“How long is your sales cycle?” It’s a foundational question that we ask all of our clients before we begin working with them. Why? Because it helps us to properly forecast, establish sensible goals, and calculate the ROI of Inbound Marketing.
Why Does it Matter?
Today, the B2B sales cycle can be anywhere from a couple weeks to a year long. This large time span is not only due to different products and industries, but also because with the Internet, buyers have the power and the luxury of controlling the length of their sales cycle. Salespeople can no longer control the flow of the sale. In fact, many sales milestones happen without the sales person even there.
Think about it: you know you have a problem, so you go online and look for a solution. You’ll probably explore multiple companies that offer the solution and dwindle it down to two or three that you want to explore further. You may watch a testimonial video, download a tip sheet and subscribe to the company’s blog. Right now, you’re a sales prospect and you haven’t even spoken to someone at the company.
Making the Shift to Inbound Sales
All this power in the hands of the buyer makes what is already a hard job even harder. Salespeople have to shift towards a concept called Inbound Sales. Inbound Sales is the process of aligning sales and marketing with the buying cycle. If you can properly market to a person who is just in the “looking” phase with something like a simple email, you may be able to move them to the next phase more quickly. Enter: drip marketing.
Drip Marketing: A Smarketing Tool
Drip marketing, also known as drip campaigns or drip email, is a form of marketing automation and lead nurturing. It works by nurturing leads into a sales-ready state through a series of automated emails. In the example above, the last interaction you had with the company was you downloaded a tip sheet and subscribed to their blog. This is the point where you would enter into a drip campaign and begin to receive emails attempting to get you to convert on middle and bottom of the funnel offers.
An important first-step when creating a drip campaign is to define what the goals are. These goals may include re-engaging a cold lead, enticing prospects with promotions, or maybe just remaining top-of-mind. Once you’ve defined your goal, the next step is to design the campaign, with special attention to sending a specific message to each segment of your prospect list. The more segmented your list, the more tailored your message can be, and the more success you’ll see.
By sending tailored messages to segmented lists, drip marketing helps sales people to reach multiple buyers with different personas who have different buying patterns and timelines. It streamlines the sales process by helping sales people to determine who they should be focusing their efforts on and calling.
Have you seen success with drip campaign marketing? Let me know in the comments below.
Another post by Nikki on Inbound Marketing strategies:
Lead Scoring: The Journey from Marketing Qualified to Sales Qualified