If content marketing and inbound sales are not part of your B2B sales and marketing toolkit in 2022 then you are probably missing out. According to the Demand Generation Report, 55% of B2B buyers in 2022 say they now rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.
And if you are already ahead of the game and attracting a steady flow of inbound sales leads, then it makes perfect sense to move things to the next level and focus on how to increase conversions. As we all know, the B2B technology marketplace is more competitive than ever in 2022, and the tips in this blog are designed to increase your chances of inbound success.
The inbound sales process typically begins when a lead comes from a potential customer reaching out to your organisation to enquire about a product or service. Inbound leads are valuable because they are easier to qualify and in many cases lead to a shorter sales cycle because the prospect has already identified that your company could be a good fit for their needs.
However, it is important to remember that your inbound leads are usually the result of a dedicated focus on ensuring your company is visible where your ideal customer is looking. To keep them flowing requires a high degree of cooperation and alignment between your sales and marketing departments.
So if you’ve invested the time and effort required to attract inbound leads, then it is simply common sense that you would want to do everything you can to increase conversions. By following the six tips in this blog, you will be well on your way to generating increased ROI and meeting your sales goals faster!
Outbound sales is the traditional process of sales reps proactively seeking out and contacting potential customers with the aim of selling a product or service. It can typically be a time-consuming process for outbound sales teams, involving activities such as cold-calling and emailing lists of leads who may or may not be interested in what you have to offer.
An inbound sales strategy, on the other hand, is a more modern and customer-centric approach where potential customers have already shown an interest in what you do and are looking for companies that can provide solutions to their specific problems or needs.
The inbound sales process supports inbound salespeople to move potential customers further down the sales funnel. Inbound selling usually begins when a lead comes from a potential customer directly enquiring about a product or service.
Inbound leads are valuable because they are easier to qualify and in many cases lead to a shorter sales cycle because the prospect has already identified that your company could be a good fit for their needs.
Given how much energy and resource is invested into generating high-quality inbound leads, then it makes sense to reward the initiative of your potential customer within minutes, rather than days or even weeks.
And we have evidence to support this claim. A study by LeadResponseManagement.org and sponsored by insidesales.com found that when B2B sales teams responded to inbound leads within five minutes, they were 100% more likely to connect with the contact than if they waited for an hour! Not only that, but they were 21% more likely to convert a lead into an opportunity compared to waiting an hour.
This research led to the coining of the term ‘The Five Minute Rule’. Yet it is surprising how many B2B inbound sales reps neglect this simple way of improving online sales conversions.
There have been many studies looking at how long companies actually take to respond to new leads. Just 7% respond within 5 minutes according to Drift. The same research found that 55% of companies do not even respond over the course of the next five business days. This is such a seemingly easy way to increase online sales conversions, and a clear opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
Of course, inbound leads don’t convert all by themselves (except in very rare cases). So it is important that your inbound sales teams have a solid lead nurturing process in place to follow up on all your inbound leads.
Remember, some inbound leads may be at an early stage in the online buying journey, such as the Research phase, so will be gathering information from multiple sources. Others may be further along and want to know more about your pricing structure.
Your follow-up should be aimed at determining which stage the buyer is at, taking them through your qualification process and recommending further avenues for them to explore.
This could be the offer of a demo, a relevant case study, or even an invitation to a virtual event. Maybe you have regular webinars scheduled for prospects or a recorded webinar that they can watch.
According to influential industry analyst Gartner, “Showing up in search results or providing high-quality content is no longer enough. To successfully market to B2B buyers, software and SaaS providers need to incorporate a mix of findability and credibility in their marketing efforts.”
B2B technology buyers are carrying out more and more of the sales journey online and the journey is rarely linear. Buyers must navigate their own way through a complicated maze of online search, landing pages, white papers, videos and online reviews.
Wherever you can, make their life easy by making it easy for them to find clear, authoritative and relevant content that sets you apart from the competition.
Collaborate with your marketing team to identify what content will have the most value for your prospects and encourage your sales team to use the content wisely. And if you can automate some of the processes, so much better. A timely email that anticipates the buyer's information requirements can give you an edge over the competition.
And if you need any encouragement to adopt this strategy, Gartner reports that. B2B buyers who receive helpful information are three times as likely to buy the bigger, more expensive option, with less regret. In other words, by focusing on credibility as well as findability you have a fighting chance of increasing deal size.
This might sound obvious but you need to apply the same relationship-building skills to inbound leads as you do to outbound. Inbound leads may need fewer ‘touches’ to convert, but do not take their conversion for granted. Connect with inbound prospects on the channels for which they demonstrate a preference.
Social media, email and the good old ‘phone all have their place in building prospect relationships. And as always persistence pays off; a good salesperson knows how to stay front-of-mind without becoming a nuisance.
In our experience it can take 30 touches to convert even a warm lead – do not give up at the 25th communication!
If you can’t measure it, you can manage it, so the saying goes and it is especially true of B2B inside sales in the 21st century! The insides metrics that matter will vary for each company, but here are some key recommendations you might want to consider:
· Time to respond to the initial lead (remember the 5-minute rule!)
· Time to qualify lead and % of inbound leads qualified
· Open and click through rates for your nurture emails
· Number of calls, emails and social connections
· Time to convert
· Value of deal.
With the right metrics in place, you should be able to identify areas where your conversion process is breaking down. This information is pure gold and should not be swept under the carpet.
Look at breakdowns as opportunities to identify new ways of providing value to prospects. This could be as simple as a link to an online review, tweaking your online demo, or identifying a gap in your content strategy.
Buyers’ needs change and by doing this work you will have another opportunity to identify trends before your competitors and stay ahead of the game. Again, close collaboration with your marketing department will keep your strategy fresh and give you an edge over your competitors.
If you’re looking for help generating or converting leads, contact an expert B2B sales agency. Outsourcing your sales functions such as your inbound marketing and sales can feel like a big step, but it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your lead generation is in safe hands.
An agency will be able to advise you on the best tools and processes for your business and help you implement them quickly and efficiently. And importantly, they can also help with many other aspects of your sales funnel.
The bottom line is that, in order to increase conversions from B2B sales leads, you need to focus on both findability and credibility.
By taking a multi-touch approach and measuring the right metrics, you can identify areas where your conversion process is breaking down and make changes to improve your results.
And, of course, keeping your content strategy focused on value will help you stay ahead of the competition.
With these key inbound sales techniques and tips at your fingertips, you should be able to increase conversions and close more business. What other inbound sales tips have you found to be effective? Share your thoughts below!
At Pace Digital Sales, we are experts in B2B Business Development. We have a team of highly skilled digital sales professionals who can implement a range of inbound sales tactics to increase lead conversion for your business.