The marketing industry has already felt the disruptive impact of advanced technology on their profession. Everything from the way they reach out to customers, to the tools they use, even to the new marketing positions being created are all a direct result of these technological advances.
And while the sales profession seems to be a few steps behind, they’re going through a digital transformation of their own. Consumers have continued to increase their own bargaining power by using technology to access and research information on their own without ever having to talk to a sales rep. Sales reps now have to work harder and smarter to create a meaningful connection that leads to a new contract or account.
As marketing continues to change the way they interact with consumers, it’s important for sales reps to be cognizant of potential insights they can gain from the marketing department and how it might change their own sales process.
Discover 3 essential things sales reps need to know about outbound marketing to stay relevant in today’s digital age and not get left behind or replaced.
Traditional Lead Generation Techniques are Failing
In the past, outbound marketing used to consist of four main elements: direct mail, trade shows and journals, and cold calling. Attending these events or creating advertisements was a way to actively build up your sales pipeline and find potential customers.
Unfortunately, these lead generation techniques are quickly becoming ineffective and yielding fewer sales leads each year. Direct mail seems to work for specific industries or consumer goods that use catalogs to gain interest, however, B2B companies have seen little success using these techniques. Trade shows and journals are still being used, but oftentimes there are more vendors than there are attendees and people reading the journals, leaving fewer options to sell to.
And finally, cold calling is becoming an almost impossible task. Between the invention of caller ID, people not checking their voicemails, and getting past the gatekeeper, it’s very rare to get a call back. Simply typing ‘cold-calling’ into a Google search will produce dozens of articles about the ways cold-calling is dead, obsolete, and even tips for ‘warm-calling.’
As a sales rep, it’s up to you to find out what works best for your business and industry. However, you should look into whether or not you’re getting any results from these activities and whether you should be spending your time elsewhere.
Email Marketing is Disrupting How We Sell
One of the biggest changes to the sales department was the implementation of marketing automation or an email marketing service. When email marketing first became a strategy, it was used to cast a wide net in hopes of catching a big customer. Sales teams would create targeted lists from their CRMs, spreadsheets, or whoever they thought might be slightly interested in what they were selling and would include them in these mass emails. But as we know now, this was technique rarely produced the results sales reps wanted and would end up with more people unsubscribing or marking your email as spam than buying your product or service.
Today, our email marketing techniques are much more targeted, our lists are segmented, or at least they should be. Personalized emails and marketing automation are now becoming the norm across all industries and market researchers are even predicting that sales of email marketing software and services will continue to grow at an insanely aggressive rate over the next five years.
As this trend continues to grow and marketing automation helps make leads stronger, sales reps need to capitalize on those big opportunities. Technology can only get the marketing department so far. You still need to use your interpersonal communication and analytical skills to ask the right questions and close the deal.
Salespeople Can Still Stay Relevant
According to Forrester Research, one million B2B salespeople will see their jobs replaced by self-service, automated systems by 2020. Instead of worrying or being alarmed by this statistic, should see it as an opportunity to evolve your skills and in your role.
Marketing is now using marketing automation to engage with customers and handle much of the prospecting initiatives that sales reps used to spend time on. Now, you can use that extra time to invest in developing relationships with prospects and past customers and most importantly. Also, you can use the insights gained from the marketing department to better identify your prospects’ needs and how to sell to them.
The customer experience is more than receiving automated emails. Use your people skills and relationships to development meaningful interactions with your prospects and customers. No machine will be able to replace that set of skills.
Outbound marketing is not something to fear as a sales rep. It is a way for you to gain useful insights and strategies to help you better sell to today’s customer using your intangible skills.