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Guest Blog: Focus on Leads and Sales

by Simone Costello on 08-Feb-2017 16:44:07

Last Thursday  I attended the second Hug in Cambridge. We had a few drinks and nibbles at the Hotel du Vin then sat down to listen to two speakers.

Jeremy Knight, our energetic Host, opened with a talk about Inbound Sales. Inbound sales are far removed from traditional selling techniques, which are pushy, noisy/intrusive and generic in their approach. It’s about taking the time to find out your buyer’s behaviour and get to know their specific needs. He talked us through the process, the three stages of Awareness, Consideration and Decision. He highlighted the crucial importance of Value, a salesperson goes beyond providing product information to support a potential buyer throughout his/her journey. Using tools like HubSpot you can identify, connect and explore. Identify the customers, build a relationship, then explore what their precise needs are. When you know all this, you can then decide if the customer is a good fit for the product/service, if the buyer wants to purchase a solution now or is just looking for future reference.

In traditional (legacy) sales, the process is, in my biased opinion, less fun, you are approaching a stone-cold customer, you contact him/her and then offer a discount to entice him/her. This is a scatter-gun approach that might work for some industries but it’s not my cup of tea. Why not take advantage of data and make it easier? It’s not called Big Data for nothing. It’s huge, it’s growing and it’s not going away.

A new model is needed for the global age, a new way to give a personal touch to a customer who might be in another country if not continent. Back to the process, you have your leads (gained through monitoring your website, social channels, etc) and you want to explore if these can be converted into paying customers. So it’s time to impress, to gain trust, to empower the customer to make the decision or to walk away if it is not a good fit. The inbound salesperson is translating a generic proposition (a product or service) into a personalised solution that meets the customer’s needs. The customer might not want to buy all the features of a product or they might want a modification, they might need to integrate the new process into an existing framework… etc.

These insights were followed by the second talk by Eric Swain, who hails from the US and is a very engaging speaker. So here you are with your leads, what can you do with them? He introduced the Workflows tool, which can be very helpful to grow business relationships without annoying people. I love the way he defined the process: Attract, Convert, Close, Delight. So let's say you have attracted, but how do you convert?

The shocking thing is that 73% of leads are not ready to buy yet.

Step in Workflows, which hinges on lifecycle marketing and communicates soft commercial messages based on the customer’s behaviour. It has a pause ‘function’ to avoid hassling a customer who is not ready, while keeping him/her abreast of what your company is doing. I was impressed by this as in this country there is a fine line between being helpful and creep our customers out by sending way too much information. Workflows allow you to hit the pause button and to try again later, pause and try again, you get the idea. It all revolves around the concept of behavioural email, which means tracking how people interact with your business online, determine the action a user might take and start a conversation with them. And here is a nod to legacy marketing… the database (albeit a cloud one) is the nerve centre of your business. Depending on the customer’s behaviour, Workflows will contact the lead, follow up with soft propositions and eventually offer a deal if the customer is receptive.

Obviously all this ties in with my own marketing strategy, but what do you think? How can this work in the B2B environment where the process is slower and you have procurement to deal with. Your shout.

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Topics: HUG

Simone Costello

Written by Simone Costello

Simone is a freelance consultant specialising in digital marketing, writing and design.