It’s possible your sales team may view inbound marketing with skepticism. They may have pre-existing notions that it's just about handing out free information and won't provide any benefit to them. It’s understandable; the sales team just wants to be sure that any new strategy put in place will help them meet their monthly quotas rather than hinder them. Luckily, once your sales team learns about how inbound marketing will actually help them sell more by talking to prospects who are actually educated and excited about the company's products or services, they'll happily be on board. Here are a few points to get buy-in for inbound marketing from your sales team.
Nobody Likes Cold-Calling
We’ve done both outbound and inbound marketing over the years, and we can tell you from experience: cold-calling can feel akin to running your head into the wall, backing yourself up, and doing it again – and again – and again. The reason is that most of the prospects you call on will:
- Not need your product or services
- Of those that might need your product or services at some point, most of them won’t need it at the exact time you’re calling them.
With these hard truths in mind, it’s no wonder that traditional cold calling usually has a success rate of less than 1%. Inbound marketing reduces and can even eliminate cold calling, by building a database of people who are actively consuming your content and willingly sharing their information with you in exchange for that content. If you’re, say, a staffing company, rather than just cold-call HR managers all day long, imagine instead producing an annual salary survey for the types of positions that you place and place it on a landing page on your site. When HR managers fill out the form on that page to download that survey, you know they are currently or will sometime in the future be interested in staffing those positions, and can follow up with them accordingly. You’ve just saved your sales team hundreds of cold calls!
Marketing Content Becomes Sales Tools
As you know, effective inbound marketing requires a large volume of content production: blog articles, e-books, infographics, webinars, videos, and more. All the content being produced as part of these marketing programs can also be used to enable sales. These content pieces can be valuable tools for preparing for sales meetings and educating prospects. Every salesperson is familiar with writing hundreds of the dreaded “just checking in” emails. Rather than send yet another “checking in” email, the salesperson can instead send their prospect an email sharing a new article or e-book your company has recently published that addresses some of the things they discussed with them on a previous call. This works especially well for non-responsive prospects – sales reps can restart the conversation by sharing a new content piece and a note that it reminded the rep of the conversation that was started a while back.
An additional bonus of sharing this marketing content is that it reduces the sales cycle time by allowing your prospects to self-educate. Every salesperson has a handful of questions that every single prospect asks them, and they have to manually answer those same questions over and over and over. The more of these questions that can be addressed in pieces of marketing content and shared with prospects, the less time your sales team has to waste their time and energy answering them manually for each and every prospect.
Salespersons’ job performance are measured in hard numbers, so they’re going to want you to show them hard numbers yourself in order to get their buy-in. Fortunately, there are some fantastic case studies of sales success as a result of inbound marketing. For instance, one of our clients achieved a 175% increase in lead generation from organic search as a result of our marketing work together. Another client achieved a 203% increase in lead generation. Traditional cold-calling would require at least 6,000 calls to achieve that same lead generation number.
Beyond pure lead generation numbers, another topic that is always on your sales team’s minds is reducing the amount of time it takes to get from their initial conversation with the prospect to closing the deal. Luckily, there is documented proof that inbound marketing can improve this as well, such as this case study documenting a 66% reduction in sales cycle time through implementing inbound marketing.
Making the Sale to Sales
Ultimately, your sales team will be happy to get on board with inbound marketing once they realize how helpful it is to them to get to closing deals faster. When marketers show how inbound marketing will allow sales to reduce prospecting time, reduce tedious question-answer time and “just checking in” time, and spend more time in their favorite part of sales – closing! – the sales team will become your biggest advocates. At the end of the day, they'll be happier salespeople who are enhancing the bottom line for the company instead of grumbling in the break room about their latest rounds of cold calls.