A recent survey by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce found that almost half (47.5 percent) of its members would like more training in business development. This is not surprising given that sales as the means to maintain and grow businesses.
But is that the whole picture? Is the answer to hire more business development staff? Is there a smarter way to generate business? Is your current sales process mirrored in the how people buy and do business today? If buying habits have changed so must the sellers strategies.
A LinkedIn survey found that 90 percent of decision makers never answer cold calls.
So how do you make contact with them? Simply hiring more people can’t be the whole picture. Enter inbound marketing.
It’s time to forge a new relationship with those awkward bedfellows; your sales and marketing teams. Instead of viewing them as separate divisions, marketing should be considered as a sales enablement tool. With new technologies and measureable results, this is an important partnership for growth and drive business development. It feeds the sales funnel and engages with the customer far deeper into their decision-making process, ensuring that high value and qualified leads are delivered to the sales team to close.
Here’s another stat for you; today’s buyers get 57 percent of the way through their purchasing decision before they even reach out to a sales person. They have to be interested in what you are offering before they are open to any form of sales call.
So in order to meaningfully engage with potential clients and start moving them along the buyer journey to the decision stage, it’s up to marketers.
By creating helpful, relevant content that interests your potential customers, and distributing it on channels where they already consume information, you can raise awareness of firstly, your company, and, secondly, how you can help solve their challenges.
It’s not enough to just talk about your company—if they’ve never heard of you they won’t stop to read or listen. You need to create engaging content that will make them sit up and take notice. Another stat, in a survey by Forrester Research, 76 percent of respondents said they start any buying process by searching Google. Your potential customers will not be searching for your company name, but for help finding solutions to their challenges – if you have content offering a solution, this gets your company on their radar.
Once a potential client is aware of your business, it’s time to keep them interested. Again, that’s where marketers come in.
Interesting content—such as industry insight articles, thought leadership blogs, videos, infographics or online tools—will keep potential clients engaged and move them along the buyer journey.
Gated, valuable content, such as white papers, ebooks and webinars, will allow you to capture email addresses of those who are interested in learning more about what you have to offer. This gives you a point of contact to discover if there is anything else they would like to receive from you – newsletters, offers, whatever is appropriate to them.
By nurturing your potential clients through relevant content and engagement tactics at their speed, your marketing team is able to hand over qualified leads to the sales team.
Final statistic—64 percent of buyers surveyed by LinkedIn report they appreciate hearing from a sales person who provides knowledge and insight—so it’s important to pass on some details about the lead you are handing over, not just a name and contact details. Use analytics to educate your sales team on what types of your content they have been consuming, research your prospective client and work out how you can help them. If a sales person already has this information, your customer will be pleased and there will be one less blocker standing in the way of closing the sale.
To conclude, almost 50 percent of businesses would invest in sales development training. Great. A sales focus for all businesses is important. But at the same time we should be investing in reaching potential customers where they are buying, and using inbound marketing to put your sales people at an advantage. Successful businesses will offer a blended solution of sales people and online marketing engagement.