4 Pro Tips for Selling to Inbound Leads
Inbound marketing has increasingly become the predominant source of sales leads for most companies. HubSpot’s 2014 State of Inbound Marketing found that more than 50% of sales professionals identified inbound lead sources such as email marketing, social media, SEO and blogging have become more important over the past six months. This tracks with research from the buyer side that shows that the average buyer completes 57% of their sales process before ever contacting a sales person. For industries like software and SaaS, inbound leads can make the difference between failure and success.
So if you’re like most of us and depend on inbound leads to feed your sales machine, here are 4 pro tips for selling to inbound leads.
1. Respond quickly to inbound leads
In an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled The Short Life of Online Sales Leads, the authors found that “Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.”
The takeway is obvious – don’t delay on inbound leads. Your outreach should be helpful with the intent of qualifying the prospect: “Hi, Susan, I saw that you downloaded our eBook on sales technology. Was there something specific you were looking for or are you just looking for more information on sales technology?” If they are in an active buying process, they will let you know. If they’re not, either disqualify them or place them in a lead nurturing process to help them learn what they need to move towards a purchase decision.
2. Qualify, qualify, qualify
As we’ve often stated, sales teams should be focusing their limited time and resources on qualified leads. Marketing automation can help you with the initial qualifying cut by asking questions on lead generation forms that define the demographics to evaluate the match to your ideal customer profile (size, industry, job function.)
Before spending too much time with a prospect, your sales reps should be qualifying sales leads for budget, buying authority, need and timing, among other things. Much of this qualification can be done by researching the prospect online and by evaluating their LinkedIn profiles.
Be polite, but if an inbound lead is not a qualified buyer, refer them to educational material or if appropriate, refer them to a competitor that can help them.
3. Use sales technology to read digital buying language
Sales technology is essential to successfuly generating revenue with inbound leads. Remember, your prospect has more than likely been doing a fair amount of research before you come in contact with them. Don’t insult them by treating them as if they don’t understand the problem you want to help them solve – they may know as much about your product as you do! Start by asking questions to find out where they are in the buying process and what they want to learn.
With a good sales technology platform, you can get a good idea of the prospect’s intent by reading their digital body language. Look for the following:
- Which of your web pages have they visited?
- What lead generation offers have they converted on?
- What are they saying on their social media profiles?
- Which of your emails have they opened and which links have they clicked?
- What can you learn about them from their LinkedIn profile?
It’s very important to confirm your assumptions with questions, but reading the prospect’s digital body language can signifcantly improve the quality of your selling interaction.
4. Always be educating (ABE)
If you remember the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, you’ll remember Alec Baldwin’s sales manager character, Blake, drilling the mantra A-B-C into his sales team. A-B-C meant “always be closing.” I hope you’re not using this mantra in your sales process.
Rather than constantly trying to close the deal, you should constantly be trying to educate your prospects and help them solve problems. Rather than hard-selling your products and services, you should be helping prospects understand how to solve their problems. Whether it is selling more, reducing costs or reducing effort, help your prospect understand how to solve problems that make a difference in their business.
Need some research to show you the value of educating your prospects? DemandGen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey found, “When comparing the eventual winning vendor to the rest of the considered vendors, 61% of respondents agreed that the winning vendor delivered a better mix of content appropriate for each stage of
the purchasing process.”
Inbound leads are essential for most of us to hit our 2015 business goals, but generating them is just part of the battle. Selling an inbound lead is significantly different than selling an outbound lead. Keep these 4 tips in mind as you develop your sales process for inbound leads.