In our process, the approach is not selling a specific product – it’s entering into a conversation. It’s not about providing a solution; it’s about understanding a problem's root cause. How do we find the root? By asking. We start by asking the why and the how, and then we go deeper. We’re deep divers, and we’re willing to get a little uncomfortable if it means achieving results.
If you’re new to the inbound marketing approach to sales, start with this: listening and understanding are your new best friends. We’re not in the business of strolling in and telling people what they need to do. Inbound marketing is a different methodology. It's a different process, it requires a different way of thinking, and it works.
Before we even consider talking solutions or drafting contracts, at least three things need to happen.
1. Determine Your Client's Pain
To help a client, you need to understand the problem. I’m not talking about surface level issues and minor inconveniences. I’m talking about the root cause of their business pain. It’s the type of pain that can be buried deep and masked by all sorts of distractions and symptoms.
Uncovering a client's pain starts with the continuous why. Think along the lines of a child’s logic when their learning process is an endless stream of why’s – you want a professional, adult version of that:
What does that mean for your business?
What does that mean for your team?
How often are you facing this same issue?
How does that make you feel?
At first, they’ll share their symptoms, and you’ll ask deeper questions about those until the actual problem emerges. That's the pain. In all honesty, your client likely doesn’t have a clear picture of their pain. Partly because they’re immersed to a point where they cannot see it. As the account manager, you help them see it. Below are some typical pain points we uncover at Leighton Interactive.
Growth (or Lack of)
Growth can come in the form of revenue, web traffic, contacts for salespeople to nurture — the list goes on and on. Is this something you're struggling with? Check out our free Marketing Toolkit resource to help learn how you can increase growth for your business.
Innovation is crucial. You don't want to be left in the digital dust by your competitors, do you? Clearly, no. Innovating new tactics within your organization isn't an option – it's a must.
The Game Plan
Those last two are great when you read them to yourself, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't follow through. You need a game plan. Where do you start? What do you need to do? How do you plan on executing that? Create your game plan. Commit to solving your client's pain(s).
2. Commit to Solving the Pain
After uncovering the root of a business problem, the client needs to decide whether or not they're willing to commit to solving it. The commitment we need from clients includes resources and budget. In terms of resources, we need an ongoing commitment to open and honest communication. In terms of budget, it's up to the client to decide whether solving their pain or problem is worth investing in. Having to talk budgets upfront isn't always easy, but it is critical in order to start off on the right foot.
You also need to embrace the unknown and unexpected. Obstacles in the marketing world are inevitable. Don't resist — and don't just react. Be proactive. What have you learned from failures in a campaign? Evolve your tactics to make your team more efficient the next time around. And most importantly, try new things. Test, test, test, and test again. Test new things, like Facebook text responsive ads or trialing a beta version of a new HubSpot feature that just rolled out.
3. Get the Decision Makers to the Table
The final piece of this puzzle is ensuring you are speaking directly to the decision maker. The decision maker is the one who can decide if a problem is worthy of attention and resources. The decision maker needs to be the one who understands and commits to solving the pain. If you move through this process with someone who works under a decision maker, you'll be tied up in a game of telephone, allowing someone else to further your conversation.
Once you have the right people at the table, understanding the pain, looking at its impact, and deciding if it's worth the commitment, only then can you move forward toward planning a solution. Yes, it involves time, effort, and a little discomfort, but it also builds the foundation for a future success story.
As the Vice President, I build strong, personal relationships with each and every client that partners with Leighton Interactive. I love helping clients achieve their goals, dreams, and visions in ways they never thought possible. My daily schedule consists of meeting with clients, communicating client information to the inbound marketing team, and managing account managers. When I'm not busy with client work, I love to relax and spend time with my two amazing kids.