One of the following scenarios is a great example of effective inbound sales. I’ll let you decide: A or B?
Scenario A: So you've just moved into a house in "The ‘Burbs" (cue Tom Hanks hilariously fending off bees) and you’re looking to buy a new lawnmower. Equipped with minimal info, you hop on Google and find a blog post by Brand X that answers your surface questions and educates you on lawnmowers. Promising start.
At the bottom of the blog post you notice an Ebook offer which appears to dive further into some of your key questions. You fill out the required form (phone # included) and boom: your free Ebook is downloaded.
You begin reading, and about 3 pages into it, your phone rings. “Hey there, this is Matt from Brand X. I notice you just downloaded our Ebook - can I answer any questions for you?”
Scenario B: Complete replica of Scenario A, however, this time you’ve downloaded Brand Y’s Ebook. You’re cruising through it, interruption-free, gaining a plethora of knowledge and getting a ton of the answers you sought after. No out-of-the-blue bothersome phone call ever came.
Instead, you get a follow-up email the next day thanking you and even offering the download of a free infographic that breaks down lawnmower blade erosion over time based on climate. You think “Wow, that’s incredibly helpful and something I didn’t even consider.”
The next day, a third email comes. It’s another ‘thank you - hope you enjoyed’ and this time there’s a suggested article that breaks down lawnmower brand reviews from a trusted, unbiased website. This is it: all the confirmation you could’ve hoped for in your buyer’s journey has been attained.
Your trust has been very honestly earned and every pertinent question you had walking into this considered purchase was answered by Brand Y in a helpful, non-invasive way.
At this point it’s pretty obvious which scenario most of us would prefer.
Through targeted content sharing that is pain point-specific (could be persona-specific depending on industry space) you can effectively turn an MQL into an SQL. Just make sure everything you're providing your personas through their journey is well-timed and valuable. Those two elements are absolutely crucial. Be sure to follow Scenario B and avoid Matt’s tactics like the plague.
The “Cold Call” Era is Dying: Do Not Resuscitate
If you’re part of the inbound resistance, you may have missed the memo: Buyers now hold all the power.
This isn’t the 90s when if a buyer within any industry had important questions they needed answered about your product/service or industry, you were the gatekeeper of information. Now all of that information, and then some, is a mere Google search away. The conclusion of Scenario A above would make almost any modern buyer in any industry extremely uncomfortable. The "personal space" of your visitors is very real, more delicate than ever and cannot go overlooked. Ambushing leads in the digital era is a major no-no.
Inbound marketing, inbound sales, inbound links, inbound raspberry jam. If you haven't already, get used to inbound because it’s not going away anytime soon. Crochet an inbound blanket and cuddle with it by the fire on a blustery winter night--whatever helps you adapt--do it.
If you don’t have an inbound marketing strategy supported by an inbound sales process, pay attention, because your competitors are probably already stealing potential visitors, leads and customers right from underneath your nose.
Inbound Squared = Maximum ROI
So you’ve implemented inbound marketing, now it’s all breakdancing kittens and Skittle-dumping rainbows, right?
Pump the brakes, because there’s an important point you must digest from the starting line: An inbound sales process is vital to your inbound marketing efforts. Otherwise, what are you marketing for if you don’t have the proper measures in place to close customers? Countless hours go into steadily nurturing leads into potential SQLs, why on Earth would you erase all that hard work by shutting off inbound practices once they raise their hand? They've enjoyed the ride so far, don't sacrifice their experience on the last lap because now you've got dollar signs brewing in your eyes. Inbound is a selfless, helpful philosophy above all else. If that's not at the core of your company's principals, just turn on PPC and call it a day.
You can have a full platoon of staff or an outside agency cranking out awesome content, boosting your website visitors by the thousands and leads by the dozen, but if you’re following Scenario A, you’ll be hard-pressed to gain full ROI out of those increased visitors and leads.
Sure, you may get a handful of SQLs who might convert into customers out of sheer necessity, but without a structured inbound sales process that effectively targets, segments and nurtures leads from MQL to SQL and SQL to customer, you are barely scratching the surface of your growth/ROI potential.
Less Interrupting, More Nurturing
If you leave this post with anything today, make it this: DON’T BE MATT FROM SCENARIO A.
Whether you’re a company who’s already investing in inbound marketing, or on the brink of implementing it or even trying to allocate budget to put it in place down the road, please remember not to scare off your MQLs.
The fragility of their trust cannot go overlooked or undervalued. Keep the inbound philosophy present from start to finish with any leads who come from your website--this is especially important in sales. When they’re ready to talk, they’ll let you know (i.e. convert through a bottom-of-the-funnel offer on your website or call you directly).
It’s your job to know your personas, their pain points and the answers they seek so well that the content you create is too valuable for them not to inevitably raise their hand.