For instance, in the Awareness phase of a sales funnel (the first stage), you’re focused on what your customer sees, hears, and feels as they are becoming aware of who you are. In the Prospecting phase, which is the first phase in pipeline stage, you’re focused on what the salesperson is doing to find qualified leads and to build awareness within their target markets.


The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.

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Use marketing automation to trigger messaging automatically based on a central hub of your customer data. That’s because your customer should see the same brand identity from all of your teams. With marketing automation, your business can better bring together marketing, sales, and customer service to create one seamless customer experience across your brand. 

Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly. 
After you’ve mapped out your prospect’s experience, make sure they align with your team’s pipeline stages. You can do this on paper or in CRM software like Salesforce Essentials. Sales pipeline stages are stages in your sales process, while your sales funnel stages are the stages in your customer journey. Refer to our article on how to create an effective sales plan for more information about pipeline stages and how they relate to your sales strategy.
How Much of this Guide Should You Read? This guide is designed for you to read cover-to-cover. Each new guide builds upon the previous one. A core idea that we want to reinforce is that marketing should be evaluated holistically. What you need to do is this in terms of growth frameworks and systems as opposed to campaigns. Reading this guide from start to finish will help you connect the many moving parts of marketing to your big-picture goal, which is ROI.
For example, at the beginning of your funnel, prospect interaction is low and the number of prospects is high. This is the Awareness stage, where you do advertising or another form of low-cost, low-touch, broad outreach. The next stages have fewer people in them and require activities that take more time and attention. This is where you’d send emails, make phone calls, or invite qualified interested prospects to a webinar to learn more about your offerings.
The Discovery stage is where your prospect’s interest is piqued. They are curious about your company and products and want to learn more. In this stage, you are sharing valuable educational content related to your prospect’s problem or need. This stage occurs while you are qualifying your prospect, conducting initial meetings, and defining their needs.
Of course, implementing this isn't easy. You need to first develop your stories, then decide on how you're going to convey those stories and at what drip-rate. For example, your first email or two might go out on the day they first signup, then one email per day might go out afterwards. How much of that will be story-based and how much will be pitches?
Tradeshows are often most valuable, because you’re reaching people who are there specific to meet you. I recommend check out this article from Inc on great event marketing ideas. No matter how you set up your booth, I recommend running a giveaway to help you collect business cards. Your event staff can only talk to so many people at once. When the tradeshow floor gets really busy, having a box or bowl for people to drop their cards to win a prize is a great option, because in a busy environment, most people won’t wait.
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