Developing and running a successful inbound marketing campaign starts with attracting visitors to your site (read our post on inbound marketing – attract) and converting those visitors into leads (read our post on inbound marketing – convert), but leads aren’t worth anything if they don’t turn into customers. In other words, you must close the deal.
Closing leads is often overlooked as we plan and evaluate our marketing efforts. We often lay this burden solely on the shoulders of our sales staff, and with good reason, that’s their job. But if you aren’t considering how your marketing efforts can assist your sales staff and increase your close rate, then you are most likely leaving deals on the table.
In this post, we’ll cover how closing deals fits into the inbound marketing methodology and how your marketing can assist your sales staff in turning leads into customers.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
The term “inbound marketing” was coined by HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan. It refers to the idea that you are marketing in a way in which you are bringing customers to you versus pushing your product or services out to them.
It’s is built on the premise that you create something of value for potential customers, build a relationship with them, and use permission marketing techniques to convert them into paying customers.
The inbound methodology promotes a 5-stage life cycle in which strangers convert into, not only customers but your brand promoters over time.
There are four levels of strategy in the methodology – Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Each deal specifically with moving an individual from one lifecycle stage to the next.
Qualify leads better with lead scoring
All leads are not created equal; you and your sales staff are painfully aware of this fact. Your response to all leads should not be equal either.
One of the most important pieces of your marketing plan, whether inbound or outbound, is determining at which point a lead should be handed off from marketing to sales. It may be easier in the early days when leads are scarce, and your sales staff is itching to run down every deal they can. But as your marketing gains traction, prioritizing leads and managing the time of your sales staff will become a greater concern.
Implementing a lead scoring system for qualifying leads is an ideal way to more thoroughly qualify leads and set realistic expectations for both your marketing and sales team.
Just because an individual has filled out a form on your website does not mean that they are ready to become a customer. Especially as you more fully implement an inbound marketing system, individuals should have multiple opportunities to convert on your website, and in many ways.
Determining at which level of engagement they are ready to speak with a member of your sales team and assigning a value to interactions that indicate points along this path is the basis of lead scoring.
Use your content library to nurture leads
If you’re running an inbound marketing strategy correctly, then you are creating a lot of content. Ideally, this content was created specifically with your buyer personas in mind. On top of using this content to attract website visitors to your website initially, it’s time to give it double duty.
Creating nurture campaigns that keep your newly acquired leads engaged with highly relevant content is one of the best ways to build credibility, stay top of mind, and nudge your leads ever closer to becoming your customers.
Nurture campaigns can be designed to more fully qualify leads before your sales team makes contact or as part of your sales process.
Automate emails for better communication
While there is no denying that human to human interaction is extremely important in the sales process, don’t underestimate the advantages that creating automated workflows for your email communications can provide.
Having email workflows allows your sales staff to manage larger funnels by turning over many of the common or necessary communications to an automated system.
Also, creating sales integrated email workflows allows you to have more consistency in the language that you use providing better sales and marketing alignment and ultimately more realistic expectations for incoming customers.
Don’t just close the deal, close the loop
Finally, and possibly most importantly, analyzing and adjusting is a key step in not only closing deals but closing the loop on your marketing effectiveness.
All too often small to mid-sized business owners rely on nothing but their gut instinct in determining which marketing efforts are working and which are falling short. Gut instinct is a powerful tool, and no one is more plugged into what is working and not working that sales staff and business owners, but there are often preconceived notions and beliefs at play that can cloud the true effectiveness of your efforts.
For example, when you close the loop fully, you may find that while social media is generating a larger number of leads, those leads are far less likely to close than the leads generated by your search engine marketing campaigns.
From a gut level you may feel that social media is more effective because you see more leads are generated from your efforts, but in reality, your search engine marketing is more deserving of future attention and increases in investment.
Getting a truly complete picture of your marketing performance is one of the most powerful and growth-focused investments that you can make in your business.
The inbound marketing methodology places emphasis on the marketing components of converting leads into customers for a good reason. Too often small to mid-sized businesses hand leads off from marketing to sales only to see the chain of data and alignment broken.
The same marketing tools that you use to generate traffic and convert those visitors into leads can and should be integrated into your sales process. If you are successful in this endeavor, you will close more deals, increase your revenue, and grow your business.