This is the Most Common Pitfall in B2B Inbound Marketing

Right now, if you want to generate leads there is no more effective and cost-effective way of doing so than with inbound marketing.

According to Hubspot, inbound typically generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, and at only about one-third the cost.

On top of that, SEO-based inbound leads have an average 14.6% close rate, versus only 1.7% for outbound methods.

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A company that embraces SEO and inbound marketing tactics is poised to see an avalanche of new high-quality leads... but is the Sales department up for it?

The most common pitfall of inbound marketing is not being prepared to work leads. 

Inbound completely changes the game when it comes to lead generation, and requires that Sales be able to step up in turn. With proper preparation, inbound marketing can be a true goldmine for the Sales department. However, it often requires some changes and additional structure for this to work, especially if the number of leads increases drastically.

Here is how to avoid this pitfall and turn an ROI from inbound:

Preparing Your Company For Inbound Marketing

1 - Understand how inbound sales is different.

Sales tactics for inbound-based leads will be significantly different than those for outbound, specifically because SEO/inbound reaches a different kind of customer. SEO is focused on buyers who are self-reliant, comfortable doing online research, and accustomed to filtering out mass-targeted generic outbound ads.

The same sort of "hard sell" techniques common for outbound-based leads can easily drive away inbound leads.

Inbound sales are:

  • Buyer-centric. The lead came to you, and they will be willing to walk away just as easily. Sales must be laser-focused on each buyer as an individual.
  • Personalized. Online buyers are looking for personalized service and solutions tailored to their needs. They want sales staff who will pay attention to their problems, not just spout a one-size-fits-all pitch.
  • Based on trusted advice. Inbound leads have very little patience for sales staff fixated on spouting talking points. Interactions should be realistic and look to make good suggestions that build trust.

 

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2 - Create a formal sales process.

If your sales staff are accustomed to kicking back, making phone calls, and randomly schmoozing until sales come in, it's time to add some structure to their process. A sales process is a step-by-step roadmap which begins with the initial lead acquisition, and finishes with the sale, with several key steps in between.

These steps will often include:

  • Initial contacts: Reaching out to the lead via various methods (email, phone, social, etc.) to judge their quality as a lead and to learn their preferred methods of contact. Don't assume everyone loves phone calls; many buyers -- especially younger people -- prefer text-based communication. But be persistent: A lead can take up to 8 tries to reach.
  • Research: Don't rely on a customer to tell you all their problems. Spend time researching their company to learn more about their needs and how your services or product will help them.
  • Presentations: It's increasingly common, especially in technical fields, to have demonstrations or webinars or other full-scale presentations of the product. Have these prepared and ready for when qualified leads are ready to explore your offerings further. 
  • Follow-ups/Retargeting: If a lead is slow to convert, content drips can periodically hit them with emails and browser ads to keep you top of mind and continue to educate the lead. Marketing automation software can help you do this at scale while also watching results.

 

Sales processes should be a built-in collaboration between marketing and the Sales team, based on their prior successes, and tracked for success rates. Don't be afraid to revise the process if a better idea comes along, but make sure all of Sales is on the same page in terms of following it.

If it's just one person handling sales, have them meet with marketing to game-plan and go over results regularly to decide how to strengthen the sales process.

3 - Set expectations for part-time sales staff.

Among smaller organizations, it's often common for them not to have a dedicated sales team, and instead spread the job around several employees who show aptitude. This can often lead to sales being put on the back burner.

Your part-time sales staff should have definite expectations set, and metrics to be followed, to ensure they can keep up with the new flow of leads. Setting a defined schedule, putting aside specific times of day for specific activities can help.

This typically works well when organized. But if not...

4 - Hire more help.

The worst thing that can happen with inbound leads is that they go ignored. Inbound leads have a much higher-than-average conversion rate, but only when Sales can communicate with them effectively.

This is a situation where spending money to make money is the right choice. Even a couple part-time employees focused on working through the leads can bring massive returns, as well as laying the foundation for the dedicated sales team your growing organization will undoubtedly need in the future.

As above, make sure expectations are properly set and they have a clear sales process to follow. Check out GPCT, a great goal-planning exercise, to set the right foundation.

Inbound Is Revolutionizing Marketing

Embracing inbound lead generation methods may require some overhauls to your company's procedures, but it's virtually always worth it. The low cost of inbound marketing combined with the high-quality leads generated makes it a no-brainer for SMBs looking to grow their customer base quickly.

For more information or a kickstart to get your inbound marketing plans off to the right start, contact 41Orange for a free consultation

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About the Author: Gregg Anderson

Gregg Anderson

Gregg is principal and senior advisor of 41 Orange.