3 Outbound Marketing Strategies That Actually Work

3 Outbound Marketing Strategies That Actually Work

If you’re into digital marketing at all, you’ve probably heard that outbound marketing strategies are over. And in a lot of ways, they are. Today’s consumers don’t answer cold calls, they hate being sold to with scammy commercials, and they’ve set their email inboxes to automatically filter out promotional emails. Outbound marketing, in the old, Don Draper version of itself, no longer exists. And if it does exist, it very rarely works.

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But that doesn’t mean that all outbound marketing is done or totally ineffective. It just means that we marketers have to change the way we approach outbound marketing.

If you’ve read our blog before, you know we’re inbound marketing junkies. It’s a way of life, and we love it. Inbound marketing is absolutely the marketing tactic that speaks to today’s consumers, and we often use outbound marketing tactics to bolster our inbound marketing strategy.

When used with tact and purpose, 21st-century outbound marketing tactics are an excellent way to draw more leads into your inbound marketing flywheel.

Not quite sure about that? Let’s take a look at three specific outbound marketing strategies that will actually work to draw in new, qualified leads:

PPC and Paid Search

Pay-per-click and paid search advertising are amazing ways to draw in new traffic. We especially love them for our clients who are just setting up a new website. Since it takes time for Google to crawl and index new websites, paid search is a great workaround to draw in new, qualified leads immediately, until the organic rankings can catch up.

PPC is considered an outbound marketing tactic because you’re paying for it. Instead of letting consumers come to you, you’re pushing your message out to them.

However, unlike outbound marketing tactics of the past, paid search can be highly targeted to address only the consumers who are actually good fits for your product or service. We’ve written extensively about PPC, so I won’t dive into it too far in this blog.

If you want to learn more about PPC specifically, check out this page, or this blog about optimizing your PPC budget for targeted results.

For the purposes of this blog, all you really need to know is that by bidding on quality, long-tail keywords that are relevant to your product or service, you can put your company front and center on the search engine results pages your target buyers are looking for.  

Paid search is a great way to get in front of the audience you want, pulling more of those qualified buyers into your inbound marketing flywheel. Click To Tweet

While it is an outbound marketing strategy, it’s not abrasive or in the consumer’s face. Instead, it offers a product or service that’s relevant to their search, and then it will bring them to your website, where you can use other inbound marketing tactics to further nurture your lead. It’s the perfect example of inbound and outbound marketing strategies working together to grow your company’s revenue.

Social Media Advertising

Don’t tell me you’ve never clicked on a Facebook or Instagram ad.

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Girl, same.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are so good at delivering tailored, personalized content to their users, and social media advertising is one way to take advantage of those platforms.

When you have a clear picture of who your audience is, you can develop social media ads that speak exactly to your target buyer. Social media platforms have robust demographic and targeting features that allow you to ensure your selected audience is very specific and highly likely to have an interest in your product or service.

Remarketing ads are a great example of social media advertising as an outbound marketing strategy that actually delivers. They follow someone who has actually been on your site and who has interacted with your content and maybe even thought about downloading a content offer or making a purchase.

When that prospect navigates away before making a purchase or download, they become a candidate for your remarketing ad. Now, when that prospect heads to their social media page, they’ll see an ad for your product or your brand on their social media feed. This remarketing ad is the perfect way to keep your company top-of-mind and keep calling those prospects back to complete their action.

Remarketing and other forms of social media advertising are especially effective outbound marketing strategies because they’re not delivering your message to just any consumer. They’re directed at specific individuals who are likely to, or who already do have an interest in your product or service.

Targeted Email Workflows

Many people don’t consider email to be “outbound marketing”. But, if you’ve ever gotten an email from a bot or about 15 follow-up emails from an insurance company you didn’t reach out to first, you know that’s just not true.

There's a right way and a wrong way to do outbound email marketing. And the first rule is to only email people who want to be emailed. Click To Tweet

(Check out the Golden Rule of Email Workflows here.)

Targeted email workflows work best if you have obtained contact’s email addresses in a white-hat way. That means, they gave you their email address, whether through a subscribe button or by downloading a content offer.

Buying email address is not quality outbound marketing. It’s obnoxious, and it’s unlikely to deliver any kind of quality ROI.

From there, you can use targeted email workflows to nurture specific segments of your email list according to their pain points, challenges, and needs. You’re reaching out to a client, so it is an outbound marketing strategy, but you’re doing so with the prospect’s best interest at heart, which is why it will be effective.

Again, we won’t go too in-depth here, because we have a lot of other resources about email marketing. See: Amp up Your Email Marketing Strategy: Use Segmentation.

The key takeaway here is that when you use email workflows to genuinely nurture leads with content they care about, and that solves a problem of theirs, you’re using outbound marketing to keep drawing new prospects back into your flywheel.

Bottom line? Outbound marketing, or the process of marketing by reaching out to consumers, leads, and prospects, is still a viable way to market. When you use outbound marketing strategies with 21st-century consumers in mind, you can actually produce some significant results.

Want to learn more about how outbound marketing can deliver you quality leads, right now? Let’s chat.

Outbound marketing is tricky in a world of consumers who don’t want to be sold to. We can help. Digital marketing, both inbound and outbound, is our bread and butter, and we’d love to see how our tactics can work to grow your company!
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MQL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference?

MQL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference?

TL;DR What is an MQL and an SQL?

An MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) is a reasonably qualified lead who has downloaded a content offer or interacted with your marketing team, but who hasn’t yet entered into your sales funnel. An SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) is a lead your sales team has qualified as a potential customer. SQLs are in your sales funnel, and your team is actively working to move them closer to a deal.

Leads. Everybody wants ’em, but not everyone knows what to do with them once they have them.

That’s where the inbound methodology comes in. Designed to help both marketing and sales teams nurture leads all the way through to a sale in the world of the modern, digital consumer,  the inbound sales process puts a huge focus on MQLs and SQLs.

But what are they, how are they different, and how do you deal with both MQLs and SQLs to boost the ROI of your inbound sales process?

Here’s a breakdown of the MQL vs. SQL question, complete with tips on how to define them and how to use those definitions to optimize your sales and marketing process to close more reliably and more efficiently. Let’s start with the basics.

What’s an MQL?

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a site visitor that your marketing team has deemed likely to eventually turn into a sale. MQLs are qualified prospects: they fit your buyer persona.

That said, they’re missing a few qualifications that would make them the perfect fit for your sales team.

Maybe they’re working on a seriously long buyer’s journey. Or, they’re in the right industry, and they have the decision making power, but they don’t have the right budget, or realistic budget expectations yet.

In short, an MQL is a reasonably qualified lead who matches one or more of your buyer personas, but who isn’t quite ready to buy yet.

What’s an SQL?

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a lead who your sales team has decided is worth pursuing. They’re at the end of the consideration stage and are moving into the decision-making stage of their buyer’s journey where they’ll appreciate sales-focused content and support.

Typically, a sales qualified lead is confirmed after an initial outreach call with someone on your sales team, who can determine how serious the lead is about your product, and how motivated they are to buy.

An SQL is a lead who has intent to buy and who seems interested in your company as a contender to make that purchase.

MQL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference?

The most important difference between MQLs and SQLs is the intent to buy. While there are other factors that will affect whether a lead is categorized as marketing or sales-ready, the biggest tip-off for marketers when deciding whether or not to pass a lead on to sales is the intent to purchase. That’s a surefire sign that they’re ready to talk to sales and tells you that passing them onto sales is the best way to serve that lead.

Since MQLs and SQLs can look different for every industry, and even individual companies, let’s look at a couple of examples of what qualifies an MQL vs. SQL:

First-Time Site Visitor vs. Returning Visitor

A first time visitor is a good example of a potential MQL. They’re just starting the buyer’s journey, and are working on gathering the information that will ultimately help them make a purchasing decision down the road.

A returning visitor, on the other hand, who has been to your site a few times, and is browsing key pages and downloading bottom-of-funnel content offers, is an SQL. They like the information you’re putting out enough to keep coming back. And if they keep coming back, they’re probably ready to talk to your sales team.

Top of Funnel vs. Bottom of Funnel Content Offers

An MQL is a lead who is downloading and converting on top-of-funnel content offers. They’re interested in information that teaches and educates about the general product you sell.

Let’s say you sell cars. An MQL will be downloading content that offers information like, “How to Know When To Buy A New Car,” “Is it Better to Lease, Buy Used, or Buy New,” and “Safest  Sedans of 2019.”

An MQL is someone who is interested in your product — they are a qualified lead, after all — but they're not quite ready to buy yet. Click To Tweet

So, they’re asking those research questions that solve their beginning-of-the-buyer’s-cycle problems. They’re not ready to buy yet, but they’re definitely thinking about it, and they fit your target buyer persona well enough that your marketing team recognizes them as a great potential fit for your company in the future.

An SQL, on the other hand, is going to download bottom-of-the-funnel content offers. With that same car sales example in mind, an SQL will download content that sounds like this: “How to Finance a New Car Purchase,” “5 Steps to Buy A New Car,” and “5 Things to Know Before Purchasing a New Car.”

SQLs are at the bottom of the funnel — they’ve already done the research, they already know they want a car, and they know which car they want. Now, they just have to figure out how to make the purchase.

Just knowing which content offers a lead is downloading can give you great insight into whether they are marketing or sales qualified. And making that distinction is what puts you ahead of the competition in closing new sales efficiently.

Why Differentiating Between MQLs and SQLs is Important

It’s one thing to know the difference between an MQL and an SQL. It’s another thing to know why correctly categorizing each lead is so important.

The difference between an MQL and SQL is crucial in offering up the right content, and the right lead nurturing experience. If a lead has already made up their mind on what product is right for them, you don’t want to be sending them basic content that outlines all of your products — it’s not relevant to their buyer’s journey anymore.

In the same vein, if you have a lead who is still learning what your product does, how it works, and why they might need it, you don’t want to send them on a sales call.

They’re not ready to make a purchasing decision yet, and probably don’t have company approval to make the decision. At this point in their journey, a sales call would seem pushy, and would ultimately be a waste of your sales team’s time.

Correctly identifying whether a lead is marketing or sales qualified has a huge impact on the success of your overall inbound marketing and sales strategy. Knowing whether a lead is an MQL or an SQL tightens up your lead nurturing process to deliver the best possible results with the least amount of work.

When you have a foolproof way to correctly categorize leads, you know exactly what content to deliver, and when. That goes a long way in helping those leads convert, and it saves your marketing and sales teams a lot of wasted time delivering content that wasn’t relevant or reaching out to a lead who wasn’t ready to convert.

Correct qualification of every lead is a great way to increase the ROI of your marketing and sales process and grow your business overall. But to do it, your sales and marketing teams must be aligned. More on that next:

Transitioning a Lead from MQL to SQL

The toughest part of the inbound marketing methodology is arguably the handoff of an MQL to the sales team for qualification as an SQL. Click To Tweet

The best way to handle it is first to get both the sales and marketing teams on the same page.

You have to have clear definitions that specify exactly what an MQL is and what an SQL is, and those definitions have to be the same across departments. For more information on defining your MQLs and SQLs, check out this blog on sales and marketing alignment.

Consistent definitions will make the MQL to SQL handoff a little easier, but there’s still a little work that goes into it. Here are 5 general steps to guide you through the handoff process.

  1. Once your marketing department identifies an MQL, they should be entered into a few lead nurturing campaigns, whether that’s through targeted email marketing campaigns or a casual, helpful marketing outreach campaign.
  2. Ideally, that MQL will continue making qualifying actions — they will download more content offers, they might ask your marketing team a few questions, and they might subscribe for your newsletter.
  3. Once that MQL has taken enough actions that qualify them as an SQL, the marketing team should pass all of the information they have on that lead to the sales team. (A CRM makes this part easy. If you don’t have a CRM yet, this blog can help you figure out what to look for.)
  4. From there, the sales team can reach out, ideally within 24 hours of the lead’s last conversion action, to connect and qualify that lead as an SQL.
  5. It is possible that on their qualifying call, the sales team find the lead is not quite ready for the decision-making stage. At this point, your marketing team should have a set of steps in place to kick that lead back down to an MQL and continue nurturing them until they’re ready to convert again back up to an SQL.

With these five steps, and clear, identifiable definitions of MQLs and SQLs that both sales and marketing agree on, your handoff process should start to go a little more smoothly. It’s a tough process, no matter how you look at it, and the best way to make sure your handoffs are successful is to have regular meetings with both sales and marketing teams to identify any problem areas and implement solutions that fix those issues.

No Matter Your Industry, You Need MQLs and SQLs

It’s easy to get stuck in an MQL vs. SQL mindset. It’s easy to say, “oh, I’m not dealing with that lead, they’re for sales” and vice versa for marketing. And it’s true that for the most part, you want your sales team interacting with the sales leads, and your marketing team interacting with those marketing leads.

But the bottom line is, for any company both MQLS and SQLs are an integral part of the sales pipeline. You can’t have one without the other, so it’s important that your marketing and sales teams work together to develop content and lead nurturing strategies that benefit both MQLs and SQLs.

MQLs, when nurtured properly, become SQLs, who become customers and promoters of your brand.

So, when done right, all of the work you’ve done to develop a quality inbound marketing and sales plan comes full circle to help you close more sales and grow your company.

Identifying MQLs and SQLs isn’t always as easy as it sounds. If you’re struggling to nurture leads through the buyer’s journey, Evenbound can help. Inbound marketing and sales is what we do every day, and we’d love to help you troubleshoot your lead nurturing process to help grow your company. Get in touch to see how we can help, or click the link below to schedule time to chat about your challenges with our president, John Heritage.

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Marketing and Sales Alignment Strategies That Cut Wasted Time and Boost Business Growth

Marketing and Sales Alignment Strategies That Cut Wasted Time and Boost Business Growth

You know that old saying, “work smarter, not harder”? It’s safe to say that’s an idea we can all get behind. No one wants to spend hours of their day working on a project that won’t produce results.

Unfortunately, in the case of many businesses who do not have aligned sales and marketing teams, the concept of working harder on projects that might not ever see the light of day is an everyday reality.

In fact, misalignment between sales and marketing teams has been shown to cost B2B companies 10% or more of their revenue every year.

This SlideShare from The TAS Group states, “lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget costs companies at least $1 trillion a year.”

Both of those stats offer up compelling arguments for making a change to sales and marketing alignment. Beyond just saving your sales and marketing teams wasted effort and budget though, sales and marketing alignment can actually offer some benefits to your company, delivering pretty impressive returns when implemented properly:

Aligning your sales and marketing teams is one perfect example of working smarter, not harder.  When your sales and marketing teams are aligned, everyone does less work to obtain a higher quantity of better, more targeted clients. Then, you can allocate all of that additional time and energy into inbound marketing and sales strategies that you know will help your company generate revenue and grow.

So, how do you get there?

Sure, sales and marketing alignment sounds nice, but can you actually make it happen, and how much work will it take?

Honestly, it depends on your company.

If you already have both sales and marketing teams onsite, you can get started by just getting everyone in the same room every week or so. If you’re a larger company with sales and marketing teams that work remotely or on different campuses, it might take a bit more effort. And if your company doesn’t really have a marketing team, you could have a still longer road ahead of you. (Or, you can hire a marketing team to help you out. More info on that here.)

No matter where you are, aligning your sales and marketing teams will take work. But with a potential return of 208% more revenue, it should feel like the work is worth it. Click To Tweet

If you’re interested in aligning your marketing and sales teams to boost revenue and cut out wasted time, we support you. In fact, we’re going to give you six sales and marketing alignment strategies to help you do it. Check ’em out:

via GIPHY

Communicate

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: communication will always be the key to successful marketing and sales alignment. The first and best way to get your sales and marketing teams on the first page is to get them in the same room, chatting about their wins and challenges.

Too often, it feels like sales and marketing are pitted against each other. Sales isn’t happy about the quality of leads marketing is sending over, and marketing feels frustrated that sales didn’t follow up with all of the leads they’re sending over.

Getting your two teams in the same room is the first step to getting them to work together. Once you know what everyone is frustrated about, and also what they’re cool with, you can start making a little bit of headway towards alignment.

Consider Cross-Departmental Training or Shadowing

One great marketing and sales alignment strategy is to put each team in the others’ shoes for a day or even a week. When they have the opportunity to see how the other team works, what their day looks like, and what challenges they face regularly, they’ll be able to function together more efficiently.

We get that this is an easy way to disrupt your regular business flow, so start slow. Take one team member at a time, and have them shadow someone from the other team for an afternoon. Make sure the team members you choose are both excited about the potential benefits that alignment can provide, and you’ll find that both parties will learn something from the experience.

When the afternoon is up, your salesperson can report back to their team what they learned, and the marketing person can their team what struggles the sales team is having that they could help with.  

Encourage Sales Input on Content Development

According to Forbes, 60% of B2B content never gets used. Whether the sales team doesn’t feel like it fits their individual client’s pain points, or they don’t even know it exists, sales input is an invaluable resource when it comes to content development.

Your sales team has an intimate, one-on-one relationship with each buyer. They speak to them personally and they understand their specific, unique challenges and goals for the future. This alone should make them your marketing team’s number one resource for content development.  

If you’re not sure how to implement more sales input on marketing content development without seriously slowing down your publishing schedule, start by having the sales team take a look at your content calendar. (You do have a content calendar, right?)

They can tell you which content they’ll really be able to use, and offer a few key points to include for each upcoming post that will help you speak specifically to your target buyer’s challenges and goals.  

Work Together To Establish A Common Language

Marketing and sales haven’t historically worked together all that much, especially in more traditional industries like manufacturing. Traditionally, marketing works to create brand awareness, get the word out there, and make sure everyone knows what your company has to offer. In that older business model, sales either take the leads that come in or (more likely) they go around looking for (read: cold calling) those perfect leads themselves.

This disjointed approach to sales and marketing as separate entities has fostered two different languages for both teams. They have different definitions of leads, they don’t have the same understanding of what makes a good lead, and they have fundamentally different goals.

Sales and marketing alignment strategies start by working to establish a common language that makes sense to both teams. Click To TweetWith that set in place, your marketing team can work to bring in the leads your sales team actually wants, and your sales team can focus their efforts on selling, rather than cold-calling.

To establish a common language that works for both teams, sales and marketing have to come up with the same definitions for these three things:

  • What A Lead Is
  • How You Score Leads
  • A Quality Service Level Agreement

What A Lead Is

It’s important that your sales and marketing teams both understand what makes a lead a good lead. And as you probably know, there are two types of leads: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). It’s possible that you’ve even defined these in the past.

But have your sales and marketing teams defined them together?

Both marketing and sales should offer input on the definitions of MQLs and SQLs, so that both teams understand what qualifications are necessary for both lead types. One clear definition, for both teams, will help with the lead handoff process, and it will help both teams understand which leads and prospects need what specific service or lead nurturing content.

With a solid foundation in place, everyone can move forward more confidently towards a tight alignment between sales and marketing that cuts out wasted time and boosts revenue.

How You Score Leads

Traditionally, the sales team has developed a process for determining which leads might be more valuable to your company than others. This process is called lead scoring.

If your goal is to get sales and marketing teams aligned for better business growth, it’s important to have your marketing team in on the lead scoring calculation. They need to know what makes a lead most attractive to sales, and why.

With that information, marketing can determine which leads could use more nurturing through the marketing process, and they can better streamline their efforts to influence target buyers in the markets that offer the highest return. By bringing the marketing team into the lead scoring conversation, you help them understand what to look for in a quality lead that shows they are likely to close.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

One of the biggest killers of marketing sales alignment is unbalanced reporting and goals. Too often, the sales team feels like they’re under the microscope to close sales, and the marketing team feels that the sales team isn’t acting on all of the leads they’re passing along. A service level agreement, (SLA) is the solution to this reporting imbalance.

A Service Level Agreement is a sort of contract that helps clear up some of this misdirected pressure, while still holding both teams accountable to goals that further your company’s overall revenue and growth goals. For example, with a quality SLA, your marketing team may be responsible for delivering a certain number of quality leads each month. Then, your sales team may be responsible for converting a certain percentage of those quality leads each month.

This agreement makes it clear what each team is accountable for, while still framing it in the light of one overall company goal — to produce more revenue and long-lasting clients for the company by converting highly qualified leads.

Every company’s SLA will look a little different. What’s important is that you get the sales and marketing teams together to agree on an SLA that’s fair and contributes to your company’s growth goals. When both teams understand what they’re accountable for, and that accountability feels fair to both sides, you’ll get a lot more out of everyone.

Leverage Sales Enablement Tools

It’s easy to forget that the sales team can benefit from inbound methodology tools as much as your marketing team can. Many of your favorite marketing platforms and CRMs are designed to help your sales team as much as they are your marketing team.

Encourage your sales team to use tools like email sequences and CRMs that implement lead scoring systems for you. The information they put in the CRM, and the data they generate helps them make better selling decisions, and it offers valuable information for the marketing team to move forward and optimize with as well.

When your sales team is comfortable with enablement tools, it’s also easier for your them to reach out to marketing and ask for content that will help them close deals.

Case studies, whitepapers, and ebooks about your product or service are all assets that are traditionally created by marketing. When sales is empowered to ask specifically for the content they know will help them close deals, marketing can focus their efforts on just the content that sales knows will be powerful and impactful to your buyer personas.

And again, that’s an effort that cuts down on wasted time, while still promoting the targeted lead nurturing tasks that will help your company grow.

Keep a Common Goal in Mind

Finally, one of the hands-down best sales and marketing alignment strategies is to set a common goal. Even though sales and marketing do different things and have different processes, they’re both on the same team. When they’re both working towards the same goal, it’s so much easier to see that they’re on the same team. Make that overarching goal clear to both teams, and you’ll see the results that marketing and sales alignment can deliver.

The more closely your sales and marketing teams are aligned, the more efficient your company will be in identifying qualified leads and closing deals. And when you close deals efficiently, you work smarter, and you grow.

If you’re looking for more sales and marketing alignment strategies, tools, or tricks, we’d love to help. As a digital marketing agency, we often align with B2B sales teams to promote overall company growth, and we also train companies with existing sales and marketing teams how to align for better results. To learn more about what we do, get in touch.

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What is Inbound Sales?

What is Inbound Sales?

As an inbound marketing firm, we’ve explained inbound marketing to death. And for good reason — we’ve seen firsthand the exceptional ROI and growth that a quality inbound marketing strategy can deliver. That said, something we haven’t touched on quite as much, but that’s equally as important is the concept of inbound sales.

Inbound sales functions on the same general methodology of inbound marketing.

 

What is Inbound Sales?

In its best form, inbound sales is the process of solving the pain points of qualified leads who are actively seeking out your company’s product or services. An inbound salesperson’s task is to arm prospects with all the information they need to make an educated, thoughtful decision on what they’ll buy in the end.

Inbound sales professionals offer helpful, personalized service based on each prospect’s unique needs. They adapt their sales process to fit the buyer’s journey, and to solve each prospect’s individual pain points.

What Inbound Sales Is Not:

At its core, inbound sales should always be helpful to your prospects. Click To TweetWhen done properly, your prospects will close because they feel that your product or service truly solves their challenges and because they’ve had a great experience with your company. Inbound sales is not:

  • Pushy cold calls
  • Generic sales pitches
  • Sketchy sales tactics that force prospects to “buy right now, or lose out!”
  • Scheduling a demo whether your prospect is ready for it or not, just to fill a quota
  • Selling to purchased contact lists
  • Anything you would consider to be spammy

Inbound sales aims to be the opposite of all things spammy. Inbound sales is personalized, specific, and focuses on building trust and solving prospect pain points. Click To Tweet

If you’re new to the idea of inbound sales, or you’re exploring how it works, here’s some insight into the methodology:

The Inbound Sales Methodology

The inbound sales methodology functions on the same basic buyer’s journey that inbound marketing bases its actions on. Here’s how HubSpot visualizes the inbound sales buyer’s journey:

hubspot-inbound-sales-methodology

Just like inbound marketing, inbound sales focuses on three key stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and the decision-making stage. Inbound sales actions correspond with each of these stages, just as inbound marketing actions do. If you’re curious about implementing inbound sales tactics to improve conversion rates and overall company growth for your company, here’s how each stage of the inbound sales buyer’s journey works, and what actions you should take during each of the four stages:

#1 Identify

If you’re doing inbound marketing right, your website is getting all kinds of leads every month. The first step in the inbound sales process is identifying which of those leads seem like the best fits for your company. You’ll need to look to see which leads are active in the buying cycle: active leads are downloading your content, interacting with your chatbot, and requesting quotes or demos.

When you’ve identified the leads that seem like the best fit for your company, do your research. Personalization is a cornerstone of the inbound methodology, and it's what makes inbound sales so effective. Click To Tweet The more you know about your prospect’s previous experiences with your company and the pain points they’re looking to solve, the more effective you’ll be as an inbound salesperson.

The identify stage is a good place to implement triggered events technology so you can immediately see which prospects are diving further into your site and available content, and who seem to have an active interest in what you’re offering. The more quickly you can reach out — even while a prospect is actively surfing your site — the more positive response you’re likely to see.

Inbound Sales Actions to Take During the Identify Stage:

  • Identify qualified prospects
  • Define those qualified prospects according to their buyer personas
  • Research prospect companies, and familiarize yourself with your specific prospect’s role in that company.
  • Implement triggered technology to alert you every time a qualified prospect takes an action on your website

#2 Connect

Now that you know a little about your prospect, it’s time to get in touch. Remember that the point of inbound isn’t to push products, but rather to offer assistance. To offer the best assistance, you have to know who you’re talking to.

If you didn’t do it in the Identify stage, now is the time to define your prospect according to your buyer personas. When you understand what persona your prospect fits into, as well as where they are in the buyer’s journey, you can easily determine which content to send that prospect and through which medium.

For example, if a prospect has downloaded a few content offers that speak to awareness-stage concerns, you know that to keep them moving through the buyer’s journey, you’ll need to send them something that’s related to the consideration stage. When you also know that the prospect falls into a younger, millennial-age buyer persona, you’ll know that they’ll respond best to an email or chat message.

Every persona is different — some prefer email, some prefer phone calls, and still others prefer to interface via video or even chatbot. To get the best response rate, you need to know who you’re talking to, so you can decide how best to talk to them.

Inbound Sales Actions to Take During the Connect Stage:

  • Understand the prospect’s place in the buyer’s journey
  • Determine the best content for that prospect
  • Double-check their buyer persona to make sure you connect through the right medium
  • Connect by sending over relevant content, and asking specific questions that speak to that prospect’s challenges, interests, and goals.

#3 Explore

Once you’ve made contact with a prospect, it’s time to explore their goals for working with your company. In most cases, people aren’t motivated to make a change unless something isn’t working well, or they’d like to improve some aspect of their business or personal life. The explore stage is your time to talk through that situation with your prospect.

Start by asking what challenges they’re having. You might even ask what drew them to your product or service in particular. When you have a clear picture of what their challenges are, and how those challenges are keeping their company from reaching their goals, you can offer up information they might be interested in that helps solve some of those challenges.

This is also the time to talk about budget and timeline. Be sure to offer up plans that respect that budget, and that can meet their timeline.

At this point in the buyer’s journey (the consideration stage), your prospect has likely narrowed their options down to two or three companies. Specificity and personalization are what will set you apart.  

Make sure you’re impressing the key points that make your company stand out, in a way that relates to your prospect’s specific challenges. You shouldn’t bad-mouth competitors, but do take time to emphasize the key aspects of your company that put you above the rest, especially if those key aspects go a long way in solving that prospect’s unique challenges.

Inbound Sales Actions to Take During the Explore Stage:

  • Explore any challenges the prospect is experiencing
  • Determine how those challenges affect the prospect’s goals
  • Discuss budget
  • Offer plans and solutions that fit the prospect’s specific challenges and goals.

#4 Advise

Now you know exactly what your prospect needs. Hopefully, you also have a clear picture of how your product is uniquely situated to solve their pain points better than anything else on the market.

At this point, as a salesperson, this is when you want to close. But what you want and what your prospect wants aren’t always the same thing. If they’re ready to buy, they’ll let you know. If they’re not, here’s where you can go.

Start by recapping your history with them. This helps them realize that you’re still hearing them. You’re listening to their challenges and searching for customized solutions that will help them move past those challenges, and towards their goals.

Offer solutions that fit their budget and their timeline. Inbound sales is focused on providing the perfect, personalized solution to every prospect. Hiding costs or agreeing to a timeline you know your team can’t meet doesn’t deliver on that perfect solution. Instead, when your prospect gives you their ideal deadline, work backward to establish when you need a signed contract to be able to meet that deadline.

From there, make sure you’ve talked to all of the key decision makers. If you’re still waiting on a final go-ahead, and you feel like this prospect is really quite promising, ask them what you can do to help them move towards a final decision.

And finally, when in doubt, consult your buyer personas. Those should give you an idea of how much contact you should be making. You don’t want to seem pushy, but you also don’t want to forgo a follow-up if it could make the difference between a win and a loss.

Inbound Sales Actions to Take During the Advise Stage

  • Summarize your history with the prospect. Talk about what you’ve learned about their company, what their challenges are, and how those challenges are holding the company back from achieving their goals.
  • Offer customized solutions. Personalization is at the heart of successful inbound sales. How will your product help this person or this company achieve their unique goals?
  • Confirm budget, contacts, and timeline. When you’re on the same page with your prospect, it’s easier to feel out that perfect time to close.

Implementing Inbound Sales

Implementing inbound sales does ask for a big shift from the traditional, “always be closing” mentality. It’s a new sales methodology, for a new age of consumers. Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold to, demoed, or pushed to make a decision. If instead, you offer them the information they need to make an educated decision and provide your assistance as a trusted advisor, you’re likely to win their business based on the personalized, quality customer service that you’re delivering.

How Inbound Sales Helps You Sell Better

If you’re having trouble imagining how inbound sales tactics can help you sell better, look at it this way: when you use the inbound sales methodology of identifying, connecting, exploring, and advising, you’re spending much less time selling to prospects who are unlikely to convert in the first place.

By first identifying the prospects that are most qualified for your product or service, you’re making your job much easier. You only need to connect with the prospects who make a good fit for what you offer. That saves you a lot of time and effort pitching to prospects who weren’t good fits in the first place. By implementing the inbound sales methodology, you and your sales team can sell more effectively, and with a much better close rate than traditional “always be closing” outbound sales tactics.

Why You Need Inbound Marketing And Inbound Sales

Inbound marketing can get you a long way. Done properly, it delivers serious leads who are highly qualified and motivated to purchase your product. But, if leads have an awesome experience with your company for the entire marketing cycle, and then are immediately hit with old-school pushy sales tactics, you’re going to lose prospects.

Implementing inbound sales is just one of many ways you can help align your marketing and sales teams to provide a seamless, customer-focused experience for your potential clients. The smoother and more enjoyable their buyer’s journey, the more likely they are to buy from and stick with you.

TLDR: What is Inbound Sales, and How Can You Implement it?

Inbound sales is a sales methodology that addressed new consumer purchasing trends by offering quality assistance, information, and personalized solutions over pushy, traditional “always be closing” sales methods.

The best way to implement inbound sales is to look at how you can best help your prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey. From awareness to consideration to the decision-making stage, the more meaningful, personalized assistance you offer, the more likely a prospect is to close with you. For more information on inbound sales, be sure to check out HubSpot’s breakdown of the Inbound Sales Methodology, or get in touch with us, a HubSpot Gold Certified Agency Partner, for hands-on help implementing inbound sales tactics.

Inbound is kind of our thing. If you’re new to any aspect of inbound, from marketing to sales, to HubSpot, we’re happy to help. Schedule time for a chat with John, or check out our Smartass Guide to Inbound Marketing for fun-loving intro that just might teach you something.

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