Published on February 15th, 2016
All’s fair in sales and marketing. That was the battle cry until the consumer took over.
Times have changed. Sales no longer controls the flow of information in the buying process, the customer does.
This change has significantly influenced the role of sales and marketing, and has increased the need to work together to align their efforts.
Let’s look at three ways inbound marketing applies to sales and can make selling easier.
Who are we trying to reach? This should be a question that everyone in your organization can answer -- especially the sales team.
Have you ever had the experience of someone trying to sell you something that would only be useful to your retired grandfather?
This type of sales blunder can be avoided with the help of the inbound marketing team.
They have developed clearly-defined buyer personas in order to help sellers personalize their communication and outreach. As we learned earlier, no one wants to hear about something that is not relevant to them.
Smart sellers adapt an inbound marketer’s mindset to position and express the company’s value proposition exactly how their ideal buyers would want to hear it.
Buyer personas help your marketing team create targeted content that will attract qualified, potential buyers for your sales team from the get-go.
2. Warming Up Leads
What is this lead trying to accomplish? Consider this question with each new opportunity.
Inbound marketers spend endless amounts of time creating, testing, tweaking, perfecting (and then doing it all over again) to find ways to generate quality leads.
They create content to attract and educate prospects that they’ll then segment and cultivate until they are ready for sales.
Sales and marketing should be in agreement on what defines a qualified lead and how to move them down the road on the buyer’s journey. You need to determine which stages of the funnel are appropriate for a salesperson to follow up with and which should be sent to marketing.
For example, someone who signs-up for the free trial of your product and someone who subscribes to your blog should get two different follow-ups.
Marketing preps and seasons the leads for the sales team. Then, with the information provided by the marketing team, sales is ready to acknowledge the level of interest, further understand the needs, and take the appropriate action step.
3. Content Creation
Inbound marketing teams spend a large majority of their time creating content.
All content (whether it’s a blog article, eBook, social post, etc.) is created with the goal of targeting prospects at various phases of the buyer’s journey to help entice and educate while moving them closer to the “close” or purchasing stage.
Sales should make use of these well-thought out pieces to help progress the sale. It makes the desperate thought of “I’ll just send them a proposal!” after an initial call fade away.
Content created by the marketing team gives sellers more options for next steps and follow-ups with prospects.
It also serves the purpose of delighting existing customers with valuable information. This builds stronger customer relationships and when it’s time for a renewal or upsell, sales has a better shot at retaining the business.
In an aligned organization, it’s marketing’s job to help sales more fully understand the qualified leads they get and the information that would be most valuable to them. Sellers need to open their eyes to the endless opportunities that inbound marketing provides.
Collecting Sales Data with an Inbound Mindset
It’s also important to note that marketers are constantly testing and analyzing new campaign ideas. They are ready to pivot at a moment’s notice based on the data streaming in -- but sales professionals can be much more reactive with their actions and strategies.
As their jobs require a great deal of human interaction, it can be easy for salespeople to get caught up in anecdotes and not see the reality in the facts, but at the end of the day:
Data should guide your thinking and actions; not just your gut.
Fortunately, sellers can adopt an analytical inbound marketing mindset by tracking day-to-day activities using a CRM or even a free service like Google Sheets.
Looking at the numbers and data behind your selling process will be the only clear cut way of determining what’s working and what isn’t -- without getting emotions involved.
The only way to see improvement is to track in the first place, so don’t get too attached to a certain email template or follow-up approach. If it’s not working, you need to be ready to rethink and rework it at a moment’s notice.
That being said, start keeping tabs on:
- How much time you’re devoting to researching prospects
- How many first appointments you have each week
- How many opportunities you have in each stage of your pipeline
- How long an average sale takes
- Email reponse and click rates
- The ratios between how these metrics affect each other
Being aware of these numbers will help you make informed decisions about what you should be changing or tweaking to progress your sales strategies.
The content above is an excerpt from the guide, The Ultimate Inbound Marketing & Sales Playbook by IMPACT and DMTraining. In the full version, you'll learn all about how inbound marketing and sales work together as well as:
- The benefits of inbound marketing
- The essentials of website optimization and SEO
- How to do email marketing right
- The website's role in the sales funnel
- How to approach inbound leads via mail
- Using social media for sales
- Using content to delight & renew customers
- And so much more!
Get your free copy here or simply click the "keep reading" button below to keep learning.