Sales management has changed a lot. All those classic methods we learned don’t work anymore. The environment has changed as well as the psychology of people. So we need to invent something new that must meet the current requirements. But let’s gather the puzzle piece by piece to see the whole picture.
The evolution of Sales management developed under the following four phases:
- Pre-industrial revolution period.
- Production oriented period.
- Sales oriented period.
- Customer-oriented period.
At first, there were no professional sellers. There were only a few spheres, where people could carry out activities. Those areas include production, finance, design, and development. Moreover, those craftsmen had no problem with selling, because demand exceeded supply. So it took only a half-day to sell what they had made.
After the industrial revolution in the 1760s the focus of sales management changed because people understood if there was demand, it’s simply not to produce and offer goods. So the focus was on manufacturers and production capacity. Many people were involved in the optimization of production processes that yielded volumes. So the main goal was “to sell what was produced”.
Since 1930s demand has declined, and people got obsessed with the idea of selling as much as possible. Marketing meant “product doesn’t sell my self, it has to be pushed. Customers are to be manipulated”. In this case, the environment is highly competitive.
It’s become more matted in terms of competition, which was affected by globalization and liberalization. Since the 1980s the focus has been on “customer satisfaction” during and after-sales.
The last two phases brought to a new marketing strategy that’s also known as push marketing. As for recent times, it has got another name – outbound marketing, which attempts to find customers via buying ads, buying email lists, and paying for leads. This is why sometimes marketing strategies are divided into “paid marketing” and “free marketing”. Another name of push marketing is “interruption marketing”, which includes the following techniques: telemarketing, print advertising, direct mail, e-mail spam, and TV/radio advertisement.
Obviously, outbound marketing cannot be useful anymore as people spend more time surfing on the net rather than watching TV. It’s wrong to say outbound marketing doesn’t benefit. But we’d better say outbound marketing is not efficient anymore and it should be replaced with something new. Do not complicate your life, people have already come to it. As you can guess the new type of marketing strategy is called “inbound marketing”, which is not free marketing as many think. Though you can do inbound marketing without paying for software to manage the process, you have to pay someone who will do that job or you have to do it yourself that is also seen as a lost income because you could spend that time on other business activities.
Anyway, outbound marketing is exhausted, because as the infographics from Voltier Digital highlights 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the FTC’s “do not call” list, 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email that they previously opted into, 84% of 25-to-34-year-old have left a favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising, 86% of people skip TV ad, 44% of direct mail is never opened, and the average click-through rate on display ads is only 0.2%. Many companies that made billions on direct sales look for newer markets because of decreased sales.
As for the opposite of outbound marketing, inbound marketing utilizes many forms of pull marketing. It’s aimed at getting the customers to come to you. It includes mass media promotions, word-of-mouth referrals, and advertised sales promotions. There are many companies like HubSpot and Marketo providing quality inbound marketing services, but before you decide to switch to inbound marketing, there are many things you should be aware of.
6 fundamentals of inbound marketing every entrepreneur needs to know.
1. Inbound marketing requires new ideas that will attract customers, so it focuses on the width of your brain and not the width of your wallet. This means you don’t have to try buying customers’ attention but have to do such activities that make customers come to your way willfully.
2. People see more info on the net rather than on TV. This means you have to pay more attention to the web, thus you have to optimize your SEO strategy to be able to appear on the top of search engines when users are searching for a certain keyword related to your product. There are too many websites similar to yours, and you must provide quality content to be sure your customers will find you. The content must be remarkable and useful. There are several steps you should go through. As the inbound methodology says attract strangers to transform them into potential visitors (1). Attracting for inbound marketing means SEO, blogging, inbound content and social media marketing.
Once you’ve attracted some visitors they should turn into leads, thus you need to make them submit their contact info on your website. This step is called conversion (2) and it includes the following tools: premium content offers like ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, etc., landing pages, calls-to-action, and smart forms.
The next step is closing deals. You should understand all the past actions that have implemented to reach this stage and to get revenue. To convert a lead to a sale you must use the following tools: Marketing Automation and Workflows, Effective Email Marketing, List Segmentation, and Sales Alignment.
Many think once they have sold a product, the job is over. What’s sadder, many marketers think their goal is to attract customers and sell a certain number of products. But those who understand they mustn’t stop here, benefit much more. Inbound marketing has the fourth stage, it’s called “delight”. In this final stage, you make your customers become promoters. The professionals mention a few tools for it: Dynamic/Smart Website Content, Trigger Marketing, Social Media Monitoring, and Surveys.
As you see the inbound marketing methodology is based on content. Especially you should know what type of content benefits more on each stage. Content writing mustn’t end in itself. On the contrary, you should plan the process of attracting customers and provide content corresponding to the plan stages.
3. To succeed you have to imagine and predict who will read your posts and how they will react. Many companies make the same mistake trying to impress their competitors instead of focusing on their potential customers. So design the entire end-to-end experience, thus design your site keeping in mind that it’s broadcast channels for addressing a large group of people.
4. Users spend too little on product pages, so you have only eight seconds to attract them. I agree that a 5000-word post will frighten customers off rather than make them buy something. So you have to get visuals for better effects. It’s not required to take only pro pictures and use Photoshop. You can also use your phone and put quite well-turned photos into your post to show all the advantages of your product.
5. Do not try to benefit due to search engine marketing (SEM), because 85% of people ignore the paid ads. Instead of it do a good SEO campaign as it provides continuous success while SEM tends to be a short-time period success. In the picture provided by For Entrepreneurs, we see that SEO costs less and is done for a long-time period, while SEM has faster ROI at the start, though it doesn’t grow during the campaign.
6. Imagine you have implemented a huge marketing campaign and now you have as many visitors as you want. But they don’t buy anything and it seems you’re doing the labor of Sisyphus. This happens very often and does not think it wouldn’t happen to you. The main reason why it happens is related to the fact you are more interested in getting traffic to your site, instead of trying to create a continuous sales chain.
Every time when you attract visitors to your site, you should imagine what they will do the next. And if it’s hard to go to the needed page to buy something, you’ve wasted all of your hard efforts. To solve the problem you should design your site in the way the users will guess where to go next. Thus optimize your site not only for search but for action as well. (If this was an SEO post, I’ll say make it an easy-to-navigate site. But if you’re going to sell something, it’s not enough to be easy for navigation – the website must be simple for buying.)
After we take a glance at some tools inbound marketers use to rank higher and sell more, it’s time to see all those real differences that have appeared between inbound and outbound marketing strategies. This is very important because too many companies neither can nor want to deny push marketing. As a result, they do not get the desired effect, which causes sales drop, production volume drop, and other negative effects.
Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing
The first thing you should take a glance at is the price you will pay when choosing one of those strategies. Inbound marketing is less expensive in comparison with outbound marketing. It’s explained by the fact you have to spend too much on printing and mailing materials, messages through television, radio or other media. When you decide to use inbound marketing techniques, most of the work is done by yourself, because only you know what a website traffic strategy you want to use and what SEO tools you want to see in action. There is only one case when inbound marketing can cost much – when you do not know anything about marketing but want to benefit.
Currently, when people want to buy something, they want to know everything about the product. But the content you provide is not enough – customers want to hear opinions or reviews from other users. There was a time when opinions of celebrities were decisive, but now people want to know what other ordinary people think about a product or service. So you must design your website or social media in the way that all your potential customers are able to leave their comments, post on the company’s Facebook wall or take part in contests. This is one of the distinctive features of pulling marketing/inbound marketing, while outbound marketing can’t interact with its customers. So we can state that inbound marketing provides two-way communication while outbound marketing suffers from one-way communication.
As I said people like to know much before buying, and the internet gives them such an opportunity in comparison with outbound marketing, where no one can ask a question to the TV ad. So you have to be transparent and honest about your products and services. Moreover, you must talk about your products even if the feedback is negative because you’ll show your care for your customers and they will be back again or they will change their opinion, at least. Outbound marketing has no chance to take care of its customers, plus, we never can check whether the ad is true or not.
Inbound marketing allows you to use tools that are available for everyone, for example, you can learn search engine optimization techniques and software, you can write the content yourself, you can run social media without help and so on. But I guess you can’t make a TV ad yourself, can you?
One of the most important indicators that affect our decision when choosing a marketing strategy is the return of investment. We’ve already been convinced that a marketing campaign costs something. But the question is how much the ROI is. There are many calculators for your use, but before it meets some statistics:
- Groove states that 44% of brands that use marketing automation software see ROI within 6 months, while 75% see ROI after one year.
- HubSpot says that companies who have prioritized business blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy positive Inbound Marketing ROI.
As for the bottom line, inbound marketing seems to meet all the requirements the current market has, so if you have not switched to a new strategy, it’s the right time.