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January 27, 2016 // 7:00 AM

Getting Inbound Buy-In from Your Media Sales Team

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Any marketer will tell you: happy salespeople are the currency of a job well-done. When you bring awesome leads to your account reps, you make their jobs infinitely easier. Instead of weeding through mismatched prospects, they can focus on closing deals with solid fits. This efficiency is especially important in the media world where established sources of revenue are waning, and publishers are needing to get creative in how they’re keeping their businesses alive.

Inbound has the potential to fundamentally change the publishing industry in terms of how media reps sell, in addition to how they generate leads to the products that they’re selling. But still, marketers have a hard time convincing their sales teams to participate in inbound marketing efforts and to sell inbound marketing to advertisers.

Sales leaders would rather focus on familiar terrain that they know works: reaching out to potential prospects on LinkedIn and selling the same advertising solutions for years. But then you hear stories of companies that have lead engines that are 100% inbound. You also hear about publishers like The Next Web that are using their own content as inbound marketing tools—to drive sales to events and courses.

It’s time for a change and for sales teams to help lead the charge.

To demonstrate the value of inbound and get your sales reps participating, you need to show the ROI: in media especially, short-term quick wins are fizzling out. Account reps need to focus on building lasting prospect-and audience connections. Here’s how to convince your sales team that inbound is worth their while:

1) Demystify Inbound

Banner ads are easy to sell and implement because they represent a very simple model: click in, click out, make purchase. When it comes to tracking the ROI of content, however, the path is much less clear.

For one, audiences follow a series of complex interactions en route to the path to sale. Try to show your media account reps a diagram, and they’ll be instantly confused.

But you know it works.

Instead of getting bogged down with marketing mechanics, explain the dynamics you’re observing in terms of common sense. Tell a powerful, human story—that people need to do their research before committing to a purchase decision. Point your sales team to key leaders like Rishi Dave, CMO of Dun and Bradstreet, who put it eloquently: “today’s buyer is entirely research driven.”

Inbound is where all internal team conversations should converge. Not to mention, when sales reps practice inbound themselves, they’ll do a better job selling its value proposition to advertisers.

2) Help Connect the Dots

This bullet point speaks specifically do sponsored content campaigns.

Keep in mind that you, Ms. Marketer, might be a native ads expert. Your sales reps, however. They’ve likely never run a marketing campaign in their lives. Given that sponsored content is a new business area, the topic is also difficult to explain.

If you want sales teams to sell inbound, you need to help them speak to audiences of marketers, just like you. Here are some ways that you can help:

  • Define the stage of your marketing funnel that your ad products are targeting and explain, in plain English, how they work
  • Listen in on a few sales calls and chime in with specific marketing expertise
  • Create sales enablement and one-sheets that speak to the value of your sponsored content campaigns
  • Help establish clarity around value-based pricing, how long campaigns should run, and how results will be measured in terms of viewed, leads, and customers
  • Check out our Ebook, "Why Publishers Need to Think Like Marketers" 

Lay out clear selling points around inbound for your company’s target customers. Help coach your sales teams around marketing-speak.

3) Provide Examples

Your company’s prospects and customers want stories and hard facts, not theories about ‘new marketing trends.’ Fortunately, inbound has been around for a few years, so there are plenty of resources to help. If you’re looking for inbound success stories, take a look at HubSpot’s success stories. You can point your advertisers to this page directly, to explain the mechanics of inbound campaigns.

Remember that success will vary from industry to industry, so you’ll want to make sure that your stories are relatable to your audience’s specific needs. The more tangible you are, the more likely sales teams and prospects will be to listen to your case.

4) Consult on Packages for Advertisers

As a marketer, you’re in the best position to empathize with the needs of your company’s target customer. Just like the prospects who cross paths with your sales team, you’re in the customer acquisition and retention trenches—every day.

So don’t lurk in the backgrounds.

Listen in on sales calls and recommend packages for your sales reps to sell (and upsell). Offer suggestions and examples for ways that your team can bundle inbound marketing options into your advertiser programs. Make sure that you factor in the metrics that your sales team is communicating to advertisers. You’ll want to include the following details:

  • Type of content that your team can create
  • Placement of that content and how it fits into your organic browsing experience
  • Ideal timeframes for a campaign to run
  • The forecasted # of views that campaigns generate
  • Any related email sends
  • Typical costs per lead

Speak in the language of marketers and emphasize your unique value add as a media company. Your prospects will take notice and listen to what you have to offer more closely.

Once You Do Prove the Value of Inbound

New doors will open for your media brand.  You’ll unlock new sources of value and carve out new revenue opportunities. Your persistence is worth it. Keep forging ahead.

free guide: why publishers need to think like marketers

Topics: Media

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