Does your inbound marketing response system truly connect you with prospects, or does it drop the ball? Here’s a story that highlights the difference between simply processing inquiries, and being able to invest in opportunities to get more deals.
I recently needed to explore options for a service to determine the best one to buy. My timeframe was short, so I planned to connect with each vendor by phone, get the most current information available, and select one.
I chose to contact four very solid, reputable providers in this field. While no one was perfect, some did a better job than others of connecting with me, answering my questions, and managing the sales process.
What I learned by comparing these interactions highlights a key point about an inbound marketing strategy.
The Danger of Fully Automating Your Inbound Response
Three of the vendors were easy to contact by phone. But I could not easily find a phone number for the fourth vendor. Instead, I managed to find a form on their website to process inquiries. I filled in the form and hoped to get a return call. Instead, I received an email telling me I would receive a call shortly.
The email response contained links to information I could use to educate myself, and it did not include a phone number. If it had, I could have called the vendor instead of waiting for a call. Here I was with information in hand from the other three vendors, left waiting for a call from this last vendor. In a few hours a representative did call. The caller answered a few questions, but the offer and pricing presented varied slightly from the information on the company website. This left me more confused about which source was most current about their offer and pricing.
As an inside sales consultant, I wondered if this was a sales call or a customer service call. I decided it was neither. The caller mainly tried to redirect me to yet another email I was going to receive with yet more educational links. So I’m referring to this kind of call as a redirect call.
The Redirect Call: Neither Sales nor Customer Service
I define a redirect call as one in which the representative’s goal is is to redirect you to other sources of information to answer your questions. This gives the impression that the representative is unwilling or unable to answer your questions during the call. I gave up on working with this vendor. After a few attempts to get accurate information, I was told I could best get my questions answered by looking at the information in the email I was going to be sent.
The final email message came, again without contact information(prompting my next post about how to write a professional email message). I had been offered a quick demo, which I was hoping to access in this third message, but I was surprised instead to see a long list of yet more links for my self-education, none of which I had time or desire to pursue. What failed to appear was a link to the demo for the service I was looking to purchase.
This vendor may have had the most compelling solution to my need, but I didn’t have time for the self-service approach. I wanted to have a quick, knowledgeable conversation with a live person to make my decision. I figured if it was this painful to for this company to engage personally while we were ‘dating’ what would it be like to communicate as their customer? I opted to exclude this vendor from my selection process.
Seeing Phone Time as an Investment Rather than A Cost
On the other end of the spectrum, the company I eventually chose provided a quick solution to my problem. I called in and spoke to an initial qualifier. Once the initial qualifier had gotten enough information, she quickly connected me with the sales representative to answer my questions. The sales representative answered by questions clearly, concisely, and accurately.
The follow-up email he sent was professional. It outlined the contents of our conversation. It contained all forms of contact information. It contained the next steps we discussed and included minimal relevant links to support our discussion.
I wanted to share a few tips from my experience to help you enhance your inbound marketing strategy:
- Provide all forms of communication on your website – Put your phone number, an email address, and links to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle or Facebook page. If you put all forms of communication on your website, prospects can use the method they prefer.
- Respond promptly – It’s as simple as that. If you don’t, your callers may go away forever or find someone else to partner with.
- KISS -Make it easy for people to inquire. Keep the process simple.
- Know how to qualify – if the prospect is not qualified, don’t waste everyone’s time and pass the call to the sales representative.
- Know your product or service benefits inside and out – be able to articulate your offering
- Engage prospects – don’t redirect them to written answers to the questions they are asking
- Know how to close. The caller may be ready to buy.
- Be professional and thorough – in all your communication.
- Look for the pain – and provide a solution.
- Reference similar customers – Mention those who have resolved issues similar to your prospect’s concern.
These are basic tips, which, if not followed, could cost you sales. Are your inbound processes helping or hindering you from closing more sales? Find out more about Elisa’s inbound process here.