Over the past few years, inbound marketing has caused many companies to change the way they think about marketing to their consumers. It has taken the focus off of traditional media outlets such as TV, radio ads, or even paid advertising on Google, and put those efforts towards creating quality, engaging content. This switch was caused by the way consumers started to gather information for a buying decision. Previously, to get more information on a product or service you had to contact a company directly and rely on the salesperson to tell you what you need. Now it’s very easy for consumers to just go to Google, tell it what they want, go directly to the site, and purchase right online, without talking to a single person. This may sound scary to people who have made their careers out of selling, but just as marketing had to evolve, so does the sales process.
Some of the most impactful changes inbound marketing has caused in the sales process are:
- The starting point of the sales process
- How consumers get information
- The way to prepare for sales
- The way to sell to prospects
The Starting Point of the Sales Process
If you ask a salesperson when the sales process begins, they might tell you it’s when the consumer makes first contact with the salesperson. Well, they’re wrong. The sales process actually begins when the consumer first makes contact with the company. Whether that’s by a Google search, going to the website, or getting a referral, that’s when you are starting to try to sell them. When it comes time for a salesperson to speak with a lead, that’s already step two in the process: the consumer already has an interest in your company, they just need to talk to someone to continue their research, or to make a purchase.
How Consumers Get Information
Consumers have access to more information than they ever had before. It used to be that the only way to get information about a product or service was by talking to a salesperson and relying on them to give you the information you need. Now, consumers have all the information they need to make purchasing decisions at their fingertips. This can be good for salespeople because when the consumer makes contact they already have knowledge of what you do, and you’re not trying to explain why they need the product or service, rather why they need your product or service.
How to Prepare for Sales
Even with inbound marketing, as a salesperson you’re going to have to prospect and research your potential clients in ways you never have before. It used to be more challenging to research your prospect, but thanks to the internet and the rise of social media, you now have more information about them than you ever thought you would. LinkedIn can be a great source of information. It can show you what your prospects do for work, what professional or activity-related groups they belong to, the school they attended, and, what kinds of topics they post about. Learning this information can help you have a connection with them when you talk to them. Try to find your prospects on Facebook and see what pages like they, if you have any mutual friends, and if they post about different things on that platform. Go to their company Facebook and LinkedIn pages and see what you can learn there. Did their company just win an award? That’s great! Talk to your prospect about that. Forming a connection and showing an interest in what they do will help your prospects remember you.
The Way You Sell
Not only has inbound marketing forced you to change the way you prepare for sales, it also changes the way you sell. When a prospect contacts you for more information, in many cases, you won’t have to give them a 15 minute pitch about your company and what you do and what you sell because they will already know that due to their own research. Your job is to answer their questions related to the product or service you provide and find a solution that fixes their issues.
These a just a few ways inbound marketing has changed the sales process. Keep a lookout for our follow up post coming soon on how to be a better salesperson with the rise of inbound marketing.
What did you think? Do you agree with these observations on how inbound marketing has evolved the sales process? Do you have any other examples of how inbound marketing has changed selling? Let us know in the comments!