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Combining Inside Sales and Inbound Marketing

By John McTigueJul 25, 2011

Whoa... Inside Sales? That's cold calling isn't it? You want me to cold call my leads after I have spent so much time and treasure nurturing them via inbound marketing? In a word, yes. Now, before you kick me out of the inbound marketers union, hear me out. Inside sales can be a very effective addition to your arsenal.

Let's get some definitions out of the way first. What is inside sales?

inside sales and inbound marketing an effective combination"Inside Sales is selling using the phone or the Web without having to travel or see the customers and prospects face-to-face. The term 'Inside Sales' is most often used to describe selling where the Inside Sales representative is proactive, calling on prospects and customers to sell goods and services."* It's sales, not marketing. It's reaching out to a prospective customer and either setting an appointment for a sales call or making the sale right then and there. What's wrong with that? Why do inbound marketers get hives when they think of such as scheme?

* http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_inside_sales

There are 2 historical problems associated with Inside Sales

  1. Inside sales is often confused with telemarketing - just because you're using the phone doesn't necessarily mean you are cold calling at all hours of the day or night as spam callers do. Quite the contrary. Good inside sales teams do their homework, taking their call lists from nurtured inbound marketing leads and/or research services such as Hoovers, D & B or Jigsaw. The nature of the call should be exploratory, not pushy. Most business people welcome the opportunity to solve a problem, and an effective inside sales call does just that.
  2. Inside sales shouldn't be necessary - if you're doing inbound marketing right, you have created your own market by publishing great content and building relationships over time. You shouldn't need to reach out to anyone directly. They should call you.

Here's how inside sales can help

  • By finding customers - it doesn't matter how effective your marketing campaign is, some people don't realize they have a need for your products or services. Consumers have too many options already. Your solution has little chance of floating to the top of their priority list unless you do some convincing. A good sales call or meeting is still the best way to make this happen. Marketing is still primarily about brand awareness, while sales is mostly about communication, direct communication.
  • By staying top-of-mind - you are assuming that people are waiting in line to read your daily blog posts, read your tweets and see what "+1" recommendations you make. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Effective inside sales pros get commitments from their prospects - an appointment on a certain date and time or a follow-up call to keep the sales process alive. Done right, the prospect actually looks forward to the call because it may help them solve that nagging problem and remove stress.
  • By being a little less voluntary - It's true that inbound marketing can solve problems too and do so at the consumer's discretion. The problem is again one of choice. There are only so many free minutes in the day to read blogs and social media updates. We choose which ones to read, and most get filtered out. If an effective inside sales caller manages to get through to you (no small task, but the good ones know how), they have your attention, and they have a unique opportunity to keep it.

So how can we integrate inside sales and inbound marketing?

Make both a part of your sales and marketing strategy. Use closed loop marketing to closely align sales and marketing data. Make sure that your message is consistent across human and digital assets. Coordinate your plan so that inside sales calling campaigns leverage specific inbound marketing content or events. Feed your inside sales team with segmented leads from inbound marketing. Make sure that your inside sales people provide feedback to marketers - how are prospects reacting to certain messages and content? Analyze conversion rates from both inside sales and inbound marketing and adjust your strategy to maximize sales performance. It's not rocket science. It's common sense.

Photo credit - idleman




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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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