Updated By: Dan Soldner on Thu, Sep 14, 2017
The role of the sales professional has changed significantly over the last decade. In the past, you needed to understand every detail of your product or service. You had to read people, establish rapport, and find creative ways to overcome repeated objections. But, what was most essential to closing a deal was excellent negotiation skills.
Today, the scenario has changed. Let’s examine what the shift from old school sales to inbound sales enablement has meant to sales professionals in differing industries.
From inside sales to territory-focused reps, the sales professionals of the past focused their searches for leads within local markets. The demographics of these communities shaped their pitches, timing, and overall approaches. In the past, sales were about having a product or service that someone needed to buy, regardless of whether it was the right fit, or what the person was in need of. It was far less about empathetic selling or offering a solution to consumers' problems or roadblocks.
Today, location might be less important based on online sales demographics in B2C environments especially. Current coordinated inbound sales and marketing strategies are guided by in-depth buyer persona development. These semi-fictitious characters represent ideal customer types and contain details about attitudes, behaviors, and stations in life.
While our teams still need to know the details of our products and services, our potential customers won’t wait for a sales presentation to learn about what we offer. In fact, more than 80 percent of buyer decisions will be made before speaking with sales.
It is estimated that Google processes an average of 3.5 billion searches per day. That is just one statistic that demonstrates how much we rely on digital resources to inform our decisions. From the first symptom or frustration to mapping directions to a restaurant, we constantly use the internet to help us accomplish our goals, calm our fears, and determine the best course of action.
You may feel that your well-honed sales skills make you more effective at closing a sale than a library of content. You may be right, but some of the rules of the game have changed. In some instances, you might not have an opportunity to pitch in-person until the last few innings of the sales cycle as your prospect gets up to speed with who your company is, what you have to offer, and if you're a fit for their need.
Inbound marketing is a powerful way to enable sales. When buyer personas are used to guide every step, it looks a lot like the old sales process. In both cases, you need to understand the typical behavior of your customer to accurately predict what matters most to them at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
In addition, there is a slew of statistics that demonstrate how lead nurturing is essential to maximizing revenue and ROI. Here are few of the biggies:
- 79 percent of marketing leads never convert into sales due to lack of lead nurturing.
- 67 percent of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10 percent increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15 percent seeing opportunities increase by 30 percent or more.
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at 33 percent lower cost.
- Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.
The 9-to-5 workday may still be valuable for scheduling in-person meetings and team collaborations, but it might seem less relevant to the buying cycle. The acts of searching for solutions, comparing companies, and examining options happen around the clock ... and around the globe.
By building a library of resources that can be easily accessed online, we provide potential customers with the information they seek at each stage of the decision-making process. From our potential customer’s first search about a problem to making a purchase, we provide messaging that guides them through each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Retail floors and some brick and mortar entities are being replaced by e-commerce websites. When we consider where to reach prospective customers, there’s no better place to be than the first page of Google search results. That's what a lot of companies shoot for. But, there's an intricate process involved regarding SEO, key terms, and best practices for ranking. It's competitive that's for sure, but the right strategy allows businesses to reach their target audience even if their site isn't yet on that coveted first page.
What else can be done?
The good news is maintaining an active social media presence goes a long way toward building rapport with your target audience online. In addition to regular posts, many of the social media channels offer paid advertising. For example, Facebook enables marketers to advertise to a very specific audience.
Like TV and radio ads, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising pops into a user’s flow with brief messages that are related to recent searches. There are many other digital advertising options such as Google Ads, sponsored email sends, banner advertising, remarketing, and retargeting which can be effective under certain circumstances.
Bottom line – The when and where of messaging will be most effective when guided by buyer personas and strategic objectives.
Thinking about transitioning to full-on inbound marketing? Chances are, you have too much going on to stop and focus on the implementation of a fully-automated inbound marketing platform, even if it will attract, convert, close, and delight more customers. But now that you’ve seen the potential, can you really afford not to?
Our team can help you scale the mountain. Making this transition takes time and effort but the results are priceless - and once you've built your strategy for lead nurturing and use the content available to your sales team, it can last indefinitely.
About The AuthorDan Soldner
Dan believes that marketing has one purpose: to generate sales leads. He is certain the best marketing tactics and sales people are decision-making facilitators, not yes getters and being customer-centric is the only way to be successful in the long run. Dan started Leighton Interactive in 2009 with a vision to help high-growth companies attract and close more ideal customers. A perpetual student of sales and marketing, Dan focuses on two things: finding clients with problems Leighton Interactive solves and talent with the expertise to solve them.