Create Demand with the
Number One Way Prospects
Want to Find You
If you’re like me, you get cold called all the time. Think back to the last time someone called you cold. Did you enjoy the experience? Did you have an engaging discussion with the individual who called? More important, did you buy something?
How about the mail? Have you recently received unsolicited pieces of direct mail? What about e-mails? Did you open them up? How did you feel when you received them? Did you buy the product or service?
Over the past six months, did you do a Google search for a product or service? Did you search for background information on business issue or try to find a solution to a problem? Did you enjoy the process? Did you learn something new? Did you buy a product or service or reach out to a company that provided you the information?
One last question: Have you spent time on social media where you heard about a product or service, did a search to look it over, and end up buying it?
If you’re like most buyers, you dislike people cold calling you in any method with information you didn’t ask for or have no interest in.
David Meerman Scott, a leading marketing strategist, recommends that marketers “earn their way in” (via publishing educational information on a blog) compared to outbound marketing, where marketers “buy, beg, or bug their way in” (via paid advertisements, press releases, or paying commissioned sales people, respectively).
Today’s buyer is empowered by the by the Internet. When he/she thinks about products, services or quick answers, they think Google. Early in the decision making process, they don’t want to speak with a salesperson—not until they have a better understanding of their needs. Google is the beginning of the modern day buying process for most buyers.
When I spend time discussing how organizations go-to-market, my audience of business owners or advisors describe their strategy in these steps: attend trade shows, advertise, mail newsletters, telemarket and cold call. These old-school marketing tactics, known as outbound marketing, may have their place in certain situations for some industries, or as complements to other marketing actions but, in general, they do not work as effectively with today’s buyers. How much of you marketing budget do you spend in this area?
Now, how much do you spend on “inbound marketing”? We define Inbound marketing as corporate/product/services promotion through blogs, ebooks, enewsletters, podcasts, SEO/SEM (search engine optimization and search engine marketing), social media marketing, video, whitepapers, and other forms of content marketing designed to attract customers from the outside in.
Outbound marketing pushes the message out, whether someone wants it or not, rather than pulls people in ready to self-qualify their interest. Inbound marketing makes the company more easily found, draws prospects to the website by producing magnetizing content, and then earns the attention of prospects. When inbound marketing is done correctly, with creativity and consistency, you can reach potential customers at different levels of brand awareness and guide them through your pipeline. Notice the buy stages below and types of inbound actions:
[In an upcoming post, we’ll show you what type of content or action goes with which stage above.]
The inbound marketing term was coined by Hub Spot’s Brian Halligan in 2005. According to Hub Spot, inbound marketing is especially effective for small businesses that deal with high-dollar values, long research cycles and knowledge-based products. In these areas, prospects are more likely to educate and inform themselves and, when ready, then hire someone who demonstrates valued-added expertise in the area of need.
Despite the fact that most sales organizations do understand people buy differently, and that the Internet and social media play a big role in the decision making process, sales organizations are still slow to move or change. While the effect of outbound sales tactics is declining, companies continue to pour money into outbound strategies. Don’t make this mistake, invest in inbound marketing.
In a recent Forbes Insights Stephen Diorio says, “The sales professional is going through a transformation. Social, mobile, and digital media are helping buyers become better informed and raising their expectations. The purchase process has become longer and more complex.”
“These forces are making selling more costly, collaborative, and consultative” according to Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer of the MHI Research Institute, with which Plein Aire Strategies affiliates.Download MHI Global Best Practice Study
Transforming sales performance will involve a combination of better training, better technology, high quality prospect/customer content, a common language, and a repeatable sales process. Consider these facts:
According to the Marketing Leadership Counsel, 53% of customer loyalty is based on the sales experience. It’s not what you sold but how you sold it that made the difference. Sales people must deliver compelling insights to differentiate themselves and communicate value to close business.
According to the MHI Global Best Practice study, world-class sales organizations use sales enablement technologies to make it faster and simpler for salespeople to find the right things to say, to the right people, at the right time in the buying cycle to advance the sale.
To develop a strong inbound marketing strategy, you need a plethora of well-designed, organized, authoritative content focused on targeted markets based on buyers’ interests Content will help you get your sales people in front of qualified prospects who have come to you to learn more. This content can more directly support sales conversations and can be assembled in to sales playbooks that assemble for on-demand use.
Gartner surveyed a population of executive buyers who stated that they still feel most salespeople focus too much on “product pushing.” The top barrier to sales success remains the inability to communicate value messages according to a survey of sales executives by the MHI Institute. The study shows that only 23 percent of sales teams rely on their sales enablement systems as the single source of content and information. So in your own organization:
What technology do your reps and managers use to carry out their jobs? What is the total inventory? (Understand differences between management uses and rep uses);
What content do reps use to open up new opportunities with prospects? How do prospects find this information? Does your content rank high on Google searches? How do you know who is looking at this data? How does marketing qualify the prospect?
In Forbes Insights, Solving the Content Problem, it suggests several practical steps marketing executives can take today to support the sales transformation better and realize results this year:
Take “ownership” of the content problem. Assign one person or a group to own the problem and provide leadership to the content sources. This helps to ensure your content will support the sales organization directly and when they need it.
Better organize your content. Create a content architecture for easier planning sourcing, targeting, distributing and repurposing by the sales organization to use in real sales situations. Know what you want to say and to whom, where it best fits, how to get it there and required follow-up.
Define the content process. Top marketing chiefs create content generation and publishing systems to help create, manage, distribute and track through channels. It’s simply non-negotiable if content is to rise to its full potential in the sales enablement system.
Be sure everyone has direct access to content assets. Top marketers assemble marketing content into sales playbooks so salespeople can study and deliver value messages consistently and to a high standard.
Creating demand for your products or services is the most important business task you will ever do. And to create demand, building and managing your content assets is the second most important business task you will do. Understanding to whom, when and in what format you distribute your content is the third most important business task you will do. After that, the seeds are planted, and the sprouting may begin.
See you on the upside, Bill
For more information on how to become a content champion for your organization, contact:
[email protected] or call us at 760.340.4277