I’ve been focusing on sales content of late as everyone seems to be writing about Linkedin marketing, and well, I’m bored to death of it. To add to my sales enablement topics, standardised sales processes, sales strategy, successful sales prospecting, and top sales software, I want to cover inbound sales lead generation.
Table of Content
- How do you generate inbound sales?
- Know your customer and your competition
- What is a sales lead?
- Develop an inbound marketing content strategy
- Enhance your content with social media
- Become an author on industry-leading news sites
- Master email marketing with marketing automation tools
- Build a growth-driven design website
- Paid advertising on Google (PPC) and Social Media
- Remarketing web visitors
- Speak at industry events and sponsorship
- How we do it at BIAS
Let’s face it everyone screams that they want inbound sales leads (yet many don’t want to pay the fees required to generate them). However, when I speak to salespeople and ask them what they are, I usually get a sheepish reply: "it’s when leads come to you isn’t it”. Spot on, but that is the answer anyone with the slightest understanding can give.
So how do you generate inbound sales leads?
Generating inbound sales leads requires many factors and most of them are not in the realm of sales at all. To generate leads, you need an inbound marketing strategy. Use the inbound marketing methodology to generate leads that are qualified for your sales team.
Step 1: Know your customer and your competition
The first step that a sales rep or sales leader needs to take is identifying with marketing their customer. That is the industry, business size, revenue, number of employees, decision-makers, decision influencers, solution champions, buying triggers, declination triggers, how your product or service stacks up against the competition, etc.
Establish all of this as separate or singular buyer personas depending on the target audience and ensure the marketing team use this to strategize for step 3.
Step 2: What is a sales lead?
You have to establish what a sales-ready lead is! What it is not, is someone who has downloaded an ebook or thought leadership piece. It could be someone who has attended a product or service-specific webinar or looked at an automated demonstration of your product.
Outside of a request to speak to an advisor, request a live demo or consultation, you have to establish what a sales-ready lead is and design a funnel to get your persona to that point. Without this, marketing could claim a prospect is someone who has downloaded a piece of content, and your sales team could chase dead-end opportunities and ruin the relationship before it develops. Remember nobody likes being sold to, so measure this process to perfection.
Hubspot talks about establishing what a lead is in this well-written article.
Step 3: Develop an inbound marketing content strategy.
Inbound marketing content focuses on solving issues, reinforcing beliefs or counteracting negative thoughts about your product or service. It positions your company as a leader in its field by teaching your blog readers how to solve their problems.
However, sales copy suits the conversion when prospects are ready to buy at the funnel’s bottom.
Closely align your Inbound marketing to your prospects' buyers' journey. Using your content to help you qualify prospects far before receiving a call from your team is essential. By building your sales funnel, and focusing on taking total strangers to potential customers around individual products or services, you can hone in on the right messaging that will move your prospect into a sales conversation.
Step 4: Enhance your content with social media
Now that you have created your inbound marketing content, you can further the blog copy’s reach by sharing it to the social channels and groups on which your potential customers are active.
Many B2B sales organisations ensure that each sales team member shares the content that the marketing team develops to give them more credibility. By utilising the LinkedIn company and staff profiles in sales and marketing, you can amplify the message furthering its reach all whilst attracting new potential customers.
Twitter and Linkedin remain firm favourites for B2B customers and researchers, but the list does become broader in other areas.
Step 5: Become an author on industry-leading news sites.
Don’t solely concentrate on social media. Consider sites like Medium, business to community, UK Business Forum, Sourcebottle, Innovation Enterprise, Reddit and Enterprise League to name but a few.
Content aggregation from your company blog RSS feed is a great way to network your cutting-edge content and tap into previously untapped audiences. The best thing is, you don’t have to do this personally, you can task it back to marketing to implement on behalf of the business.
Step 6: Master email marketing with marketing automation tools
This aspect of inbound lead generation is crucial. NOBODY does this manually unless you have zero funding. As a suite of tools of choice, we use HubSpot, but you could use other platforms like Marketo, Pardot or Eloqua.
As HubSpot recently changed their pricing model around contacts in the CRM, it has become even more competitive to add to its ongoing power development. By carefully building your personas into HubSpot via the CRM and segmenting your audience correctly, you can use its lead scoring capabilities to map your buyer’s journey.
Email nurturing is crucial to shifting buyers down the funnel from engaged marketing to a sales qualified lead based on agreed vital metrics.
Get this right, and you can use HubSpot’s workflows to automatically enrol prospects into automated sales sequences, creating a smooth and seamless experience for purchasing goods or services.
Step 7: Build a growth-driven designed website
I have now spoken several times about the need to include the company website as an essential sales tool instead of marketing's budget. And this is where a growth-driven design website hits the sales sweet spot.
When generating inbound sales leads, it’s essential to consider the buyer’s journey in its physical form and not a series of decisions.
That’s why you have to map your buyer’s journey through your digital channels to the sales team. Once you have done this, you can see where the sales process takes place or its elements.
Let’s consider that these pages form part of a buyer's journey:
- product page or service page
- pricing page
- about us page
- Case studies or results pages
Wouldn’t it be of utmost importance to you that marketing continually optimises pages to reflect user behaviour rather than guessing and leaving it there?
Think about it. The typical website process has a UX designer mock up a look and feel either page by page or as a whole theme depending on whom you work with. It gets approved on its visuals because everybody likes it and then your agency or freelancer mocks it up in Adobe XD.
You play around with it, clicking through menus and looking at its nice sparkly bits and magic fairy dust and you get a consensus that this it, you have your website, and it gets built.
After some time, you start to realise conversions are off, so you start looking at the website, this could be three to six months later as the consensus is that the website needs time to bed.
Sure your SEO might be out if this is a replacement site, but you should be on the data ASAP if it’s new. Hotjar or something similar to monitor and record your visitors’ behaviour has to be adopted so you can see what people are doing when they visit each page.
However, better still, what should happen when the design goes live in XD, is that your supplier brings in independent users to test how they would use it. Ensuring, of course, that they do not know your business until they see it. Even then, it should be up to the test subject to tell you what they think the website is for and how they navigate it.
This type of upfront testing should be prerequisite in your UX development to ensure that a random selection of potential users can easily navigate the website. Only when you are happy that the uninitiated can navigate the platform do you proceed to build it.
But you also need to go beyond this. Each page should have at least two or three variants to work out the optimal page layout and then get into where buttons etc. should be and test colours, images and calls to action.
Why do sales need to know this?
So you know what to ask your marketing team to ensure you get top results. In addition to that, sales leaders reading this should now get behind your marketing team if they want more budget to try this.
We built our website on HubSpot’s CMS as you can easily manage these changes with their drag-and-drop system to execute this.
Even better, if you adopt an ABM strategy, you can leverage your customer data in the CRM to generate personalised content. That further supports the sales process.
Step 8: Paid advertising on Google (PPC) and Social Media
Some people put paid social with social media, but I like discussing it together. Paid marketing is a strategy across Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Understand where your buyers are during the buying process and on which browser or social account, and you can tie ads into the persuasion part of the inbound marketing campaign.
Use your conversion ads to strategically appear around keywords or key phrases that map to the buyer’s journey on Google, Bing and LinkedIn.
Whilst still early in adopting B2B companies, thought leadership pieces are created for Facebook and Instagram to catch decision-makers browsing for leisure.
Whichever platforms work for you, continual mapping of ads to the inbound plan is necessary at all times.
Step 9: Remarketing web visitors
Now remarketing isn’t always an agreed spend of the budget for many marketers and the freelance PPC guys I talk to see it as a waste of budget. However, I believe it's more a case of it’s right for some and not for others.
But let’s look at a particular scenario. If you had remarketing ads attached to the bottom of the funnel content and conversion opportunities only, then if someone does bounce for whatever reason you can remarket them conversion messaged ads.
For me, as remarketing is a low-cost way of asserting yourself at the top of the list in online spaces and worth the few pennies per click it costs to reacquire target traffic at the bottom of the funnel.
Step 10: Speak at industry events and sponsorship.
Nothing promotes your company better than being seen in person. Advocate that your sales reps talk on podcasts and publish video content to the company blog, especially sales-related topics. Pay for them to speak at leading industry events as part of a sponsorship initiative.
In today’s world, even the home entrepreneur is busy creating video content to personalise their message and relate to their audience, and they can get more traffic than you do, so keep that in mind at all times.
Don’t let the latest startup beat you to new customers because they have to try harder than you possibly do. Again, you have to serve content that helps you convert between marketing and sales to ensure you get the right results as, ultimately, sales start with strangers.
How we do it at BIAS
We are fierce adopters of HubSpot’s Marketing and HubSpot’s sales tools as well as Drifts chatbot technology. For us, inbound opportunities require as many ways to interact with our team as possible: via chat, via forms, direct dial or by booking an appointment with our team.
We use Linkedin avidly internally and externally and semi-automate prospecting and content distribution. Maximising our ability to market ourselves, test theories and strategies and then replicate them for our customers.
Generating inbound sales calls cannot be done without successful inbound marketing. When read and combined, the linked materials to this article should elevate your inbound sales process to the next level. For those inbound sales reps looking for a more substantial qualification, check out HubSpot Academy, where you can sit the inbound sales certification.
However, as a footnote, do not completely disregard your outbound sales process, every successful sales organisation has to pick up the phone. For a guide to helping you set up the outbound sales strategy, check out paragraph one of this article and hit the link to successful sales prospecting.