How to Sell Your Sales Team on Inbound Marketing: 7 Tips for Success

    by Kevin Barber

    Date

    March 27, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    463278979If your salespeople are leery of jumping blindly into inbound marketing, it’s hard to blame them. Sales reps have a lot riding on the quality and quantity of leads available, and few want to play the role of the guinea pig while their company tries out new marketing methods.

    This fear of inbound marketing is not really about inbound marketing at all. It’s a fear of the unknown. It’s a valid concern that things might get worse before they get better, and it’s your sales team asking for more details about the company’s new inbound marketing strategy. 

    First, meet with your sales team early

    Discuss the change to inbound marketing with your sales team early, before assumptions are made and miscommunication occurs. Think of it this way: without prompt and clear communication, a sales rep may invent the notion that the entire sales team is being replaced by inbound marketing! While this is obviously not the truth, rumors such as this are the ones that spread like a brushfire.

    How should you introduce inbound marketing to your sales reps?

    Have you ever heard the phrase “never try to sell a salesman?”  Your sales reps know when they’re being handled and they’ll resent any attempts to be “sold” on inbound marketing.  While you’re at it, avoid a debate of inbound marketing vs your current sales methods.

    Resist the temptation to convert them by demonstrating your knowledge of inbound marketing. Table discussions of training.  Focus on answering #1 question of your sales team is asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?”  How do you do that?  Give them this:

    The 7 ways sale reps win with Inbound Marketing

    Our company’s sales reps need better leads and better tactics to sell effectively in today’s market. Here’s how adopting Inbound Marketing will benefit our salespeople as well as our customers.

    1) All Leads are Volunteers

    As you know, you spend a lot of time prospecting through purchased lists, referrals, and cold calling.  These methods are increasingly frustrating to customers and they see our company as an unwelcome interruption of their busy day.  That’s not a good way to start. Inbound marketing will help our company fix this by enabling us to generate quality leads without pitching.

    With inbound marketing, every lead is a volunteer who has indicated an interest in our company. The leads get to receive the information they seek without being pitched, learning about our brand in an interruption free environment. 

    2) Qualified Leads

    Just because someone responds to an advertisement or puts their business card in the fishbowl, it doesn’t mean they’re qualified to spend time with. Inbound marketing will enable salespeople to filter for sales qualified leads (SQL’s) and contact them when they’re ready. Leads will not only be aware of the company, they’ll have indicated an interest in considering our company as a solution. Most will be expecting to hear from you and will be quite receptive to you phone call.

    How is this done? Inbound marketing content is designed around 3 levels of buying. Customers first become aware of our company via “top of the funnel” content, which gives them valuable information about topics they’re interested in that related to our company.

    They get free info that doesn’t involve dodging salespeople. Interested leads will inevitably want more information, where they request more brand specific content, aka “middle of the funnel”. These leads are considering our company and they’re worthy of our attention, but they’re not necessarily ready to close yet. Finally, when a lead responds to an offer that’s designed to help them make a buying decision, also known as a “bottom of the funnel” offer, they need to hear from you immediately.

    Our sales team spends too much time with unqualified prospects. Inbound marketing is designed around using content and offers to identify the leads who are qualified to hear from you. 

    3) Inbound is the Automatic Door Opener

    Our entire team has felt it’s been hard to get a foot in the door with our prospects. You can’t just create a connection out of thin air, especially when cold calling. So let’s stop doing that.

    Inbound marketing leads will have already requested information from our company.  We’ll know who they are as well as what they’re interested in learning more about. Instead of struggling to establish rapport, you’ll now be able to call on qualified leads upon their request and simply assist them with their goals and questions.  Instead of pitching, we’ll simply be helpful. Because they’ll have invited this connection, I expect the door to be wide open and your sales calls to go much better.

    4) Valuable Sales Tools

    Our Inbound marketing team will be creating valuable resources for you to use.  You’ll be able to point customers to blog posts, free PDF’s and webinars to help them understand the value of our product and how it fits with their needs.

    But these won’t be the normal “marketing brochures” that you might expect.  We’re actually going to build them around the questions you hear most so that we can sell to our customers on their terms.  We’ll also be asking you for the most common obstacles you encounter when closing customers so that we can create inbound content to help you overcome those obstacles before the customer ever brings them up.

    5) Efficient Follow Up

    Rather than annoying our customers with frequent follow up sales calls, we’re going to deploy inbound marketing workflows to nurture our leads in a more automated way.  We’ll be sending them helpful resources to review, almost like giving them homework!  Lot’s of leads won’t be ready yet, and our system will help separate those that aren’t ready for contact from those that are ready to hear from you.  This way you’re not trying to convince those who aren’t interested.  

    6) Better Alignment With Marketing

    Inbound marketing is a new bridge between our sales and marketing teams. Sales reps can tell marketers their most frequently asked questions and common obstacles. Marketing can then start producing valuable content to address these questions and obstacles, producing not only more leads, but also leads that are one step closer to being closed. You and the rest of our sales team will find that marketing is there to support both you and the customer rather than simply hit their numbers.  Their inbound marketing efforts will aim to deliver you qualified leads that even have some of their most important questions already answered. 

    7) Sales Boost

    With these new tools in place and doing the grunt work of developing our prospects into qualified leads, your sales reps will spend more time on qualified leads with intent to purchase.  Sales can only increase just from the fact that we’ll stop wasting time with leads who aren’t ready to close. 

    Bottom Line

    Inbound marketing will help our sales team do less pitching and pushing and more consulting and closing.  Customers will respect us for respecting them first.  Qualified leads will lower their guard to let an honest sales consultation to take place. With the help of inbound marketing leads, our sales activities will be all about helping customers make smart decisions.

    This post originally appeared on the Lean Labs blog. Lean Labs is a HubSpot Partner Agency located in Overland ParkKS. 

    Written by Kevin Barber

    Kevin Barber is the founder and director of Lean Labs, an Inbound Marketing agency that creates engaging, responsive, high conversion web solutions for deserving brands.

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