“I’m not selling anything I just wanted to tell you about…”
Sound familiar? How many times has some tele-sales person started their pitch by telling you they’re not pitching anything? It happens to me all the time. In fact, just today I had a door-to-door salesman say the same thing, all the while clutching a clipboard full of sales order forms! The encounter reminded me how ineffective cold-calling can be, and how dissatisfying it is for all concerned. Whether you’re pounding the pavement or pounding the dialer, starting every pitch with a lie can’t be a fulfilling way to make a living.
Something called trust-based selling is all the rage among the sales cognoscenti these days. As prospective customers continue to empower themselves with knowledge gleaned from the web, it’s gotten harder for salespeople to fast-talk their way to a close. People have become suspicious of anyone approaching them to sell anything. The general attitude is, “If I want to buy something, I’ll call you. Until then, leave me alone!”
A new way of thinking
This change in mindset has caused marketers to turn to a new way of finding customers called inbound-marketing. The idea is to provide prospective customers with information they are interested in — for free. That brings them back to the web site, builds brand recognition as a domain expert, and builds trust. Then, when the prospective customer decides to buy something, who will they think of first? The nice people who helped them out all throughout the buying thought process, that’s who. And presto — marketing delivers a well-qualified lead to the sales team.
Inbound marketing is still a young discipline and many are still struggling to wrap their heads around it. Cold-calling prospects and mass email blasts to rented lists are still “how it’s done” in the minds of many sales people. Old habits die hard. The marketer’s job internally is to persuade management and sales that inbound marketing works, and that it will make selling easier. The problem is that it takes time. Buyers don’t take any longer to make a buying decision than they used to, but they spend more of that time doing their own research, and less talking to sales people. So until your company’s inbound marketing program has been up and running for a while, it isn’t going to generate any leads — qualified or otherwise. That can lead to frustration and distrust from the sales team, which is never a good thing, so it’s important to set expectations before embarking on an inbound marketing campaign. Make sure you set expectations about when your new program might start generating results.
It’s (almost) 2014. Time to get started!
So unless you want to feel like that door-to-door salesman I turned away today, I suggest you get started on building an inbound marketing process for your company now. The sooner you launch it, the sooner you’ll see results.