It’s a well known fact that one of the biggest fears people have is talking to strangers and asking for money. Combine those two fears in the world of sales and it’s a losing combination. Few and far between are the salespeople that actually enjoy prospecting. Yet, you can’t be successful in sales without it. Here’s an unconventional look at a solution that works.
At the end of the day, sales is a numbers game. You put enough prospective business into your pipeline such that, given your closing ratio, enough business comes out the end that you hit your goals. Do the math: If your sales goal is $100,000 and your closing ratio is 20%...then you must consistently feed $500,000 worth of prospective business into your pipeline to stand any chance of hitting your revenue goals. And pipeline management is like anything else...the better you feed it, the better the outcome. Given your average order size, you can calculate how many prospects you need to have in your pipeline. If your average order is $5,000 for example, your pipeline must have 100 prospects in it. Sound intimidating? It can be. So what’s the solution?
You could motivate your salespeople to prospect more. You can write scripts, role play, have dedicated prospecting days, create friendly competition, and offer rewards...all of which are good ideas. However, our experience is that behaviors stimulate quantity of prospects...but too often quality suffers. Salespeople tend to throw stuff on the back of the truck just to meet quota or keep a sales manager off their back. What you really want, ultimately, is not to hit a quota but to bring in more revenue. While sales IS a game of behavior...the best combination is a healthy balance of quantity AND quality.
Here’s where the conversation becomes a bit unconventional. What if there were a way to provide a regular stream of qualified leads to your salespeople, so that when they followed up, they knew a little about what the prospect was interested in and could adjust their conversation to meet those needs? Sound utopian? It’s not really...and we have the data and the case studies to back it up.
The solution is something called Inbound Marketing. Marketing departments have been working for years to do everything they can to provide materials and leads to sales departments: nice websites, up-to-date brochures, even follow-up email campaigns. Inbound Marketing is “next generation”...it’s marketing 2.0. What’s more, it works.
The research backs it up. It’s shown that businesses that mainly rely on Inbound Marketing save more than $14 for every newly acquired customer and produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices. Why so effective? Because consumer behavior is changing. Consumers go online first, before they contact a business or talk with a salesperson. In fact, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. And they say it’s working - 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing and indicate that a properly executed inbound marketing is 10x more effective for lead conversion than outbound. Crazy, right?!
Think of Inbound Marketing as an additional salesperson, one that works constantly to reach potential customers at all phases of the buying funnel BEFORE your salespeople even realize they are in the market. Sometimes, before the prospect even realizes they are in the market. Using digital technology, Inbound Marketing is like online dating...it notices search criteria online and matches their interest areas with your online information and invites them into a relationship through additional content, calls-to-action (CTAs), and email updates with more relevant information or offers. When you virtually raise your hand to say you’re interested, a salesperson knows what you’re interested in and can follow-up in a more helpful way.
Granted, it takes time and involves a bit of strategy. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your inbound strategy. It takes some time to get up and running, to work the Google algorithms and start seeing the numbers move, but once it does, the results are impressive. And to have your salespeople happily working more qualified leads is, as they say, priceless.