In Part One of this Inbound Marketing blog series, I talked about how the fundamental nature has changed of what we traditionally think of as a lead due to the profound impact of Inbound Marketing. Hubspot has played a huge role in both the service which they provide and in their thought leadership. Their too-numerous-to-count, value-added resellers are helping to determine the outcome of that change on a global scale.
How do we cope with these new, very different leads? Inbound marketing has cast the net much wider and dramatically increased the potential prospects with whom to follow-up. We find, however, that most of these leads are not very strong. That doesn’t mean that they cannot be converted. Frank Belzer’s book, SalesShift, provides great insight on how to do that. There was, after all, some reason why your prospect expressed interest in the first place, regardless of their level of commitment to solving any particular problem or desire to find some great opportunity.
I promised, in the last installment, to share with you two of the most important selling weaknesses to overcome in order to be successful with inbound leads. First, I’d like to make an analogy about inbound leads versus traditional leads so that we can better grasp how important it is to handle these leads differently. Think of a traditional lead as a prospect shining a spotlight at you signaling their interest, “Hey, I’m over here! And I’m interested in what you have.” Think of an inbound lead as a firefly. It’s much less bright, and it’s fleeting. Look away, and you’ll miss it, “Just browsing, thanks.”
The firefly analogy goes a bit further when you add the fact that inbound leads burn out almost immediately. So one rule of inbound leads is to jump right on them because they dissipate quickly. Another rule is to use consultative selling as your number one tool - ask lots of questions, research their business, dig around, challenge and push back.
- The first hidden selling weakness which might get in your way when you take this approach, is what we call “Need For Approval” from your prospects. To challenge your prospect, you cannot shy away from asking tough questions. “At first, you said everything is great at Spacely Sprockets. But then you shared some problems which suggest to me that everything is not so great. Have you lowered your standards?” Learn much more about this kind of questioning in Dave Kurlan’s bestseller, Baseline Selling. Of course, to ask a question like that, you need to have some rapport skills. But it’s important to ask and show your prospect that you can be trusted to be straight, regardless of the interpersonal consequences.
- The second hidden selling weakness which might get in your way is the “Tendency to Get Emotionally Involved” in the conversation with your prospect. Can you be open, present, and in control at all times? When we get emotionally involved, we go into our own head. When that happens, we lose control of the conversation.
To be a successful consultative seller, we must overcome both of these weaknesses: need for approval and emotional involvement. It is through consultative selling that we cut through the clutter and find the opportunity to close new business with these fleeting, dimly-lit, passers-by, inbound leads masquerading as hot prospects!
- Are your people asking good questions?
- Are they asking enough questions?
- Do they build rapport quickly?
- Are they making presentations too early?
- Are the uncovering the real reason to buy?
- Do they know exactly how their prospect makes buying decisions?
- Do they take certain information for granted?
- Will they ask tough questions even if they believe it will put the relationship at risk?
- Do they have the presence to listen intently and ask follow-up questions easily?
In Part Three of this Inbound Marketing blog series, we’ll explore three other hidden selling weaknesses which could cause your salespeople to get in their own way and lose more of these opportunities than they need to.
If you are interested, have your sales force evaluated to see whether they can be effective at selling in an inbound world and whether they possess any of the hidden weaknesses which could be preventing them from succeeding. If you’re heading to Inbound13 in Boston, please introduce yourself to us at the Kurlan Lounge on the third floor.