Surely marketing is marketing and sales is sales. The two are different beasts - aren't they?
There's no question of a client/consultant relationship so anything I say about inbound marketing and sales strategy needs to be restrained. Overt promotion of the idea wouldn't be appreciated. After all they are the appointed leaders and I'm just one of a thousand followers. In order to help, my messages need to be questions not answers. A lot like selling really, except there's no deal and no commission check.
So here's what I'm planning on presenting. What do you think? Would this work for you?
In my days working for Nixdorf Computer the marketing department decided our product would be ERP for SME's tied to a mini computer. It produced advertisements, brochures, posters.
My job in sales was to find people in the market for that type of offer and, using my finely tuned (by company training) sales skills to persuade them to choose Nixdorf over the competition. Finding people in the market required me to drive to industrial estates then walk in every reception office asking "Who manages your information systems" and collecting the answers on compliments slips. These calls would be followed by phone calls to the individuals. "Are you considering a new computer system?" Will you consider Nixdorf? Can I have an appointment to explain why you should? Please?"
The technique was sub-optimal then and most certainly is now - read Seth Godin's Permission Marketing to find out why. The basis of his message was - People are sick of being "sold at". They don't like being interrupted and find easy ways to avoid it. Advertising, cold calling, overt selling all turn people off and are decreasingly cost effective as the Internet flattens the world and buyers take control. So now we have to find ways of marketing to people with their permission, and once we have that permission we can move straight into the sales cycle.
That's why the marketing strategy now needs to be integral to the sales strategy. Once the marketers have earned the permission they need to move straight to the sales process. There's no time, or money, for a sales rep to come knocking.
Marketing strategy and sales strategy are now both part of the sales process. Engaging people with ideas and selling them something to satisfy the aspirations is a seamless progression from "this is why you should want it" to "here it is".
So where does the Inbound Marketing come into the picture?
Well if you're Nike, or Ferrari, or MacDonalds it may not but if you don't have that sort of muscle it's your only option. The Internet makes it possible - the rest is up to you.
Inbound Marketing is all about engaging people. Making them want to be associated with the offer. It's about creating one to one relationships in which the customer feels buying from the vendor says something about them. It's about something more than buying and selling. It's about relating.
How do sellers open the door to that "relating"? By being where the customers are and entertaining them with ideas and answers to questions. By suggesting the right questions and subliminally suggesting the answers.
Now the big questions arise.
- Who are the right customers?
- What defines them and what are their aspirations?
- What are their challenges and the barriers?
- Where can they be reached?
- How can we attract their attention?
- How can we close them on our ability to satisfy those aspirations?
This is where Search and Social Media meet. We have to generate the right content, put it in the right places and engage everybody we come across, so they'll tell their friends about us.
Sounds simple doesn't it - but it's far from easy, or guaranteed to produce results. And for those of us with shallow pockets its the only option.
Do you agree?