The changes in buyer behavior have dramatically altered how we should be thinking about marketing our companies, and inbound marketing is the perfect methodology.
But, what about how we sell? How different is sales from marketing, and don’t we need to change our thinking about sales, too?
Yes, you do have to consider your sales strategy or how you sell. Your prospects don’t look at marketing and sales as two separate processes being executed by two separate teams like you do. They don’t care about your own internal structure, sales departments and marketing teams. They only care about how you treat them before, during and even after they become new clients or customers.
I would challenge you to start thinking about this more proactively because, in reality, how you treat them is one of the major differentiators in getting and keeping the business. This should be moving you away from your traditional approaches and towards a new, inbound way of thinking. Let me illustrate.
Your Inbound Marketing Works Brilliantly
You execute brilliantly on the inbound marketing side of things. A suspect finds your content online, he or she stops by your website, and you deliver an amazingly interactive and educational experience. Your suspect then turns into a prospect, feels safe and converts on an offer, shifting from an anonymous visitor into a lead. This person is excited about your company and might even be sharing some of your content or your website with colleagues or peers at other companies.
But, Your Sales Process Ruins It
Now the traditional sales process kicks in, and that lead gets handed over to a rep in the sales department. The sales rep emails the lead with a request to talk. Perhaps the rep requests a phone conversation or even an in-person meeting since the lead is local to the office. When the lead doesn’t respond, the sales rep picks up the phone and calls the lead. After all, why not? The lead was interested, right? Before you know it, that perfect, new lead is now in hiding.
Your Sales Process Isn’t Aligned With The New Buyer Behavior
What happened? Someone wanted to talk to you. Well, your sales rep made the prospect, who had felt safe contacting you, feel anxious once the sales department got involved in the process. This feeling of nervousness is triggered biochemically in our brains when sales people put pressure on us to do anything. The same part of the brain that triggers the “buy” button also triggers "fight or flight." This is why good prospects go underground. You’ve scared them off.
Inbound Sales At Work
Introduce inbound sales into the picture, and you've got a better scenario. Once your prospect turns into a lead by downloading something from your website, you need to consider how you nurture that lead. How are you going to continue the positive, educational and informative experience he or she got from your website before you knew who that person was? Now that you know who this individual is, you need to take advantage of that and continue to deliver valuable educational content in just the right amount.
This typically looks like a sales process that has your sales people asking tons of questions and getting to know your prospects intimately. Something magical happens when you ask a lot of questions: People like talking about themselves and their businesses, and when they do, they start to feel very comfortable. They actually become emotionally connected to you, your team and your business because they see that you care enough about them to ask all of these really good questions.
The Prospect's Buyer Journey
The reality of your situation is that you’re NEVER going to know when your prospect is ready to move forward with your solution. In my opinion, they’re ONLY moving forward when their pain becomes acute, and since you’ll probably never know when that happens, you have to be helping them continuously along their journey. You have to accept that they control their own journey and that you are simply a guide, one who helps them make a safe, productive and thoughtful purchase decision. The sooner you see this as the role of your sales team, the sooner you’ll be able to adjust to the new buyer behavior and deliver an experience that matches it.
What Results Should You Expect?
It becomes very obvious that your sales results accelerate when you implement an inbound sales approach. You start closing new clients more quickly, meaning that your sales cycles start to collapse. Since you’re working with leads to create their recommendations, they start buying more because they’re intimately involved in the process. They start referring other people like them to you even before they become new customers or clients. This is because they feel safe. You helped them learn about what you do and how it'll work for them, an experience that they’re happy to tell other people about.
It all comes together quite nicely, and finally, you have the sales and marketing machines you always dreamed of for your business.
Start Today Tip – This isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it – no fuss, no muss. But, it’s actually hard work. Your first order of business is to decide whether you’re really up for a change management effort like this. I’ve had business owners look me in the eye and say, “Mike, I just can’t tackle something like this now.” I totally understand that and respect the VP of Sales who knows when to make a change and when to stand pat. If you’re ready to get started moving toward Inbound, you need to begin with a long list of items that require your attention or have to be changed. Then, work to tackle them one at a time.
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