Marketing and sales have always been intertwined, but the relationship is more important than ever. In order to be successful, it's crucial for marketing teams to work alongside sales at every step of the sales cycle.
The sales cycle can be a long and winding road. There are many twists and turns that can take a potential customer from initial interest to final purchase. Along the way, there are opportunities for marketing to step in and provide valuable assistance. Marketing teams can work with sales to create content that will help move the prospect along.
By creating tailored content for their audience, marketers can help guide potential customers through the buying process and increase conversion rates. When marketers understand the needs of each stage, they can produce content that educates, informs, and persuades.
In this article, we’ll take you through the different stages of the sales cycle and how marketing can provide support at each junction.
- Finding prospects
- Making a connection
- Qualifying leads
- Closing the sale
- Final thoughts
- Revenue Marketing Festival
At the start of the sales cycle, the sales team will seek out prospects that they can work through the sales process. It can involve conducting online research or it can be done in person, such as at an event.
For this stage of the sales cycle, marketing needs to be producing output that generates awareness about the product or service. It’s likely your prospects won't have any idea who you are initially. So it’s up to marketing to generate that awareness!
To do this, you can produce content that focuses on educating and informing your audience. This can take a number of different forms including:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
Unless you have a very large team, you’ll likely want to focus on just a few types of content to see which best resonates with your prospects. Keep track of how many views and shares you’re getting for your content, and if there are any follow-throughs after the interaction. If a certain kind of content doesn’t seem to be getting any attention, consider digging into why, and perhaps switch to a new content type and test how that changes the engagement rate.
Once a prospect has been identified, it's time for the sales team to reach out and start the process of building a relationship.
Making a connection
During the next stage, sales teams will use marketing-generated content to set up meetings with potential customers. This is where having a strong understanding of your audience comes in handy. By creating content that speaks to their needs and interests, you'll be more likely to get their attention and schedule a meeting.
When targets have started to show interest in the services and products your business offers, this is the time for marketing to really showcase why their company in particular is the right one for them to choose. At this stage, you’re trying to build trust with your customers by establishing that relationship.
The types of content marketing could be producing for this stage include:
- Case studies
- White papers
- Downloadable resources
- Virtual/in-person events
This type of marketing helps to push prospects along the sales funnel, as it provides educational material that can help customers make a more informed decision. It’s more specific content designed with them in mind, focusing on their specific pain points and answering any questions or concerns they might have about making a purchase.
Make sure when you’re creating any kind of content you’re always keeping in mind its purpose. Keep monitoring if you’re getting conversions or generating any new leads and adjust the content output accordingly.
At this stage of the sales cycle, it’s time to separate the good leads from the bad. Eliminating those bad leads will give you more clarity on which marketing campaigns are working, so you’re no longer wasting time and funds on ineffective campaigns, freeing you up to concentrate on those that drive the highest revenue potential.
When you don’t deliver qualified leads, sales numbers will seem low despite how many leads you’re driving. So you need to know everything you can about each lead so you can disqualify them before they reach the sales team, ensuring they only get the good ones.
So once you know which marketing channels are generating the best leads, you can focus on those campaigns and the stats that matter to create reliable data.
The next stage of the sales cycle is the presentation stage. This is where sales teams pitch the product or service to those qualified leads that have been passed along.
Marketing can play a big role in this stage by providing sales teams with collateral such as presentations, one-sheets, or even video testimonials from happy customers. This type of content is social proof that helps to convince the leads that they need the product or service being offered to them.
Closing the sale
Finally, we come to the last stage of the sales cycle: the closing stage. This is when sales teams attempt to seal the deal with potential customers.
Marketing can assist here by providing case studies or other forms of social proof that show how your product or service has helped others in a similar situation. They can also share valuable customer data to help give sales even more fuel to close that deal, like the specific actions a lead took on your site to give an indication of their interest in specific products.
By working together at every stage of the sales cycle, marketing and sales teams can create a well-rounded approach that will help close more deals and keep customers happy long after they've made a purchase.