Live from Inbound 2013
If you read our blog, then you know we have been talking about the convergence of marketing, sales and service for the past few years. In fact, we've been talking about this ever since we wrote our second book, Fire Your Sales Team Today!, where we introduced the world to the concepts of the Revenue Department, Guided Sales Process and the Sales Guide.
Today at Inbound 2013, the tools to support that process from first encounter on your website all the way through to delighted customer are just now becoming available.
Since buyer behavior changed and people stopped needing sales people, the world of marketing and sales has became very different. Gone are the feature-heavy brochures, company-centric websites and hard-sell sales processes.
Today, the most progressive companies have taken our advice and looked more holistically at the entire experience, mapping out ways to guide the prospect along the way. To illustrate what that new process looks like, let me show you what I mean:
A woman, who works at a company that could benefit by using some of the services your business provides, decides that it’s time to look into some options for purchasing those services, but she doesn’t know about your business.
Her first step is to speak with other people like her—they could be peers in similar jobs at other firms or colleagues at her current company. She is asking to see if anyone she trusts has any experiences with firms like yours.
She does a quick search on Google to see what types of firms come up. When she searches for a few of the keywords she thinks are relevant, she sees a few links.
She also logs into LinkedIn and posts in her industry group that she is considering services like this and asks if anyone had any successful experiences with companies who provide these services.
During her search she finds your company’s blog. Not your website, but a blog article that has been recently posted. She clicks on the link, visits your blog and notices that, at the end of the blog, there is a Call-To-Action to get a Free Report.
She clicks on the button and lands on a page where she is asked for her email address. She gladly provides it, downloads the Free Report, reads it and is interested in the refreshingly helpful position your company is taking. She feels as if you want to help her, not sell her.
The next day she comes back to your website and sees that you offer a webcast series and have a webinar coming up next week. She signs up for it. In the process, you also send her a lead nurturing email that provides her a few of your most popular blog posts and an offer for her to subscribe to the blog, so that she can continue getting helpful tips right in her email box. She signs up.
Prior to the webinar, she receives a few more personal emails with additional content like an offer for an eBook, a video to watch and a reminder about the webinar.
She attends the webinar and at the end of the there is an offer for a 30-minute assessment of her current situation. Yes, she gets to talk with an expert about her situation. She gets some suggestions and recommendations on how to improve her situation.
She finds this refreshing and signs up. The conversation is scheduled quickly and she is excited. “This company really has its act together.” she thinks to herself. Through this experience you have established trust, gotten to know her and she likes what she sees so far. Inbound marketing has worked perfectly.
But now she is going to be talking with a sales rep. Let’s be honest. She knows it, you know it, I know it—her expectations are low. This is where marketing hands the ball to sales and they have to take an inbound approach—just like you took an inbound approach—when handling this lead.
First, make the call all about her. Ask her questions. People love talking about themselves. Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions that help you determine the best solutions to her situation. Questions that establish if she is capable of making a purchase decisions. Ask all your questions in a way that makes it all about her. “How does your company typically make a decision like this?” “Who is typically involved in the final decision?”
Ask questions about pain. “Why are you looking for services like this?” “What’s going on in the company today that is different than last year when you didn’t need these services?” “How quickly do you need to make a change in the way you do things?” “Is there a business reason as to why you would need to move on this project sooner than later?”
Ask questions about fit. “Have you hired a company like ours before?”” How did that go?” “Why are you considering this an option now?” “How do you typically work with companies like mine?” “Are we vendors or strategic partners?” After about 30 minutes or so, you should have a very good idea as to whether this is a sales opportunity or just a lead.
If it’s a sales opportunity, you are going to have to go much deeper before you recommend any services. If you don’t, you run the risk of eroding all that trust she built up in the marketing stage. She might wonder, “how can he recommend services when he doesn’t really understand all the intricacies’ of my business yet?” You can never ask too many questions and, remember, people LOVE talking about themselves and their businesses.
Once you are intimate with her business, now you are able to start helping her by sending along the right, relevant information. Not product information or a company brochure, but smart, creative and educational articles, e-books, podcasts, videos, blog posts, research or presentations that help her get smarter, look smart to her boss and get her feeling smart about the purchase decision she is about to make.
Clearly explain to her your process and why it’s important that she follow it. Why is it important? It’s important because it’s a proven process designed to help people just like her get everything she needs to make a smart and safe decision. If you don’t follow it, she might not have everything she needs to make a good decision—and you wouldn’t want that right?
This is your process, but she controls the speed. You can go as fast or as slow as she needs you to go, all while sending along educational content to help her get smart.
When her pain becomes acute, and you can't control when this happens, she will make a decision. If you’ve done your job and emotionally connected with your new lead, earned her trust, helped her get to know you and like you—well, you will have a new client. In the end, the process of attracting a new prospective client, engaging her, converting her, nurturing her and guiding her through a decision making process resulting in a new client for your business will have been completed.
Success! Now just do that 100 more times in the next six months, right?
Start Today Tip – I have said this many times. What I describe above isn’t easy to do. But you have to do it. The sooner you do it, the more competitive and successful your business will become by differentiating your remarkable attributes. The sooner you start, the earlier you will work out the challenges and get it moving forward in an optimized and scalable way. Perhaps most importantly, the faster you will get leads, referrals and see your top line improving.
Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing and Inbound Marketing Revolution!