I was recently talking to a colleague about how outbound B2B sales used to be ‘back in the day.’ I heard tale of plowing through endless ‘cold’ lists in order to qualify phone numbers, having to do battle with the gatekeeper to get to a decision maker, and after countless attempts finally getting a hold of a decision maker only to have to struggle to find a convenient time for an appointment, and then there was only a faint hope that the person would actually keep the appointment.
Today’s business world moves much faster. A recent study by Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with an enterprise without interacting with a human. That means that if your sales team is still chasing down leads the old fashioned way. Your business is going to miss out.
This may leave some organizations that are still using older marketing and sales methods wondering where they will get their leads. For many successful businesses the answer is simple; inbound marketing. So how exactly can inbound marketing help improve the process for customer acquisition? Take a look at a few of the ways inbound marketing can improve outbound sales.
Inbound marketing turns cold calls into warm calls
Cold calling is one of those uncomfortable marketing techniques that every salesperson has probably experienced at some point. And honestly? Most don’t enjoy it. But with a well-developed buyer persona focused inbound marketing campaign, by the time sales actually gets on the phone, potential prospects should already be well-versed in your product/service and organization. This doesn’t mean sales doesn’t still have a job to do once they get that lead on the phone. It just means that when they pick up the phone they can say, “Hey Mr./Ms. Lead, we received notification that you downloaded the trial sample of our latest widget from our website and we just wanted follow-up and see if you have any questions.”
Lead nurturing and lead scoring
Inbound marketing offers two especially potent tools for fine-tuning your outbound sales prospects — namely, lead nurturing and lead scoring. After creating your campaign, lead nurturing helps to gently move your prospect down the sales funnel. This is done by carefully crafting premium content offers and emails that are in-line with your prospect’s buyers journey.
Lead scoring is just as useful for your outbound sales team as it is for your inbound marketing system. Why? Because it helps your team identify the active leads — the ones who have already begun to seek answers to their problems. This not only helps the sales team build a stronger database by separating the wheat from the chaff; it also helps ensure that they reach those potential buyers with the right message for their current demonstrated stage of interest and knowledge. After all, it’s a waste of time and effort to introduce your products or services to someone who has already started looking into them, or to dive into operational features when the respondent has never even heard of your company before.
Helps you get in touch with the right person at the right time
A name on a list is only as good as the need that person actually has. In the days BI (before inbound) lists of names were often purchased or picked out of a phone book. Even if you had the right name and that person was in the right industry, there’s no way by just looking at that list, that you could tell if they had recently purchased the product you are trying to sell. But if someone is on the internet searching for information about a problem that your product can solve and they download a piece of your content that helps solve that problem, then you know at the very least they are looking for answers your product may be able to help with. Lead nurturing emails with appropriate premium content can help discover whether that prospect is a qualified lead.
You know what they are looking for
If your business sells multiple products or services you can often tell what a customer is really looking for by the things they click on and content they download. What they offer also gives you a good gauge at what their pain points are which your sales team can address during the outbound sales process.
A final note: The B2B sales process can often be long and arduous – taking at times up to nine months with most of the research leading up to the final decision being done online without the prospect actually speaking to anyone. And if your company isn’t using inbound marketing to capture the attention of potential prospects you can bet your bottom dollar that your competition is. Want to learn more about how Inbound Marketing can give your business a competitive edge? Check out this ebook.