Inbound Sales and the Lead Nurturing Track
This article will demonstrate the importance of the inbound sales funnel and explain why this process can improve your lead management efficiency by up to 80% and reduce your cost per customer by up to 62%. It is a very important sales process that should be utilised by every small business.
What Is Inbound Selling?
Inbound selling is the practice of attracting customers into your sales funnel by methods such as on-line lead generation, rather than traditional outbound methods such as cold calling. The reasons for this shift are numerous, although I would suggest that the main reason is simple – your customers’ buying motives have simply changed.
It used to be the case that a sales person would approach a prospect, pitch an idea and then close the sale. However, customers do not want to be ‘sold’ to anymore – they want to ‘buy’. Therefore, decision makers now like to identify the problem, have an internal discussion amongst colleagues, research the market and only then contact the vendor.
The problem this method raises is that you need to be visible and available at the point where the research is carried out, and obviously at the point of intended purchase. Why is this a problem? Because 73% of decision makers will not take an inbound sales or marketing call. (More statistics can be found on this Mashable Infographic)
Therefore, you need to make sure you are there when your customers want to buy – you need to focus on your inbound sales funnel.
How Do I Build An Inbound Sales Funnel?
Essentially, this is not an impossible skill to learn – I’m sure that every small business owner in the UK is capable of doing this. Most of us nowadays are comfortable using the web and, in particular, social media. In my opinion, this is the best place to start with your inbound sales efforts.
The aim of this process is to be in a position where you are collecting leads – who will all be at different stages in the buying process – and nurturing them until they are ready to buy. This can be done in many different ways, some very easy and some very complex. Let’s use Twitter as a basic example – this would probably be the easiest place to start.
On your Twitter profile page, you can write a small description on your business and also place links. An idea would be to offer a free e-guide (although this can be anything that would appeal to your potential customers) and place a link to a registration form on your website.
Now this is the important part: not all of the people who fill in the form will be ready to buy – the vast majority will not be. However, they will all be in the market at some point. So, you need to be able to keep in touch with them – you want to be on their minds when they come to purchase.
How Do I Keep These Leads Interested?
To do this, you need to have a system in place to nurture leads – to keep them ‘warm’ in effect. You could do this manually, although you run the risk of losing up to 80% of your leads this way (as proved by the YankeeGroup in a previous study). The best way to do this is to use specialised lead nurturing software (this is different to a CRM system, although most lead nurturing systems will double as a CRM). These systems will automatically schedule courtesy calls, email prospects at certain times, send out promotional information, assign account managers, let you know when they open emails or click on links, and will update your sales process accordingly. The list is almost endless. In effect, the system is moving your leads along the sales process automatically. This is called the lead nurturing track.
The lead nurturing track can be customised almost indefinitely, and is probably one of the most important pieces of sales software to be developed.
In order that the process is clear, here is an overview:
- Customers don’t want to be sold to anymore, they want to research and approach vendors themselves.
- Most decision makers will not respond to outbound methods.
However, your business still needs to compete and sell. Therefore:
- You must make your business visible and collect leads from on line sources.
- You must also make sure that you nurture these leads – who will all be at different points of the buying cycle – until they are ready to buy.
You do this by
- Posting relevant, informative and attractive information on line to collecting leads
- And by using lead nurturing software to keep your leads warm until the point of research/sale
Finally, by doing this you:
- Increase your lead effectiveness by up to 80%.
- Sell to a wider audience.
- And as inbound sales efforts cost less that outbound methods, you reduce your cost per customer also.