When my marketing agency The Whole Brain Group talks to prospective clients, we spend a lot of time educating them about the cultural shift that will need to take place inside their leadership team and organization as a whole to make an investment in inbound marketing successful.
We know from our own experience, and from talking to a lot of other agency teams, that companies that embrace this cultural evolution consistently experience results more quickly and more powerfully than those who can’t seem to get past these fears.
Here are three fears we frequently run into when working with growing companies who are trying to figure out how to be successful with inbound marketing.
1) Fear of Producing Educational Content
Many companies resist producing a lot of educational content for fear of giving away their “secret sauce” to their competitors - or that they will educate their customers so well that they will just “do it themselves”.
89% of buyers research online before spending money on anything, so companies need to shift their thinking to adjust to this new buyer behavior. Would you rather have your potential customers educate themselves on your website - or your competitors’?
Attitude Shift #1: Get Comfortable with Educating
It’s important to understand that educating your customers does not necessarily mean publishing the engineering blueprints for your product or letting people download the operations manual your team uses to deliver service. Educating your customers means positioning yourself as a thought leader and guide that can help them make a smart purchasing decision.
Understand and define your buyer personasso you can clarify your messaging and content to meet their needs.
Define your buyer’s journeyand produce content that will help remove any misconceptions or objections your customers may have about deciding to buy from you.
Brainstorm topics for content offers by talking to your sales team to find out what questions they are tired of answering, what common misconceptions people have about your product or service, and what they wish people knew when comparing your company to a competitor.
2) Fear of Changing Your Sales Process
Buyer behaviors have changed dramatically in the last few years, but most sales teams are still selling the same old way - and are frustrated that their results aren’t as good as they used to be. Because buyers are doing more research online, they’re typically far more savvy and educated than ever before - and they’ll spot a sales person using “sales tactics” or “faking it” right away.
If you’re doing a good job with inbound marketing, your prospects should have had most of their basic questions answered before they even talk to a sales person - which means your sales team needs to up their game.
Attitude Shift #2: Get Comfortable with Lead Intelligence and Consultative Selling
The beauty of using marketing automation software like HubSpot is that you’re collecting TONS of lead intelligence that could really help salespeople close more deals - if they look at it!
Map your current sales process and look for places to integrate technology to automate, optimize your team’s efficiency, and collect valuable data to help you improve. Tools like Sidekickcan help your team be more proactive and responsive, and spend less time on admin tasks so they can focus on building relationships and closing deals.
Get your marketing and sales teams together regularly to examine your lead intelligence data and understand how your buyer behavior is changing. Then go back to the sales process you mapped and make adjustments to optimize for better results.
Encourage your sales team to think of themselves as guides - their primary purpose is to listen, educate, answer questions, and steer your customers toward the right solution for their needs.
3) Fear of Sharing Data and Results
It’s impossible to achieve results or know how to adjust inbound marketing strategies and tactics when you’re not sure if what you’re doing is actually impacting sales or revenue. Many company executives are reluctant to share this kind of information with their marketing team, but still want the teams to mysteriously demonstrate ROI.
At the same time, many marketing teams are scared to share their results with executives because they’re unclear on how success is being measured, or what the expected time frame is for demonstrating results.
Tracking metrics like traffic, leads, and conversion rates is important - but tying those numbers to an impact on sales is even more powerful.
Attitude Shift #3: Be Comfortable with Transparency
Understanding the link between marketing activities and sales results will help your marketing team make smart decisions and focus on things that will help impact the bottom line.
Consider adopting a Smarketing Scorecard that you update and review each week so your team can start making connections between activities and results. Include numbers like traffic, leads, consults, 90-day pipeline, average deal size, closed opportunities, etc. After reviewing the data for a few weeks, you’ll be able to identify trends and issues before they become problems, and take action that will help you proactively make progress toward your goals.
Invest in a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) that integrates with your marketing software to give everyone access to the same information. When your salespeople can see how a prospect has interacted with your marketing, they’ll be able to have more intelligent and effective conversations. And when your marketing team can see which campaigns are generating qualified leads, they can focus on duplicating that success in future campaigns.
If you’re partnered with a marketing agency, you’ll need to maintain a similar level of transparency and meet regularly to share information so they can function more effectively as an extension of your company. Many owners are worried that an agency will use revenue or sales data against them to increase prices or upsell unnecessary services, but a true agency partner will never abuse their privilege that way.
Originally published Oct 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017