Sales Has Changed: The Inbound Marketing Revolution
[By Koleen Singerline]
"Do I keep throwing money into hiring new salespeople or is there a better way?"
This is the question I most often get from business owners when discussing pressing problems in the economy now. "Tell me a little more about what you mean," I reply.
"Well, we see things picking up and we want to make sure we're out there, but we're just having a hard time finding good talent that can actually make enough sales to pay for themselves while bringing in profit."
A lot of us are looking at that very issue. Salespeople and Business Development Managers can cost up to $100K to a business if you add up all the costs:
- Car Allowance
- Office Space and Expenses
- Gifts to Clients
- Lunches, Seminars, Events, etc.
What's the ROI on that? Unless, he/she brings in a considerable amount of new business, a difficult task considering today's squeezed margins, the whole situation might lose you money. Many company owners report hiring someone they think is good, investing in training for the guy, and just as he's learning the business and gaining some traction, he moves onto some other kind of sales environment because he doesn't like or doesn't get your industry. Worse yet, you can find someone and get him or her out there on the street, but chances are he isn't warmly received or offered an entry to the decision maker.
"Feet on the Street" might not be the best answer anymore, so what is?
Instead of hiring a new salesperson, you should invest into inbound marketing techniques and see a stronger ROI. Looking at the trend brought on by the social media revolution, inbound marketing programs will drive sales and get you past the closed door. The first step is to start with your website and make it the "hub" of all your marketing and sales activity. Then, drive traffic to your website with an integrated inbound marketing program: social media sites, email marketing, public relations initiatives and your staff's customer service activities. Additionally, utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to enhance your website's visibility.
New tools available can take your website from a "static brochure" to a "hub" that houses valuable information and solutions for your prospects. Technology has made some exciting advances in the last year, increasing the amount of information available to you on who's visiting your website and what they're searching for.
Overall, inbound marketing allows you to qualify prospects, add warmed leads to your sales funnel, and most importantly, has your audience coming to you!
Invest in making your website your new "salesperson"; it will cost less and get your foot in the door!
[By Tony Popowski]
Social Media is a growing marketing phenomenon that's here to stay. Don't know the first thing about LinkedIn? Think learning a new language is easier than Facebook? Relax, take Social Media one step at a time... it's not that hard once you get used to it. To help you get started, here are Ten Tips for using Social Media:
1. Master one outlet at a time
"I'm pretty tech savvy. I'll join LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, Stumble Upon, Reddit and Digg today!" - Bad
It's great to be enthusiastic about Social Media. It's even greater that Social Media sites are free. However, these outlets take time to use effectively. Instead of overwhelming yourself or spreading yourself too thin, get a good grip on one site at a time.
2. Personalize your sites
"We're your typical pet store." - Bad
Social Media sites give you the opportunity to let loose and have a little fun. Include photos from your company picnic and share funny customer stories with your audience. Taking it too far and showing your company in an unprofessional light isn't the best way to go, but don't be scare to show what makes your organization unique.
3. Choose your goal
"Ya know, we just want to get more business." - Bad
It's important to choose goals for your social media sites. Are you trying to improve customer relations? Are you trying to get feedback on your company's new service? The more targeted the mission is, the easier it will be to select what type of information you put on your sites.
4. Write valuable content
"We are the best business in town." - Bad
Blah, no one wants to hear your sales pitch over and over. Give your audience news they can use! Top ten lists, how to lists and interesting stories about your organization tend to be safe bets. You should be thinking, "What does my audience get out of this?" with everything you write on your sites.
5. It's all about the keywords
"We are a local company, have a good day" - Bad
Your social media sites help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Make sure you're consistently including your industry's buzz words in all articles and posts. That way, your site comes up when prospects search for more information on Google.
6. Be consistent among your outlets
"Your Facebook Page says you're the local mom and pop shop, but your LinkedIN Company Page says you're a large conglomerate...what's the deal?" - Bad
Take a look at your sites side by side and ask yourself, "Am I conveying a consistent branding message?" Additionally, make sure all of your sites coincide with your marketing and public relations initiatives.
7. Drive everything back to your website
"What company are you a part of again?" - Bad
Your website is a pretty big deal. Make sure that your Social Media fans can get back there fore more information about your organization.
8. Stick with it
"LinkedIN Profile today, $1,000,000 in new business tomorrow!" - Bad
Social media outlets help with lead nurturing and relationship building; they aren't a quick sales fix. If you want to see a return-on-investment, you're going to have to take the time to continuously improve your sites.
9. Allow for feedback
"These are my thoughts, deal with it." - Bad
Your audience doesn't want to be talked at; they want to be talked with. Instead of just endlessly spewing out information, encourage your audience to give feedback. Whether someone gives you a positive thumbs up or negative attitude, thank people for their participation and address all comments.
10. Measure your success
"My site is out there now... work is done!" - Bad
Remember the goals you set for yourself? Now it's time to see if you've accomplished them. Did your social media site help you as intended? Has it taken on a new purpose? The more you measure, the more you can quantify and justify your social media efforts.
Don't feel like reading? Watch our Social Media Video for a recap!