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We’ve all been there. Sat at a desk and handed a dauntingly long spreadsheet of companies - and contacts with direct dials if you’re lucky - to spend the remainder of the day cold calling, hoping that on the off chance at least one of them will take pity and agree to a follow up meeting.
As a salesperson, the rise of inbound marketing has been, quite frankly, revolutionary and puts to bed those archaic assumptions that all sellers fit the stereotypical typical mould of the cold caller. Sure, some still exist, but the wave of inbound marketing has paved the way for a more consultative and informed approach to modern selling. Here’s how...
The fact that you’re reading this blog means you already have an understanding of the inbound marketing methodology and will be familiar with the flywheel, right?
Your marketing team takes care of a prospect’s first, second or even several spins of the flywheel. For every piece of content they engage with, they can be allocated a score. Have they downloaded an eBook? Watched a webinar? Viewed a case study or your pricing page? These are all actions a salesperson loves to see when being handed a lead.
Looking at a contact’s activity helps us rank their intent to purchase and to understand the overall buying persona. The likelihood is that you may not even need to check out their LinkedIn to figure out what department they’re part of.
Viewed your solutions to lead generation? Chances are they’re a marketer. Checked out your product’s core capabilities page? Likely to be the end user of a competitor and experiencing problems. These are all helpful qualifying indicators to a salesperson as to what relevant resources to prepare and what questions to ask when approaching the prospect.
Let’s delve deeper into that lead scoring I mentioned earlier.
It’s this score that’s key to a sales team, particularly when your day quickly fills with pre-booked meetings and calls. It allows you to prioritise what leads you should go after first, leaving the lower scoring leads to be nurtured and moved further along the funnel by marketing workflows. This allows your sales team to spend their time more efficiently on prospects who’re more likely to engage and with a higher intent to buy.
I know what you’re thinking. What score should you allocate to different levels of engagement that will result in achieving efficiency?
Think about your website. Ideally, you want your prospects to click a CTA requesting you give them a call, email, demo, consultation or trial regarding your product or service. These are what we call High Intent inbound leads, should be scored highly and an alert sent to your sales team. Your response time on these should be, without a doubt, almost immediate.
It’s fantastic if a lead is seen to be engaging with content such as eBooks, handbooks or watching webinars, however, we call this level of engagement Low Intent. Don’t disregard these leads; it’s likely they’re interested, but need a little more nurturing from marketing with relevant content to be educated further on your product/service before they want to fully engage. Revisit them later when you have the time if your hunch is that they’re looking like they’re headed towards becoming high intent.
Did you know an hour a day is spent on admin for 27% of salespeople? That’s an hour away from doing what we’re supposed to be doing - selling!
Thanks to inbound marketing, leads are automatically ranked and filtered into lifecycle stages based on their engagement and behaviour with content. The generic lifecycle stages are: Subscriber, Lead, MQL, SQL, Opportunity and Customer. This automates the admin, removing the need for tedious spreadsheet tracking and giving your team way more time than ever before to actually focus on selling to those high intent MQL and SQL leads.
The ability of filtering leads into high and low intent allows you to focus on those leads who have genuine interest in your product or service. So what does this mean for your sales funnel?
Once you’ve qualified your lead and they’ve become an SQL, the next stage is to find out if they are on track to purchase. Generally speaking, you’d create a deal (pushing your prospect into the Opportunity lifecycle stage) if your prospect has expressed genuine intent to buy, a budget and realistic timeline as to when they wish to proceed.
This way, you’re creating a sales funnel full to the brim with genuine opportunities. Gone are the days with a pipeline full of wishy-washy, definitely maybe deals.
Thanks to having a pipeline stripped back of deals sitting on the fence, you now have what should be an easier job of forecasting. How?
Over time you’ll have a “sales cycle”; basically the number of days it takes on average for your team to close a sale. So, you have X amount of deals in your pipeline. Based on, let’s say, an average sales cycle of 50 days, those deals created at the start of April will likely close mid to end of May. Naturally, there will be churn to your pipeline - your prospect’s budget or project falls through, a company restructure happens or they completely drop off the radar aka fall into the Upside Down...
This “churn” helps you not only accurately project your closing figures to upper management for the current and future months, but also encourages a tight relationship with marketing - are the quality of leads high? Then they need to keep doing what they’re doing. If not, the current strategy may need revisiting.
Ultimately, inbound marketing has paved the way for a more consultative approach to selling. Teaming the ability to track a lead’s journey around your website content with a little company/lead research, means your sales team are primed to advise on what product or service will suit them best.
Even better, they’ll know exactly what marketing-prepped content and customer use cases to share that emphasise how and why it will work for them too! Et voila, your sales conversions increase, forecasting improves and strategies become more refined.
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