In the good old days before the internet, the sales process was very seller-centric. Buyers had limited access to information and relied on salespeople to learn about products and services. Now, buying habits have changed and the sales team need to adapt to this new buyer-centric environment.
You often hear about how the internet and on-demand services have reduced the effectiveness of traditional marketing methods. This problem is what inbound marketing addresses.
What’s less often discussed though is the effects these new developments have on the sales process. Just as traditional marketing tactics like newspaper and television advertising are proving less effective in the internet age, so too are the static, cold calling sales tactics of the past.
In today’s environment, 60% of a buyer’s purchase decision has already been made before speaking to a sales rep.
The good news is that with effective lead nurturing and inbound marketing strategy, a prospect is already 60% sure they want to buy from you before you start speaking to them. The bad news is that without adopting an inbound sales process, you risk jeopardising the sale, wasting the effort spent nurturing the lead.
So, to avoid making this mistake and ensure you close the sale, here are three tips to take your sales inbound:
Target your prospect
Your inbound marketing should already go some way towards ensuring your leads are qualified. After all, people don’t generally download ebooks about the benefits of triple-glazed windows, say, unless they’re interested in buying some!
However, just because a visitor has indicated their interest, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to buy, or even that they’re a good prospect.
If you go cold calling a prospect who is only at the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re likely to put them off. Going in all guns blazing to push your product is not going to go down well when the prospect is barely even aware of the problem you’re claiming to solve.
Instead, it’s important in this scenario to provide the educational content that will take the prospect from the awareness to the consideration stage.
Whilst most of your leads will be qualified in virtue of the type of content you produce, you'll get some downloads from people who will never become leads such as competitors or researchers.
It's the job of marketing to filter out these mismatches and ensure that only the best and most qualified leads are passed to sales.
Research your lead
Research will help you understand the person you’re selling to, their motivations and goals. For B2B sales, start by gathering information about the company you’re selling to such as:
- Company size
- Annual revenue
- What the company sells
- Who they sell it to
Read the company’s news, press releases and blog. If you don’t know much about it already, find out more about the industry in which the company operates.
Also, harness the power of social media to learn more about your prospect: 78.6% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers who don't use it.
Now, when you speak to the prospect, you’ll be able to relate to their situation, understand their problems and establish rapport and trust.
This will lead to a much smoother sales process than an impersonal cold call without context ever could.
Establish a connection
Building on your research, get on the same page as your prospect and relate to their problems. People like to buy from people - don’t come across as a static sales robot.
Remember that famous speech about sales from Glengarry Glen Ross: “Always Be Closing”?
Well, that’s exactly what not to do when it comes to B2B sales in the internet age.
Instead, spend time building rapport and trust with the person you’re talking to. Make the goal of your conversations to help and educate the prospect instead of just pushing the hard sell.
As mentioned in two blog posts before, there is an asymmetry between the positives and negatives of making a B2B purchasing decision. You’re expected to get it right and so there is likely to be little upside to a good purchasing decision. However, get it wrong and it can lead to huge reputational damage – or worse.
This is why it’s so important to establish trust in the sales process. With so much at stake, buyers will only buy from sellers they trust. If there were a sales mantra for the inbound age it would be “Always Be Trustworthy” – even if it's not quite as catchy.
An inbound sales doctor
To borrow a metaphor from Hubspot, the relationship between buyer and seller should be like the relationship between doctor and patient.
A good doctor asks you about your symptoms, listens, and prescribes medication that's specific to your individual situation.
If you visited a doctor and he just gave you some sort of one-size-fits-all drug without bothering to listen to your symptoms, it wouldn't be a pleasant experience, would it?
That's what the traditional, cold call sales pitch feels like for buyers.
Instead, incorporate the three tips above into your sales method and you'll become an inbound sales doctor with a much higher conversion rate.
LexisClick is a Bournemouth-based provider of inbound marketing and sales services. If you’re looking to get the most out of your marketing and increase your sales conversion rate, get in touch on 01202 788333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.