Salespeople are incredibly interesting creatures of habit. While marketers must continually hone their craft with new and innovative tactics like let’s say an inbound marketing strategy, salespeople more often than not are able to stick to their tried and true sales regime and don’t necessarily need to venture outside of their comfort zone all that often when engaging prospects. And while this is all well and good when leads are pouring in and sales are through the roof, what happens when sales slow down and leads begin to dry up? How does a salesperson react when their seasoned sales tactics just aren’t effective anymore? Herein lays an incredible opportunity for members of a marketing team to work with their sales team to create new and innovative ways of driving leads.
In today’s world of ever-changing technology, salespeople must learn to embrace all of the new and innovative touch points consumers are giving them—whether it is through an increased reliance on email communication or through connections on social media. No longer are cold calls and follow-up emails effective. In order to be a truly successful 21st century salesperson, today’s sales professionals must embrace some or all of an inbound marketing strategy. Resistance is futile.
Companies that rely on resistant salespeople are destined for mediocrity—and in some cases failure. Companies that have sales and marketing teams that don’t communicate and work in silos with no strategy are in for a bumpy road. The goal for every marketing team today should be to identify salespeople that are willing and able to embrace the tactics and strategies needed to be effective in their respective roles with the company. The key is to develop an internal understanding that the marketing team and its ideas exist to assist salespeople, not inhibit their efforts. Use the following tips to help get your sales team onboard with an inbound marketing strategy:
1. Don’t try and sell a salesperson on inbound marketing
Don’t insult a salesperson by trying to sell them on an inbound marketing strategy. They’ll be able to tell right away if they’re being set up for the pitch. Instead, be clear and concise and totally up front about how inbound marketing strategies are going to help make their jobs easier. Here are a couple talking points you can use when discussing inbound with your sales team:
- Lead Generation— Lead generation tools like creating compelling content that links to landing pages help companies attract prospects. Those prospects are then passed along to the sales team to be qualified further.
- Solidify Thought Leadership— A company that creates quality content can position itself as an industry expert and thereby become known as a thought leader by their peers. This type of reputation goes a long way for a salesperson who is trying to convince a prospect why they should choose their company over others.
2. Make them part of the conversation
Salespeople may get a tad bit defensive when they are told a new strategy is being implemented that will hopefully help drive sales. These types of changes can be cause for alarm to salespeople who may think that they are being replaced or are being slowly phased out. It is common for sales professionals to resist these changes through subtle and non-subtle tactics such as a lack of participation, a lack of responsiveness or through objections such as “what is it you’re trying to do here?” or “I don’t get what this will do.” Certain people will be more adaptive to change while others will take longer to come around, especially if they have become very set in their ways.
BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!
By engaging your sales team early on, you can dispel any preconceived notions and/or stop any negativity before it begins. A salesperson that is engaged early on will learn that an inbound marketing strategy is actually another great tool in their sales toolbox, and not some automated attempt to generate sales without having to pay someone a salary. Two very effective ways to engage your sales team in the process involve:
- Training— Set aside time to sit down with your sales team and really talk to them about inbound marketing strategy. Ask questions, offer examples and most importantly, let them ask questions. If you don’t have the time to hold a full or even a half-day of training, there’s always the option of hosting a “lunch and learn.”
- Sales/Marketing Liaison— Select someone within your sales department that you trust will help champion your inbound efforts. Make this person apart of your weekly or monthly meetings in which you go over your strategies and encourage them to communicate with their fellow salespeople.
3. Communicate successes
Telling a salesperson that your inbound marketing strategy will work is one thing. Showing them is something entirely different altogether. According to a 2014 survey of top U.S. marketers at Fortune 1000, Forbes Top 200 companies, 13% of firms were able to quantitatively prove the impact of their social media marketing. Inbound marketing strategy involves a clear data and analytics-based approach that helps track quantifiable results of marketing operations. It’s now easier than ever to prove ROI, which is something salespeople feed off of and will likely embrace as proof that this crazy thing called inbound marketing is actually working. Inbound marketing is in fact so sophisticated these days that a marketer can show a salesperson exactly how a customer found out about their company and came to their website, what steps they took to learn more about their company’s product while on the website—not to mention other interesting tidbits of behavior related to user experience. Today’s marketer can prove that what they are doing is working, and ultimately driving leads towards salespeople.
How Salespeople Can Help With Inbound Marketing Strategy
So we’ve spoken about what a marketer can do to help engage salespeople, now let’s change gears to talk about what a salesperson can do to better immerse themselves in their company’s inbound marketing efforts. A truly effective salesperson will do the following if they are serious about getting on board with inbound:
Demonstrate thought leadership
Salespeople are in the best position to be thought leaders because they are the ones in the trenches each and every day working to qualify leads into sales. A salesperson knows their company’s customers better than anybody else—which is all the more reason why they should be heavily leaned on to:
- Develop buyer personas
- Map buyers journeys
- Generate quality content
While it’s true that salespeople tend to have a more intimate relationship with their customers, marketing professionals can in fact help further that understanding through careful analysis of buying trends and patterns. A salesperson should be willing to take all of the information given to them and then immediately apply it to their craft. And in addition to listening to the marketing department, a salesperson that is truly engaged in the inbound marketing strategy will take it upon him or her self to listen to their clients. By asking questions and listening to the answers, a salesperson can gather the best data from which to create content because they are hearing directly from the customers themselves what they want and need. This also helps identify potential pain points that they can then pass along to the marketing department, as well as fellow salespeople. This can be invaluable data.
One of the biggest tenets of an inbound marketing strategy involves the distribution of content. Creating insightful content is important, but it means diddlysquat when no one within your company is helping to promote it. Salespeople are perhaps the biggest offenders of failing to distribute the company’s marketing messages. Sharing content through various social media channels seems easy enough, but salespeople must embrace it for longer than just a few weeks. A disconnect for salespeople occurs when the idea has lost its luster and work ends up getting in the way. The old saying of “sharing is caring” is perfectly appropriate for this scenario. A salesperson who makes it part of their routine to be social is truly embracing the inbound marketing methodology, and is establishing him or herself as a thought leader and a recognizable name among their customer base.
There’s an old saying: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” A similar argument could be made for teaching a salesperson to embrace inbound marketing strategy.
At Vital, we recognize that bridging the divide between sales and marketing can at times seem daunting. The benefits of getting marketing and sales on the same page are however too large to ignore. Stop working in silos and embrace inbound marketing as a company. Contact us today to see how Vital has embraced an inbound marketing strategy to drive leads and further engage customers.