Establishing a system to attract inbound retainers can be daunting for sales representatives, but it doesn’t have to be.
Often, putting yourself “in the shoes” of a prospect will highlight challenges companies face in navigating the dynamic online and social media-driven marketplace.
You can help them prosper in today’s marketplace and perform better than their competitors with inbound marketing strategies that deliver results for years.
The way companies sell in today’s economy has changed. The path to the consumer has become complex, and at times, convoluted. The internet has shifted the pendulum of influence to the customer, resulting in consumers who are highly informed before they connect with a company.
Now, customers will often complete their purchase without ever connecting with a sales rep. These drastic changes in the buying process have forced companies to transform their thinking and redefine sales and marketing activities.
How can an agency help company leaders undertake this new direction for sales and marketing? By following a well-defined blueprint that puts sales reps in the driver seat to establish the buy-in and trust needed for retainer status.
With this blueprint outlined in the steps below, your clients will embrace inbound marketing as a necessity to meet their expectations.
Step 1: Competitor Analysis
Companies need to understand how they rank against their competition in search engines, social media, and for specific targeted keywords. These reports will highlight how customers find them in contrast to their competitors. With that data, executives can embark on a plan to improve, and hopefully, outrank their competition for online business.
This step requires homework before you place a sales call. You need to perform a competitor analysis for your prospect prior to making an introduction, which can be done manually or through a CRM like HubSpot. The report ranks your prospect’s website against their competitors’ websites, as well as companies considered best-in-class.
The report contains data as follows:
- Traffic Rank – Rank as compared to millions of other sites on the internet for traffic.
- Indexed Pages – The number of pages your website has indexed by search engines.
- Linking Domains – The number of domains currently linking to your website.
- Twitter Followers – The number of followers found on Twitter associated with your URL.
- Facebook Fans – The number of Facebook fans associated with your URL.
- MozRank – A measure of link authority and popularity, on a scale of 1-10 (from Moz).
With an idea of where your prospects are online in comparison to where you think they may be, you and your prospect can agree on areas to improve from the competitor report. Here are some other examples: blogging, content offers, social monitoring and publishing tools. But before you head down that path, take a step back and determine your prospect’s overall goals and how their online sales and marketing strategy fits in.
Most executives will be quick to agree that they need to increase leads, revenue, or grow sales. However, it’s uncovering the layer of the onion to identify what those objectives truly mean to that executive which matters. Additionally, recognizing there are consequences for not meeting objectives is key to opening a sense of urgency.
Step 2: Budget/Authority/Needs/Timing
The BANT (budget/authority/needs/timing) is a series of questions used for decades to qualify and convert prospects. Once you determine that you’re speaking with a C-level executive who can make a retainer decision (authority), you can move to further qualify the sale.
You need to uncover what the actual goals (needs) are for the executive, including consequences if they don’t meet those goals. For example, if your prospect would like to see an increase of 50 percent more leads for the next financial quarter, drill down a little further and ask, “What happens if you only get 25 percent more leads?” Your prospect will provide the consequence like, “We can’t open our new sales office if we don’t see that level of leads coming in.” Now you clearly see the hardship if they don’t make their goals and how inbound can address them.
To wrap up your qualification, it’s important to determine if your prospect has the budget and available time to proceed. Ask questions. For example, “Do you have a budget set aside for inbound and how does this fit into your schedule?” This completes your assessment for a prospect’s ability to commit to an inbound retainer for the long-term.
Step 3: Connect With The Customer
It’s important to include the customer and understand your customer is all about personas. An executive may feel they know the demographics of their customer, but it’s critical to complete the exercise, as that identity will be the basis for campaigns, content, and messaging.
Buyer persona questions include personal background, company, role, challenges, goals, watering holes, and shopping preferences to help understand what makes your customer tick and where they spend their time and money.
You can review the buyer persona results with your prospect and how their customers may progress through a buyer’s journey of Awareness to Consideration to Decision. Much of the buyer’s decision is made well ahead of contacting the company. Understanding what drives the buyer will help your prospect set an inbound strategy to be visible early and consistently throughout their buyer journey. This helps your prospect understand how inbound will better connect them to their customer.
Step 4: Closing The Sale – Inbound Kickoff
After you lead your prospect on a journey to embrace inbound marketing, it’s time to close and create an official Game Plan. This may happen in one phone call or over the course of a few meetings. That all depends on the tactics and skills that you employ to reach a prospect and sell your services, and that can vary drastically between various industries.
Hopefully, your prospect will embrace the quantitative analysis and results-driven approach. Inbound puts the customer first, and that message resonates with many. This step also requires that you set a meeting date your new customer to embark on an inbound strategy that drives value.
Top sales representatives have transformed their approach to connecting with C-level executives. This blueprint focuses on providing value to a prospect immediately. Once rapport is established by offering a clear, competitive assessment of where your prospect ranks online, you can dive into an understanding of corporate goals, plans, and challenges to improve their online presence.
The blueprint includes identifying the end customer and how to effectively connect with them. It is the full circle that completes the sales process for an inbound client, and it’s a needed discipline to establish a positive and consultative relationship.