Blog Feature

By: Kristin Dennewill on July 31st, 2014

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How Can I Best Educate Prospective Customers & Shorten My Sales Cycle?

Inbound Marketing & Sales

how to educate customers

How many of us have asked ourselves this question? More than once?  

Our world today is fairly complex. Particularly in the B2B world, there is a fair amount of educating/consulting/learning that must be done before your customer is ready to pull the trigger and purchase from you.

The tricky thing about a product or service which requires some level of educating your prospective customers, is timing. You can educate or inform better than anybody else, but if the timing is not right for the customer, there’s not going to be a sale.

Here at Denamico, we also grappled with this dilemma because the service we offer, marketing consulting and outsourced marketing services, is such a broad spectrum.  Every business needs marketing, but not every business is looking for the same type of service.  

In researching our various options earlier this year on how to improve this part of the process (and how to educate prospective customers), we decided to spend some time researching ‘inbound marketing’. We already knew what inbound marketing was (see here if you want a visual explanation), but we wanted to better understand what was involved with implementing inbound and what the results would be like, before we got onboard.

What is Inbound Marketing?

The basic theory of inbound marketing is that it’s a pull versus push mentality. Since your prospective customers are being ‘pulled in’ and finding you when they’re searching for your product or service, it also makes it a more authentic, organic and effective style of marketing compared with how a lot of ‘push’ marketing was done in the past with direct mail, TV & radio ads, cold calling, etc. There are 4 phases of Inbound Marketing which get your business traffic, leads and customers.

inbound_methodology

Attract

The first of these phases in an Inbound Methodology is to Attract the right people who are interested in what you do and are a good fit for your business. How you do that is by creating great, relevant content on your blog, using your keywords and social media to engage your readers and drive traffic.

Convert

The next phase is to Convert that web traffic into leads. For someone to become a real live lead, you need their contact information. And that’s going to cost you. The price you ‘pay’ is in the form of something valuable that your lead wants enough that they’re willing to exchange their contact details in order to get it. This could be an e-book, a white paper, or some other valuable downloadable item that will help them help themselves.  

Close

Now that you’ve attracted the right people and they’ve confirmed that they find your content valuable (since they’ve given you their email address in order to access it), you want to determine which ones are ready to purchase your product/service.  

This is where a marketing automation tool, such as Hubspot, really makes your life easier. A LOT easier. Inbound is the methodology but the technology of a marketing automation tool can help you qualify your leads, tell you who is reading your content, what they’re reading, manage your emails and many other very valuable pieces of information that can save you a lot of time. And who couldn’t use some more time, right?

And what happens with the leads who aren’t quite ready to purchase yet? This is the beautiful thing about Inbound. Your leads stay in your system and continue to learn from your content through your blog, e-books, newsletters, etc. over time. And when they are ready to buy, they will be so well informed on your product/service, they will most likely know it’s a good fit before they even contact you, and the sale can happen faster.

Delight

Whether your leads become customers or not, the last phase of the Inbound methodology is to delight your visitors, leads and customers. We all want fans, right? So by continuing to produce relevant, engaging, great content, your fanbase will grow.

The Answer?

Through our research, we found that B2B buyers are more than 60% through their buying decision before they even contact a supplier. So whether buyers are looking on your website, or your competitor’s website, the bottom line is that they too are doing research and educating themselves. The best way to make sure they come to your site is to answer their questions before they’ve asked them. And this is what the Inbound methodology is all about.  

Implementing an Inbound marketing methodology is not a get-more-leads-overnight type of quick strategy. It normally takes 3-6 months before you’re ‘cooking with grease’. But if you want to improve your number of qualified leads, we haven’t found anything that works better.

Photo by lewisr1 via Flickr, licensed under CC BY

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