It is no coincidence that as an inbound marketing agency most of our leads and enquiries come from sales managers and directors.Let’s be honest, many B2B sales teams have been largely underwhelmed by marketing. The problem with traditional outbound marketing (like advertising, email, direct mail and telemarketing) was famously summed up by John Wannamaker when he said:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which."
Perhaps even worse, we now know that 71% of leads that are created are wasted.* This desperate figure tells us a lot about what sales think of the quality of leads that they are given.
Now, for the first time since I started out working with B2B sales and marketing teams over 20 years ago, there is a marketing movement that has really won the confidence of both. It’s called inbound marketing.
Here’s the three biggest reasons why B2B inbound marketing is winning over so many people:
1. Inbound is measurable
Inbound allows us to measure three key statistics:
- How many people visit your website?
- How many convert into leads
- How many of those leads turn into revenue?
You’ll notice that these stats cross the marketing and sales divide and the measurable relationship between activity and bottom line results is central to the inbound methodology.
As an agency using the HubSpot marketing platform we are able to report on how many website visitors are generated by the time we spend on social networks, from the blogs that we write, from the downloadable content that we gate behind forms. Hubspot provides total transparency: We know where every lead comes from, which activities are working and which are not working so well and what a lead costs. Crucially , because we can connect HubSpot to customer CRM systems we also know what programmes and tactics are generating revenue and how much each sale costs. The board actually knows where is money is going and to what effect.
2. Inbound speeds up the sales process.
This was brilliantly explained in a talk by Marcus Sheridan to a gathering of inbound agencies in Boston. Marcus ran a business selling fibre glass pools. His visits to potential customers used to take 3-4 hours because customers had a lot of questions (as you would if you were going to spend $30,000 of your hard-earned money to put something in your garden). After he'd invested time in his blog to answer the questions that his customers most commonly asked, his meetings were only half as lon and enquiry to sale time dramatically reduced. Why? Becasue his propsects were now better informed and knew pretty much what they wanted and as Marcus had taken time out to educate them guess who they preferred to buy from?
The same principle works in B2B. The better educated a customer and the more that they understand the options available, why your product or service is a good fit for their her needs, the costs involved and how all this genuinely compares with the competition, the quicker the decision-making process.
Inbound marketing uses content to answer the questions that buyers have at every stage of the buying process - from defining the problem in the first place, to assessing options and short-listing potential suppliers – and then nurture them until they are warm for your sales team. This is hugely important. As an agency we use HubSpot’s automated email nurturing tools to qualify and warm-up leads until they are sales-ready prospects. This means that, with inbound, marketers have the opportunity to produce better quality leads that sales people actually want to get their hands on.
3. Inbound improves lead conversion rates and increases deal size
Research carried out by DemandGen found that 78% of tech buyers start the buying process online.
Most B2B websites still don’t publish content that helps buyers at these early stages. As all sales people know: the sooner that you can engage with a prospect, the more influence you have on the way that they see their problem and the shape of any potential solution.
Inbound uses content to match prospect information needs in these early stages and this engagement results in better conversions. Whilst overall 5% of leads generated through B2B websites convert into a sale, leads that are first touched by sales when the buyer has already created a tender document or identified specific requirements actually convert far less well. Leads which are identified in the initial research phase of the buying process are 3 or even 4 times more likely to convert. The good news doesn’t end there. The highly respected Annuities Group has found that leads that are nurtured through emails go on to make 47% larger purchases than those that are not nurtured .
All this means that companies adopting inbound marketing and inbound sales techniques enjoy a lower cost of sales and higher growth rates. The bottom line is this:. Good sales people cost a lot of money. They are an incredibly valuable resource and inbound helps to make them more productive.
If you are unfamiliar with the inbound process our short step by step guide will help you to get started.