Buyer intent: Know the funnel stages and stand out with an impactful message
Over the last few decades, buyer behaviours have changed. Buyers — potential clients or customers — are more clued up now than ever. At one point, sellers had all of the information, and it was the role of salespeople to educate buyers, thereby encouraging them to go ahead with a purchase.
Now buyers know nearly as much as salespeople about the product or services they are interested in. Potential customers often research what they’re wanting to buy. Whether that’s a new car, computer, or consultancy and marketing services.
Whatever your customers or potential customers are interested in, there’s loads of information about it online. You do the same. When you want to buy something, you search for the relevant products and services. Read reviews. And whenever possible, compare prices and the companies selling what you want to buy.
B2B sales are evolving but buyers behave in the same way. In this article, we look at what that means and how that shapes what companies need to do to attract the sort of clients they want.
What is buyer intent?
In short, buyer intent is the level of interest a potential buyer has when they’re looking for products or services. It’s often rated on a scale and is referred to in the format of a funnel.
At the top of the funnel is the awareness stage. Potential clients are specifically looking for products or services. They might not be ready to buy yet, but they’re interested and therefore spending time searching (known as the “research” phase) for a solution to the problem they currently have.
Consideration is the next stage in the funnel. This is when potential buyers are taking a more active interest in purchasing. Often this is when they will be speaking with potential suppliers, those who they feel are best placed to solve the problem they’ve got.
Finally, when a buyer is ready to go ahead, this is the decision phase of the funnel. At that point, they should be down to one or two potential suppliers, and they should have proposals and pricing to review. It often comes down to a range of factors, and the size of the potential purchase and overall importance will influence how many decision-makers are involved in the process from the client end.
What every company is trying to do is get buyers’ attention at the research phase of the funnel. Generating awareness amongst potential clients. Position your company as the solution to specific problems, with the aim of securing buyers’ interest early on.
Capturing buyer interest at the “research” phase of the funnel
In order to capture buyer interest, you need an active inbound marketing funnel. Inbound marketing funnels usually include a mix of (or some elements of) the following: Content, social media, advertising, PR, and potentially other activities, such as conferences and expos.
A wide range of companies, including digital marketing and advertising agencies, and marketing automation software companies, can play a role in creating and optimising this inbound sales funnel for clients. Businesses can also create and manage this funnel with their own marketing staffers, teams, or entire departments. Often the two can work in parallel, with internal teams being supported by external providers.
All of this activity sits alongside the work of a sales team. In an ideal scenario, an active inbound marketing funnel should be sending warm and interested sales leads through to the sales team.
One of the most effective ways to capture buyer interest when they’re searching for solutions is with content marketing. Articles published on your company website. If these are also optimised with the keywords your buyers are using when they’re looking for the products/services you offer.
Content is only part of the funnel, of course. But an important part. Amplifying these marketing messages through social media, advertising and PR are some of the best ways to drive growth and generate more sales leads. Getting the message right is crucial. It can make or break the entire marketing and sales funnel.
Stand out with impactful marketing messages
Your marketing messages need to make an impact. The best way is to put yourself in the mind of potential customers. Think about what they want. The problems they need a solution for.
Too many companies alienate customers from the start with a marketing message that talks about the benefits and features of one thing and another. Instead, what customers are looking for is solutions to problems. For example: How does Product/Service X solve problem Y?
If you focus marketing efforts and materials — including a website — that way, then you’ve got a good chance of capturing buyer interest at the top of the funnel, the awareness stage. Companies can do that in a number of ways, such as through content marketing, social media, advertising (e.g. Google and Facebook), PR and other activities. Usually, a mix of everything goes a long way towards driving web traffic and therefore potential sales leads into the top of the funnel.
Once leads are in the funnel, it’s time to engage with them. The faster you respond, the more you increase the chance of qualifying the lead. Whenever possible, aim to provide an instant online demo soon as possible, which you can do with CrankWheel. This way, you can qualify them straight away and move them closer towards the decision stage of the funnel. Capturing buyers’ interest early on, when they’re researching potential solutions, is the best way to generate leads and drive forward growth.
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