You can forget the four Ps, the concepts of reach and frequency as well as the old sales motto, “Always be closing.” Today, inbound marketing and inbound sales have completely changed the game. In this Forbes article, “The End of the Expert: Why No One in Marketing Knows What They’re Doing,” it’s obvious that what worked a few years ago doesn’t work anymore.
When you break it all down, it makes sense. Today, the new buyer behavior is completely self-service. The day of the sales rep controlling all of the information is long gone. Marketing is about education, not interruption. The company that creates the most remarkable experience grabs the attention of the prospect. Then, it’s that business' sale to lose.
Here’s how you build an inbound marketing and inbound sales experience for your prospects.
Get intimate with your prospect personas.
I’ve seen a lot of prospect personas. Almost everyone has some idea of who their perfect prospect is, but most of you don’t have a detailed enough understanding. It’s more than demographics; it’s psychographics, too. It’s an understanding of their organizational structure and decision-making process.
It’s an online behavioral profile, as well. Where do they go online? What do they read? What are they subscribed to? What groups are they members of? What influencers do they follow? You’re going to need all of that to marry your inbound tactics if you want to get leads for your sales team.
Identify what questions prospects are going to ask.
Beyond the personal profiles, you also need to know what questions they’re asking throughout their buyer journey. These questions are going to help you create content in context, which is an important aspect of inbound that a lot of people rush past in their marketing strategy and planning.
You’re going to want to know exactly what questions they have at the beginning of their journey (in their awareness phase). You also want to know what questions they have when they get into the consideration phase and what they ask at the bottom of the funnel (the decision phase). This helps you map your content perfectly to their buyer journey. This way, you always have educational content at the perfect time to answer the questions they're asking. Some call this proactive selling.
Map out their buyer journey.
You really need to know their exact buyer journey, and your different personas might have different journeys. Keep that in mind while you plan out your inbound marketing and inbound sales tactics. Once you have all of the journeys mapped out, the marketing and sales get easier. Now, you go back and apply content to the key decision-making points in the process. You apply consultative check points that make the process highly personal and wildly helpful for the prospect. You see when to send the Reference Reel video to eliminate the need for references, and you know when to start the conversation around agreements, pricing and paperwork.
Build in a transition from marketing to sales.
This is one of the most important parts of your prospects' experience, and it's the step in the process that they're most worried about. They don’t want to be sold to, so engaging with a sales rep is a counterintuitive step for most people, and one they are slow to take. You have to make that a high-value touch point. We do that by turning the “Talk To A Sales Rep” request (which actually has NO value for your prospect) into something like: “Get 3 Ideas On How To Grow Your Business In 30 Minutes." Which would you rather sign up for?
There's a lot of training that goes into this transition. Your sales people have to understand what your prospect is feeling and how to respond. If they come on too strong or suggest something that feels salesy to the prospect, the opportunity might be lost. But, handle this right, and you're going to have people who are ready to tell you everything you need to know about them, their business and their decision-making process so you can put together the perfect agreement for them.
Measure each step in the process.
Another major advantage to systematizing sales and marketing is that now you're able to measure it. You have the ability to check and see which step is converting at a lower rate, which one is taking longer (and why), which one is adding value and which one is causing concern for the prospect. This insight provides unmatched value when you look at making changes over time.
Continuously improve the entire experience over time.
As I mentioned in the section above, the key is to make small changes over time. This is huge when you’re looking at the prospect experience. We often say that we want our prospects to come out of the Design Meeting (the last step in our sales process) saying, “We have to hire this company!” We’ve been making changes to our process with that feeling in mind ever since we started, and now we have an 80% close rate after the Design Meeting. You're able to achieve this, too.
Today, the experience you provide to your prospects often dictates whether you get the business. We recently lost a major client engagement because we didn’t provide juice and danish to a prospect from Europe. Our bad, as we never stopped to consider the type of experience they expected based on their culture. Once you look at it like this, you’re going to make some different decisions and win more business.
Start Today Tip – By looking at your marketing and sales process through the eyes of your prospects, you’re going to have a different perspective. You’re going to see things you want to change. Make those changes and then track the impact they have on the speed of your sales cycle. Even before you redesign your entire sales process, you should start using educational content from your inbound marketing effort to make your sales experience less pushy and more consultative.
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.