Inbound marketing does more than just fill up the top of your sales funnel. It also moves prospects through the middle of the funnel so they close faster. This is one of the benefits of inbound marketing: by integrating marketing and sales, it provides your prospects with a seamless experience that makes them feel safe all the way though the sales process.
Today, the sales funnel looks more like the picture to the right. People don't slide through the funnel like they used to. Today, they move down and around the funnel as they become more educated, consume new content and move through their own internal purchase process.
There are a number of ways to leverage inbound marketing — and the educational content generated by a well-constructed inbound marketing program — to create a remarkable experience for your prospects and help them move smoothly through your funnel.
Don’t sell – In case you missed it, people don’t want to be sold to anymore. Think about it...How do you feel when you meet with a sales person? Defensive? On guard? Wary? These feelings are the opposite of what you want your prospects to experience. The only way to change that feeling is to NOT SELL.
Educate instead. Give your prospects information. Make them feel smart and safe. Get them talking about their business instead of talking at them about yours. If you want more information on this approach, our book Fire Your Sales Team Today! goes into great depths on the changes in buyer behavior and how your marketing and sales efforts need to change in response.
Continue to use content – The reason you have leads is simple: you created educational content, displayed it prominently on your website, shared it on social media and leveraged it to get found on all the major search engines. Don’t stop sharing content with prospects once they become active in your sales process. You have to continue to use educational content to answer their questions, make them feel safe and get them emotionally connected to your company.
Map content with their questions – If you’re not sure what content to use when, there are some simple ways to figure this out. I wrote a blog post about mapping content a few weeks ago. Click here to read that post. The best way to approach content mapping is to think about the questions your prospects ask during the sales process and create content that answers those questions. For instance, most prospects want to know about costs and pricing toward the bottom of the funnel, so create a document that compares your pricing and value to other options in the market. Give it to them before they ask, so they see you as proactive and helpful.
Leverage video content – Prospects always want to talk with references toward the end of the process. Here is where a Reference Reel with video testimonials solves a lot of challenges. First, it eliminates the need to bother your customers with reference checks and it eliminates the scheduling challenges between prospects and clients. Second, it gives the prospects exactly what they want; a chance to hear from other people. If you ask the right questions in the video and capture the right answers, you just might eliminate the need for references completely.
Co-create their solutions – When you are putting together the final set of recommendations, you should know that the prospect is going to sign off on it without any changes, modifications or questions. How do you know this? Easy—you have been working together to co-create the perfect set of recommendations.
You asked them so many questions during the process that you know exactly what they want, when they want it, how much they want to spend and how you are going to work together. If there are any doubts this far into the process, then you missed a few opportunities to ask questions and clarify with them.
The lines between marketing and sales are grayer than ever before. Where marketing stops and sales picks up is very blurry and primarily driven by your prospects. They want the same experience all the way through the process. They don’t care who is talking to them, they want help and they don’t want to be sold to.
Start Today Tip – This is a great time to look at what your sales team is doing and make sure it's aligned with your inbound marketing effort. If your marketing is educating but your sales team is selling, it’s going to make your prospects uncomfortable and might even send them to your competitors. Start looking at these two processes as one and get the people responsible for these functions working together to deliver a remarkable experience. This will shorten your sales cycles, increase average revenue per client and help you grow your company.
Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing and Inbound Marketing Revolutions!
Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.