Using Inbound Selling Effectively between Sales & Marketing

Using Inbound Selling Effectively between Sales & Marketing

Traditionally, Sales and Marketing have used inefficient, outdated, outbound methods to monotonously relay their “message” about their products. These methods rarely ever listened to prospects’ pain points or found solutions that fitted their needs.
Now, when a buyer identifies their problem, they have access to an abundance of information — finding the solution online in a matter of seconds. To adapt to this new age of informed buyers, it’s crucial for Sales and Marketing to work together, so customers know their product is the right fit.

Inbound Selling Defined

Here’s where inbound selling comes in. 
Essentially, inbound selling is the way to sell so that prospects will buy. It’s a modern sales process method that adapts to the buyer journey by looking at prospect’s pain points and then acting as their trusted consultant.
Where does marketing fall into the equation? Both sales and marketing enable each other to achieve inbound selling. When each team’s resources work together, it creates a better, more tailored customer journey for initial prospects to become clients.

Where Inbound Selling Becomes Cross-Departmental 

Targeting Prospects

Considering that the power has shifted from seller to buyer, it’s inherently essential for every member of your organization—in both marketing and sales—to know your buyers. When both teams have a common understanding of who your buyer is, it’s easier to keep messaging consistent and provide your prospects with a more personalized experience.
Buyer personas are an effective way to keep track of who your organization is marketing and selling to. Most people believe buyer personas were created for Marketing to target their content at the right prospects. But in fact, Sales should also leverage buyer personas, as they are proven to have several benefits throughout the Sales process. 
Sales can take advantage of buyer personas beforehand, in preparation for the sale. Sales reps should review buyer personas to refresh themselves on the pain points, goals, and common objections to prepare for any questions that might come up. Most importantly, buyer personas allow Sales to spend their time the right way, on the right leads. By continually attracting potential buyers who fit into your personas, you will inevitably generate more qualified leads. 

Empowering Sales Processes

Researching Leads

In reality, there isn’t enough time in the day for Sales to spend hours prospecting for the right leads. Inbound selling enables Sales to lean on Marketing for some of the heavy lifting. Marketing can provide pertinent prospect information, including details about when and how inbound leads convert. With this information, Sales can then work with Marketing to learn more about why the lead converted and then tailor their sales process accordingly.

Monitoring Leads’ Engagement

Marketing and Sales can closely monitor how a lead is engaging with their prospecting efforts with marketing automation software. Using these insights, they can then better align their strategies and move leads further through the sales funnel. For example, say a prospect downloaded a case study about how practice management software increased efficiency. This prospect is most likely at the bottom of the funnel, which triggers Sales to move forward in reaching out to initiate a meeting or discussion.

Connecting with Prospects

When a lead comes in, it’s essential to engage with them right away. However, your efforts will only be successful if they strategically align with positioning yourself as a trusted advisor and expert in your prospect’s industry. 
Thankfully, Marketing can provide materials meant to educate, inform, and engage with prospects for each stage of the buyer’s journey. With these available resources, Sales can develop an understanding of which content should be used in which situations. 
For instance, it wouldn’t be practical to present a prospect who is just researching their problem with a case study. With the knowledge of content marketing, the sales rep would know to instead send them an email that includes an eBook describing a broad theme in their industry.
For inbound selling to work, Sales and Marketing need to speak the same language.  When both teams understand their roles in finding, engaging, and converting prospects into leads, inbound selling is sure to be successful.


Learn more about how SmarkLabs can help you align your sales and marketing teams.

What is BANT and How Does it Fit Into the B2B World?

What is BANT and How Does it Fit Into the B2B World?

If you’ve been in tune with the sales world long enough, the acronym BANT probably sounds pretty familiar. But that might not be the case to someone who came up on the marketing side of things, especially not in the last few years. In fact, it’s become a bit of an antiquated practice even in the sales world. It’s not broken, though, it just needs some adjustment for the modern B2B world. So, what is BANT?
Developed by IBM way back in the day, BANT is a sales qualification methodology that allows salespeople to determine whether a prospect is a good fit, based on a few different factors. The acronym stands for:
Budget: How much is the prospect willing to spend?
Authority: Does this prospect have decision-making power?
Need: Does this prospect have a problem you can solve?
Timing: Is there urgency?

What’s wrong with BANT?

There’s nothing wrong with BANT as a concept, per se. However, HubSpot points out that the way salespeople tend to use it can rub potential buyers the wrong way. This is especially true in these modern days of inbound marketing when potential customers are typically already heading through the buyers’ journey before even catching the attention of sales.
The fault in how BANT tends to be executed lies in using it as a checklist. Rattling off a bunch of questions to a potential buyer is a surefire way to seem pushy and put people off of anything that you’re selling. Getting all of these basic questions out of the way when talking to a new prospect might seem like an efficient method, but it tends to come off as an interrogation.
The thing about BANT is that you don’t need to rush through it or find out these answers in any particular order. You can use BANT, or TANB, or NABT, or any other combination of those four letters … BANT is just the only pronounceable order. 

How BANT can be outdated in B2B

Have you tried the old-timey way of using this method and nixed a prospect right up front because they couldn’t afford you? Well, that’s your first mistake. 
Most B2B products use a subscription model. If everything else qualifies this prospect as a good match for your company, there’s probably some workaround you can use to fit into their budget. That could mean offering a free month for a quarterly subscription or giving them the option to pay by the month even if you typically charge once per year.
Some potential buyers also have a looser budget than they might initially let on. Their budget might be based on the value they believe your service should bring—so your job might be to prove to them that your product or service is worth investing in. Don’t take their budget as a definitive way to eliminate them from your prospect list.
It’s also important to note that most businesses that have a group of decision-makers for any significant investment that eats into the budget. This antiquates the idea that you can talk to the decision-maker and just convince him or her that your product or service is worth purchasing. 

Also, consider

While there is undoubtedly a place for a modernized form of BANT in your sales qualification practice, Act-On suggests adding a few other factors into the mix as well, such as:

  • Buyer personas: While budget, authority, need, and timing should play a part in your prospecting, you should also determine whether these prospects align with your buyer personas. Make your buyer personas your jumping-off point before launching into BANT.
  • Demographics & firmographics: Look beyond the basic demographics like location and company size. What are the company’s pain points? How can your product address them?
  • Behavioral data: What’s the point of tracking the activity on your website if you’re not taking that info and applying it to your sales prospects? Take data like downloads and responses to email offers and your webinar attendance and consider it a first step to qualifying a lead, before even taking BANT into account.
  • Your sales and customer success teams: Surprise! We’re advocating once again for collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. Your sales team is the one having regular conversations with your prospects—so they’re most likely to have insight on aspects like how strict their budget is or how your product can address their needs.

BANT in 2020

We might love having unlimited options when it comes to where to spend our money, but we need to remember that our sales prospects also have that luxury. The fact of the matter is, no matter which problem of theirs your product or service can solve, there’s another B2B company out there that also can. 
It’s more important than ever, in this age of disconnection, that you ensure your prospects don’t think that you see them solely as a prospect. “Subtle conversation is how you’ll get the information you need–without scaring off the prospect,” says UpLead. “It’s preferable BANT is implemented as the second step in your sales process, right after initial contact.”

The Importance of Departmental Collaboration: Sales & Marketing

The Importance of Departmental Collaboration: Sales & Marketing

Have you ever heard of a healthy, successful company with just one person behind it? I haven’t either. Differing personality types, barriers, dependencies, and meeting deadlines are some reasons for cross-departmental avoidance. The tension between teams is especially common when it comes to your marketing and sales departments. Fortunately, departmental collaboration doesn’t have to be that way.

Departmental Collaboration

Improving Cross-Departmental Collaboration

 
Here are a few key points that highlight why departmental collaboration is not only crucial to a company and but how it’s also beneficial to each team member. 

Viewpoints and Perspectives

Every individual has a unique background, point of view, and a pool of experience that brings a unique perspective to a situation. So bringing a group of people together to discuss solutions or ideas can result in more innovative thinking. Sometimes, just bouncing the bud of an idea off of someone else turns that bud into a flower. Solution-based thinking leads to new perspectives, and problem-solving becomes more creative. A new set of eyes is always a good thing. An idea that might have been right under sales’ noses all along could be brought to the forefront by marketing.

Team Building

Collaborative working allows ideas to cross-pollinate. Discovering that your lead creative also has experience with business development can certainly help bring the team to a solution. But it also enables everyone to realize how their work and skills fit into the bigger picture and the company’s high-level goals. We all get tunnel vision sometimes – and a fresh perspective opens doors. Departmental collaboration between teams that have historically been at odds with each other, like sales and marketing, can also eliminate the illusion of a hierarchy. When we are all able to see the value each individual brings to the table, we can execute each other’s ideas and elevate the project as a whole. This insight, in itself, builds team strength.

Individual Growth

Understanding and recognizing the value that comes from making sure each person on your team feels rewarded and incentivized to participate is key to finding the potential in collaboration. A lot of growth can happen when there is space to speak up and listen to ideas, benefiting both sales and marketing. Not only is that good company practice, but it’s excellent for each team member as an individual.

Company Impact

When there is an understanding between sales and marketing, there will ultimately be better results. Think of a time you had the opportunity to explain exactly why you felt a certain way or why you did something someone else may not have understood. I bet being heard felt good. Departmental collaboration fosters a healthy environment. And in a healthy environment, coworkers will establish deeper connections and make more progress toward both team’s end goals. Understanding each department’s challenges and goals cultivates creative solutions and encourages teamwork and growth.
Departmental collaboration creates an environment for learning and understanding. It leads members of both teams to work harder for each other, innovation to blossom, and goals to flourish. Like Aristotle says, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

Alicia Griffin is SmarkLabs’ Project Admin and Ops Support Specialist. With a drive for seeing people reach their full potential, Alicia is passionate about creating collaborative and inclusive environments. Otherwise, you’ll find her staring for hours at a painting, stuck in a book or hanging out with her super handsome golden retriever, Bentley.

A Marketer’s Playbook to Sales Enablement

A Marketer’s Playbook to Sales Enablement

There’s a lot of debate about whether sales enablement is the responsibility of the sales team or the marketing team. The truth is, it’s a concentrated effort between both. Marketing provides sales with the resources they need to make sales, like videos, blogs, and other types of content marketing. The sales team then passes this content along to potential customers to lead them through the sales funnel.

What is sales enablement?

HubSpot defines sales enablement as “the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.” The examples HubSpot gives includes content, tools, knowledge, and information to sell your product or service to customers effectively. 
Sales enablement doesn’t just consist of marketing assisting sales, though. It’s up to the sales team to relay any relevant information back to marketing about what kind of content works. Sales should also be able to offer up any information about what types of marketing materials are missing from their arsenal. This way, your company’s sales enablement strategy (and web content strategy) never stagnates. 
According to CoSchedule, sales enablement focuses on four core elements:

  • Sellers having access to the right content at the right time.
  • Improved collaboration between marketing and sales.
  • Ongoing training to help sales staff deliver on the bottom line.
  • Analytics to understand how content resonates with potential customers, then iterating on it for constant improvement.

Read on to learn more about how you can enhance your own B2B company’s sales enablement strategy.

What makes sales enablement effective?

According to LinkedIn, four things must align for your sales enablement strategy to be effective:

Image: LinkedIn

  • People: Your sales team has to understand, as well as have documented information on who the ideal client profiles are. Think about your buyer personas! Keep lines of communication open between the sales and marketing teams, ensuring that they’re collaborating. After all, you all have the same end goal. Sirius Decisions found that 19% more growth occurs when businesses align their marketing and sales departments. 
  • Content: Your content is what your potential buyers see before they have any contact with your sales team. So you want to make sure that content makes them want to move forward in the process. We’ll touch on this more in-depth later on. 
  • Technology: Segment your client profiles in your CRM, so your sales team can easily distinguish between them. According to HubSpot, 57% of high-performing sales reps say that technology is their top sales enablement priority. Specifically, “deployment of and training on new technology was closely followed by improving rep usage of social media, and restructuring or creating enablement function.”
  • Process: Be sure there’s a documented process for what approaches you use during the prospecting process and how often. Continuously reexamine what’s working and what isn’t. Then keep that information in your CRM, accessible to both teams.

Sales enablement for marketers

Many people struggle to determine who “owns” sales enablement. Spoiler alert: nobody does. The entire concept of sales enablement revolves around the collaboration between teams. Sales enablement doesn’t solely fall on the shoulders of the company’s marketers. But, it does mean something a little different than it does for your sales team. In many ways, it’s up to a company’s marketers to even get leads interested in talking to sales. According to the market research firm, Forrester, 60% of B2B buyers get most of their information from sources other than sales reps. You want your marketing materials to be those sources, and you want them to be good enough that they lead buyers to your sales reps.
It’s also a common pain point when the marketing team has loads of useful content that would benefit potential customers, but the sales team just doesn’t know that it exists. Or even where to find it! It seems like a simple enough issue to avoid, but we’re all aware of how bulky and messy workflows can get when they aren’t maintained. Take extra precautions, and keep all of your finished content in a place that each team can easily find.


The types of tasks that land on the marketing team to smooth this rocky road include being proactive and using content mapping, providing a smooth transition between the groups, and sharing customer insights. Which brings us to our next point.

Keep an eye on competitive and market insights

Marketers have inside knowledge of the customer’s buying journey before the buyers even get around to speaking to sales. Use that to your advantage and relay that information to sales! This way, your sales team can directly address the things you all know are on your customers’ minds.
What content you’ve created has done well? What pages on your site get the most traffic? If any of your content is lagging, what can you do to make your message clearer and better answer your potential buyers’ questions? Not only can this information aid in the sales enablement process, but it can also help you polish your website strategy.

Don’t minimize the importance of automation

Could everything in your sales strategy be done by hand? Sure, I guess. But why would you take on that burden when there are so many automation tools at your disposal? You don’t want to get bogged down with tedious tasks. HubSpot recommends automating the following:

  • Email sequences: An email sequence is a follow-up email automatically triggered when a prospect hasn’t responded within a certain amount of time. They’re completely customizable, from the timeframe that passes before the email sends, to specific details included in the email. 
  • Prospecting: Why go through the hassle of setting up call times with each prospect when you can let them come to you? In your follow up emails, include a link to your calendar that allows them to schedule time with you. You’ll have a full calendar of qualified leads, without having to lift a finger!
  • Direct messaging: Chatbots are nothing new. How you can use them in your sales enablement strategy is. Add filtering criteria to the chatbot on your website, so only quality leads are matched up with sales reps.

You can automate many of these things with sales enablement software, such as HubSpot, Outreach, or Zendesk.

Pay attention to your sales content 

Whether we’re talking slide decks, presentations, proposals, or your collateral, all of your sales content needs to be great. And it needs to be used. It might sound silly to have to point this out. However, multiple studies have found that an alarming amount of marketing content is produced and perfected, only for it never to see the light of day. The Content Marketing Institute recently reported that up to 80% of the content provided by marketing teams goes unused. There could be several reasons as to why this happens. Perhaps the content produced is outdated or doesn’t answer the questions prospective buyers have. If that’s the case, that information must be relayed back to the marketing team so that they can re-examine their strategy.
This takes us back, once again, to ensure that both sides have open lines of communication and have easy access to these materials. However, if you’ve taken these precautions and truly find that the content you’re working on ends up being busywork that doesn’t contribute to your bottom line, focus your energy on other aspects of the sales enablement process.

The Impact of Demand Generation on Sales Cycles

The Impact of Demand Generation on Sales Cycles

When you read the term “demand generation,” it sounds like it just means that you’re “generating demand” for your product. While in some ways, that is accurate, there’s a lot more to demand generation than that. Plenty of things you do as a marketer each day fall under the “demand generation” umbrella.

What is demand generation?

Think of it as any activity that brings attention to your B2B company to bring people into your sales funnel. It’s about keeping in mind where people are in their buying journey when tailoring your marketing materials to them. 
You’re not going to launch into a hard sell to someone visiting your website for the first time. And you’re not going to leave out important details for someone who is potentially looking to close a deal. Demand generation is truly your sales and marketing teams working in tandem. After all, the sales cycle of a B2B customer is quite different than a B2C customer. So it’s imperative that efforts to educate, nurture, and convert potential leads take place at the appropriate time. 

Where it all starts

The B2C world can use demand generation, especially in areas with longer sales cycles, like home or car buying. However, it’s most common in the B2B world. The whole process begins with getting the word out. B2B companies probably won’t be filming commercials or taking traditional ad space out, so it’s essential to think outside the box. Some common ways B2B companies build awareness of their brand include tactics like:

  • Investing in search engine optimization: One of the best ways to allow people to discover your business is to help them solve a problem. Using keywords in your website content that people might search for while looking for a solution will get them on your page and potentially land you a customer.
  • Advertising on search engines: I know, it’s like Google is the gatekeeper to business and we have no choice but to play along (unless you choose to use like, Bing or something). But it would be silly to ignore the impact search engines have on business. Shelling out some cash to have your business’s information at the top of relevant searches is a way to kickstart your web presence.
  • Hosting webinars: Similar to investing in SEO, hosting webinars is an effective way to demonstrate your value by offering a solution that your potential customers may be looking to solve. Webinars are a low commitment way for people to see what you have to offer and how you can help them.
  • Free trials: How many free trials have you signed up for before actually investing in something? From streaming services to gym memberships, free trials are one of the best ways to get someone’s foot in the door. For a B2B company, this could be a consultation call or a free e-book that gives potential customers a taste of what you can offer, without giving too much away.

How demand generation fits into the sales cycle 

If you think a lot of these demand generation tactics sound like inbound marketing, you are correct! HubSpot’s simple explanation for this is that inbound marketing is a type of demand generation activity. It’s effective, too — HubSpot found that inbound leads are five times more likely to become customers than outbound leads. That’s not where the connections between the two end, though.
WordStream states that demand generation is a “long-term relationship between a brand’s marketing and sales teams, and prospective customers.” Once the marketing team has created content and used that content’s performance to determine prospective customers and taken it a step further with projects like email campaigns, these contacts are passed along to the sales team. From there, the marketing and sales teams can determine where in the sales cycle each of these leads are. Then they can tailor their marketing efforts accordingly. 
Lead scoring, ranking, and routing are all a part of the sales teams’ role in demand generation. Determining which leads should be contacted ups the chances that a sale will be made by focusing energy on the most promising leads.