Last year, Influence & Co. decided to shake up its sales strategy. We knew that our marketing team was killing it month after month when it came to generating qualified sales leads, but we weren’t seeing the sales results we expected. We needed to figure out what was causing the disparity and how we could do better.
Through some digging, we learned our problem had two major likely sources: a lack of prioritization and a misaligned approach.
It turned out that our sales team would claim contact forms from qualified inbound leads when they had the room on their plates to take them. These leads were seen more as icing on the cake than an immediate priority because our sales team members were already spending their time nurturing their own (non-inbound) leads.
And when our outbound salespeople did work with inbound leads, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Inbound and outbound sales strategies are very different, yet we were treating them the same.
Clearly, something had to change. Some of our most qualified leads and biggest opportunities were coming from our inbound efforts, and we weren’t able to get them on the phone and give them the resources they needed. If we wanted to give these people the experience with our brand they deserved (and improve our sales results), we needed to do something new.
Introducing the Inbound Sales Specialist
After reviewing the situation, we decided to hire a dedicated inbound sales expert.
This person would be a valued member of the sales team but would ultimately operate independently from the rest of her teammates. She’d work exclusively with inbound leads while the rest of our team members continued their work with outbound leads.
She’d be responsible for reaching out to people who had filled out contact forms, engaged with our chat system, responded to our customized drip campaigns, or communicated with our marketing team about the content marketing resources they’d downloaded from our site. She’d need to be able to walk prospects through the sales process, and once they converted, she’d personally onboard them to ensure their partnerships with us met their needs.
We filled this position last spring, and it’s worked out so well that we recently hired another specialist to continue building out our inbound sales team. Our first hire now manages a smaller call load so she can focus on proposals and providing resources to our inbound leads. Because our marketing team continues to generate qualified leads, our inbound specialists play a critical role in our ability to serve those potential customers.
As we reviewed our wins in 2016, we found that our targeted inbound strategies have brought us the following benefits:
1. More sales calls with inbound leads
Since hiring our first inbound sales specialist in June, we’ve seen our call numbers increase notably — a trend we expect will continue throughout 2017.
The more sales calls you schedule, the more opportunities you have to close — it’s that simple. Consider that 80 percent of sales require five follow-up calls after the first meeting, and those calls become even more valuable.
2. Improved customer service
Up to 50 percent of sales go to the company that responds quickest. With someone dedicated to those inbound leads, we’re able to respond faster, provide more touchpoints in the buying process, and offer a more personal experience. Our inbound sales specialists enable us to improve each of these areas and keep leads from getting lost in the sales cycle.
3. Better feedback for our marketing team
Our marketing team members are able to see which pieces of content perform well on their own and within their content marketing strategies, but what they don’t always know is specifically how inbound leads are interacting with certain pieces.
Because the inbound sales team members communicate with leads directly, they can offer insight into which content topics are most helpful and where we might have holes that need to be filled, which helps marketing create content that better enables the sales process.
We see inbound sales as critical to growing our company. Sending increasing numbers of sales reps into the field or to conferences eventually becomes unsustainable, so our goal is to meet our leads where they are. If we can build a content resource on which prospective customers come to rely, we can create a win-win for us and for the people who have joined the Influence & Co. circle.