Before the internet, marketers and sales teams had far more power than they do today in many respects. People learned about a brand through magazine ads, television ads, radio ads, newspaper articles and grassroots tactics (tradeshows, conventions) and had far less opportunities to research and compare their options. Knowledge was less accessible, so marketing and sales could largely control the message and bend the narrative to their will.
Now, research can be done within seconds through a simple Google search. It’s a buyer’s world and sellers are living in it. When you compare prices, view Yelp reviews, scan blog posts and even test a demo within a few minutes, what you sell has to not only solve a problem, but convince people that it will solve their problem.
Inbound marketing and inbound sales are largely a response to this changing dynamic. Still, it’s not just marketing’s job to guide leads to “water” (your company’s product/service), that burden also rests on sales. Thankfully, modern software can give you a leg up.
Leads are just opportunities. Inbound sales closes the loop
The Art of the Workflow
Thanks to software like HubSpot, much of an inbound sales strategy can be automated into a series of “if this, then that” events. These are better known as “workflows,” in which leads will receive more information about the company based upon their position in the buyer’s journey.
For instance, if the lead is in the “awareness stage,” they’re simply learning more about their problem and are likely new to the company. Once they download the e-guide that discusses their problem at length, they’ll automatically be scheduled to receive an email encouraging them to learn more about their product options. If the lead successfully moves to the “consideration stage,” they will then be prompted, perhaps, to schedule a demo or assessment of a company’s service. These workflows are designed well in advance and adjusted according to the target customer profiles determined by the company.
How a contact becomes a Sales Qualified Lead is up to the company, but nurture workflows can give sales teams a good idea of when a lead is ready to be contacted. Sales will also know how the leads interacted with the content, presenting the team with a better chance of converting the lead into revenue paying customers.
Believe in the Process, Not Instant Gratification
Inbound marketing and sales are not instant gratification tools, but nor was cold calling. Not all the leads that engage with marketing are necessarily ready to talk to sales or close to a decision-stage level in the buyer’s journey. They might still be learning about the nature of their problem or comparing different solutions. Making the wrong move at the wrong time could cost potential customers that just needed more time to get familiar with what a brand had to offer.
Still, while cold calling casts a wide net with an aggressive sales tactic, inbound sales is more thoughtful and thorough in its approach to capturing leads and converting them into customers. Through blogs, e-books, podcasts and videos, leads will engage with a brand to investigate if the offered service or product is worth the investment. All the while, as leads engage with content designed for each stage of the buyer’s journey, sales teams will have the knowledge to know how interested each lead is and what content appeals to them. This means sales teams can engage with leads at the right time when they are highly qualified and ready to discuss a company’s specific offering.
Yes, nurturing takes time. The results are worth the wait.