Sales today has fundamentally changed. A decade ago, it was possible for salespeople to make their numbers just by picking up the phone. Now, less than 2% of cold calls result in an appointment. A salesperson can smile-and-dial for over six hours, make 40 phone calls and only convince one person to even talk with them.
Buyers today head to Google when they’re looking to solve a business problem—and only reach out to salespeople when they’re nearly ready to make a purchase. That sounds great, right? Actually it’s a big problem.
57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer talks to sales.
When a buyer reaches out to a salesperson right when they’re ready to buy, their first question is typically “What does it cost?” This puts the salesperson on their heels, forcing them to compete on price even if they have a fundamentally-better solution to the buyer’s problem.
To get out of this price trap, salespeople need help finding ways to connect with potential buyers earlier in their decision-making process. That’s where inbound marketing comes in.
How Does Inbound Marketing Fit in with Sales Enablement?
As the sales cycle has become more complex and buyers have become harder to reach, salespeople have found that they spend less time selling. In fact, SiriusDecisions found that the average sales rep spends only 37% of their time actually selling!
Clearly that’s a problem. So what are they doing instead? It turns out that they’re too often wasting time reaching out to unqualified leads, scrambling to create sales collateral and searching for information about their prospects.
Sales enablement gives salespeople tools, processes, analytics and content that helps them be more effective at reaching buyers and closing deals. And it works. Demand Metric found that 75% of companies using sales enablement report that it makes a moderate or significant contribution on their sales results.
The good news is your company is probably already doing many of the things you need for sales enablement—in the inbound marketing department!
3 Ways Inbound Marketing Can Help with Sales Enablement
1. Help Salespeople Know What to Say on a Call
Decision makers have little patience today for salespeople who jump right into a product pitch that’s completely irrelevant to them. They don’t want to talk to someone who doesn’t bother to do their homework—whether that’s talking about office supplies to a graphic designer or suggesting a website update when they just finished a major redesign.
To be successful in sales today, you have to know your ideal buyers. You need to know:
- What roles should you target?
- What are their goals?
- What do they need to succeed in their position?
- What challenges do they face?
- What concerns do they have when making a purchase?
Most of those questions have already been answered in your company’s Buyer Personas, which are semi-fictional descriptions of ideal buyers based on market research and data about your company’s existing customers. Since marketers dive deep into demographic information, motivations, goals and even where each persona looks for information online to build their Buyer Personas, they’re an excellent resource for salespeople who need to know what questions their buyers will have when they get on the phone.
2. Nurture Leads
While cold calling can involve hours of effort with little payoff, it’s a completely different experience to call a lead who actually wants to hear from you. The Annuitas Group found leads who are “nurtured” (sent relevant, informational content on a consistent basis) end up making 47% larger purchases when they are ready to buy. Yet 65% of sales reps report that they struggle to find content to send to prospects—effectively stopping their lead nurturing efforts in their tracks.
Inbound marketers are also a valuable resource for salespeople who want to build relationships with prospects. While they’re developing content plans, inbound marketers dive deep into how each Buyer Persona approaches the purchasing process. Then they create content to answer the questions each Buyer Persona has at every stage of the “Buyer’s Journey.”
If they’ve been developing content for a while, inbound marketers will already have:
- Informational, thought leadership articles to help leads discover if they have a problem
- Resources to help leads learn more about how to define their problem
- Product/service focused content that will help leads make a buying decision.
In many cases, salespeople can actually use content already created by the inbound marketing team when a prospect needs more information. That saves you time and gives you a helpful way to stay top-of-mind until your lead is ready to buy.
If your company has a marketing automation system (like HubSpot), the inbound marketing team can make your lead nurturing even easier by creating workflows. Those scheduled emails are triggered by a lead’s action on your website and send informational content that helps lead move forward in the buying cycle. When they’re at the decision stage, the workflow will alert you it’s time to give them a call.
3. Create Champions within Your Target Companies
The average organization today has between 5-7 people involved in every purchase, but in most cases, you won’t get a chance to meet with all the decision makers. Instead, you’re likely interacting with one or two people, who then make an internal pitch about your solution. That means you can get one decision maker onboard—and still lose the sale because the others have different priorities.
There’s nothing worse than for an internal champion to have to say, “I don’t know” or “I never thought to ask about that.” That not only makes them feel unprepared, it may derail the entire presentation if one decision maker insists that they can’t continue without an answer to their question. If multiple solutions are under consideration, yours may just get thrown out.
This is when inbound marketers can really help you make the sale. They’ve already identified all the decision makers involved, identified their chief concerns and created specific content for each Buyer Persona. For example, there might be a comparison chart for the VP of Product about different solutions in that space and a one pager for the IT Manager about how the solution seamlessly integrates with existing software.
You can take advantage of that content to help your internal contact prepare for the meeting where they’ll present your solution. If you find out that the Head of Purchasing, for example, will be in the meeting, it’s easy to say “We frequently work with Purchasing departments and have an infographic that addresses their chief concerns. Want me to send it over so you can take a look prior to the meeting?” Your contact will likely agree—after all, they want to look prepared!
Inbound Marketing is an Untapped Resource for Sales
If you’re looking to build a sales enablement program at your company, think about how you can leverage what marketing has already created to build relationships with prospects, have more effective sales calls and create internal champions at your target companies. Chances are, your inbound marketing team already has many of the resources you need. If not, it’s likely that they’re currently trying to figure out what they should create next—and would love to hear what questions you constantly answer as you guide prospects through the buying decision.
Have more questions about using inbound marketing for sales enablement?