Understanding the B2B sales funnel and how your content contributes

Making a success of any B2B business, of any shape or size, specialising in any field or industry, is a tough job. However, with the outbreak of coronavirus, B2B companies are facing a fundamental shift in how day to day communications and sales are made.

Whilst many B2B businesses rely on face to face interactions (meetings, events and networking), this has become increasingly difficult with social distancing and government measures in place. This means that your non face to face communications should be your first consideration when driving awareness, interest and ultimately sales. Now, more than ever, businesses in the B2B space should be reviewing their content and understanding how it contributes to each stage of the B2B sales cycle. We’ve taken a comprehensive look at each stage of the B2B sales funnel and can see how your content contributes to a sale through each step.

Understanding the B2B sales funnel and how your content contributes

Why Focus On Your Sales Funnel?

While it is perfectly possible for your target customer to stumble across your website and each visitor made an enquiry straight away on their first visit, the number of people who would do this is very low - especially for large, considered purchases. Each interaction between your customer and your business should be a purposeful one. Your customer wants to get familiar with your brand, they want to learn about your products and services and they want social proof that others before them have been happy with your services.

Daniel Priestly coined the ‘7,11,4’ rule in which he outlines that:

  • For a considered purchase, a user would spend an average of 7 hours consuming your content. Do you have 7 hours of content that a potential customer can ‘gorge’ on?
  • There can be up to 11 touch points across a number of media platforms before your customer gets in touch with you. For example, they may read your blog, watch you Youtube videos, watch a webinar, download your ebook etc. 
  • There are 4 channels (blog, website, store, offline and email) that a potential customer can interact with you on. 

As a b2b marketing agency, we know that content is key to hitting these numbers, building trust and credibility with your audience and influencing an enquiry. Now, more than ever, you’re going to have to put increasing amounts of attention and focus on this funnel. This is because modern consumers are extremely savvy - especially those in the B2B space. They have access to more sources of information, more providers and more products than before thanks to the rise of technology and easy access to goods and services on a national and even international scale. It’s important that your content works hard at each stage of the funnel to build a great relationship before your customer has even made contact with you.

Now, more than ever, businesses in the B2B space should be reviewing their content and understanding how it contributes to each stage of the B2B sales cycle.”

The B2B Sales Funnel

The B2B sales funnel consists of the following stages:

  • Awareness / Lead Generation
  • Consideration / Lead Nurturing
  • Preference
  • Purchase / Closing the Sale
  • Loyalty / Retention Referrals

All brands produce content for marketing and advertising purposes. But how can your content contribute to your sales funnel? Let’s split the funnel into its five distinct stages to show what kind of content you should be generating each stage of the funnel:

Awareness / Lead Generation

Your customers won’t consider your brand if they don’t know that your brand exists. This is why the first stage of the B2B sales funnel is awareness and lead generation. The purpose of this stage is to be visible when your potential customers have a particular problem or need to be fulfilled. This will ensure that they have at least heard of your brand and know what products and services you provide To achieve this, the content you should focus on includes:

Site content - Firstly, you’ll need to ensure that your website clearly displays your products and services. 87% of shoppers now begin their search on digital channels so having the right on-site content is key so that your customer knows that you can deliver a solution to their problem. Ensure you have brochures or downloadable PDFs that enable you to capture the contact details of interested parties for future communications.

Well optimised Blog posts - Your potential customers are likely to start their sales process by typing a question into Google. I.e. ‘which software is best for X,’ or ‘how much does X cost.’ If your website appears high in search results and offers a highly relevant solution to the question you immediately position your business as the expert in your particular niche, building trust and a positive relationship with a potential customer.

Youtube videos - Youtube is the number 2 search engine in the world. A potential customer may well be searching for a solution to their problem via Youtube, so video creation is a great way to provide a useful answer as well as demonstrate your product or service. 

The aim at this stage is to educate as well as collect information or contact details so that you can nurture these leads, provide even more value and information and build a relationship with your potential customer.  

Consideration / Lead Nurturing

Once your customer has visited your website or has been exposed to your content in some way, it’s time to nurture and continue to build on your relationship, giving them further insight and information regarding exactly what your products and services can do for them and reassuring them that your products and services live up to your claims. The content you should be providing at this stage includes:

  • Testimonials 
  • Ebooks and white papers
  • Reports
  • Case studies
  • Webinars
  • Guides

Preference

By now, they’ll know that you can provide the service or product they need, but so can a number of other companies. How do you make sure that they don’t get away or swim into someone else’s net? In a B2B environment, your potential customer would make an enquiry at this point and a face to face meeting (or Zoom call) is likely the next step. Whilst there may be many companies producing similar products or services, a face to face meeting enables you to show your personality, experience, expertise and build rapport which is often a differentiating factor when choosing between two similar offerings. However, the following content can help to support your claim and differentiate you from other businesses: 

  • Comparison content on your website
  • Further testimonials
  • Free demos and trials where appropriate 

Purchase and Closing the Sale

You’ve done all of the hard work but you’re not over the line yet. At this stage, ensure you’re regularly keeping in touch and showing your expertise through email marketing. The B2B sales cycle can be a lengthy one, so it’s important that you stay in the forefront of your potential customers minds with regular communication and thought leadership content. 

Loyalty / Retention and Referrals

You don’t want your customer or client’s journey to end when you make a sale. Instead, you want to establish a long term business relationship. The best customers are repeat customers and if your products or services impress the right person, they could provide you with a source of income for years to come. So, don’t let communication drop at this point. Of course, delivering on your original promises is the first step, however, there may be other products and services you offer which will enable you to be of more service and value to your customer. It’s important that you are regularly sending out thought leadership content to your customers so that they’re aware of your other products and services and that you’re keeping up to date with your knowledge of the industry. The best channels for this are:

  • Email marketing - email is great for highlighting complementary products and services or introducing new and upgraded products and services. You can also email your latest thought leadership pieces and content to continuously educate your customers.
  • Website blogging and continued thought leadership content - if you continue to update your site with relevant content, this will give customers the confidence that you’re always at the forefront of your field or industry of specialism.

Content heavily contributes to each stage of the B2B sales funnel and can be the difference between a purchase with you or your competitors. So, never underestimate its value! If you're looking to find out more, get in contact with our marketing agency in Kent Tiga today.