Have you heard the one about the old guy who calls his son-in-law to help him set up his Apple TV? Probably not, nowadays that guy just pulls out his iPhone and Googles, “How do I set up my Apple TV?” This is an important concept for a B2B sales leader to understand.
People solve problems with Google. From water filters to mullet wigs, if we have a need, Google is where we go for a solution. This includes your B2B products.
Approaching B2B Sales with Inbound Marketing Practices
In the example above, the older guy and his son-in-law represent a core lesson of Inbound Marketing. The internet leveled the playing field when it comes to the distribution of expertise. This is inbound lesson number one for sales leaders: Everyone is Googling everything.
As Daniel Pink pointed out in his book, To Sell is Human, the used-car salesman doesn’t have an opportunity to stick you with a lemon anymore. If you’re in the B2B space, chances are your buyers are smart, and there is no way they’ll ever walk onto the lot without a model in mind.
Buyers are finding us before we find them. Companies like yours need to become a point of attraction for your ideal prospects. Whether it’s through content or thought leadership – and it should be a blend of both -your new sales will falter in 2016 if you aren’t showing up to meetings with inbound marketing in mind.
But I’m a Sales Leader!
You might be thinking, “But I’m in sales, Google and inbound are marketing’s problem!”
Inbound tactics, and the processes behind them, are revenue generating machines, and the success of Inbound has little to do with marketing tools or where you sit in the office. Every person on your sales team can take advantage of inbound principles to hit their quota this year.
Here are three tips from inbound marketing you can use as a sales leader to help your team succeed in 2016.
1. Your Salesperson Needs to Be Where Your Prospects Are
LinkedIn recently hit 400 million users. Twitter has 320 million. And Facebook has 1.19 billion users. Between the three of them, you have access to nearly one quarter of the world’s total population. And that’s not counting all the other platforms, including YouTube, Quora, and Medium.
In the B2B space, most of us, including your prospects, are hanging out on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook during the day. I always have LinkedIn open on my computer. I like to learn as much as I can about clients, competitors, the market, and people in my network.
During my time in sales, I’ve tried to build lasting relationships with clients and colleagues. LinkedIn lets me follow what these people are reading, sharing and working on. I often find myself emailing relevant blogs or articles that I come across on LinkedIn to other members on our team, to clients, prospects, and even some of my friends.
Being where my customers and prospects are empowers me to connect the dots on business pains and actually help other people solve a problem. Not just pitch them blindly based on a job title.
Not only will it be good for your reps’ personal brands, but getting your sellers to use LinkedIn and Twitter to self-educate and network will help with their quota too. This behavior comes naturally to the Millennial set, but your Gen Xers and Baby Boomers might need some guidance.
2. Your Sales Teams Need to Personalize Their Message
Inbound is big on personalizing the prospect experience. This means you’re sending them content and messages related to their unique business needs or previous engagements with your company.
The same method can be applied to your lead research. LinkedIn profiles and Twitter bios aren’t just for your marketing team to follow. By connect with prospects, your reps gain insight into the type of blog posts a particular prospects likes, and see what questions they ask. They can then tailor their sales approach to reflect a prospect’s real-time needs and interests.
You shouldn’t show up to a sales meeting wearing their favorite team’s jersey. But if they share a quote from some business blog, read the source article and refer to it on your next call (if it’s relevant).
Like their LinkedIn and Twitter posts. Amplify their opinions about the space you’re both working in. As salespeople, we are here to empower our clients, and helping them establish a personal brand is a great way to show them you are invested in their success.
(However, to contradict myself, If you are trying to sell to me and you show up in a Michigan jersey, there is a good chance I’ll be buying from you…)
3. Your Sales Team Needs to Always Add Value
Content marketing is a huge part of the inbound movement. The underlying goal of content marketing is to provide value to prospects outside your product. Sales teams need to internalize this idea and bring it to sales cycles.
Using your own company’s content, and understanding where your prospects go to learn (besides your blog!), is crucial to being a value-add during the sales process. Send an interesting article to your prospect just to let them know you’re thinking about them. Again, it all goes back to showing how you’re invested in not only the success of the sales cycle, but also their success as individuals.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
A lot in sales and marketing has changed over the past decade. When I first read Inbound Marketing, I wasn’t on Facebook and I didn’t have a Twitter. The only platform I used consistently was LinkedIn, and it was just a glimmer of what it has become today.
Since then I’ve quickly gained an appreciation for how these platforms are essential to growing a company like ours. As a sales leader, I recognize that adapting to changes like these is critical.
There are certain company-run blogs that I love and read religiously. I don’t just see them as companies but as resources to help me continuously improve as an individual. These folks have proven the model works.This is what I envision for our sales team. For them to develop relationships with their customers that inspire the same kind of loyalty and following as these blogs.
Here are some of my favorites:
I’m always looking for more reading material. Stay tuned.