While leads look excellent on paper and show intriguing potential, they’re effectively worthless if there isn’t an effective process to convert them into paying customers. Inbound marketing derives its success through its sensitivity and awareness of contemporary buyer behavior. Buyers have more control than ever, and inbound marketing gives buyers the tools and information they need in order to purchase what they want. While inbound marketing in itself is effective for engaging curious buyers, someone has to close — and inbound sales is the answer.
The Inseparable Marriage of Sales and Marketing
The more independently sales and marketing operate, the less effective each team will perform their respective jobs. Sales teams execute far more effectively if they’re empowered by data funneled in by the marketing team that attracted the leads in the first place. Likewise, marketing requires sales data so it can fine-tune its tactics to target leads that are more likely to convert once they reach the end of the “buyer’s journey.” When leads are passed off to sales with a wink and a “good luck,” sales teams are operating at a disadvantage — they need knowledge to appeal to individual buyers. When a sales team fails to inform the marketing team of lead feedback, the marketing team can’t adjust its tactics to properly target new potential customers.
Sales is More Than a “Decision Stage” Operation
The inbound marketing “buyer’s journey” consists of three distinct stages: awareness, consideration and decision.
At the awareness stage, buyers are searching for a solution to a specific problem or pain point. For instance, buyers with an intolerance for gluten might be seeking gluten-free meal options.
At the consideration stage, buyers are considering specific types of solutions. The same person with gluten intolerance might be deciding between pre-packaged gluten-free meals or meals to cook at home.
At the decision stage, a buyer will be in the process of deciding if a specific company’s product is the right choice for them. The buyer seeking a gluten-free meal solution might be allured by the idea of pre-packaged meals from Pure Plates, as an example.
Throughout this process, the point where a lead becomes a “Marketing Qualified Lead” (MQL) or a “Sales Qualified Lead” (SQL) will vary. What shouldn’t vary is the sales team’s involvement in all three stages of the buyer’s journey rather than leaving the first two stages, awareness and consideration, to fall exclusively in the hands of the inbound marketing team. This can mean researching awareness stage leads in advance, sharing content produced by marketing at the consideration stage and advising leads more specifically at the decision stage.
Take Advantage of Information and Personalize Messaging
How a lead interacts on social media, how they classify themselves when downloading offers, and how far they’ve moved through the buyer’s journey can help inbound sales teams create a personalized experience for buyers. Cold emailing and cold calling are not only intrusive, but they don’t respect the power buyer’s have when selecting products. By working more closely with the inbound marketing, and by giving the marketing team the feedback they need, the inbound sales team can do what they do best — close.