This week, I’m talking about solutions for sales people who work in a small business environment, without the luxury of having a strategic partnership with an inbound marketing agency at their fingertips. Even without outside assistance, sales representatives are still able to better their job performance through education around inbound strategies, enabling them to employ their own inbound marketing strategy of sorts.
At the moment, I am working with a long-term client to coach one of their representatives. Every week, she posts blogs, tweets, places numerous calls and sends out emails with attachments and/or links. With all of the inbound activity she is generating, I would qualify her as a mini inbound marketer in her own right. The company has a new venture and is flooding the public space with the new service they are offering. She is also using the HubSpot CRM in addition to Sidekick (a free HubSpot add-on) to optimize her sales activities, with reporting that allows her to analyze and improve her performance. (Sidekick provides valuable data that reveals which emails recipients open and click through and tracks documents prospects are downloading.)
During a recent coaching session, we were collectively analyzing data and metrics regarding her recent inbound efforts. She expressed exasperation and confusion when her phone calls were met with angry resistance, in some cases. She could not understand why, after showcasing clear interest in the provided content, prospects were upset. Shouldn’t they want to talk with her?
The answer was simple. They weren’t ready to engage, because they were still in the early stages of soliving their problem – meaning they weren’t at the point in the game where they were ready to discuss solutions. A very important aspect to any inbound marketing campaign is recognizing when a prospect is in the beginning stages of identifying a problem, actively searching for solutions, or ready to discuss and address what they have identified as the issue. HubSpot labels that process the buyer’s journey. Accurately identifying the stage of inbound leads is paramount to crafting the appropriate conversation. Remember, it takes approximately 10 touches before a prospect is ready to make a purchase. But this depends on a variety of factors, so this can (and will) vary. The best way to handle the first verbal connection is to engage the prospect in a contextual conversation and gauge where they are in the buyer’s journey.
It takes time to build a pipeline when you become your own marketer. First is the time commitment of creating content, publishing on multiple platforms, and spending time on social sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Then the time necessary to nurture those connections. Add to that, the time necessary to allow the connection to mature and become ripe. In the past, salespeople pulled up in front of the building and knocked on a bunch doors trying to get appointments. At some point, the rep came to the conclusion that it would take about a hundred cold calls to get an appointment and then 10 appointments to make a sale. The same theory holds true with inbound efforts. The difference today is we examine metrics and put a value to how many prospects open an email and click through a link.
One of the most useful features of the HubSpot CRM is a portal where you can organize and manage documents and then link to those documents inside the CRM. I recommended sales reps get into a rhythm of messaging, emails, and voicemails. Allow a longer ramp up time for the cadence or email sequence. Continue to nurture the relationship over the next few months by building a solid digital relationship.
When reps learn to utilize data to their advantage by using Sidekick, HubSpot and other like applications, they will have the opportunity to grow their client base. These often free tools can facilitate positive change for sales reps, when used appropriately. I embraced technology and learned how to utilize the data to my advantage. Become your own inbound expert and develop sales strategies to take your sales game to the next level.