Are you losing prospects in the long water industry sales funnel? Do they enter the funnel confidently but then get lost among the treatment options? White papers help! White papers have the power to lure prospects into your funnel. Lure them in and keep them engaged right through to conversion.
But what kind of white paper? When?
By understanding the sales funnel and how decisions are made when the problem is complex and the solution expensive, the right type of white paper can be chosen for each point in the funnel.
Top of the funnel – generate leads
B2B customers need time and information to make decisions. And decisions in the water industry are about complex problems that require expensive solutions.
At the top of the sales funnel, the object is to get the attention of potential customers. Generate leads.
A problem/solution white paper is very effective at generating leads. First you define the problem your prospects are trying to solve. You provide quality information about the solutions already in the marketplace. You then introduce the new type of solution your company provides.
The idea is to provide information upon which a buyer can base a business case – never use the hard sales pitch at the top of the funnel. Never mention specific products in a problem/solution white paper.
A problem solution white paper is used:
- To generate leads at the top of the funnel.
- To educate salespeople and channel partners.
- To educate analysts, bloggers, and journalists.
- To redefine a market space.
- To build mind share.
Middle zone – maintain interest and information flow, build competitive advantage
The middle of the water industry sales funnel can be excruciatingly long. You must maintain interest without exerting pressure. Do it by providing controversial, educational, and possibly even entertaining information in a numbered list format.
A numbered list white paper might be a set of tips, points, questions, or answers about an issue. They tend to provide quick summaries in an easy to read format.
People love numbered lists because:
- They are easy to scan.
- You always know where you are.
- They are an easy read.
- The structure is clear.
- You’ve been reading them for years.
Numbered list white papers are relatively quick to produce since they tend to present highlights rather than deep analysis. The points presented can almost be random with the numbering system holding them together.
A numbered list is especially powerful:
- To get attention with provocative views
- To help prospects along that area already in the funnel
- To cast doubt on your competitors.
A numbered list keeps the information flowing into the middle of the sales funnel. At its best, a numbered list white paper encourages discussion by introducing sometimes controversial ideas about the problem or about solutions currently available.
Bottom of the funnel – pulling in the sale
At the bottom of the funnel you want to pull in the sale. A technical backgrounder white paper provides detailed technical information about the features and benefits of your product, process, or service.
A backgrounder has a tight focus on one offering from one vendor. This type of white paper is also referred to as an evaluator’s guide or a product briefing. It tends to do one of the following:
- Explains key features, functions and benefits in more detail than a brochure or data sheet.
- Explains new, unfamiliar or misunderstood technology to a technical audience.
- Supports a product launch by explaining the product in technically detailed terms.
A backgrounder-style white paper is powerful in the late stages of a buying decision. It can help the buyer or buying committee make a final decision. The white paper needs to provide specific details of how the features of your product, process, or service will benefit the buyer. And how those features will solve their problem.
At this point features are as important as benefits, sometimes even more important. The buyer needs to know that your product/process/service will solve their problem.
Post Sale – maintain interest and relationships by re-purposing white paper content
After the sale, your content can help build stronger customer relationships. Relationships that can lead to future sales. After publishing an effective white paper, the content can and should be used to feed other channels.
To establish thought leadership, you must provide new and engaging content continually. Search engines like Google assess content as well as keywords. And white papers are expensive. Re-purposing their content makes good business sense.
Each section of a numbered list could become a post on your blog. They could each be re-reworked into an article in your newsletter. Both the blog post and the article should contain a link to the full white paper on your website.
A problem/solution white paper could be presented at a conference with a PowerPoint slide show. Several white papers could be tied together and published as an e-book.
White papers can engage and educate your prospects all the way through the sales funnel. They make an excellent call to action in a strategic content marketing campaign. Prospects who download the white paper are expressing an interest in the solutions offered. Be sure to collect information when they do. Then follow up. Follow up. Follow up.
A persuasive white paper uses simple language to explain complex technologies. In this special report, you will discover the true value of a persuasive white paper.
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