Paul Houston

Inbound marketing – A saleperson’s perspective

by Paul Houston on June 19, 2013

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Thursday night is power league night (5-a-side football) and the perfect excuse for a few pints. My naturally gifted but far from athletic teammates are all in the same line of work as me, and after our on-the-field domination, we naturally begin to discuss customers, prospects and lead generation.

While I was talking through Cognition and the services we can offer with centre-back Tom, we began to move on to the topic of inbound marketing and the advantages it holds for a salesperson. We narrowed it down to the following:

 

1. It limits the number of cold calls

Believe it or not, salespeople don’t like cold calling. I know salespeople who have 15+ years’ experience in sales environments and not one of them enjoys picking up the phone to a complete stranger, with little knowledge about their business and background.

When performed and managed properly, inbound marketing limits the amount of traditional cold calls that need to be made as it allows a sales team to only go after a contact that is already warm, hot or even established.

Today’s consumers are using the web more than ever to find solutions to their problems. Masses of information on products and services can be accessed by web-based content, with the Cognition blog being a prime example. After browsing, reading, digesting and downloading genuinely valuable and useful content, potential and existing clients begin to have a better understanding of who Cognition are and what we do. Naturally, this gives us an edge with prospects, as they have already familiarised themselves with the Cognition brand, ethos and offering.

As Hubspot Gold Partners, our analytics software gives us an opportunity to see exactly, which pages a customer has visited, when they visited them and the journey they went on during their time on our website. This then provides us with a better understanding of their potential requirements, and we can guesstimate what pain points they may have, or what solutions may be best suited to them. This opens up a two-way conversation when it comes to making a phone call, and allows the whole process to be far more effective for both parties.

2. Become a teacher not a pusher

Traditionally, potential customers tend to liken salespeople to second-hand car salesmen. The perception is that the role of the salesperson is to simply push the product without any real regard for the customers’ needs. Inbound marketing changes this viewpoint as it recognises the customer is now in control. If a site visitor turns into a lead, the role of the salesperson is no longer to push the product or service, but more to nail down the bespoke need that the individual customer requires.

Using the information gathered, we are able to decipher the problems that are apparent. My role becomes a coach and consultant as I determine individual needs and the potential solutions that are available through content, online engagement, and direct conversation. It is my role to add real value to their journey.

The approach can be tailored to fit the wants and needs of each lead, which in turn will build stronger and more valuable relationships. My role therefore begins to evolve from second-hand car salesperson into a trusted advisor and partner. My customer base is all of a sudden brimming with loyal and long lasting relationships.

3. More profitable customers = more profit for everyone

If asked what drives them most, the majority of salespeople will state financial gain. However with inbound marketing ‘best practice’ allows me to offer increased value and a better experience for prospects and customers.

We can make sure the services provided to clients are best suited to them and their requirements. This provides them with the platform to hit ROIs and meet any other financial targets that have been set. If this is the case, real financial benefit has been found in the services we offer, and Cognition’s role instantly becomes more valuable. This will lead to further investment in the services Cognition can offer, as, based on the facts, our services help breed further success.

4. Analytics is key

By using data to analyse the sales cycles of previous and current customers, we can better understand what’s needed to create a sale.

I gather information during the entire sales cycle. By averaging data from all sales made, I can understand that it takes X site visits, Y clicks, and Z pieces of content before a visitor is ready to buy. Why don’t you ask Specsavers how many adverts it took before they knew you would be quoting their now infamous strapline and purchasing a pair of cheap specs? This data is incredibly valuable in shortening the sales cycle timeline.

Because all of the information can be easily tracked and averaged, we know which visitors are ready to consider purchasing. This type of information and approach saves a lot of time chasing site visitors, who aren’t ready to purchase, as well as removing the dreaded cold call and reducing the sales cycle.

Inbound marketing is a salesperson’s dream, and I dare you to find a salesperson who would complain about any of the benefits I’ve just listed. I know my teammates on and off the field couldn’t.

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Paul Houston

This post was written by Paul Houston

Paul is Cognition's Sales Director with over 25 years’ experience. Paul is a motivated and driven sales and marketing professional who strives to expand, develop and enrich businesses.

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