A big misconception about inbound marketing is that it can be done by a team of one. This is false and, in fact, it goes even beyond the marketing department. Marketing and sales must be in alignment to ensure the program generates qualified leads for sales teams (and also trackable ROI) — in fact, I’d venture so far as to say that inbound for highly considered B2B purchases, like industrial manufacturing industries, doesn’t really work without marketing and sales working together.
To help you get your marketing and sales teams aligned so you can maximize your success, here are 5 things you need from your manufacturing organization’s sales team to support your inbound program:
5 Things the Sales Team Must Do for Inbound Success
1. Continuously Share New Content Ideas
There’s no denying that your sales team has more contact with your prospect base than any other department in your company. They’re on the front lines talking with new prospects every day, and they know better than anyone what the biggest pain points are during the buyer’s journey. In order for the marketing department to create content that addresses these pain points, they need to be hearing from the people most involved. They can’t come up with all the ideas on their own, and if you notice an area that needs addressing, make sure your voice is heard. For example, questions you get asked in initial sales meetings can make great consideration-stage content. Likewise, ideas for bottom-of-the-funnel content that would be helpful when connecting with sales-qualified leads (SQLs) are always welcome. Be sure to share successful customer projects and results that would be good case study material showing off your key capabilities and competitive advantage.
2. Be a Helpful Resource
In addition to providing ideas for new content, the marketing team may need your assistance as a subject matter expert (SME) or technical reviewer for content that stems from your ideas. This could be as much as writing a blog or being an interview subject/actor in a video, or as little as writing a blog outline, reviewing a blog, or talking to the marketing team for 15 minutes to discuss a topic more in-depth. The added effort will go a long way in making the content as authentic as possible.
3. Spread the Word on Social Media
With today’s social algorithms favoring content from users over content from company pages, your company pages can only reach so far with non-paid posts. Not only that, but an actual person sharing a piece of helpful content typically goes a lot further on networks like LinkedIn, as users are more likely to engage with people they know. In fact, a LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who offers new insights about their business or industry, and 72% of B2B salespeople who use social media report that they outperform their sales peers. Sharing helpful content is just another opportunity to engage with prospects and current clients, as well as drive high-quality traffic back to your site.
4. Use Content Provided by Marketing to Manage SQLs the Inbound Way
While you might be used to handling cold leads or taking a legacy sales approach, your inbound program should equip you with more knowledge about your leads to help guide your contact attempts. Data collected by your CRM and through tools like HubSpot can provide valuable insights about the contacts and leads from your site. The thing is, it’s only helpful if you’re using it, and using it to its fullest potential. Our President, Greg Linnemanstons, is an expert when it comes to selling with context, especially in an inbound program. His blog is a great lesson on how you can use inbound content to reach out to prospects when it applies to their situation, and use those engagements to help influence their decisions. Summing the blog up in a sentence or two just wouldn’t do it justice, so I highly recommend you take a few minutes to read it if you want to learn more on this point.
5. Commit to a 360º Feedback Loop with Marketing
For a lot of marketing and sales departments, we often see a system where marketing passes leads on to sales, sales contacts those leads, and the cycle ends there. Promising leads are nurtured, unqualified leads are discarded, and marketing passes new leads to sales to repeat the process. What’s lacking, however, is feedback from sales to marketing about the quality of leads coming to them, what causes leads to fall out of sales consideration, or what happens to leads that receive further nurturing. Likewise, sales is often in the dark about what’s happening to leads being passed on to them, especially when a CRM isn’t being used for lead management. Ideally, you’d have a CRM that syncs with your marketing automation database, like HubSpot, to provide helpful insights about each contact—including prior interactions with your website and sales. You’ll also want to create a service level agreement (SLA) between your marketing and sales teams to create an environment for 360º feedback, but we’ll get to that below.
The Teams and Leadership Have Bought-In, What Next?
So, your marketing and sales teams are ready to buy-in to a better feedback and reporting system, and you’re ready to get things rolling. Before you get started, an SLA for your marketing and sales teams needs to be your top priority. This will address the expectations and responsibilities of each team when handing off and reporting leads, and will help both teams achieve the shared goals and business results. Here’s a helpful video to explain everything better:
Want to learn more about aligning your sales and marketing teams? Check out our Inbound Sales for Industrial Manufacturers page, and download a free step-by-step walkthrough of how to create an SLA for your organization.
Posted by Kelly Wilhelme Kelly Wilhelme currently manages all of Weidert Group's marketing efforts. Through her past experience as an inbound marketing consultant on our client service team and, prior to that in financial services communication, she has a deep understanding of complex businesses and a desire to help them grow. Kelly has a passion for communication strategy, layout and design, as well as writing and content creation.