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Clear the Hurdles: Sell Your Internal Team on Inbound Marketing

By Annie ZelmAug 6, 2014

selling internal team inbound marketing

As a marketer, you already know how to pitch your customers. But sometimes it’s easy to forget that before you can sell anything to anyone, you have to sell the strategy to your team.

In a previous post, I talked about how to sell your boss on content marketing by answering the questions he or she is most likely to have.

That means outlining the need for a steady stream of quality content, explaining the ROI as well as the cost, and making sure you have a clear plan for measuring success.

Getting that buy-in from your boss is obviously a crucial step. But what about the rest of your team? If your sales representatives, developers and customer support staff aren’t on board, you’ll face one obstacle after another, and any progress you’d hoped to make will come to a screeching halt.

Whether you’re redesigning the company website to make it more searchable, getting started with blogging or both, here are three ways to sell your team first.

1) Make Your Case

Although you’re probably well aware of where your strategy is falling short, your team may have no idea your company website ranks on Page 12 in Google search results. They may not realize your site is confusing to customers because there’s no clear path, or there’s one path for every buyer, regardless of that buyer’s needs.

Conducting a website audit can help you build your case. You can do this on your own or enlist a team to help you. Start by using a site crawling tool, such as Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, which will pinpoint page titles, meta descriptions and links. This gives you an analysis of how your website is doing from a search engine perspective and identifies any broken or missing links.

Think of it as an SEO checkup.

Audit specialist Steve Webb recommends using diagnostic tools offered by search engines, such as Google Webmaster Tools, next. These tools allow you to look at your website’s traffic patterns and provide an analysis of important factors such as how easy your site is to access, how many pages are being indexed by search engines and how your pages are influencing rankings.

Finally, it’s time to look at how your competitors’ websites compare to yours. Google looks at more than 200 factors when it determines where a website should rank, and its algorithm is constantly changing.

That can make it difficult to pinpoint why your rival company ranks on Page 1, but it’s not impossible.

There are a number of ways to check in with the competition, including keyword tools, page rankings and social media rankings. For a comprehensive look at how to audit the competition, check out our 12-step guide.

It will take some time to sort through this data and break it down for your staff, so focus on the top-level priorities. Your team may not understand the intricacies of page indexing or site mapping, but once they see where your site ranks compared to the competition, it should all begin to click.

2) Educate Them on the Process

Once you’ve presented your team with the diagnosis, they may nod in agreement and tell you they’re willing to do whatever it takes to fix it. Meanwhile, they’re thinking, “As long as I don’t have to do any work.”

And who can blame them? They all have their own responsibilities, and, after all, they just want to see the end result. If the furnace breaks, you don’t want a detailed synopsis of what went wrong and what’s involved in the repair; you just want the final bill and the reassurance it won’t happen again.

When it comes to redesigning your website and implementing a content marketing strategy, however, you’ll need all hands on deck. Any effective website redesign or content marketing plan involves research, and that’s where your team comes in.

Explain that you’re counting on their expertise to answer questions about the sales cycle, customer concerns and other elements needed to ensure your new marketing strategy hits the mark with your buyers.

Mapping the buyer’s journey is a crucial process that involves interviewing both internal staff and customers to understand their needs.

It’s the difference between guessing what your customers want to see and actually having the research to back it up.

To maximize the value of your research and avoid wasting anyone’s time, make sure you’ve identified clear objectives for each person you’ll need to interview.

If you’re interviewing your team’s sales director, focus only on the questions that pertain to that person. Those questions should include:

  • What is the profile of the ideal customer?
  • Describe the typical sales cycle. How do you currently receive sales leads and follow up with them?
  • How are customers finding your site?
  • At what point in their search are they contacting you?
  • How familiar are they with your products or services when they contact you?
  • What common questions do they ask? What follow-up information are you providing?

Let your staff know that you’ll also need their help to identify several customers to interview.

This should include current customers as well as those who ultimately did not buy. Aim for no more than an hour for each interview, and be willing to work around the schedules of your staff and customers whenever possible.

3) Keep Them Informed

Your boss shouldn’t be the only member of your team who sees the progress you’re making. The changes you make will ultimately affect everyone, so make sure you’re keeping them in the loop.

Learn best practices and share them with your team before you begin. That should include design elements (as well as outdated homepage features to avoid) and the ideal structure for capturing and nurturing leads.

You don’t need every member of the team to sign off on every step—a surefire way to slow down the process—but they do need to be aware of significant changes that affect them.

For instance, your sales staff should know what information your new site will capture about each customer and what follow-up communications they’ll receive. In some cases, you’ll want to set up those follow-up communications to come directly from the appropriate representative. Asking for their input on those emails is a good way to get them involved in the discussion.

It also helps to provide everyone with a timeline of key milestones, such as design concepts for the redesigned website, targeted launch date and marketing campaign schedule.

It’s much easier to make adjustments before you’ve begun than to backtrack once you’re deep into a project. Having these conversations with your team ahead of time will help you avoid the kind of hurdles that can halt even the best-laid plans.

What have you done to sell your team on a marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Author

Annie Zelm

As the content manager, Annie manages a team of brand journalists and is the driving force behind the content strategy for companies in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology and professional services. Relying on interviewing skills she developed in her seven years as a journalist, she uncovers insights about what motivates buyers in these industries and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars.
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