Inbound Marketing Needs Inbound Sales To Work
Now that you’re getting leads from inbound marketing it might be time to upgrade your old-school sales process to match your new-school marketing. Better yet, if you’re in the middle of moving to inbound, do your company a big favor and work on inbound sales now instead of waiting to realize you’re not great at closing inbound leads.
Your prospects don’t know the difference between sales and marketing. All they know is that they’re in the middle of an experience with your company. If that experience suddenly feels different to them, they’re going to go underground, they’re going to stop replying and they’re going to slow down the entire sales process. If this sounds familiar, you might have an issue.
No worries. Inbound sales is designed to continue the inbound marketing experience for people who have found their way down into the very bottom of the funnel and asked to speak with your salespeople.
Here’s how you continue that process, close more new customers, close them faster and improve the rate of closing them.
Inbound Sales Process
Prospects are in control of their own buyer journey and so that makes them in control of your sales process to some extent. In the old days, salespeople use to dole out information and control the process. Today, prospects are managing up to 75% of that process on their own with no help from salespeople.
Once you understand that, you might realize your current sales process is not aligned to how today’s buyers look for information and engage with salespeople. The best way to be sure about this is to map out your current sales process. You should probably have this anyway and, if you do, it's a great first step. But if you don’t, you need to document every single step in your existing sales process. Be as detailed as possible.
You want to do this first so you know where you are. The only way to get where you want to go is to know where you are now. Once you have a map of your existing process you can start adjusting it to make sure it reflects how your prospects want to work with you.
For example, you should know that your goal is to make your prospects feel safe. Only when they feel like you’re a safe option will they move forward. What is your process missing that might make your prospects feel safer than they do today? Do you have a deep dive into their business where you ask them a lot of questions and get to know their issues, challenges and personalities? How can you recommend solutions if you don’t really know what their pains are right now?
Your new sales process has to deliver an experience for prospects. The better the experience, the more likely they’ll become a new customer. Don’t skip any detail. Little wows are almost as important as big wows, and the more little wows you build into the experience, the better the system will work.
Continued Use Of Content, Messaging And Stories
You’ve already bought into the idea of content as part of your inbound marketing effort, but did you know that you also need content in your new sales process? We’ve been talking about messaging and stories as part of your strategic marketing plan, and these stories are critical in the sales process.
Take that new sales process and overlay it with content opportunities. Some might be from the marketing effort, while others might be required to deliver the remarkable experience we discussed above. The more you can educate, advise, counsel and consult with your prospects, the safer they’re going to feel with your company as a partner.
Consider that some of your stories are going to need to be disruptive in nature. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, people don’t like change, so your job in creating this new inbound sales methodology is to make sure that you have the stories needed to move your prospects out of their comfortable status quo and into your new normal.
Typically, these disruptive messages include insights, data and opportunities to make improvements. Once these benefits outweigh the risks, you’ll have your prospects moving quicker through your sales funnel and becoming customers at a faster pace.
Tracking And Testing
You’re not going to get this right the first time. You’re going to have to accept that your new inbound sales process won’t be 100% right out of the gate. That’s OK. If you take a continuous improvement perspective to it, you’ll be able to tweak it and adjust it over time until it becomes highly effective and solid. Don’t let this prevent you from rolling it out and learning on the fly.
To really see what’s working and what’s not you need data, and to get data you’re going to need software like CRM or marketing automation platforms. Start with a full analysis of your funnel from top to bottom. Website visitors turn into marketing-qualified leads. Marketing-qualified leads turn into sales-qualified leads. Sales-qualified leads turn into sales opportunities. Sales ops turn into submitted proposals or agreements, and this turns into new customers. You need to know the conversion rate up and down that funnel.
Once you know that data, you’ll clearly be able to see where the issues are and deploy resources to those issues quickly. The impact on revenue will be dramatic. Here are two examples. If all conversion rates down the funnel look healthy, then simply increasing the number of website visitors with a pay-per-click campaign is going to have a big impact on your revenue numbers. But if you have trouble turning agreements/proposals into new customers, it doesn’t matter how many new visitors you get to your website — there are issues in other areas.
On the other hand, if everything looks good but you can’t turn agreements into new customers, we have to look at your paperwork. It might be too long, too complicated, too scary or unclear. Usually at that point you should have very clear agreement on the solution set. Perhaps you’re skipping to the paperwork before you have agreement from your prospect. You’ll test each of these possible solutions one at a time until you break open the bubble and your close rate improves.
If you don’t have a systematic approach to sales like inbound sales, making a lot of these changes becomes exponentially more complicated. Inbound sales gives you the platform to work from and the opportunity to move more quickly than if you were to start from scratch.
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