Inbound marketing, sales and CRM: a trinity
Inbound marketing, sales and CRM form a trinity; a golden match. Inbound marketing facilitates attracting customers, sales follows up on leads in the hopes of gaining customers in return, and CRM is all about relationship management. Either in close collaboration or practiced by one person who has solid command of all three, together, these roles will turn leads into long-term customers.
If buyers rely on information and recommendations provided by people they know, if they find out all the details they need to make their purchase on their own and go online to find the best deal, and finally also complete the transaction wholly through the Internet, what does that mean for sales and CRM? The answers are actually right there, hidden in the questions. The sales and customer relationship managers will increasingly profile themselves as inbound marketeers.
For inbound marketing to be used successfully, your organization needs to have a solid understanding of its target group, e.g. formulated in buyer personas. Inbound marketing is about waiting on people hand and foot, right from the very moment their customer journey begins. You can do that with your content. Content that will allow your organization to be found. Content that people find so interesting that they'll subscribe to your newsletter, request a whitepaper, ask for a free demo, or participate in a webinar. An organization that knows what information is needed, at what time and in which location, will (ultimately) be able to win customers who are seeking, doubting or even suspicious people. Not by selling, but by facilitating.
The information generated about the target group through inbound marketing can be used to boost sales. Inbound marketing tends to create leads: email addresses, telephone numbers, or even informal appointments. People who spontaneously indicate that they have some level of interest in the potential solution you can offer them for their problem, without having been pushed by your organization. Your sales department has a fairly precise view of where the prospect's interests lie, and can apply this knowledge to get to work in a very targeted way. The trick, though, is still not to be too pushy. Even if someone subscribes to a newsletter or downloads a whitepaper, that doesn't mean they're eagerly awaiting a phone call about the ‘deal of the century’. Someone who applies for a demo might be a step further along in the process. Based on experience (on a foundation of historical data), it is eventually possible to make a reasonable estimate of the number of touch points necessary for the sales department to respond.
The CRM system is essential in storing this data with the aim of getting a clear picture of the process that a prospect or customer runs through. You will also want to know what your organization can do to keep existing customers happy in the long term, and whether there are any feasible opportunities for cross-selling or upselling. After all, your goal is to establish lasting relationships. The CRM system feeds both inbound marketing and sales, and vice versa, making it the centerpiece of the integrated activities.