You’ve heard it countless times. Cold calling is dead. You wouldn’t really care–except you get at least one email a week saying the same thing over and over.
Drop the phone! Cold calling is dead! You’re not welcome!
Well, cold calling is not dead.
While cold calling still has a crucial role in sales, it’s important for salespeople who have a background in cold calling to learn about how things run today.
A lot has changed, really.
It used to be that cold calling is the lifeline of a sales organization. From prospecting to actually closing deals, calling people cold has been a go-to sales practice for a long time. Now that things have moved more from rep-centric to customer-centric, there is a lot of work that goes into prospects before an actual call is made–and that begins with how prospects and leads are generated in the first place.
Operative word, inbound.
It used to be that sales organizations sniffed and snooped out leads from far and wide, and used hardened techniques to get them to set an appointment or buy right there are then.
Well, today, customers are not to be caught off-guard.
Leads come in instead of being found or mined.
In this post, we’ll cover the basics of inbound marketing and hopefully answer the questions old-school salespeople may have about it.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is about giving customers a reason to visit you. Instead of marketers going out to get the attention of sales prospects, inbound marketing puts emphasis on creating content that draws customers to a company’s website. From there, the mission is to get the user to provide contact information through different techniques–the core of which is creating content that addresses the visitor’s pain points.
Inbound marketing has proven its effectiveness for a lot of companies across different industries. In fact, in a survey by Kapost, 67 percent of B2B companies rated Inbound Marketing as a top three priority component of their overall marketing strategy for 2015.
Sure, inbound marketing sounds great. But, how does it really impact sales?
How does inbound marketing impact sales organizations?
Inbound marketing shortens the sales cycle
Sales leaders are always looking to shorten the sales cycle. Who doesn’t want reps to spend less time closing deals? More deals, more time to move on to the next lead.
When sales reps spend less time closing, they able to cater to more prospects and leads, generating more revenue for the company. When this happens, teams can hit their targets within a shorter period.
How does this happen through inbound marketing?
- Content already addresses objections that might be raised by the prospect over the phone, even those that people who influence them and main decision-makers have
- Leads are automatically nurtured through a content-rich website that’s filled with content that provides useful information
- Leads are qualified, scored and filtered based on which pieces of content they responded to, what their response was and the response time
- Sales teams are able to pinpoint leads that are more receptive to targeted content
- Some in-depth content pieces can take the place of long sales meetings. At the very least, these content materials can serve as supplements to your sales meetings
Fills up the sales pipeline with a sustained lead flow
Older, more traditional sales and marketing approaches bring in a massive volume of leads through various means. Advertising, buying lists, third-party lead generation companies and other approaches can bring leads of less than stellar quality.
What does this mean for the sales team? A lot of work.
The low lead quality creates a lot of wasted time due to calls that will never really go nowhere. The danger is losing time that could’ve been spent working on better selling opportunities. Worst, if those better opportunities were time-sensitive, you’d have lost the opportunities altogether while you were on a call with a low-quality lead.
Inbound produces targeted leads. When you create content that is truly helpful and valuable to your target audience, prospects will flock to your content and some of those can turn out to be really high-quality leads.
The result? A steady stream of targeted leads that already have a level of interest in your product or service.
Understand prospects better
Most prospects feel like salespeople are just selling to them instead of helping. When you’re a salesperson who can demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a prospect’s situation, you’re already ahead of the pack.
Knowing your customers’ pain points through their interaction with your content–what pages they stayed at the most, what opt-ins they signed up for, which papers they download.
These pieces of information are precious to sales. There are marketing automation software that takes note of important numbers and data that help you understand prospects better.
Sales intelligence and business intelligence software are also widely available so you can capture prospects’ behavior that will help you prepare well for calls, meeting and all client interactions.
Having the ability to analyze these data points is critical in further identifying and polishing prospect goals, pain points, needs, and interests.
You know what that results to
Salespeople would have more material to talk about in sales calls. It allows them to have enough grease to move the buying conversation. It’s already a huge advantage to have information captured by marketing automation software, but it’s an even bigger advantage to know how to use this information as opposed to taking and making calls blindly through cold calling and passive inside sales.
Wasting time on low-quality leads doesn’t only waste salespeople’s time. It’s also the quickest way to demotivate a sales force. Imagine hyping yourself up for every sales call, only to have someone who doesn’t even take any kind of interest in your industry.
When you provide quality content to your audience, they will trust you. They will see you as a go-to resource and they will get drawn to your service because of this.
Using quality content, you can pull in customers at every step of their buying journey, especially if you add content they haven’t gotten elsewhere.
What’s good about this is that it doesn’t only help your sales force, it also helps the customer better understand your company and product without having to make a direct call to your reps–something that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing a lot these days.
When prospects are prepped well through content, the eventual sales call will be much smoother as prospects are sales-ready and already hold a level of knowledge about your niche and product.
Better sales performance, higher marketing and sales ROI
Using content to attract leads that are almost or already sales ready can only cause good things to a sales organization. And, as you know, when sales is performing well by bringing in revenue, closing more sales, smashing quotas, the whole company wins.
When you’ve established your company as a go-to thought leader in your field, not only will you get leads, but you’ll naturally get referrals from your existing customers and a better retention rate.
Inbound marketing helps cold callers understand that while having the skills to soften up prospects is highly valuable, pouring your energy toward actually closing sales is a better use of this skill. The inbound approach helps salespeople get to the close quicker and it also sets the stage for sales reps to create lasting customers that buy in and buy up.
And, content created on your website will continue to perform for you well after they are published–promoting growth, pulling in revenue and continuously putting your team in the position to succeed.
Be a company of industry experts
When you only put out top notch content and give quality service to all inbound leads in terms of consultative selling, your company and sales department will build a great reputation.
Isn’t being considered an expert in the field something all companies want to experience?
Your customers and even visitors will do evangelizing work for you, and the results of quality content will be amplified without you even touching these channels.
When you have quality content out there, your leads will have a reason to choose you after researching. Sales reps can build their own credentials as well by participating in content creation, helping promote content on their social media profiles and take ownership of content pieces.
How can they participate in the inbound marketing process?
Here are the ways:
- Writing blog posts that are useful to the audience. This includes how-to guides, step-by-step posts, tip lists, FAQs and industry insight that are within the interest of your target audience
- Work with marketing to create content around customer successes through case studies and story testimonials
- Be the talking head by hosting webinars and product demos that address points of interest for prospects
- Promote content on social media
- Interact with other content within your industry by sharing, commenting and referencing other posts in their own
This helps not only the reputation of a company as a whole, but the reputation of individual salespeople as consultants.
Begin attracting high-quality leads
Cold callers are not made insignificant by the flux in the marketing and sales landscape. In fact, you are tasked to take on tougher clients to crack. If not, you will surely be comfortable learning more about the consultative approach as you are used to really digging deep into the prospect’s interests to bring stuff you can use as selling jump offs to the surface.
So, don’t worry. There’s still enough room for everyone. It’s just that sales and marketing as fields are experiencing emerging practices that are more efficient and turn in better results.
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