Thursday, March 22, 2018

3 Reasons You Should Invest in Inbound Marketing Instead of Hiring More Salespeople


Most small growing businesses know they need to continue to make strategic investments to sustain their growth. The challenge is knowing where to invest. If the obstacles to growth that you’ve identified are branding and visibility, hiring additional recruiters will not solve these problems.

1. One-to-Many Brand Extension. 

One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face is increasing their visibility. This is especially true when they are competing against much larger companies who have bigger marketing budgets and more salespeople. 
Hiring additional salespeople will offer only a limited increase in brand extension and visibility because each salesperson can only engage in one-to-one communication with the market. It doesn’t matter how many phone calls they make, meetings they hold or emails they send. They can only engage one prospect at a time. However, inbound marketing will facilitate one-to-many communication.  Inbound marketing increases your volume and reach. Consequently, your audience will grow exponentially.    

2. Optimize Proven Resources. 

Instead of hiring more salespeople, you can make your existing team more productive. For example, if you have 5 salespeople and they each average 10 sales appointments per week and 20% of them result in closed deals, then your team is conducting 50 appointments and closing 10 deals per week. If you add one more salesperson to the team and they perform at the team average, your team will then produce 60 appointments and close 12 deals per week. That’s great, right? 
But what if instead of hiring another salesperson, you invest in an inbound marketing strategy that generates more qualified leads, improves close rates, and accelerates deals through the funnel...? So, you keep your existing 5 salespeople, but instead of averaging 10 sales appointments per week, they now can average 12 appointments because the inbound marketing program is generating qualified leads. And because these leads are qualified (prospects who fit your target persona parameters and have raised their hands to demonstrate interest), the close rate jumps from 20% to 30%. Now instead of closing 12 deals per week, that same team is closing 18. Inbound marketing allows you to invest in your proven performers and make your best salespeople even better.

3. Eliminate the Recycling Bottom Performers. 

The above math related to adding and hiring new salespeople only works if you identify high performing, new salespeople that can hit the ground running. It’s probably not realistic to assume, though, that your new sales team members will come in and start performing at the team average right away. It’s more likely that they will probably perform below team averages. In fact, what we often see is that every sales team has 10 - 20% low performers. Eventually, these low performers leave the company (either voluntarily or involuntarily) and they are replaced. However, more often than not, they are replaced by other low performers. Most sales organizations seem to be continuously recycling the bottom of their sales teams. 
Recruiting, hiring, training, and managing new people can be an expensive and frustrating experience; especially if you are never able to “move the needle” on overall team performance metrics. It may make more sense to end the merry-go-round and invest your time and resources into your existing team. Inbound marketing can be a great way to drive the performance gains you’re seeking and meet those aggressive growth objectives. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Understanding the Consumer Sales Cycle

The "Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action" funnel could be key to your marketing success. Find out how it works.

Robert W. Bly

- Guest Writer

Author, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The following excerpt is from Robert W. Bly’s book The Digital Marketing HandbookBuy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound
Marketing funnels of consumer products are the various paths on which potential customers travel to reach their destination: the purchase of a product. Each potential customer enters onto a path from a different point of product awareness, such as a social media marketing channel or an online advertisement, and then continues along the path, intersecting with other paths of potential customers.
Along the way, on each of these paths through the funnel, you create marketing actions for your customers to engage and drive them to the next step, such as signing up to receive a weekly email that offers entertaining information related to the product or signing up for a free white paper or brochure. This is the first point of capturing leads that can be nurtured further with targeted messages.
As customers take the next step, they move down into the neck of the funnel toward the purchase of the product. Some will get to the goal sooner than others depending on the urgency of their needs. Regardless of whether the purchase happens at once or if customers continue to show interest but do not buy, continuing to tag customers in some way is an essential part of keeping them on the path through the funnel—no matter how slow the journey.
A classic funnel for persuasion is AIDA, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Let’s take a closer look at each of those elements and dive into what they mean for you.

Attention

Your layout for a product-based marketing funnel starts with the awareness process, by which you get the prospect’s attention, let them know you exist, and sell a product they might like. One of the ways to first garner attention after setting up your website, blog, and several business accounts on social media is to use Google AdWords to build small online advertisements. Customers who use similar keywords in their search strings to those you use in your advertisement will see these ads. There is also search engine optimization, where us­ing your researched keywords on your website pages increases your chances of being discovered when customers are looking for what you sell (e.g., collars for large dogs).
You can also create advertisements using the social media platforms where you have a presence. This way, your product reaches far more potential customers than if you were simply posting from your business account page. Once potential customers click on any call-to-action (CTA) buttons or links you include in your posting, then the process of gaining and retaining their attention begins.

Interest

Once you have aware potential customers, your next step is to give them information that interests them enough to want to know more about your products. You can have them sign up for emails that fo­cus on your product, or you can give them a free white paper. A white paper isn’t an advertisement but gives information on the product, the reason for its existence, and what it’s designed to do for customers.
Your blog can add to the website’s value by talking about one of the product features or applications, a customer success story, or news about product improvements. Or your email can include a link to a video that shows existing customers discussing how the product helped them. After watching the video, potential customers can click on a CTA button or link to find out more about the product and buy it if they are ready at this point.

Desire

Potential customers who see how this product can help them may now have a desire to try it out for themselves. Or they may want to know more or compare your product to others in the marketplace for pricing and features.
If you’ve researched your competitors, then you can offer something unique to your prospects that competitors don’t have. Continue to engage with your potential customers to keep them focused and excited about your product so they take the final step. One excellent tool for increasing desire is a webinar where viewers can see the product in action.

Action

Send out emails that include your CTA button, and if you consider giving a time limit to make the purchase before the product price goes up. Create a sense of urgency by giving a short time span to buy or by telling customers there are only a few books or software packages left. You can also add perks like a 60-day money-back guarantee, an appointment with your interested customer for a product demo, if applicable, or a free phone consultation.