Well you would think so...
People in inbound marketing would have you believe that if you create the right content, get people to raise their hands, complete a form, and request something, then inbound marketers, formerly known as inside salespeople, can take it from there. If you are selling something in great demand (iPhone 5), really inexpensive (monthly subscription of $20 or less), significantly lower-priced than your competition (by 20% or more), or that people must have (wireless service), then you can easily replace salespeople with marketers.
However, there are 15 scenarios where you do need salespeople if you are selling something that:
- needs to be designed, built, or customized;
- costs significantly more than your competition;
- is a new technology;
- is from a new company;
- is being sold into a brand new market;
- is expensive;
- isn't a line-item budgeted expense;
- has a story that must be told;
- has a long sales cycle;
- has a lot of competition;
- is complicated to understand;
- requires configuration;
- requires installation;
- people don't know they need; and/or
- is not the obvious choice in your space.
You must have salespeople. Period. Sure, you could benefit from inbound marketing to generate leads, but salespeople must do the follow-up, run the sales process and close the business.
Problem #2 is that most salespeople have not recognized or accepted that inbound leads are different (requiring a different kind of follow-up), and as a result, they are not treating inbound leads appropriately. They still have the old mindset where if they follow-up and don't reach a prospect, they attempt a few more failed calls before claiming that the lead is no good. While that's a possible conclusion, it's more likely to be a faulty one.
Inbound leads may need to be contacted up to 10 times before they respond. They may not be prospects today, but that's OK. They may be prospects next month, next quarter or next year. Inbound leads need to be nurtured. You need to get their attention on a regular basis through a newsletter, promotional email, blog or social media so that when they are ready, they will call you. Then you need salespeople!
So, just like they say in Monty Python, "I'm not dead yet." And as long as your business, products or services continue to meet at least 1 of the 15 scenarios listed above, you will always need salespeople. It's not dead yet.