The relationship between salesperson and prospect has always been complex and nuanced. To turn a profit and positively impact the business they represent, salespeople need to drive conversions. On the other end, the potential customer may be wary of spending their hard-earned cash on the wrong product or service –– sometimes even cautious or hostile towards certain selling tactics.
Why? Because the modern customer is smart, informed and connected. They'd prefer to find out about your brand in their own time and decide to purchase at their own pace –– pushy sales tactics can quickly turn them away.
Interestingly, there seems to be a bit of a skewed perspective in terms of how salespeople perceive themselves and what prospects actually think. "17% of salespeople think they're pushy, compared to 50% of prospects" – HubSpot. This indicates plenty of room for improvement in the sales process and a need for a deeper understanding of inbound principles.
The inbound marketing methodology highlights the importance of placing the customer (your target buyer persona) at the centre of every decision you make when constructing the buyer's journey. When customers are given the tools, information and independence to self-navigate through your sales process, the final step (conversion) is suddenly simplified for all.
Keep reading to discover how you can create a better experience for your prospects and, ultimately, make more sales!
Okay, we're taking a slightly different spin on Marcus Sheridan's book here. In this context, we're highlighting the need to prioritise the prospects who are engaged and asking for your help.
Cold calling can be a sure-fire way to burn out –– it's exhausting, time-consuming and often demoralising. If you're playing the numbers game (volume over quality), you may eventually find yourself wondering whether the effort you put in is worth what you get out.
Instead, why not use this time to revise your strategy, improve your sales process and add to your sales enablement content so that you can generate leads of better quality?
Start by setting criteria for who you call. For example, prospects who provide their contact information in exchange for a content offer download or folks who have requested a demo or consultation –– these are the types of leads you'd like to book into your calendar. Everyone else is probably still in the awareness and consideration stages of the buyers' journey, and unless they're reaching out to you for help, they're probably not ready to buy.
Placing your customer at the heart of your sales process requires honesty and transparency. Smart salespeople know and anticipate that prospects are likely to have objections. Typically, the prospect would have conducted a fair amount of research, and if there are uncertainties or questions, it's important not to skip over them or try to brush them aside. Instead, pay attention to the concerns your prospects raise; make sure you understand their specific needs and requirements and show them how your product or service can solve their problems.
Help the prospect discover advantages and benefits they may not have thought of while also being honest about the limitations of what you can offer. This will ensure that you only bring the right fit customers on board, helping your business grow and attract similar high-quality leads.
By implementing effective inbound marketing tools, you can collect data from your leads and buyers. This enables you to monitor behaviour, identify trends and tailor the experience you provide.
Tools like HubSpot and Hotjar can help you see where traffic is concentrating on your website, what's grabbing visitors' attention, and which pages are getting no action at all. You can also observe the conversations that people have online about your business, the reviews they leave, and the questions and queries they direct to your sales team.
When you discover the patterns and FAQs, you can create content that's truly helpful and valuable to the prospect. As a result, your existing and potential customers will feel acknowledged, and their questions will be answered, helping to simplify the decision-making process.
The data you collect from your audiences should also help inform your future marketing decisions. Verify your campaigns and strategies by conducting rapid-fire tests to ensure that what you're about to launch will be valuable, interesting and engaging to your buyer persona.
Many companies will draw up a buyer persona – it's an exciting part of the inbound marketing strategy. Not long after, however, sales folks may start to forget about the characteristics and priorities of this buyer persona and slip into their old ways of selling. A further challenge that arises is when you cater to multiple buyer personas. A one-size-fits-all approach certainly won't work here. You have to ensure that your sales process aligns with the individual's needs and that the prospect feels understood, valued and engaged.
How do you achieve this? Well, you have to ask some important questions:
Making a sale at any cost is never good practice. Selling to someone who is not ready to implement your product or service or will not get sufficient value for their spend can be detrimental and damaging to your brand and the relationship between you and your customer. Understand the buyer so that you can share relevant information with them at a time that will be most impactful.
You can have fantastic blogs, videos, product images and information about the benefits of purchasing from you. But the proof is always in the pudding.
In this day and age, most people will verify your product's quality by doing a little research online or asking friends and colleagues about their experiences. Showing your potential buyer how you have delivered tangible results for other customers can often be what finally sways them. That's why it's so important to have testimonials to hand in the sales process. Reviews and ratings are also a great way of demonstrating your reliability and delivery. So, be sure to ask your existing happy customers for feedback and include that in the information you share with your prospects.
Getting a prospect on the phone, and especially one that's showing a keen interest in your company, can be exciting. So exciting, in fact, that you dive straight into the sales talk and start giving them the full low down on how great your product or service is.
This can be an immediate turn-off. When a lead reaches out to you, particularly online, there's a high probability that they've already had a good snoop through your content and have a good understanding of your offering. Now they want to understand what it can do for them. This means that your conversation should always lead with what's important for the customer. Use this opportunity to learn more about them, their challenges and their pain points. In turn, this ensures that you can highlight specific features of your offering that may be beneficial to them.
Each buyer has a unique and specific reason as to why they may be considering your brand, so it's essential that you meet them on a personal level and spend the time getting to know them. This also means you're focussing on helping them rather than merely selling to them. This can be counterproductive. Instead, you can build a good rapport with the prospect, one that is built on trust and mutual understanding –– you understand their challenges; they understand the capabilities and limitations of what you offer and are therefore satisfied with the decision they've made. By taking the time to understand your customer's situation, you can find more impactful ways of expressing how your product or service can address their needs.
The guide to Inbound Sales & Social selling is here! Download your free copy today and learn how to get more leads, close more deals and continue to grow your business sustainably.
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