Some companies may worry about how inbound marketing will affect their sales team. Can both methods work together, or does one replace the other?
Cold calling and other traditional interruptive marketing tactics lack real effect on today’s independent and resourceful consumer. Depending on which study, experts or research you believe, B2B and B2C relationships are finding today’s customer is making 57-80% of the purchase decision before ever talking to a sales rep. This is the reason inbound marketing is so important an effective for businesses; inbound marketing supplies the means for consumers to research and understand a business and what it offers as they look for a solution to their problem.
With this understanding, the sales team should be utilized in a new and more efficient way to fully align with the inbound marketing strategy of their company.
The New and Improved Self-Help Consumer
Today’s average consumer does more than half of the price checking, product comparison, searching for reviews and additional legwork before even talking to a sales rep. With the available online information, customers can now problem solve and find solutions for their business or personal life without ever consulting a professional.
It makes sense, really. Not only is the information now easily accessible, but the up and coming millennial generation is defined by many experts as a non-confrontational generation when conducting business and perform day-to-day activities. It only makes sense they don’t want to have to reject sales calls or ignore interruptive marketing tactics. Retailers and other businesses would be wise to prepare for the millennial generation’s purchasing tendencies, as they begin to flood the major parts of the market.
The Customer Magnet: Content Marketing
The purpose of inbound marketing is to provide a magnet to draw in the potential customer. The consumer is searching for a solution and the right magnet will draw him straight to your company to fulfill his need. In order to best draw in viewers and shoppers, your magnet should be widespread – covering a diverse range of related keywords, topics and questions. Inbound marketing allows your company the means to provide the necessary information with methods, such as:
Corporate Blogging: Providing useful information that answers customer questions and proves knowledgeable expertise on relevant subjects.
Email Contact: Unlike email blasts that send spam out to a number of uninterested customers, email newsletters are signed up for by the consumer – usually in exchange for a special offer, whitepaper or notices for products and deals. These can be opted out of by the consumer and should provide succinct information on a regular, but not overly-frequent, basis.
Social Media: According to the Pew Internet Project’s research, 90% of millennials and 46-78% of all other generations are using social networking sites. As an important way to reach a widespread audience in a personal way, social media marketing should have a major role in a company’s marketing plans.
Inbound Marketing: The Automated Sales Funnel
With these inbound marketing tactics and more, the magnet is set. This means the customer is drawn in and begins to be cultivated to choose the products or services your company offers – all without a single interaction with a single sales person or company rep. The consumers will continue to gather information and – if your company is on the ball and has it readily available – the inbound marketing will be responsible for attracting and cultivating leads.
Many customers give a webpage only 10 seconds for the marketing message to resonate and leave if they don’t feel an immediate connection. (Nielsen Group on Microsoft Research)
This is exactly why it is so important to have a professional in charge of writing your inbound marketing pieces and content marketing articles – they are most often the first real connection a customer has with your company. The look, the feel, the wording – these are all vital parts that can make or break your connection with an online audience.
The Cultivated Consumer
The cultivated consumer will reach a point where he or she is ready to buy. Now it’s your marketing team’s job to seal the deal. Whether through a brick and mortar store, the telephone or online, your salespeople should be ready to answer the hard and detailed questions about your company, products and services. No longer do sales reps need to be skilled at making cold calls and explaining the basics as much as they need to be the voice for your company and continue to cultivate the lead until the purchase.
Alethea M is a corporate blogging guru and freelance writer for WriterAccess. She often uses interesting facts from her article research to impress friends at dinner parties. Her husband is her biggest fan — though this may be because her writing income allows her to share in bill-paying each month.