Marketing teams should be providing sales people with more leads.... Simple.
The countless early mornings and late evenings I've spent hunched over my laptop trawling the world wide web for potential leads.
Looking for that "lead gold mine" untapped by other people in my industry with potential customers just waiting for my call.
Springing out of bed the next morning, imagining that first call, the high fives........
"boop.. boop.. beep....the number you have dialed has not been recognised, please try again".
"Any B2B sales people out there? You know where I'm coming from right?"
The good news is times have changed, this is not the only way. And all will be revealed.
Before I really get going, I'm not about to bash cold calling. I don't care what people say, it works, good sales people are never afraid to pick up the phone.
Instead picture this... every morning you open up your email to a list of fresh leads, people who genuinely have an interest in what you have to offer.
Well it happens... and guess where these magical leads come from - yes you guessed it (with a little help from the title) Marketing.
To be more precise Inbound Marketing.
So what is this Inbound Marketing thing I speak of?
Well in the time we've all been buried in a heap of www.bestleadsourceever.com crap, buyers have been getting smarter.
They no longer wait for smooth talking sales people to contact them before they buy.
They visit this wonderful thing called Google, type in their question and get about 2 million answers.
They find the solution to their challenge and probably a whole load of other great articles from savvy companies who have nailed their marketing.
Initially they may subscribe to their newsletter. Then they might download a report, maybe even sign up for a free trial.
Before you know it they've found themselves a new supplier all without hearing your dulcet tones.
"Hello to the world of inbound marketing".
"Goodbye to the world of lead sourcing outside of business hours because in business hours you should be cold calling".
The good news is that this approach to marketing is not rocket science, or a dark art.
It's about producing regular, quality content that your target audience are going to want to read.
Quality content is the sort of thing that adds value to the reader. Maybe it answers a question or provides them with a solution to a problem.
But, what is content?
It could be blogs, articles, newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, reports, videos, social media posts.
It really depends on who you are targeting and where they are likely to consume this content.
For example, if you're selling a complex financial solution targeted at Finance Directors you may want to be driving potential customers to more in depth analytical articles on your website from platforms like LinkedIn.
Producing amazing content is great and everything but it doesn't mean your potential customers are going to call you up and ask to buy your product or service.
You need to give them a reason to part with their precious details. Some compelling reason to let you know who they are.
Enter "gated content"....
Gated content with a strong call-to-action: it's a piece of downloadable content that provides your target customer with something really juicy and helpful.
Maybe an e-Book with a step-by-step guide on how to solve their problem, or an informative report that will shape the strategic direction of their business. Or even a free trial.
Here's the catch... in order to get their hands on this forbidden fruit they have to enter just a few basic details. Name, company name, email address, phone number for example.
Between 3-5 basic details is recommended. If you start asking for too much than this you may scare them away.
Then Hey Presto you have a lead.
Is it qualified? Well, yes because clearly these people have a level of interest in what you have to offer.
When you phone them will they take your call? Probably, yes, because they'll know who you are.
So do you pick up the phone and call them straight away?
It depends.... and this is where the science starts.
Some smart marketing people talk about funnels. In sales we're familiar with the funnel concept too.
You have a whole bunch of leads at the top of the funnel, they get qualified in or out and then at the bottom of the funnel you have qualified leads who are much more likely to buy.
Check out this example:
So if your new lead has downloaded one piece of content should you give them a call? Again, it depends...
If they've signed up for a free trial they're obviously much further down the buying funnel, probably somewhere near the evaluation / purchase phase.
However if they've downloaded a research report they may be much higher up, closer to the awareness / interest stage.
Those leads closer to the top of the funnel, need some love, some nurturing, some help to realise yours is the best solution.
"How can we do this without giving them a call?"
Well, we've got some information from them. Like their role, their company name... their email address... its time to start sending them relevant articles that are really specific to that person.
If they're a Finance Director you may want to send them articles about the cost saving benefits of your solution.
If they're in the aerospace industry maybe a case study about how you improved NASA's efficiency and helped them put a monkey on Mars.
Ultimately you want to gently persuade them that yours is the right solution.
Sounds easy doesn't it?! Just remember your competition may already be doing this so you need to be brilliant to get results.
Here are some quick tips to stay ahead of the game
1. Produce quality content that your target audience want to read. Make it valuable, answer their questions.
2. Understand your audience and the the types of content they like to consume.
3. Put your content in the places they are most likely to find it.
4. Use compelling calls to action to get them to part with their details.
5. Nurture them until they are ready to buy.
6. Call them and help them purchase your product.
Amazing. You only need to pick up the phone at step 6 and marketing does the rest! Queue call-to-action....