As many of you know, partnering with an inbound marketing agency is a big deal. It requires you to self-educate, research multiple agencies (or other options), gain internal buy-in, plan to invest lots of money, sign contracts, and ramp up. At IMPACT, on the front lines of those “partnering with an agency” conversations are our Client Success Managers (CSMs), who help you find answers to the tough questions and navigate the sometimes complex journey.
“So… tell me why you’re different.” This is a statement most salespeople (and marketers) fear. The truth is... if you’re already hearing this statement, it’s too late. Early in my sales career, I learned just how hard it can be to identify the differentiating factors of your organization and articulate them in a meaningful way to others. In fact, it’s something most businesses constantly struggle with and I’d be lying if I said we have it completely figured out even here at IMPACT. (I'll be talking all about this at IMPACT Live this year.)
“Is this prospect actually a good fit for us?” It’s a simple but challenging question that becomes a repetitive, internal dialogue as sales reps evaluate whether or not the prospect they’re speaking with is the right sales opportunity to pursue.
I wasn’t always in Sales. I graduated college with a degree in Graphic Design and Presentation and minored in Art. My first real job out of college was working as a production associate at a local sign shop, assisting with digital design and installation of signage. Fortunately for me, the next step in my career was joining Bob in the early days of IMPACT, continuing the execution of creative work. As we grew our client base, I got a taste of what it meant to be in direct connection with the client.
“If the wheel ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? It’s a saying we tend to fall back on - applying it to areas of work and life where maintaining what we know to be just fine is easier and safer than an alternative, but in many aspects of work and life, sometimes “just fine” and “safe” are the enemy of “great.” IMPACT most recently had this realization regarding our own sales process in the early summer.
With greater adoption and execution of inbound marketing programs, organizations are supplementing their sales funnels with more and more inbound leads. By definition, inbound leads are typically better educated on your product or service when the sales process begins. Before having raised their hand, asking to speak with your sales team, they most likely completed some form of research on how you can solve their most pertinent challenges. One of the most frequent concerns I hear from marketers (and even sales folks, for that matter) is their deal progression or close rates are not stellar. Marketing expects more of these warm leads to close, and sales expects these leads to be more qualified so they can be closed. When boiling down the many variables contributing to poor deal progression or close rates, the roots of the issue almost always are sales team members treating inbound leads the same way as outbound leads.
Customer service is arguably the most important thing for your business to get right. Great customer service can overcome poor marketing, but it's incredibly difficult (and expensive) to replace poor customer service with even the most exceptional, "delightful" marketing. Inbound marketing is customer-focused and inherently aids customer service, but that doesn't mean companies who use it can't still be guilty of bad service experiences.
3 weeks ago, myself and a few other IMPACTers attended CXL Live 2017, a 3-Day Growth & Conversion Conference, put on by Peep Laja, one of the world’s most recognized conversion optimizers, and his team at ConversionXL. As inbound marketing and sales folks, we found ourselves in a new, strange, and mysterious world. Instead of being surrounded mainly by Directors of Marketing / Sales, Marketing Coordinators, or Social Media Managers, we were amongst statisticians, quants, CROs (conversion rate optimizers), data analysts, growth hackers, experimenters, and people with the term “scientist” in their job titles. WTF... BUT, this is precisely why we chose to attend.