Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing in today’s online world. Consumers enjoy the ability to research a solution for a product in a no-pressure environment. Good content marketing guides consumers to identify what their problem is and then leads them to the ideal solution to fix it — one that you provide.
The problem is, for many solutions, there is information that the average consumer might not understand without technical knowledge. For example, they know that something is broken with their sink and garbage disposal, but without the technical knowledge of a plumber, they can’t identify what it is. No amount of content can exactly diagnose what is wrong without them taking apart the sink to investigate.
For many businesses, that means at some point, they need to transition their online leads to a sales person. Yet, if you are employing content marketing, it might feel awkward to push leads into talking to your sales staff. Generally, people have a poor opinion of sales people, viewing them as pushy, aggressive, and annoying. Here are some ways to set up your online leads so your sales team can convert them to customers smoothly.
Get Information From the Lead
Before going into a sales call, make sure your sales staff has all the info they need to be successful. If you only provide your sales staff a name and phone number, it’s basically them running in blind.
In order to gather that information, block some resources behind walls that require personal information. These resources can be white papers, eBooks, case studies, calculators, or anything that is incredibly valuable to your consumers. In exchange for this information, require leads to tell you things like: full name, phone number, email address, their employer (if you sell B2B services), address, why they are interested in the information, and more. The further down your marketing funnel each resource belongs, the more information you should ask for. Generally, online activity is all anonymous, but if you can get their information, you can start to track their progress.
This information can be invaluable to your sales team, as they can flesh out what kind of lead they have. If somebody is signing up for several resources very quickly, it might indicate they are very interested and need to be contacted right away. It can also impact what tactics they use in the sales pitch depending on things like gender, buying influence, and overall knowledge.
Get Sales in the Door With an Offer
People don’t respond well to sales people contacting them out of the blue. Often, they’ll respond with hostility and distrust, making the job of the sales person that much harder. Unless they specifically requested a sales person to contact them, they won’t see much value in the interaction.
Instead of just leaving your sales to the wolves, give your leads an offer that can get your sales in the door. A prime example of this is a free quote or estimate. This kind of offer gives the lead important offer, but it makes sense for a sales person to be involved.
Other offers that can help get your sales meeting the lead are: free trials, personalized solution plans, consultations, product demonstrations, and more. Now, not all of these solutions are suited for a sales person to perform. You wouldn’t want a sales person giving you an estimate on how much to replace your roof, you’d want a roofing contractor to do it. In this situation, it’s important that anybody in the business who interact with leads knows the basics of how to sell.
Let the Lead Decide How and When They Get Contacted
When it comes time for your sales person to meet with the lead, let them decide how they want to meet. Some people hate the idea of talking on the phone to somebody, and will do whatever it takes to avoid it, including going to a competitor.
Offer a variety of ways to meet with leads and let them choose what’s best for them. That can include: phone calls, video chat, email, text, instant messaging, and meeting in person. Depending on your target market’s preferences, you can put emphasis on one method or another, but leaving all as options is important. More and more people are preferring to do business over text or instant messaging, as it takes stress off of them.
When you contact them is equally important. People are busy and adding a random phone call in the mix just makes life more stressful. Let the lead choose what time of day best works for them, and if possible, even set up an appointment with them. Not only does this make them feel committed to talk to you, but it can give your sales person time to prepare.
It’s also important to let the lead know early on that they will, at some point, meet with a sales person. This can be done by simply including pop-ups or offers on highly visited pages to schedule a meeting with a sales person, but it’s essential to include. That way, when they are getting ready to make a purchasing decision, they aren’t surprised when they have to go through a member of your sales team.
Have Marketing Back Up the Sales Team
Once a lead is “handed off” to the sales team, that doesn’t mean marketing should stop paying attention to them. There are tons of ways marketing can support the sales team and help them close sales.
This is especially important if it takes your sales team a long time to close sales. In some industries, sales can take months to close, and you can’t have your lead’s only contact with your business being a sales person. Keep sending emails filled with content that push leads to close, encourage them to follow you on social media, anything to keep them connected to your business. The more often they see and interact with you, the more likely they will close.
Returning Not Ready Leads to Marketing
Not every lead that gets sent to sales is ready to convert. For a lesser sales team, they simply mark off that lead as dead and move on. Yet, in many situations, this isn’t really the case. Many consumers take longer to make decisions than others, or might have entered your marketing funnel too far down. Instead of just giving up on leads that aren’t ready to buy, they need to be re-entered into your marketing funnel. Whether they are dead or just a little unsure, don’t give up on leads.
By keeping communication lines open between marketing and sales, sales can inform what concerns or confusion the lead had and let marketing take over. That way, they can better prepare the lead with information they need and re-introduce them into whatever part of the marketing process they need to be in. You don’t just give up on a lead just because they weren’t ready to buy at that exact moment in their life.
Increase Your Sales By Working Together
There are many ways to improve your sales, but it really comes down to two methods: You either have to increase the number of leads you get, or get better at converting those leads into customers. If you’ve noticed that your marketing team gets a lot of leads, but the sales team has a hard time closing on them, you need to work on transitioning leads. Do this by making sure sales and marketing works closely together, that marketing does a good job setting up sales when it comes to contacting leads, and that sales has the information necessary to sell well.