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Let’s be clear: the sales funnel has no universal template.
Some sales funnels have five stages. Others have seven. (You can find both here.) Still, others are more convoluted, with optional steps and side journeys.
You know your own sales cycle better than anyone, so it’s not for anyone else to say how you should visualize it. But you’d surprise most sales experts if your sales cycle didn’t have an “awareness” stage at or near its beginning.
The overall efficacy of your sales process depends on your ability to draw in awareness-stage prospects.
Without a scalable plan to hook these prospects and draw them further into your sales funnel, you’ll have to work far harder to convert a greater proportion of a smaller lead cohort.
In other words, you’ll set your sales team up for failure.
Your sales team does not want to be set up for failure. So, give them every opportunity to shine by implementing these five strategies to grab more awareness-stage prospects’ attention and get the gears of your conversion machine turning early.
Bid on Key Competitor Search Terms
This is a worthwhile investment for scrappy companies going up against established competitors with higher name ID.
When an awareness-stage prospect searches for a competitor’s name, your own name had better be up there in the paid results. Otherwise, you’re out of the game before it begins.
Optimize Your Crunchbase Profile
If you haven’t already, create and optimize a Crunchbase profile. This profile from trust and corporate services provider Asiaciti Trust is a great example of what you want to include.
With high Domain Authority, Crunchbase profiles often appear on the first results page for exact-match searches.
Create and Cross-post Legitimately Valuable Content
In two words: start blogging. Post original content, with images and multimedia elements, to high-authority sites like LinkedIn and Medium. Optimize for key search terms, such as variations on the products or services you’re offering.
Build Out Core Social Media Profiles
Don’t stop there. Build out profiles on major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Use others as audience needs dictate — Pinterest is fantastic for consumer products companies, for instance. Make sure your company name is prominently featured on your social profiles’ “About” pages.
Create “Power” or “Pillar” Pages to Educate Curious Searchers (And Rank Well)
Blogging is just the start. As time and resources allow, you should also create detailed, ungated guides to educate prospects about the problems they’re trying to solve — and begin making the case that you’re the best choice to help solve them.
Optimize these pages for key search terms and make them as engaging as possible; you want prospects to linger and share.
From Awareness to Decision
If what happens in between varies considerably, virtually every sale funnel begins with an awareness stage and ends with a decision stage — the stage at which the prospect, well, makes a purchasing decision.
An effective strategy for hooking in awareness-stage prospects is a crucial component of any sales cycle.
Perhaps more important still is a killer close — a sales team capable of shepherding as many prospective buyers as possible through to the decision stage.
That’s beyond the scope of this article, but it’s something you need to start thinking about yesterday.