It’s 9:30am. I’m sitting at my desk with a hot cup of coffee, Spotify playlist ready to rock, about to begin writing a new eBook for one of our inbound marketing clients. I’m feeling pretty good about the day - I got to work early enough to wade through 24 emails I received since I woke up and now I’m ready to be productive. And, I need to be because starting at noon, I’m in back-to-back meetings the rest of the day. Just as I complete the intro paragraph, my office line rings. My gut tells me not to answer - it’s probably just a sales call - but what if it’s a client emergency? What if it’s my husband calling from out of town? What if it’s Amazon customer service needing info to process the order I placed last night (I NEED those new tempered glass iPhone screen covers ASAP because my two-year old daughter dropped my iPhone on the fireplace last night and cracked the case).
Against all better judgment, I answer my phone. It’s Steve, a sales guy. He’s “reaching out to follow up on the emails he’s been sending me.” Oh, you mean the annoying emails about a new CRM system? The ones I’ve been deleting every day? Great. I tell him I’m not interested, but thanks for the follow up. Now it’s 9:34. Where was I? Oh right, back to the ebook. But wait, let me just check my email first. Ugh, 6 more, and these can’t wait. I respond to all 6. Now it’s 9:42. OK, eBook, here I come. I make some progress, awesome, now I’m on page 4. It’s 10:38. My phone rings. And so the story begins again. You see where I’m going with this because it’s the story of your life too, isn’t it? How many sales calls do you get each day? How many sales guy voicemails do you have to filter through and delete just to listen to the ones that matter? It’s beyond frustrating - sometimes it’s downright enraging.
Every company depends on closing new business though, so what’s a sales guy supposed to do? I started my career selling ads in Pro and University sports publications so I get it. I’ve made 50-75 dials a day, blanketing the unsuspecting masses with unsolicited sales calls. If anybody should sympathize with the necessary evil that is cold-callers, it’s me. But, I rarely do. Every once in a while I get a call from a super-articulate, polite and witty sales person who just happens to be telling me about something I need, something I’ve been researching anyway, and I’m game for a conversation. This happens once a month at best. It’s this rare occurrence that compels salespeople to engage in cold-calling tactics because sometimes, they actually do work. But if you’re in sales or own a company that depends on sales for growth (don’t they all?), are once a month odds acceptable to you? Will that random opportunity to strike with just the right person at just the right time be enough to achieve your annual sales goals?
And if not, how are you supposed to close new customers and more sales?
Use Inbound Marketing, SEO and Website Design to Get New Business
I’m not telling you to stop cold-calling altogether, but maybe you should start thinking about it as just one tool in your arsenal of lead-generation and sales weaponry. But it’s not 1993. Consumers are smarter, more empowered than ever before. They use the Internet to research just about anything and everything before making a decision to purchase it. And why shouldn’t they? It’s faster, minimally-invasive, non-committal and direct. It may seem that this new buying behavior puts a salesperson at a disadvantage but, in fact, it can make your job much easier, more productive and help you be more successful than ever before. In fact, 61% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a company who provides them with custom content! As pretty and motivating as that statistic might be however, it requires you to invest time in creating quality online content (blogs, social media content, helpful website content), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and even possibly a website redesign. Why?
How do your prospects know you exist?
If you don’t have awesome online content, there’s no way for people to find you and learn about you. Awesome content is defined as:
- content that actually helps your prospects and adds value to their research and/or buying process
- content that is optimized with targeted, pain point-focused keywords your prospects and leads are actually typing into Google, Yahoo or Bing (this is how you get ranked on page one in search engines)
- content that contains a Call-to-Action (CTA) that pulls a prospect or lead through the next step in their buyer’s journey
It’s important to note here that even with all the best content and best content intentions, you need a website that showcases your brand in the best possible way and enables visitors to have a productive experience. If it doesn’t, your content creation efforts will be all but wasted. It’s 2016 folks. Buyers expect (actually demand) a website to be updated and easy to use. If your website is:
- not responsive/mobile-friendly
- lacking an optimal user experience
- missing lead-generating/sales-closing conversion points on every page
- not search-engine optimized
...you’ll turn off any prospective customer or client who visits it. If you answered yes to any of the above website flaws, you should probably consider a website redesign this year. Here’s a more in-depth 10-point checklist you can use to determine if your website might actually be sabotaging your sales:
Real Life Example of Inbound Sales & Marketing vs. Cold-calling Sales
Remember Steve, the guy who cold-called me about a CRM system at 9:30am? He interrupted my day with something I didn’t care about and didn’t need. I don’t like Steve. He blew it.
Now if Steve (or more likely his marketing team) had developed some lead-generating online content, maybe a guide titled “5 Ways a Better CRM Can Make Your Month More Productive,” here’s what could have happened:
- Steve or his team promotes the guide via a Call-to-Action (CTA) in a relevant blog titled “Stop Making Excuses For Not Being More Productive at Work.”
- One night, I’m sitting on my couch, finishing up some work that I didn’t get to at the office, and spontaneously Google: “how can I be more productive at work.” Because Steve’s team has put some time and effort into SEO, they’re ranking for the term “be more productive at work” and I come across the blog on page one of Google. The title of the blog peaks my interest, I click to read, and proceed to see the CTA for Steve’s guide in the blog, which I also click.
- I provide my name, phone number and email in exchange for getting to download the guide.
- Steve now has my info captured as a lead.
- Steve calls me and tells me he noticed I downloaded the CRM guide and wants to know if he can answer any questions about increasing productivity with a CRM.
- I either:
- Still tell Steve "no" but sincerely thank him for the timely and relevant follow up call and tell him to feel free to follow up with me down the road.
- Talk with Steve for a few minutes about the guide or the CRM or what his company does and give Steve the opportunity to learn more about me and what my needs are.
Either way, Steve ends that call without upsetting me. He had a valid reason for the call and after all, I did provide him with my phone number when I downloaded the guide. I don’t feel harassed or pushed or “gotten.” Yes, the call still distracts me and, yes, it does take me a few more minutes to regain focus on writing my ebook but hey, that’s business right?
Inbound marketing and SEO entirely changes the sales dynamic and turns cold-calls into warm (or maybe even hot) calls. Wouldn’t you rather be making warm calls this year? I’d rather be getting them, that’s for sure.
If you’re ready to change the dynamic of your prospecting and sales conversation, we can show you how. Schedule a problem-solving session with one of our inbound experts and we can give you a few tips to get you started!