19 Aug Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing: Supporting a B2B Sales Team
Your B2B Website and Your Sales Team
“I didn’t know you sold so many different products!” a customer recently told one of her sales reps. She had followed his advice and used their online ordering portal for a purchase and realized she could order many more items from them than she thought. The easy process prompted her to make a larger order more often.
“I don’t even send people to our website because there’s really nothing there to make the sales process better,” a sales rep from a different company told me earlier this month.
The two companies sell fairly similar products to the same target market. One company used its website to increase sales from existing customers and the other company found no way to monetize their website. What’s the difference?
Keep The Relationship
Company A, who managed to use their site for real-time sales, didn’t give up the relationship building that Company B said they were afraid they would lose if they offered online sales. In fact, Company A’s website catered to its existing customers. Their sales reps set up their customers’ online accounts, received a commission from the online purchases of those customers and were responsible for follow up with those customers. Instead of only receiving orders when they stopped by an office, they could receive orders at all hours of the day and night without any extra effort. They had an incentive to build a relationship with the end customer so he or she would continue to want to buy. The sales reps also have an incentive to encourage online purchases because they know from experience their customers will buy more if it’s easy.
Make It Easy
That brings us to point number two: make it easy. Don’t just offer opportunities for purchase on your B2B websites. Include beside the products a “Click to Call” button. Website visits from mobile devices are now starting to top 50% of all website visits. Most smartphones will place calls from a “click to call” button with one click. If your customer has a question about the product or ordering, they can call before they place the order. Make sure your checkout process is especially easy from a mobile device. Could you store billing and/or payment information? What about allowing a customer to pay using a service like PayPal? The fewer buttons your customer has to click and the more intuitive you can make the process, the more sales you will see completed.
Use Automated Contacts
Automation is the word of the day in content marketing. But your customers don’t want to feel like you are sending them the same thing you’re sending to all your other customers. Make it as customized as possible. Segment your email lists so customers get relevant information. If you service both large and small companies, use separate email campaigns to reach each group because they probably have different questions, different pain points, and different needs. When a customer purchases a specific amount of product or a specific product itself make sure it triggers a notification of the customer’s sales rep and a follow-up process. This follow-up can be a series of pre-written emails or a phone call or text to make sure everything is going well. Use your email campaigns to drive that traffic back to additional information that might be helpful to your client.
If your customer is making purchases online, why show up in their office at all? No amount of easy ordering processes or fancy websites will ever replace the relationship you build with your customers. Some customers have less time–or take less time–to meet with sales reps than they used to. That’s why you MUST make the most of any face-time you have with customers. Stay up to date on your industry and theirs. Talk to them about the latest industry news or articles posted to your website. Send them back to your website for offers like free e-books or checklists. Create trouble-shooting or how-to videos you can post to YouTube or your website. Email your customer links to articles and videos you discussed after you leave their office.
Don’t make all these interactions sales focused. By discussing the industry instead of your products, you’ll learn what concerns they may have, what pains they are experiencing and what solutions they need. You can research how your company can solve those problems with your current services and products. Be a resource of more than just your products. As often as possible, refer those customers to your website to find additional information.
B2B Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
Before you can refer businesses to your website, you must have a website that’s ready. Remember Company B, whose sales rep wouldn’t even send his customers to his company’s website? Not only could those customers not order from the website, they also did not find any additional information on troubleshooting problems, specs for products, accurate pricing, industry news, or best practices. The website offered nothing extra for current customers.
Blogs not only function to drive the “inbound” aspect of B2B inbound marketing, but they also give you and your sales reps a reason to send people to your website. It’s a resource for more than casual searches. Instead of choosing between inbound and outbound marketing, look for ways to make the two work together. Pairing your sales reps relationships with their customers with great content and a relevant B2B email campaign, you can keep your company at the top of your customer’s minds, increase sales and drive more visitors to your website.
If you keep your current customers engaged, they are more likely to mention your products and services to other companies who are experiencing the same problems you solved for your customer. They are also more likely to buy from you again and again. The goal isn’t to rely only on automated sales processes but to allow automation and your website to support your sales process, make it easier and more profitable.