By Erik MacPherson / facebook, Twitter, google +, social media, sales process, LinkedIn, aligning sales and marketing, social selling, instagram, sales, sales tips, inbound sales, inbound sales series / 0 Comments
Back in the mid to late 90s, I was a cold-calling machine. I placed 100-200 calls per day, trying all the tricks in the book to get to the decision makers within some very large companies. I sent out bulk invites to potential customers via fax. Yes, fax. I sent email after email (with some pretty decent open and response rates to boot). That's what the top sales rep had to do to be the best.
It's not to say that dialing for dollars is over. But it's damn hard to do it without losing credibility from the F&B Director, or that restaurateur who owns 10 locations. They don't want to be interrupted by sales people, especially if you don't know what their needs are. YOU don't want to be interrupted by sales people making cold-calls and sending cold emails.
As a matter of fact (I shit you not), as I am writing this blog post, I just got a cold-call from a consultant trying to sell me a government GSA contract. She did absolutely NO research on TMC Digital Media. She has a list of companies and is aimlessly calling. She is dialing for dollars. God bless her. I told her that her call would make it into my blog post. She didn't seem that thrilled. Now, where was I?
One thing's for sure, the days of bugging potential customers are dead. The way we sell has changed because the way we buy has changed. The online research and buying experience today provides sales people with key knowledge and intel to know which prospects to focus on, versus aimlessly making cold-calls like in the past. And that's where the inbound salesperson excels. Let's get into the differences between how a legacy salesperson and today's inbound salesperson identifies new business opportunities.
The Early Stage of the Sales Cycle - Identify
Let's think about where leads typically come from. Legacy salespeople rely on older tactics like cold-calling, purchasing lists, searching online networks, and then aimlessly calling leads. Most of the time, they fail to identify which buyers have started their journey and fail to engage with these buyers first. Keep in mind that a majority of buyers today have already started their buying journey before engaging with salespeople.
Today's inbound salespeople listen to the market to identify the buyers that are active in a buying journey. Today's salesperson is a social selling practitioner and can identify even more buyers entering the buying journey.
An inbound sales organization has defined an actual process with these 3 key pieces:
- They have defined their Ideal Buyer Profile
- They identify leads that match their Ideal Buyer Profile
- They nurture leads with the right context based on each specific buyer
What is the Ideal Buyer Profile?
On the marketing side, we target Buyer Personas, semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. From school directors to F&B managers, we know their challenges. Think of your current Rolodex of contacts, various end-users from 25 different market segments, dealers, consultants & designers, and reps. Even if they haven't bought yet, these leads should be nurtured by both sales & marketing on a regular basis.
In Sales, the Ideal Buyer Profile is a specific company that meets your criteria based on factors like:
- Type of company
- Size of the company (based on employees, revenue, customers, or another metric)
- Ideal vertical industries or market segments
- Geographical locations
- Or any other attributes that are important to your business
One thing we can all agree on is that sales is all about timing. Inbound salespeople are listening for active buyers by:
- Receiving inbound sales-ready leads from the website while working together with their marketing team. These inbound leads are sent to a CRM in real-time. The salesperson can quickly determine if the lead fits the Ideal Buyer Profile and immediately work it.
- Receiving web intel that an anonymous visitor from a company that fits your Ideal Buyer Profile is visiting your website.
- Listening for a Trigger Event. This could be a mention on social media or using a specific hashtag aligned with your value proposition, or a press release, a job ad, or a new executive hired. (BTW, are you following Retail & Restaurant Facilities Business?)
Today's inbound salesperson knows how to follow-up with a prospect using the right context. Inbound salespeople love data provided by the company's website (i.e. lead forms), and by listening to the buyer's social media presences, or content they are publishing on social media. They actively search for public information about the company. They realize that you can easily find out information like titles and roles, size of the company, geographic location, etc. It's at this point that the inbound salesperson can determine the best course of follow up using context that is relevant RIGHT NOW to the buyer.
So ask yourself: are you a Legacy or Inbound salesperson?
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