5 stages of awareness of a prospect

5 Stages of Prospects and How to systematically handle them

When a business owner or sales executive receives a lead, the natural instinct is to dive into the standard sales process. It takes a lot of effort to generate leads. A lot of money and time is spent in getting the prospects to reach you. So it is very natural to be in a hurry to make a sale happen. But, this is a big mistake that causes most sales or business development executives to “lose” most of their sales. Why? Because every prospect they speak with is in a different stage of their buying cycle. Their awareness is at different levels. There are mainly 5 stages of prospects in which they are at different levels of awareness. 

Long back in 1966, Eugene Schwartz who is considered one of the greats in marketing and advertising, in her landmark book “Breakthrough Advertising” talks about these 5 stages of awareness of prospects: 

What are the 5 stages of prospects? 

1. Most Aware – They know you and your products well. They are looking for a special offer or a deal to make the purchase. 

2. Product Aware – They know your products and services. They have done their research. They know multiple options available in the market. They are trying to find out which product is best suited for their needs. 

3. Solution Aware – They are aware that there are solutions available for the problems they are facing. However, they are still to find out which are the best options for them. They may get into deeper research of the available solutions.   

4. Problem Aware – They know they have a problem. But they are not aware of the products or services available. This is the time when they will start their research. 

5. Unaware – They don’t even know that they have a problem. This is the largest group of prospects. They can be the hardest to deal with. 

We are taking a different approach here by focusing on the most aware first and finally looking at the unaware. Why? 

Because a sales representative needs to focus on them in that order. They generally deal the least with unaware prospects while they can generate the highest sales from those who are most aware.  

In this article, you will understand various tools and tactics that you can use to skillfully handle your prospects in these 5 stages of awareness.

What to do with the “Most Aware” prospects? 

As a salesperson, these are the most important type of prospects. They buy from you, they engage with you and they even refer your products or services to their friends or colleagues.  

These are a few things you can do for them – 

1. Create offers or discounts for them. Share it with them at opportune times. Most of them are simply waiting for a good deal. 

2. Offer them a community, which aligns with their key intent and interests behind buying your products or services. 

3. Add them to your referral programs. This is the type of prospect who is most likely to refer you.

4. Many of them may get ready for special sessions like interviews or feedbacks. This will help you generate a lot of valuable content and insights. 

5. They can be the best beta testers for your upcoming offerings. Before you plan to launch any new products, talk with them. This will tell you if your new product will sell well.

6. Create content like emails, blogs, and social media posts that will constantly add value for them. This helps in retaining them. A retained customer means increased lifetime value and the opportunity to sell more. 

7. Some of them can literally become your influencers, spreading your word to large masses. Carefully detect those who are most likely to become your influencers. 

8. Timely genuine calls, emails, or messages just asking how they are doing can go a long way. They need to feel your utmost care. 

What to do with the “Product Aware” prospects? 

These are the prospects who want to buy a product or service to solve their pain. They know you because of their research. However, they are struggling to decide what will be the best fit for them. 

Here is a list of things you can do for them – 

1. Find ways to be in touch with them on weekly basis. Use emails, newsletters, blogs, webinars, and social media to share information that builds trust in their mind about your company.

2. Highlight your achievements, product updates, and success stories in your communications. 

3. Invite them for product or service demonstrations. 

4. Focus all your conversations and communication around their pains and aspirations. This shows empathy. Prospects will feel that you understand their situation. 

5. Try referring to all the major objections that your prospects generally have. This means even before these prospects get on a call with your sales rep, their major doubts are already cleared. Now they have higher confidence in you. 

6. If possible, invite them to have a conversation with your customers. This shows your confidence and openness. Also, a positive word from an existing customer goes a long way in these prospects making up their mind to buy from you. 

7. Try figuring out your unique selling proposition for them and actively find opportunities to convey the same.

8. Ensure that your product looks much better than the competition to your prospects. 

9. Last but not least, avoid spamming these prospects. They are hot prospects for sure, but they are dealing with multiple solutions providers. So you need to understand that they may be receiving a flood of messages. 

10. Focus on creating a pleasant experience for these prospects, because it gives them an impression of things to come with you. 

What to do with “Solution Aware” prospects? 

This is a set of prospects who are fully aware of available solutions (products/services) in the market. They know that their problem can be solved. This is when they are actively searching for available solutions. They may also have found a few of them. 

The important thing to remember is, this is a sort of “list building” stage for the top 3-5 solutions they may want to dig deeper about.  

Here is a set of things you can do for them – 

1. It is important to understand where your customer generally goes to do such research. You need to have an active presence in those mediums. 

2. Your value proposition needs to connect with them well. This is why you need to have a clear idea about the person of your prospects. 

3. Your content needs to have a story that connects with them. Before they decide to know more about 3-5 solutions out of 10+ that they find, they need to connect with those products. A story connects, drives empathy. 

4. Email newsletters, SEO, lead magnets, and recorded demonstrations can come in handy here. Testimonials will boost their confidence. The idea here is to leave a strong impression and find a way to remain in front of them. 

5. Branding and referral campaigns can create an effective word of mouth for your products. It can reach those who may not know you but may have a problem you address. 

6. Ensure that your communication or calls, place your brand as a leader in your space. 

What to do for the “Problem Aware” prospects? 

These prospects are acutely aware of their problem. They are at a very initial stage of starting their search for solutions. 

These few things can be done for such prospects – 

1. What they need is hope. So your communication needs to be centered around their problem and the undesirable “impact” such problems can have on them. This is a starting point of their solution discovery phase. 

2. They generally start searching the web when they are in this phase. So your SEO needs to be strong. Podcasts and videos on channels like youtube can help. LinkedIn posts are one more powerful mechanism to generate awareness for you. 

3. Sometimes the “pay per lead” services can come in handy, as they catch these prospects. 

4. Your communication with blogs or emails needs to be around the solutions to such problems. This can give you a timely impact on such prospects. If they find your solution good, they may subscribe to your blog or fill up your online contact form. 

5. If you are on a call with them, they need to experience that you understand their problem deeply and you can get them a good solution. So having a strong awareness about how your prospects feel in this stage can come in handy. 

6. Facebook, Google, and Twitter advertising, which mainly promotes whitepapers or other lead magnets will be useful for you. 

7. General industry sessions or webinars around such problems will give such prospects a deeper understanding of the impact of the problem and possible solutions. It also shows you as a leader in your industry or field. 

What can you do for “Unaware” prospects? 

This is by number the largest bunch of prospects. They may be facing the problem that your product solves, but they are totally unaware of their problem. 

It is important that they become not just aware of their problem but also of the adverse impact that such a problem has on them. 

These are the things you should try for them – 

1. It is very important for you to know the persona of your prospects. Where they hang out, what they do, what they think and what is their language. So have a deep understanding of your customer persona. 

2. This will help you understand who should receive your cold calls or cold email. This will help you understand whom to write your blogs for. 

3. On the calls active listening and appropriate questions will be your powerful tools to help these prospects understand their pain. 

4. Various education initiatives like seminars, webinars, courses and other programs can build the much needed pain awareness to those who are uninitiated. 

5. Viral marketing, referral campaigns and a bit of facebook advertising without filling up targeting information can make your message reach to such people and get them thinking about their problems. 

6. Build communities and have social media strategy. The likes and shares in such places can connect you with a lot of “unaware” prospects. 

Approaching every prospect with the same message can be harmful in modern selling. Modern selling is more about alignment with your prospects buying stages. 

These stages come in your customer’s journey based on their level of awareness. This is why knowing what to do with your prospect in their different stages of awareness can come in handy.

Many times, you may not even need to speak with your prospect till the sale happens. 

Have you implemented some of these tools or systems? Are you using them in conjunction with your prospect’s 5 stages of awareness? If not, this guide can be a handy reminder of things to be done.  

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