Integrate inbound marketing – sales is not learning without it

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Marketing are tighter coupled in a world where clients is a vital source of learning with customers. Our marketing flows are now reversed. Digital marketing replace outbound preaching with inbound teaching. Inbound marketing is a broader concept. Clients look for learnings about their own needs, possible solutions and associated business models. Not just solutions to well-known problems and clear business models.

Sales and marketing become learning intensive

Clients face a new challenge in fast moving markets. They need to learn more and they need to learn faster. These new learnings will have a major impact on how clients think and act around new purchasing decisions. Vendors are a natural source for learnings and insights about my needs, solutions and business models.

This trend creates a new situation for sales and marketing teams. You can take the role of supporting your clients’ education needs, or you can expect you competitors to fill the gap. For classic sales and marketing approaches this represents a large shift in mindset. A shift from driving preference and demand for products and solution to satisfying clients’ learning needs first. The latter representing a different starting point, even if the actual sale is the similar in both models.

External marketing and internal training

Inbound marketing have more and more in common with internal sales training. Your sales force need to learn more to face new client situations. Your learning is likely coming from your clients rather than your training department. Both external marketing and internal training need a structure enabling you to extract insights.  With an assumption a large share of the insights come from client interactions.

This phenomenon ties together sales, external marketing and internal training. Your clients’ learning needs is likely to transform all three functions in your company. Sales will be dependent on your ability to coach your clients to insights in new areas. Marketing will start digital and end human. With a need to secure sales have high quality insights available for coaching of clients. Training is moving from and outbound push towards an inbound pull from the sales force.

Structure insights in digital discovery journeys

Both external marketing and internal training are becoming digital journeys. The time between when you identify a need to when you have to respond to the need is shrinking. The time available to learn is shrinking. And the sources of learning are less obvious.

Expect both flows to be digital in nature. As responsible for these flows you need to pay attention to how clients want to learn and how your sales force wants to learn. These needs define  digital discovery journeys. With clear relationships in learning building blocks and how they connect to each other.

Integrate inbound marketing in your lean sales flows

You need to integrate inbound marketing into your lean sales set-up. A lean sales set-up needs deep market insights as a starting point for prioritizations and optimizations. Without a solid anchoring in insights and facts the upstream activities might show high flow efficiency but we need to work in the right things too,

An inbound marketing person in your lean time can add significant values. You can start with an idea for how to structure the external marketing flow first. You can tweak the external base as an idea for how to structure internal training.

Questions for you and your team

  1. How do we work with inbound marketing today – it is the inbound/content marketing that drive your digital presence.
  2. Which digital discovery journeys have we defined for our inbound marketing – the structure content creators work to populate.
  3. What is the nature of the learning our clients need the most – your journeys start by understanding clients need and drive the process outside-in.
  4. How do our sales force need to learn – to be able to act as a teacher or coach in the client interface.
  5. How do your consultative selling strategies need to change – consultative selling works great when your client has the answers you search for. In the new reality you need

Additional reading 

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