Over the past five years, the way people research and buy IT services has changed drastically. Long gone are the days when your sales staff held all the cards -- and could withhold information to massage the IT sales funnel.
Today, both evaluators and decision makers are much more empowered. The mainstreaming of search, social, mobile, cloud, and selective consumption -- cherry-picking the exact content that you want at the exact moment -- have been massive disruptors of the traditional marketing playbook.
With as much of 70% of the buyer’s journey now over before prospects are ready to speak with your sales team, your firm simply can’t afford to be absent from these early stage searches. So it’s key to get found early -- so your firm can be perceived as a helpful resource and gain trusted advisor status before 70% of the buyer’s mind has already been made up.
The way to do this is by creating remarkable content. However since content marketing and Inbound marketing are relatively new disciplines, most students graduating from college today with marketing degrees lack this key skill set that your firm needs to compete effectively within its IT sales funnel.
In this post, we’ll look at how inbound certification can bridge this gap consistently, time-efficiently, and cost-effectively.
Attract the Right Visitors to Your Website and IT Sales Funnel
Five or ten years ago, if you wanted to attract more visitors to your website, you doubled-down on aggressive search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click advertising (PPC).
While those tactics can still be effective to a certain degree, the game has completely changed. You simply can’t win the search battle any longer without great content.
Google has gotten way too good at differentiating between websites that provide a great user experience, as opposed to those websites that repulse visitors.
And while you may think, perhaps mistakenly, that social media doesn’t matter to your IT sales funnel, Google and Microsoft strongly disagree. Social signals -- all those silly little share numbers you see at the top of a blog post -- are now widely considered a critical part of winning the search battle and competing effectively.
Plus, whatever you think you know about keywords, blogging, and social media, chances are if that knowledge is more than a few months old, it may be quite outdated.
And if you’re doing any of kind of SEO, social media, or PPC advertising without buyer personas, there’s a very strong chance that you’re either (a) spinning your wheels or (b) spamming the search engines with crappy, self-serving content that no one wants to read.
Convert Website Visitors into Highly-Qualified Leads
If your firm has any kind of sales cycle, it’s extremely unlikely that first-time visitors to your website will be ready to buy on the spot.
So you need a way to take all of those highly-qualified website visitors that you’ve attracted with your great content and convert them into highly-qualified leads. This way, you can begin a relationship with them over time as they navigate the buyer’s journey.
To do this, your website will need persona-specific and contextually-relevant calls to action (CTAs), forms, landing pages, confirmation pages, and confirmation emails.
Again while many in technology companies know bits and pieces of these strategies, if that knowledge is more than a few months old and you haven’t had the luxury of exercising those inbound marketing muscles on a full time basis, chances are your conversion paths are not performing like they ought to be.
Fear not, the free inbound certification program from HubSpot will help you get up to speed on how you can convert more of your website visitors into highly-qualified leads, so you can fill up the top of your IT sales funnel.
Close Leads into New Clients
Attracting the right website visitors is good. However converting those website visitors into highly-qualified leads is even better.
But let’s face it. No one is going to get excited about the bottom line impact of your content marketing and inbound marketing until you can demonstrate how it leads to revenue.
Essentially, you need to be able to close the loop between your marketing activities and revenue outcomes (closed loop marketing).
Armed with your buyer personas and buyer’s journey stages, you’ll want to use email marketing, workflow automation, website revisit notifications, and webinars to accelerate your IT sales cycle.
These programs however can’t be planned in isolation. All of these activities and campaigns need to be factored into a holistic revenue generation strategy that advances the goals you’re working towards.
To plug these gaps in your knowledge and build an IT sales funnel that keeps your firm competitive with how modern humans navigate the buyer's journey, enroll in the free, on-demand inbound certification program.
Delight Clients for Greater Retention and Activation as Promoters
For most IT firms, closing the first sale is only the beginning.
In order to generate repeat sales, or achieve the retention needed for recurring revenue, your clients need to feel that you're at least meeting -- preferably exceeding -- their expectations.
Now granted, client retention starts during the sales process when you ensure that you're (a) properly qualifying leads and (b) aggressively managing expectations.
However, approached with the right buyer personas and buyer's journey context, your content can play a very powerful role in delighting clients...powering high levels of retention and social media evangelism.
Which of these parts of the inbound methodology has most impacted the success of your IT sales funnel? What's been the most challenging? Let us know your take in the Comments below.
And to assess the gaps in your funnel and build a full-funnel plan, that encompasses attract, convert, close, and delight, download your free copy of the IT Channel Inbound Marketing Planning Guide.
Topics:- B2B Sales Strategy