reports, e-guides).
Who should Sales be reaching out to?
- Existing clients
- Past clients
- Cold calling new prospects
- Attendees at: tradeshows, association meetings, seminars, conferences
- Online: LinkedIn – providing information in various groups
Remember, at this stage the sales rep’s content should accomplish two goals:
1. Catch the interest and trust of their prospects by being a convenient, authoritative source of information.
2. Establish the Sales Rep, your business and your website as the go-to source for further information.
Building trust and becoming a resource at this early stage of the buyer’s journey, will pay off at the bottom of the funnel with better win-rates, better margins, and deal size.