Now that the tryptophan coma has long subsided and ol’ St. Nick’s officially polishing the sleigh for his annual red-eye flight, it’s safe to say 2017 is on our doorstep.
That said, big changes are brewing in the digital marketing and sales world.
While some companies and business professionals have remained in the loop, preparing their inbound strategies to take flight going into Q1 stronger than ever, others are still in the dark.
Those in the dark risk making or breaking their revenue goals for 2017 – now the make or break ultimatum, you ask? Having an inbound sales process.
What is Inbound Sales?
Inbound Sales consists of building and utilizing a custom, targeted sales process that caters to modern buyer expectations through every stage of their journey.
This process isn’t something you can just copy and paste from another business. It must be specific to your industry, company, personas, sales cycle, and carefully crafted around your inbound marketing strategies.
Your sales team NEEDS to be selling with the same strategic approach that your marketing team markets. Period.
You've spent a lot of time producing valuable content to attract new visitors and convert qualified traffic into leads… but that’s only half the battle! They expect the same helpful, non-aggressive, pain point-solving experience when they are approached by or begin to engage with your sales team.
If your marketing and sales departments don’t have 100% rock-solid communication and alignment (what’s known in the industry as “SMarketing”) then an array of dysfunction in your visitor ---> lead ---> customer performance ratio is all but guaranteed.
Your traffic and leads may continue to rise from inbound marketing efforts compounding, but your ROI will suffer dramatically.
It All Starts With Personas
Much like an inbound marketing strategy, how you begin structuring an inbound sales process begins with your company’s buyer personas. Having thoroughly developed buyer personas is an essential pillar to any “inbound” efforts across the map.
If you’re reading this and haven’t yet had those built out for your company, drop what you’re doing and check this out immediately:
You need to uniquely identify who is converting from a visitor to lead on your website, obtain/assess some instant key information and determine next steps accordingly.
- What Persona Profile do they fall into for your company?
- Where do they land in your company’s Prospect Fit Matrix?
- What position do they hold in their company?
- Which/how much content have they downloaded or engaged with?
- Based on their activity of engagement, is a call or email more appropriate for how to proceed?
There is obviously plenty more you can learn through progressive profiling and making sure your Smart forms have a variety of questions to cycle, but analyzing the above information at the very least is enough to start with.
From here, you can cater your email subject line and messaging to be more personalized, value-driven and speak more knowledgeably to a lead’s specific pain points. This ultimately increases the probability of them opening, reading and clicking through your sales team’s prospecting emails.
Aligning Sales & Marketing: 3 Steps
(1) Set weekly Sales & Marketing meetings
If you don’t have a weekly recurring meeting between your marketing and sales teams, there’s your first fix for 2017. Sales and marketing need each other like fish need water. Marketing NEEDS to have valuable sales input and feedback they gain from the front lines interacting with or speaking to personas and prospects. This heavily steers marketing’s development of content with the highest chance of conversions and engagement. Sales NEEDS to be aware of what initiatives or offers are being developed so they can prepare targeted MQL & SQL nurturing and email messaging accordingly.
(2) Integrate Your CRM
The CRM should be where your sales team lives and breathes. That said, you need to ensure the firepower within whichever CRM your company utilizes plays nice with your marketing automation software and can keep up the pace. Luckily, HubSpot’s CRM is nothing short of a juggernaut regarding its vast amount of integrations which continue to grow every day as well as unrivaled user-friendliness. This is critical because having as much data as possible automatically generate into your contact’s CRM profiles is an absolute must. We live in a world of sales and marketing automation now. If integration capabilities with your CRM are falling short, prepare for a whole lot of manual data input while listening to your CD Walkman (in other words, the time to get current is now!).
(3) Sales Content Assets
These are very important yet commonly overlooked assets for your sales team that need to be strategized by marketing & sales departments, and then developed by marketing and design. We’re not necessarily talking content offers, either. These should be quick and easy-to-digest infographics or PDFs that are bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) in nature with full graphics and design to add visual value. Don’t underestimate the power of polished design on your content pieces! Based on the direction of data, clean/modern design is strongly impacting conversion rates and engagement with content. Ultimately, these sales content assets can help your sales team add tremendous value with SQLs and opportunities who are on the fence between you and possible competitors. Think of titles such as “Our Process” or “What it’s Like Working With (Your Company Name).” Case studies and testimonials could also fall under this umbrella of sales content assets.
Less “Selling,” More “Helping” in 2017
Wrapping things up, the most important thing you need to remember about effectively implementing inbound sales into your business for 2017 – personalization is everything.
STOP having your sales team run spammy, generic, value-lacking, impersonal email sequences or lead nurturing efforts. Your relationship with SQLs is fragile. They raised their hand and are looking to be contacted by sales; however, your time in front of them has to be as helpful and value-driven as possible.
If you’re not approaching sales with a “I genuinely want to help this person solve their problems with my product or service,” then the future of your business will be bleak.