Admit it. The thought of getting "found" by all of those new, interested prospects sounds really, really good, doesn't it? Dozens of targeted, quality leads, pouring in, generated by your web site, social media campaigns or blog. No more worrying about whether your salespeople are making cold calls. No more worrying about building the pipeline. No more worrying about conversions. These leads will be self identified. These prospects will simply raise their hands and yell to anyone who will listen, "Sell me!"
At least that's the promise. And it delivers on the promise - to a point.
People submitted their names and email addresses (and perhaps more) to receive samples, download a white paper, request more information, view a video clip, subscribe to a free trial, subscribe to a blog or newsletter, get free use of a tool, or receive some premium content. To that extent it delivers on delivering leads. B U T, are the leads any good?
It seems to me that rather than making cold calls, salespeople must now attempt to reach these ghosts that don't wish to be found, and talk with dozens of them to find a single one that might be a bonafide opportunity.
Part of the problem is the form being completed. Inbound marketers compromise and include as few fields as possible so that people won't be scared away. What would happen if they had to fill out more fields rather than less?
Part of the problem is with the salespeople. They haven't been trained to deal with these types of submissions, leads and people so their attempts and conversations aren't really appropriate for the task at hand.
Part of the problem is with expectations. Everyone expects these leads to be much more targeted and qualified and the simple truth is that they aren't. What they are is a mix of tire kickers, researchers, college students, laid off workers with time on their hands, and employees who have been tasked with collecting information.
So is inbound marketing a good idea for generating leads for the sales force? You bet it is.
Is inbound marketing working in its present form? You bet it is. After all, 1 good lead out of 25 is better than what we had before.
But we need to look at inbound marketing differently. We need to modify our expectations. We need to train the people who call on these leads. We need to differentiate between submissions and leads. It seems to me that one of the things inbound marketing has changed is the point in time when we identify someone as a lead. Why do they automatically become a lead as soon as they fill out a form? Why aren't those people simply submissions? To become a lead, they must do more than populate the form they were required to complete in order to receive what they wanted. In the old days, if I subscribed to a magazine, I did not become a lead to buy something else from the publisher. On the other hand, if I completed a postcard and sent for a catalog, that made me a lead for what was being sold in the catalog.
Perhaps, all we really need to do is add one more field. Could it be one of the following?
- Can we contact you?
- Do you have any issues we can help with?
- Are there any of our products/services you might be interested in?
- Have you experienced any of the following issues?
- Will you be purchasing products/services like ours in the next year?
- Can we help you spend some of your money? (just kidding)
Inbound Marketing has the potential to deliver some really good leads for the sales force but it isn't efficient right now and won't be until we can do a better job of differentiating the names from the prospects.