I’ve written about why an inbound marketing agency needs inbound sales services to drive significant revenue generation for clients, but this article is more about why you need to offer inbound sales services as opposed to how and why inbound sales works.
I’m sure most of you are thinking to yourselves, “I just started getting good at inbound marketing and now I have to learn how to deliver inbound sales too?” Yes, you do and here’s why these complimentary services are so important to your clients.
Your Clients’ Sales Teams Are Struggling
Take a look at your clients. Do they have well-oiled sales machines? Are they asking you for more leads because they keep closing the ones you gave them? Or are they asking you for more leads because they can’t convert the ones you did give them into revenue? More likely it’s the second scenario.
We see this time and time again. Clients who told us during the sales process that they have a 50% close ratio have no data on their actual close rate. Soon after the engagement kicks off we find out their close rate is more like 5% instead of 50 percent. So despite our ability to take them from zero leads to 20, 30 or even 50 leads a month—the sales team is incapable of turning those leads into revenue.
The result is a discouraged client or worse, a client who wants to tell us the leads we’re generated are “bad leads.” Just for the record, there are no bad leads, just bad sales leaders. Anyone who downloads a piece of educational content is a lead. They might not be ready to buy today, but that doesn’t make them any less of a quality lead.
Inbound sales gives you the chance to help with this from the start of the engagement. It allows you to honestly address these challenges with your client. You can’t take their word for it, you have to create the funnel analytics that shows you and the client exactly the state of their sales and marketing effort today—in real numbers.
Then you have to work with them to put the processes, tools, and systems in place to make sure that those leads get the nurturing and follow up needed to turn contacts into leads, leads into qualified leads and qualified leads into new customers.
You Want Sales To Be Your Champions
Sales and marketing have been advisories since the very first business was formed. Sales doesn’t think marketing understands the business and generates poor quality leads. Marketing thinks sales is lazy and they don’t follow up on the leads marketing generates. You want sales on your side. So you need to breakdown the divide and work directly with sales. Sales teams have a lot of power within organizations so if the VP of Sales thinks you can help her close more business—that’s a great way to protect your long-term client relationship.
It’s one thing to get sales buy-in on personas, it’s another to get them to help you understand their closing metrics. When they hear you asking questions about close rates or sales cycle and your goal is to improve the close rate and shorten the sales cycle—you're going to have a very strong advocate. This is going to be helpful when you need her to back you up and change her sales team’s most basic behaviors. Start small with one or two sales people, prove yourself and then bring more people into the program over time.
Closing Leads Is Where The True ROI Resides
If you truly want to be a strategic partner for your clients—one that gets paid handsome retainers, then you have to learn how to drive revenue. Most marketing agencies are fairly commoditized, but those partners who impact revenue—they get a lot of attention and a lot of referrals.
You can drive leads up by a factor of 10 and still get fired. I’ve seen it. If your work doesn’t translate into revenue you’re one down month away from getting fired. But if your work is helping them hit their goals, month over month and quarter over quarter you can be sure your retainers are safe and your clients are going to be very happy to work with you for years.
Don’t be fooled. This is a major uphill battle. It might even be more complex and challenging than changing people’s thinking about marketing. Selling has been something people and businesses have been doing since the caveman.
Humans have been selling to other humans for thousands of years and this sales behavior has been tuned into our brains for just as long. Convincing people to interact differently with their prospects is going to take time. Your role in this process is one of teacher, with an educational message and you have to do the hard work to tell your story, train your students and show them the light, the results, and the response from prospects who are guided to a decision—instead of sold into one. You are going to have to be patient.
However, for the clients who see the value in what you have to share with them—inbound sales gives you the opportunity to truly transform your client’s businesses.
Start Today Tip – The first step in creating an inbound sales offering is to create a set of inbound sales deliverables for your own agency. This includes a sales process that guides your prospects through the world of inbound. One that educates and advises them instead of sells them. You need to use content strategically in the sales process and you need to make sure that your prospects have a remarkable experience with your agency—only then are you in a position to teach this process to others.
Agencies 2 Inbound – Helping You Go ALL IN On Inbound!