Have you added inbound marketing to your sales process yet? Inbound marketing is an excellent way to match your sales process to the modern buying process, but it's not a replacement for outbound marketing techniques like networking and referral selling. Businesses that are using inbound techniques strategically integrate them into their existing sales processes, supplementing and enhancing the sales tactics that have been successful over the years. Here are 4 tactics to integrate inbound marketing into your sales process to increase sales.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a coordinated set of tactics designed to attract visitors to your website, convert visitors to leads and eventually customers, and to analyze your efforts to optimize results. Inbound tactics include search engine optimization, content marketing (blogging and premium content production), social media marketing, email marketing, marketing automation and marketing analytics. These tactics work best when integrated into your existing sales process. After all, unless you're an e-commerce company, your prospects will eventually need to develop a relationship with your salespeople.
Connect with your prospects on social media
The first thing your sales people should do is to connect with their prospects on social media - follow them on Twitter, like their Facebook page and follow them on LinkedIn. Use social media software like HubSpot or HootSuite to monitor what they're saying on social media. It's very helpful to see what's important to them and how they communicate to their audience. Share their social media posts and respond to them when appropriate. Join the LinkedIn groups that your prospects participate in and be helpful by answering questions without trying to sell them anything. When appropriate, respond to their questions with your company's blog articles that answer questions that are posed. Be careful - if all you do is post your company's content, you'll come off as a spammer, not a thought leader.
Use marketing automation software for lead intelligence
Marketing automation software like HubSpot lets you see how your leads are interacting with your marketing process. When properly configured, your software can notify the appropriate sales person when a lead downloads a content offer on your website or visits a strategic page. For example, if a prospect views your pricing page, it's probably a good idea to let the sales person know. The sales person can then apply her judgement to determine the appropriate follow-up action.
It's also important to understand which content on your site your prospects are accessing. This real-time lead intelligence gives your sales team insight into how your prospects are interacting with your internet marketing process and what types of issues they may be facing.
Use LinkedIn to set appointments and research prospects
While inbound marketing is an excellent lead generation channel, most companies need to supplement inbound lead generation with outbound prospecting. Cold-calling and email prospecting are becoming increasingly difficult - busy prospects let calls go to voicemail and delete unwanted emails. Used appropriately, LinkedIn is an effective means to prospect in the modern buying process.
A premium LinkedIn account allows you to send InMails to prospects you're not connected with. A short message that gets to the point and describes how you help companies like the recipient's is your best bet. The shorter your message is, the more likely it will get read. Another best practice is to reference a common contact or a company that you've worked with that the recipient may know.
When you have a first appointment with someone you haven't met yet, use LinkedIn to research the person. You can see where they went to school, where they've worked and contacts you have in common. Knowing a little bit about the person you're meeting helps set the stage for a successful first meeting.
Use inbound marketing analytics to understand what's important to your prospects
Marketing analytics provides insight into what types of information resonate with your prospects and where they like to consume it. Some of the key performance indicators that can be measured and incorporated into your sales process include:
- Blog pageviews - if you're blogging regularly, analytics will tell you which topics are most interesting to your audience. Look for trends in your popular blog posts and be prepared to discuss those topics in sales conversations.
- Web visit sources - analyzing where your web visitors and leads originate from can provide valuable insight into your sales and marketing process. For example, the sources report will tell you which social media channels are producing the most visits and lead conversions.
- Search engine referrals - analyzing which keywords are producing web vists and leads is useful, particularly in the context of the KPIs mentioned above. This helps you understand the language your prospects are using and what topics are important to them.
Inbound marketing is an excellent way to generate leads and match the modern buying process. However, it's not a panacea. The most successful companies integrate inbound marketing into their sales process to drive business results. Make sure to integrate your inbound efforts to increase your chances for sales success.