How to Take Your Sales Team to the Top with Inbound Marketing
By Lauren Inggs - May 06, 2016
So you've decided to adopt inbound marketing, and you're ready for all the activities, lead-nurturing and ultimately, all the rewards you know inbound brings along with it. The next question you should be asking is whether or not your sales team is ready for the shift that's coming their way as you make this transition.
And it is, after all, quite a change. Traditionally, sales teams have been used to taking most of the weight when it comes to taking leads and securing them as customers. They'd spend their time driving 80% of the sales cycle, relying heavily on their sales and persuasion skills to make sure the sales kept coming in. Cold calls to endless lists of people and plenty of follow-ups were the order of the day. But things have changed – and if you're looking into inbound marketing, chances are you've experienced these changes first hand.
Why Should Your Sales Team and Processes Change?
Traditional sales methodologies are falling dismally flat in a world where it's easier than ever to block and screen calls, to avoid pesky sales pitches and completely disengage when a brand reaches out to you at an inconvenient time.
Whereas the sales team was previously responsible for a huge chunk of the sales cycle, things have now flipped around, and your buyer or prospect is owning the process. They're the ones researching, learning, making decisions and ultimately deciding to reach out when they're ready – and any attempt by sales to reach them before this moment is often met with disastrous consequences.
With so much of the sales cycle taking place without person-to-person interaction, your sales team can feel at a loss as you move towards embracing the inbound model. That's why it's up to you to educate your sales team when it comes to not only the inbound marketing model, but also the nature of the modern buyer's journey and the technology that comes with facilitating effective customer relationship management.
4 Steps to Making Your Sales Team Inbound Proficient
Step 1: Introduce Them to the Modern Buyer's Journey
Depending on the individuals that make up your sales team, and how long they've been working in sales, you may encounter some resistance when you try to change things up. This attitude is understandable – after all, you're changing up everything they've been conditioned to think will work. No more pushy sales promos, cold calls, no more forcible outreach to prospects.
But their objections can easily be addressed with the facts, all proved by hard data; by focusing on the buyer's journey, they can secure leads that are more abundantly qualified and likely to close in sales. Introduce your sales team to the buyer's journey, and the role they'll be playing in the inbound methodology.
Step 2: Help Them Understand the Shift from a Product-centric to User-centric Sales Model
Old sales processes focused exclusively on pushing your product or service on prospects, irrespective of their willingness or readiness to purchase or explore your offering. This is a sales cycle your sales team understands – but you're taking them to new realms when it comes to sales model implementation.
It's important to explain to them that current sales cycles need to be user-centric. The whole purpose of inbound is to attract prospects to your business/brand that are genuinely interested in what you're offering, and more qualified to move forward in the sales process. If you're doing inbound marketing properly, your sales team shouldn't ever need to force-feed potential prospects product details irrespective of their position in their buying journeys.
Help your sales team understand that their role is to step in a very particular moment in the buyers' journeys of your prospects, and have a wealth of information ready should your prospects, who are by now qualified leads thanks to your marketing efforts, have any questions regarding your product or service offering.
This means they need to know your product or service inside and out, and not just some sales pitch they've been using for ages, because they're going to become the go-to source for interested prospects. They'll need to start to think regarding how they can help solve your prospects problems and educate them as to proper solutions, and they'll need to do this without sounding sales "pitchy" and product focused.
Step 3: Choose the Right Inbound Software
If you've selected the right inbound marketing software, you'll find your sales team has a lot more to work with and the right tools at their disposal to be successful in their efforts.
HubSpot's inbound marketing software solution has an integrated CRM, which helps your sales team track leads through their buyer's journeys with detailed analytics and nurturing facilities that assist them in ensuring leads stay engaged throughout and close into customers who they can delight long-term.
Step 4: Focus on Proper Training
If you're looking to transform your sales team, it's important that you factor in that any change requires proper training, which takes time. Now while time is money, time spent on training is money well-spent. Your team needs to be clued up on your product or services on a detailed level, as well as the nature of your buyer personas, their pain points, and their needs.
Consider setting up a series of workshops to address these areas. After that, there's the inbound marketing software training. HubSpot offers fantastic training videos and resources to get your sales team ready to engage with prospects and the software platform with ease.
Onboarding your sales team to the inbound marketing methodology may take a little effort, but it's well worth it to see the results bearing fruit. One final note – along with onboarding your sales team, it's critical you align them with your marketing team to ensure consistent efforts from both sides that lead to the results you're hoping to achieve. Try implementing an SLA between them to help both teams stay on the same page regarding your end goals and targets.