How to Grow Your Business without Buying Leads or Cold Calling
A content and social media marketing specialist, Ben Jacobson joined the Lean Labs team in the summer of 2014. Ben has been active as a digital branding professional since the early days of social media, having overseen projects for brands including MTV, National Geographic, Zagat and Wix. His writing has appeared in Social Media Explorer, Search Engine Journal, Techwyse and the Mad Mimi Blog. Ben resides just south of the Carmel Mountain ridge in Israel with his dashing wife and two sprightly descendants.
Once upon a time, people really did “pound the pavement” to acquire and close deals. It wasn’t that long ago that working in sales meant lugging a case of samples door to door and presenting a theatrical hard-sell routine to strangers all day long.
Unthinkable nowadays, right?
It worked, though.
This approach was effective in that deals were converted, but today it would never fly. Proactive pitching is by nature interruptive, and it often coincides with messaging that’s at least somewhat coercive.
Grow Your Business Without Interruptive Techniques
From a business perspective, that kind of cold pitch, essentially what we call today “outbound marketing” tactics, simply don’t convert anymore. Data from HubSpot indicates that sales leads captured via outbound sources – cold calling, for example – saw a conversion rate of 1.7%. That means that if you pitched to 100 leads, not even two of them would close a deal with you.
When people use leads from captured via referral traffic to their websites, however, they were five times more likely to convert. That means you are statistically likely to see eight or nine deals come out of the same volume pitches.
The data tells an even more powerful story when leads are captured following search engine referrals. Among this segment, the sales conversion rate increased to eight times the original 1.7%. Now you’ve got 13 or even 14 done deals. Inbound marketing is the clear winner.
Conceptually, the flip from outbound to inbound has arrived as the result of changing consumption habits, as a result of advances in tech. Today’s prospects are savvy to sales tactics, rejecting manipulation as soon as it rears its head.
Consider how many marketing messages barrage you on a daily basis – that includes print, outdoor, broadcast, web-based promotions of all kinds, email advertising, text messages, phone calls and even snail mail. How many of them are truly relevant to you? Do those catch your eye? Do you notice any of them? People have become so skilled at tuning out the interruptive noise that bombarding them further is hardly to your advantage.
Moreover, when people know what they want – because of brand loyalty, recommendations from friends and family, or superb consumer reviews – they’ll seek it out. After all, who wouldn’t choose the brand with the best reputation both for their product and for customer service?
How to Attract the Right Audience
The key principle at play with consumer-centric marketing is to be genuine. Treat your sales prospects like people – just like you would with people you meet in real life. The ones you’re hoping to see over and over again for years to come.
Make sure that the needs and values of your ideal customers are at the center of all of your prospecting interactions and business operations. Give your brand the overall vibe that it’s tailored to serve the people who are the most likely to benefit from your products. How will you know who they are, what they really want and what motivates them? Well, that’s where your buyer personas come in handy.
Premium Content that Provides Value
In addition to the content that will attract the right people to your website and make them feel at home, you’re going to need some downloadable assets that sit gated behind a registration form.
When you offer website visitors a download that’s actually valuable to them in exchange for permission to follow up with them, you capture leads that are self-qualified to be interested in your company. You’ve basically engineered a self-selecting process without resorting to subterfuges. With leads like these, your sales conversion rates should be better than ever.
Nurturing Relationships Over Time
With these great leads having been captured, is the time right to call them and push a sale? No way – that would be a major turnoff. Instead, nurture your relationships with prospects slowly and deliberately to build relationships of trust.
Once again, success at this stage of the game hinges on a steady flow of helpful, generous advice. This is best accomplished with social media engagement, triggered email drips and onsite experience customizations, all of which can be automated using sophisticated digital tools of the trade. You’re now able to lead your audience to the point where they're ready to close, and you’ve done so scalably, efficiently and effectively.
Keep them Headed Your Way
Old-school outbound marketing is not only ineffectual these days – it’s also potentially damaging to your business reputation. You don’t need to buy leads, and you don’t need to trick people into opting in. Just keep all correspondence useful and friendly, and always adhere to best practices of customer-centrism.
Give inbound marketing a whirl – you should be able to get started the basics on your own, and it may require less overhaul than you think. If you’d like any help with strategy or execution, feel free to get in touch with us at Lean Labs, and we’ll walk you through the entire process.