Inbound Marketing: The Smart Way to Sell
Over the last decade, inbound marketing has been a strong favourite in terms of lead generation and customer acquisition. This holistic, data-driven approach leverages quality content on your website in a bid to attract buyers who have an interest in your products and services, and are therefore likely to research them online.
In essence, inbound marketing is in tune with the way customers behave in a digital environment. It works both in B2B and B2B situations, helping you hit your quota more cleverly.
Inbound sales leverage the inbound mindset of building relationships way before someone is ready to buy. It's built on the notion of connecting with prospects rather than driving a hard sales pitch. In the modern marketplace, sales is not merely about 'closing the deal' but rather about consulting around the potential prospect's problems.
It's smarter to let your prospects define the pace of the sales process, rather than dictating it on your own terms. The goal is to offer education and advice; building confidence and trust.
We've compiled a list of ways you can make the inbound marketing process scalable and efficient for your business.
1. Get On LinkedIn and Be Helpful
While most salespeople have active LinkedIn profiles, they aren't necessarily aware of how to use the platform to generate top-of-the-funnel activity. When used effectively, LinkedIn offers a low-effort, high-return way to connect with interested prospects.
Do your best to connect with as many people as you can, though be sure to remain within the most appropriate circles. The larger your network, the further your reach will extend. Try to remember that this is a professional network, so you don't need to be the best of friends with your connections.
Develop a post that catches the eye of various potential prospects. This isn't brain surgery. A simple offer of help will do. State that you are looking to help a specific type of prospect with a particular problem by a certain date. Be sure to mention your intended target location as well - there's not much point in trying to help someone halfway across the globe if your service doesn't reach that far.
2. Develop a Blog Post or Article With an Offer For a Free Consultation
In many marketing circles, the term "blogging" is treated with heavy sighs and eye-rolling. Too many people think of this as a long and laborious task - somewhat of a throwback to writing a lengthy school paper that no one will ever bother to read. On a list of things that the average person can't stand, writing hovers somewhere between public speaking and trips to the dentist.
It helps to think of blogging as nothing more or less than a conversation. A blog post can be as simple or complex as you like. You could answer some of the standard questions you encounter about your products on a daily basis. You could also delve a little deeper and discuss the problems that are rife within your industry and how your business rises above. You can also use a blog as a platform to celebrate your company's successes, or the achievements of your individual employees.
The goal here is to reach out to prospects and build a rapport. You're aiming for an air of openness and transparency; an absolute necessity in the Digital Age. At the end of your post, you’ll want to offer a free consultation to prospective clients. Make the session long enough to make it look like you’re really interested in making a difference but short enough that you’re not losing out on valuable time.
3. Work Your Personal Network
Too often, we tend to forget about our personal network when the time comes to work on inbound marketing techniques. There seems to be a misconception that the only network worth bothering about is filled with professional contacts only. The fact of the matter is that there are more than a few people you meet in a personal context that could very well end up being an integral part of your lead generation machine. The main benefit of these contacts is that you have built-in trust, so there’s less time to be spent on building a rapport.
In your personal and social spheres, you often have groups of people who don't always intersect. Your work friends tend to move in different circles to your neighbours. Friends you've met through your kids move in different circles to your gym buddies. You don't want to become a person who only talks shop but you also don't want to miss out on a good opportunity either. All you really need to do, is identify how comfortable you are with a particular acquaintance, and if you feel you can talk business, get them to introduce you to a viable connection or two.
It’s all about respecting boundaries and taking a chance when you think it’ll be worthwhile.
4. Consider Revisiting Previously Lost Opportunities
There are businesses and individuals out there that already know what you do. They might have encountered your products through a demo or had a chat through a brief call but, for whatever reason, it wasn't the right time for them to shell out.
Don't throw these contacts out. Keep them on the back burner and touch base every half a year or so. Check in to see if their goals have shifted or discover whether their priorities have changed. Ask about their current major challenges and see if you can help in solving them.
It might sound a little left-of-field to invest time and effort in these prospects but the fact of the matter is they're really already more useful to you than a shiny new lead. Sign them up for suitable email marketing drip campaigns, send them personalised emails with the occasional relevant blog posts, keep them engaged.
They might not bite the first or second time you follow up but when the fourth call rolls around, you could find the odds are in your favour. You never know when people might change jobs or increase their budget just in time to take you up on your offer. Spend a little extra time focusing on staying top of mind and you're guaranteed to be the first vendor they call.
The simplest way to maximize the efficiency of your inbound marketing efforts is simply to get out there and try some tactics to generate new leads. Putting your shoulder to the wheel is the best way forward