In this post we explore the merits of outbound vs inbound sales approach, and the benefits of a blended sales and marketing strategy. First, let’s look at the typical company life cycle.
There are four key phases in a company’s life cycle: Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. The marketing and sales efforts are different based on each stage. As a start-up, you are in the introduction phase which means there is little to no market awareness of your service or product. You are hiring marketing and sales staff, whilst trying to figure out your go-to-market strategy.
Focus on one geographic market at a time. While you may have customers in several different countries, there should be one or two countries where you focus your marketing efforts.
Know your perfect customer profile. Why are you targeting the business?
Once you know your target market and your customer profile, you now need to generate sales leads and implement your marketing and sales efforts.
There are several ways to generate sales leads:
Purchase Leads: Here is a list of lead generation companies for your consideration. For instance, if you’re targeting eCommerce websites, TAMI has over 1.7 million eCommerce sales leads and 500,000 Amazon seller records. If you are targeting other industries and verticals, why not check out some of the companies on this list:
SEO: Improve the SEO of your website to help your visibility on Google and other search engines. This will help drive traffic to your website and increase your inbound sales leads. Check out these SEO tools to start off:
Directories: Recommendations are a great way to promote new business. By submitting your company to online directories, it will help to improve your brand awareness, and create an opportunity for people to review your product or service. Many of these directories are also free:
Landing Pages: While landing pages can be used for various reasons, one of its most frequent uses is to capture leads through use of forms, offers, trials, etc. Just be aware: it’s better to host a landing page for outbound campaigns on your own server so the traffic goes to your website and not the facilitator’s. If you do use a third party for landing pages, be mindful that your campaigns will help to increase their SEO ranking, but will not benefit your own. Nonetheless, if you would like to explore some of the great companies out there who offer landing page creation, check out these few:
Waiting for inbound to drive revenue is like watching paint dry; it takes time to build SEO and drive inbound traffic to your site. You need to hire an inside sales team and commence outbound calls. Hire 2-3 people first; I don’t recommend outsourcing until you have your product market fit pricing strategy and sales cycle right. With your first 2-3 salespeople, you should be able to accelerate revenue and gain customer insight that you can pass on to the marketing team. This will help marketing create the right messages for advertising and email campaigns.
Email is a very effective method of acquiring new customers. However, some believe that one email is sufficient. This is not the case at all, you need follow up emails to keep the prospect engaged. In fact, a typical email campaign may have up to 5 emails in total. You will notice the open and click through rates increase as you send follow up emails. Here is a short list of email marketing vendors to consider. Or check our post on the Top 50 Email Marketing Tools:
There are some great email tools for your sales team to use that integrate with CRM systems. These tools can alert your sales team when an email has been opened and read by a prospect. They also provide sales templates which will reduce the admin time for your sales team in creating emails from scratch:
Work with the marketing department and create email templates based on each of the customer profiles that you have created in point 2. Introductory emails will be different based on the industry and who is receiving the email. Also design follow up emails and have these converted into sales templates that can be used repeatedly. These templates should be easily accessible from your email server, e.g. Outlook, Gmail and your CRM.
Invest in a good CRM system that will help you to track the performance of your sales and marketing campaigns. To grow revenue, you must measure every stage of the sales cycle to avoid having leads stuck at initial contact; they need to be actively worked towards closure. Here are some of the best CRMs for your consideration:
There are over 300 CRMs to use from. Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest, but one that will grow with your business needs over the next few years.
With all the right tools, processes, and people in place, set yourself and the team achievable sales goals. Develop these goals from the bottom up, using a financial productivity model. Here are some inputs for consideration:
Do a daily huddle with your sales and marketing team to ensure that you are hitting your daily goals and objectives. Call out and recognise the big wins. It will take time to build up a sales pipeline and convert these into wins.
You can spend a lot of money on SEO, Pay Per Click campaigns etc. but this will drive your burn rate high whilst giving you a low return for money. For the first 12-24 months in business, consider doing everything in-house, particularly marketing efforts. This might sound daunting, but it is certainly doable. To get started, check out our blog post on 7 Free SEO Tools for Startups.
Also try to avoid spending large sums of money on exhibiting at trade shows. Instead, visit the trade shows that are free to attend, walk around, and access the footfall. Visit each stand, as some of these could be your future customers. If the show looks promising, book your stand for the following year.
Focus on getting the basics right; it takes time to build inbound revenue. Accelerate your revenue using your inside sales team, and fill their pipelines with high quality sales leads. It’s this blend of inbound and outbound marketing and sales that will drive your success.