You want to grow your business, and that means you need more sales.
The question is, should you...
a) Hire additional sales reps, or
b) Invest in Inbound Marketing to help your existing sales team get more done?
OK, so you figure that this article, (from an Inbound Marketing agency no less!) will be one-eyed and biased, right?
Remember that I’m old and creaky now. I’ve been around a bit. And seen a lot of different businesses struggle with this question.
In fact, we faced the same dilemma ourselves a while back. So I thought I’d share our thinking on it in case it helps you with your quandary.
We made the change to Inbound after seeing how much more profitable it was for our clients over the years.
So it isn’t so much ‘bias’ as speaking from experience and watching what’s going on in both sales and marketing.
Here’s what we have seen…
Years ago, the decision about whether to...
a) Hire a BDM, or
b) Invest in Inbound
…would have been weighted towards option “A” — and for good reason.
In yesteryear, your potential customers were more willing to talk to a sales person — in fact they pretty much HAD to talk to a sales person to find out anything about your products and services.
Whether they were early in the buying process and looking for basic advice or were more advanced and looking for comparisons and a deeper explanation of their options — they would talk to a sales person to get the answers they were looking for.
If you hired a gun sales person who knew how to build trust and build a relationship, then yes, they could bring in loads of new business.
It was pretty simple.
But that was back then.
Now, we have the Internet. Buyer behaviour has changed. And your potential customers are searching for answers differently.
The Internet plays a much bigger role in the sales process, and this influences your decision as to where you are going to see the best bang for your buck.
It means you are likely to see way more leverage from Inbound Marketing, and so you’ll need to change how you invest your resources to bring in more sales.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what current research will tell you about Inbound Marketing:
- 68% of online buyers will spend considerable time reading content published by a brand they are interested in. (The CMA)
- Customers conduct 12 searches on average before checking a specific brand's website. (Kapost)
- 80% of business decision makers favour getting brand information via an article series more than ads. (Content Marketing Institute)
- Online buyers go through about 57% of the buying cycle on their own without talking to sales. (Executive Board)
- 83% of online tech buyers found their vendor via Google search. (MarketingSherpa)
- 77% of online customers prefer permission-based promotions via email. (ExactTarget)
- Customers spend 50% of their time online engaging with custom content. (HubSpot)
When you look at all this research, it comes down to this…
You need to sell in the way that your potential customers want to buy.
Clearly, to stay competitive, you need to align your marketing with the steps that your potential customers take in their buying decisions. This is where Inbound Marketing really shines.
Now, there’s something else woven into all of this that you need to consider. If you scan quickly back up that list to point #2…
Customers conduct 12 searches on average before checking a specific brand's website
So, here’s the thing about that statistic…
Your potential customers are looking at a wide range of websites before even making a decision to pick up the phone to talk to someone. And this means they are definitely looking at your competitor’s websites.
Once a potential customer has looked at your website and left, you need to be able to reconnect with them and bring them back through lead nurturing to be able to turn them into a solid lead.
Otherwise, all they count for is a “visit” in your Google Analytics account and they are most likely lost to you forever.
Lead nurturing is a fundamental part of Inbound Marketing. It is the process of engaging a defined target group by providing relevant information at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Nurturing can involve having “low bar” offers available on your website, such as free eBooks or how-to videos that potential customers can download after providing their email address.
Once you have their email address, you can nurture and reconnect with them through follow up emails and campaigns which direct them back to your website.
An effective nurturing process actively moves the prospects you’ve created through your marketing and lead generation efforts, through a sales development process to the point where they become paying customers.
(If the very idea of lead nurturing is making your heart pound with excitement, you can read more about it in this blog post by HubSpot.)
So to circle back to whether Inbound is more effective than hiring additional sales reps…
The question isn’t so much about ‘which one is more effective’. They both play an important role in achieving growth for your business.
The key is the ORDER in which you should implement these strategies.
So in terms of priorities…
- Get cracking with an Inbound Marketing strategy to fill your leads pipeline.
- Hire that gun sales rep to bring home the bacon.
In the face of changing consumer behaviours, Inbound Marketing gives you the unique ability to...
- Capture leads that would otherwise be lost to you.
- Pre-qualify leads so that your sales team are freed up to use their time more effectively.
This is not to say that Inbound Marketing will replace your need for a sales team!
You still need GREAT sales people, but you need to support them differently so they can be efficient at their jobs.
Ready to develop a successful Inbound Marketing strategy?
As a certified HubSpot agency partner, Crockford Carlisle is where businesses go to grow.
We help business owners and sales managers who are serious about growth but are frustrated that they’ve spent time, money, and effort on their website — yet it still doesn’t produce the traffic and qualified leads they had hoped for.
If you’d like to talk about the possibilities of Inbound Marketing and how you can get the ball rolling, please get in touch and we can talk it over.
You can call us now on (07) 3891 3800. Or if you prefer, just use the calendar on this page to pick a day/time to book 15 minutes for a free heads-up phone call.