In many businesses, there is an underlying tension between sales and marketing teams. It can create a sense that the two are not rowing in unison, causing the company to spin in circles.

Fortunately, this is changing. With its emphasis on customer-centric content and prospect engagement, inbound marketing is proving remarkably effective in its ability to support sales efforts at various stages of the sales process.

That’s good news because when sales and marketing efforts are aligned, the results are telling.

Companies with close alignment between sales and marketing report 38% higher sales win rates. What’s more, 81% of companies that beat revenue goals described their sales and marketing groups as “somewhat” or “completely” aligned.

Here are three examples of ways inbound can drive sales, along with suggestions you can put into action:

1) Attract and nurture prospects through great content

The strength of inbound marketing, and the reason it has become central to the modern buyer’s journey, is because today’s decision making typically begins online.

In this brave new world, content is king… for several reasons.

For starters, great content helps your prospects self-identify as customers. Often times, they might not know that they need your product or service. In fact, they may not be aware that your company or product exists! Yet, in their efforts to find answers to a specific problem, prospects may be asking/Googling questions that will lead directly to you. Great original content helps them find your business, and to view themselves as a potential client.

Great inbound content also helps you establish your credibility as a trusted authority in your field. The more high-quality content you have, the better your chances of building an online relationship, as the person keeps returning to your website and resources to learn more. This gives you a chance to create a sense of familiarity with the prospect and nurture the relationship.

By giving prospects the ability to engage with you after reading content through call-to-action forms, you can establish a dialogue and begin efforts to convert prospects into leads. And leads into customers.

Actionable items:

• Create a list of potential blog topics and premium content offers (eg. guidebooks, checklists and whitepapers).
• Perhaps delegate topics to subject experts within your company.
• Start developing this content. Make sure it’s targeted at your buyer personas and offer them true insights and benefits
• Conduct keyword research and make sure your blogs are SEO optimized so they jump out in a Google search
• Make sure high-value content you create is “gated” – meaning the reader must provide you with a name and email before they download. This information can then be passed on to the sales team and used in follow-up lead nurturing.

2) Use this same content to reach out to target prospects

Why not take advantage of that amazing content you worked to create, and send it out to known prospects? It could be used as a way to re-engage existing contacts in your own database – or could be targeted at key decision-makers on your prospecting list of ideal clients.

By proactively sending content that addresses potential pain points, you position your business as a helpful resource that is committed to the customer’s success. The advantage of sending content is that it provides a stepping stone for the sales team to establish a dialogue. (Plus, it’s far easier than initiating a conversation based on a cold call.)

And if you think that customers don’t want to be bothered by email outreach, think again. According to a recent HubSpot article, 25 Surprising Stats about prospecting in 2020:

-8 in 10 prospects prefer communicating with reps by email.
-82% of buyers say they’ll take a meeting with reps who reach out to them.

Actionable items:

• Pick a piece of premium content and develop an email to prospects.
• Perhaps write a second email with links to a few of your blog articles. Choose those that appeal to their buyer persona.
• Sales teams should try A/B testing cold email outreach with and without related company content to see if the content has an impact.

3) Use inbound for pre & post-event lead nurturing

Inbound marketing isn’t meant to replace all traditional marketing efforts. For example, it is a powerful tool to enhance the value of participating in a trade show or conference.

Start with an email to let prospects know you will be attending, with the goal of getting them to visit your booth – or even better – to pre-book one-on-one meetings.

As part of the campaign, share premium content and blog posts – again, to establish your company as an expert in a particular area of interest. You can plant questions in the minds of delegates to encourage them to learn more at your booth or to take you up on a product demo.

And whatever you do, don’t let all of those contacts you make at a tradeshow or conference go to waste! Be sure to capture them in your CRM. Follow up with a series of nurturing emails. This could include a nice to meet you email, an event recap blog, and be followed up by sharing relevant content based on their interests.

Pro tip: At the bottom of your email, include a link to book a meeting.

Actionable items:

• Develop a pre-event email campaign that lets prospects know you’re going and where to find you. Share premium content and blog posts.
• Create a recap blog of the event for event attendees who you didn’t meet with and who those who weren’t able to attend.
• Tag the event in your social posts when you share the recap blog so other attendees can easily find you.

Working in unison

Attracting and nurturing new prospects, using content to reach out to target customers, and supporting tradeshow efforts are just three ways inbound marketing can help move the sales needle. When you combine great content, a sound strategy and a suitable CRM platform – it’s amazing the places you can go. Especially when you have strong sales and marketing teams rowing in the same direction.

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