We spend a lot of time talking about inbound marketing here on our blog, focusing mostly on content, blog writing and inbound strategies. But we don’t spend nearly as much time talking about the sales process.
This is partially by design: while inbound marketing has only started to sweep the business world in the last few years, sales has been around for decades, and many of the same tactics that worked in 1995 still work in 2015. Regardless of how great your marketing process is, you’re still going to need engaging, intelligent sales people to convert your leads. But there is one way inbound marketing can impact the success of your sales team: by giving them extra tools they can use in their quest to turn leads into completed sales.
Another thing that never changes is the need for your sales people to engage directly with your leads. The salesperson-lead interaction is one of the turning points in the sales process. A good salesperson can take a qualified lead and convince them to sign the dotted line, while a bad salesperson can blow the sales opportunity altogether.
In order to ensure your sales people are doing their jobs correctly, as well as being given all of the best tools for success, ask these four questions after they’ve met with leads:
- Did you schedule a follow-up?
You can’t guarantee a sale every time, but you can ensure the conversation continues. Until a lead tells you unequivocally that they’re not interested or don’t want to do business with you, be pleasantly persistent. Some leads take longer than others to commit, but you shouldn’t waver in your persistence. Always schedule a follow-up; that way, you keep giving yourself opportunities to turn that lead into a customer.
- Do you understand what the customer’s concerns/problems are?
A great way to look at sales/marketing is to stop thinking about selling products; instead, what you’re really selling are solutions. And to sell solutions, you need to understand what the problem is for your customers. You should always find out what a lead is trying to accomplish, or what problem prompted them to consider your business in the first place. Then you can cater your sales pitch to their specific problem, as well as find examples of how your company can solve that problem.
- Do you know where the customer is in the buyer’s journey?
With inbound marketing, we often focus on the “buyer’s journey.” The buyer’s journey consists of three stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Each stage describes a different mindset a lead will find themselves in before they make a purchase. Understanding which stage the lead is in will allow you to develop the best strategy to reach them and pique their interest. Their place in the buyer’s journey will also help you decide which type of content to provide them with, which we discuss in the next question…
- Did you provide the customer with content?
This is where inbound marketing can really change the common sales process. With inbound marketing, you should have ample content that you can use to interest and educate your leads. Once you’ve discovered what the lead’s problems/concerns are, and where they are in the buyer’s journey, provide them with appropriate content related to that problem. Not only does this improve your relationship with the lead, you also demonstrate how your company provides value. There should be specific white papers, eBooks or Soundslides presentations that marketing makes available to sales, so salespeople can offer them during conversations with leads.