Image © by Grant Hatfield
Inbound marketing has introduced a whole new paradigm to the way marketing departments conduct business. Instead of focusing their time on killer print ads and commercials, savvy marketers have shifted to inbound marketing strategies such as blogging, landing pages and email nurturing – all with the goal of producing sales-qualified leads. But when inbound leads are passed to sales, there can be a disconnect on how to properly follow up and close the deal.
Inbound leads are a different animal – an easily spooked animal – and should be treated with a different sales approach. But unless your marketing department and sales department work as a team, you’ll likely make these common sales blunders.
Cold Calling and Calling Too Soon
Hold the phone! Marketing recognizes you are eager to get leads on the phone so you can help them make a good decision. However, calling random lists or calling inbound leads too soon can ruin your chance to make a good impression.
The inbound marketing approach aims to attract leads who recognize a pain and are looking for a good fit. Cold calling is the opposite approach as you are calling those who you think may be a good fit and hoping they have a pain. While marketing takes some of the legwork off your hands in terms of educating leads, the overall time and cost per lead drastically downshifts when using inbound marketing.
If you call everyone who subscribes to your e-newsletter or anyone who downloaded one piece of content on your website, pump the breaks. Coming on too strong too soon can bust your opportunity before it ever really grew into one. Leads who download or interact with high level content are most likely not ready for a sales follow-up. Using a marketing automation platform, like HubSpot, can help score leads’ behavior and signal you when they are truly sales-qualified and ready for your time.
Not Going Beyond a Basic Google Search
Anyone can google these days. If all you do is check out a LinkedIn profile and company website prior to contacting a prospect, it’s not very impressive. Your marketing department is collecting tons of data on your leads before they are ever passed to sales. With marketing automation, you can dive into what pages your lead visited, what content they downloaded, what blogs they checked out, etc.
Knowing what content and pages on your site interested your leads enables you to have a tailored follow up conversation. You can ask intelligent questions, demonstrate that you genuinely care about their needs and position your product or service in a way that suits them.
Generic Follow Up or No Follow Up At All
Just because inbound leads have expressed a bonafide interest in your company may not mean they will close 100% of the time. You need a backup plan that includes personalized follow up.
This does not have to become a time-consuming task for you. Create a few series of lead nurturing follow up emails based on typical conversation tracks and schedule for automation. With marketing automation software, you can personalize emails based on several fields so it does not feel generic to your prospect. Mix in helpful content downloads along with sales emails from you to stay top of mind and try to get them to convert.
Aside from email nurturing, monitor your leads’ social media activity. If you find they begin to engage with your social profiles heavily again, contact them to check in. You can view behavior like this in tools like HubSpot’s social inbox.
If you are not sure where to start, set a meeting with your marketing team and define a service level agreement. This agreement can help establish what dignifies a sales-qualified lead and what is expected/recommended of you for proper follow up. Then you can work out the details and use your marketing and sales platforms to the best of their abilities.
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