Effective Tactics to Maximize Your Inbound Sales Team
In many ways, the world of inbound marketing has forever changed the way in which sales are done.
Gone are the days where most businesses needed a strong outbound sales team. Today, many sales jobs involve responding to inquiries from interested prospects. This is called inbound sales, and it is directly related to your organization’s inbound marketing efforts.
Here are six key strategies to ensure your team is able to achieve their best inbound sales performance.
1. Your Sales Team Should Always Answer the Phone
This first point may seem obvious, but it is the second-most prominent problem we regularly see (after the next point on this list).
Your sales team should answer the phone every single time it rings. Without fail.
Have a dedicated line for incoming sales calls that rings directly to their phones. This should be different from their office extension, which likely will be used only by contacts who already know it.
If your sales team is engaged in some other activity, plan ahead to have another administrative person answer the phone. Prepare that person with a short script, like, “Bob is currently in a meeting with a client. Let me get your name and number for him to call you back. Will you be available after 2pm when he gets out?”
By having this person answer the call and ask these questions, you’re setting the expectation that the caller truly is important to your organization. But if your salesperson neglects calling back when they’re supposed to, that trust will be diminished.
2. Respond to Inbound Leads in Five Minutes
When a new lead enters your customer relationship management (CRM) database, how quickly should sales reach out?
Chilipepper found the chance of connecting with a prospect and converting them to a lead increases by 100 times if the response occurs within five minutes. Let that sink in. Imagine how that could affect your business!
What’s more, Chilipepper also found that 50% of leads will work with the organization who contacts them first.
Is your team interested in having more qualified leads? By improving response times, they could begin converting more inquiries into leads!
3. Equip Your Sales Team With a Powerful CRM System
We’re huge fans of the powerhouse CRM System, HubSpot!
If you’re unfamiliar with a CRM, it’s essentially a database where your sales teams can store prospect and customer information.
What makes HubSpot so remarkable is that they developed a great CRM, with integrated sales and marketing tools. This produced one amazing, centralized system, capable of tracking inbound leads at every step of the journey.
Here’s our favorite HubSpot sales tools:
- Email open and link click tracking: See who is engaging with your sales emails and whether they clicked any links or opened documents.
- Meeting links: Allows prospects to schedule an available time directly on your salesperson’s calendar.
- Deals: Track likely prospects from the beginning of the process to closing by creating a deal pipeline.
- Custom contact properties: Create properties within HubSpot for the details that are unique to your business. One of our clients created a field to track if there would be pets on the property when their remodeling team arrived!
- Sequences: Nurture your leads with one click through powerful automated email sequences.
- Tasks: Create a task for a contact, company, or deal, and never forget to follow up again!
4. Build a Documented and Persistent Sales Follow-Up Process
There was a time when the best salespeople used pen and paper to track their calls, meetings, follow ups, and closed deals.
Today’s sales teams have the benefit of solutions like HubSpot, which can help them successfully close more deals through effective follow-up.
The HubSpot Blog article, The Art of the Sales Follow-up, states the following:
According to a study by Brevet, 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups in order to close the deal. However, 44% of sales reps follow up with a prospect only once before giving up. After four follow-ups, 94% of salespeople have given up.
Additionally, world-renowned sales coach Tom Black holds his students to a minimum of 12 follow-ups, which he feels is the magic number before the return on effort begins to diminish.
Unfortunately, we still see many examples of follow up being neglected, which correlates to missing great opportunities.
So, what can your sales team do to ensure they’re effectively following up?
Use HubSpot Tasks to Never Miss a Detail
HubSpot’s Tasks feature is the perfect way to never miss a follow up opportunity. Simply put, the salesperson sets up a task set for a future date, which is assigned to a contact, deal, or company record in the CRM.
On the due date, the user is reminded of the task. When they click on it, it takes them back to the record, where they can see all relevant information from when they set the task. Plus, they can see any interaction that contact had with marketing or your website since the task was assigned.
Now, the salesperson can reach out to the contact for the follow up, armed with the full context of that specific contact’s journey. It’s quite a powerful tool.
Be warned — underperforming salespeople will avoid doing their tasks every day, thinking that they’re not worth the effort. By failing to follow up, they’ll leave money on the table, and prospects will become your competitor’s customers.
Automate Your Nurturing With Sequences
HubSpot’s Sequences tool is the secret weapon of productive salespeople!
A Sequence is a pre-built automation comprised of email templates, tasks like “call today,” and delay periods like “wait three days before sending email #2.”
The beauty of Sequences is that a salesperson can nurture a lead for weeks or even months with minimal effort. They click a few buttons, and the nurturing goes on autopilot!
There are three keys to successfully using Sequences:
- The templates must continually be improved: HubSpot provides metrics on how any given template is performing. If you’re not consistently improving them, the sequence may not return great results.
- The timing has to be right: Sequence delays that are too short may cause high unsubscribe rates.
- The context has to fit: Sequences are used in a variety of ways. Always build a Sequence with that prospect in mind. In other words, don’t send a marketing-level Sequence to a sales-level lead, or vice versa.
When properly built, continuously improved, and applied to the right lead, Sequences allow your sales team to do more nurturing than they could do manually.
5. Involve Your Sales Team in Your Marketing Content Generation
Sales and marketing are separate functions, right?
Not any more. Today’s best organizations are integrating marketing and sales as one team.
Truthfully, both functions need the other to survive. Remove marketing, and sales doesn’t have enough leads. Remove sales, and, well…you have no money.
In his groundbreaking book They Ask, You Answer, Marcus Sheridan makes a rock-solid argument for using your internal subject matter experts to create content like videos and blogs. He says that educating your leads is key to overcoming objections and earning the best sales.
Your sales team often has the clearest insights on the questions keeping prospects from buying. Use their knowledge to produce content that addresses these objections, and you’ll watch your conversion rate increase over time!
Another point Marcus makes is that salespeople often do not want to use content that marketing has produced without their input. But, when the sales team is directly involved in producing that content, they’ve already bought into the value. Generally speaking, they’re more likely to use it in their sales process when they helped create it.
You may face initial resistance when you ask sales to begin producing content, but this is one of the differentiators between average and fantastic organizations. Be persistent and the results will be well worth your effort.
6. Focus on Sales Qualified Leads Instead of Marketing Qualified Leads
Have you considered that leads are in different places on their journey towards purchasing your product or service?
Not everyone you interact with today is ready to buy. Your CRM should have differentiators for what stage each contact is at in the buying journey.
HubSpot has a pre-built Lifecycle Stage for this information, which is extremely helpful for knowing a lead’s purchase intent.
For our purposes, we’ll focus on two stages:
- A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): This is someone who has given consent to receive marketing. Leads in this stage are generally considered further from a purchase than sales qualified leads are.
- A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): This is someone who has shown some level of intent to buy and should be contacted by sales for further qualification.
Today’s consumers expect a certain response based on the type of information they provide.
Signing up for a newsletter is pretty basic. Normally, someone wouldn’t expect a call from sales after taking that action. This person would be considered an MQL and should be nurtured to a higher-intent phase before being directly contacted.
However, someone submitting a form to download a guide titled 5 Steps to Building Your Dream Home may have higher intent. They should be contacted by sales within five minutes to further assess their intent. After the conversation, the salesperson should have enough qualifying information to know if this lead is an MQL or SQL.
Finally, a lead submitting a form to schedule a consultation would immediately be considered an SQL, because that is normally the first formal step in the sales process.
The pitfall we often see is sales spending all their time working new marketing leads that enter their database. Because there’s normally a higher number of MQLs, it’s easy to get stuck working on them too much. In reality, MQLs are almost never ready to purchase today. Your sales team should allow marketing to continue nurturing these leads.
Instead, your sales team should spend their time focusing on the leads who have shown sales intent. This focus will maximize their time and effort, helping prospects that are closest to purchasing take the final steps to becoming your customer.
Take the Next Step Toward a More Effective Sales Strategy
The world of sales has changed dramatically since the rise of the internet age.
Today’s sales teams effectively use technology to make the most of their time. They respond to leads quickly, knowing that mere seconds can make the difference between winning or losing that sale. They follow up persistently, looking to add value at every opportunity. And they’re committed to producing educational content that answers their prospect’s most pressing questions.
Wherever your team is on this sales journey, there is always hope. You can begin making changes by implementing any of the six strategies listed in this article.
If you need an outside perspective, we would love to hear from you. We can enable your sales teams to better understand the inbound sales process and how they can benefit from embracing modern sales ideology.
Simply fill out this form to schedule a consultation!