I read an article every week that claims that “Cold Calling is Dead” or some other sales tactic is no longer viable. Marketers are often quick to write obituaries to sales tactics that distract from the inbound marketing method.
The truth is, lead generation techniques that used to work are not as effective as they once were. Only 28% of cold calls result in a conversation.
That doesn’t mean sales is dead.
The truth is the buyer’s journey is changing. Younger buyers tend to do a lot of research before they actively seek engagement with a sales representative. Sirius Decisions was early to describe this new phenomenon stating that as much as 67% of the buyer’s journey was being driven by buyers doing their research digitally.
Inbound and content marketing was created to provide this self-service SaaS prospect with value and information so they can research on their own before hitting the “contact us” page.
That doesn’t mean CEOs should abandon their struggling sales department and devote all of their resources to inbound marketing. Inbound and content marketing should be used to power the sales process and support the company’s sales goals.
Just because a lot of the buying cycle is done digitally, it doesn’t mean the salesperson’s job doesn’t start until two-thirds of the way through the process. Sales and marketing should be aligned through 100% of the buyer’s journey.
Inbound Marketing Creates Omni-channel Sales Process
Sales and marketing automation solutions offer you the opportunity to engage with buyers earlier than the normal sales process. When a buyer is beginning their initial research or has merely identified the existence of a problem, a cold call from a sales rep could be seen as pushy or overly aggressive.
Prospects in the early stages of the buying process want the opportunity to do their own research so they can have a more educated discussion with a salesperson. However, you can still get them to engage with your rep and your company through blog articles and gated content such as whitepapers, nurturing emails that offer them additional resources and guidance, and even chat software through an inbound marketing platform such as HubSpot.
The key is that these additional touch points are not meant to replace personal communications with a sales rep but to add to and enhance them. By the time the prospect is comfortable enough with your company to start talking sales, they have already built up a relationship with your company and the sales rep through educational content, emails, social media and other channels.
Add Content Marketing to Sales Tool Kit
Content marketing works best when it continues to provide value throughout the sales process. Unfortunately, 70% of executive-level buyers say salespeople aren’t prepared for the questions they ask and 75% say sales reps don’t have relevant examples or case studies to share.
The savvy CEO takes a portfolio management approach to lead generation. Investments in content marketing resources are not only useful to inbound marketing but can be used by sales to accelerate prospects through the pipeline, for outbound sales as well.
For prospecting and research, content analytics gives sales valuable insights into what content items and searches each prospect has read or performed. This gives sales a specific idea what their main pain points are before ever getting on the phone. It also tells them how familiar the prospect might be with your solution so they don’t waste time rehashing research the prospect already conducted.
During the sales process, content marketing can provide sales reps with those critical examples, case studies and detailed product information needed to help convert a searcher to a champion or even close the sale. With so many decision makers involved in the average SaaS purchase, reps will often only have the chance to communicate with one or two of the buyers and must rely on these deliverables to sell the rest.
Sales and Marketing Need to Be Aligned
Until now, most of what I’ve talked about is how marketing can empower and improve sales. However, an effective sales and marketing strategy should go both ways.
I’ve seen too many companies where this relationship is a one-way street. Sales merely works the leads that inbound marketing generates and works their own leads separately. This is usually met with complaints that the marketing leads are “no good.”
If this sounds like your organization, you may be missing an opportunity for sales to better direct marketing.
Sales should provide constant feedback to marketing on the effectiveness of their content marketing and the quality of their inbound leads. Marketing should have a clear idea of what the ideal lead looks like, what content they respond to the most, and when in the buyer’s journey they should be contacted.
If all of this sounds like a lot of information to organize and analyze, it is. Luckily, there are many solutions like HubSpot that offer an integrated sales and marketing automation platform to manage content marketing, provide analytics and create a seamless experience between sales and marketing.
This seamless integration between sales and marketing - which goes both ways - is key for a SaaS CEO looking to make inbound and content marketing work for them. Looking for more guidance on aligning marketing to your sales goals? Reach out for a free consultation!