Inbound marketing is all the rage.
Marketers are falling all over themselves to jump on the bandwagon, convinced that inbound is the path to more leads, less cost, and better business results across the board.
But there are problems with inbound marketing. It’s a strategy that can be tremendously successful, but only if done correctly.
Here are three ways inbound marketing might actually be hurting your business, and how to fix each problem.
Inbound Marketing Problem #1: Too Many Leads
Ironically, we often see a huge pile of entries in the “lead” part of the sales funnel in some of our client’s CRM records. They’ve got tons of leads in the pipeline, but very few making it past the initial lead stage.
Worse, we see that pile of leads just sitting there at the top of the funnel, neither moving forward, nor being removed from the list.
This happens when a company is using a variety of inbound methods—white papers, webinars, blogs, etc.—but doesn’t have a strong qualification process in place. They’re creating leads, but they don’t have a way to qualify those leads.
What good are unqualified leads to your sales staff? They can find those kinds of leads all on their own. They don’t need inbound marketing for that.
If your company shows this kind of pattern in its sales funnel, you’d be better off focusing on finding fewer, better prospects.
How to Fix It: Whether through automation, outsourcing, or good old fashioned phone call follow up, you must find a way to qualify your leads. Plus, you must time your campaigns so that you don’t create more leads than your qualifying processes can handle in a timely fashion.
Inbound Marketing Problem #2: The Wrong Leads
Want to drive a salesperson crazy? Give her a list of 15 “hot leads” that all turn out to be duds. Give her that kind of list more than once and you’ll lose her respect forever.
This is a key reason why salespeople in some organizations actually deprioritize leads they get from marketing, preferring to go after leads they generate themselves through traditional outbound marketing efforts.
It’s hard to blame them. They’ve got quotas to make and no time to waste chasing dead ends out in the field.
Meanwhile, the marketing team is busy patting itself on the back for how many “leads” they turned over to sales that quarter, regardless of whether a single one turned into a sale or not.
Your organization might not look quite that bad, but it does happen. We see it in sales funnels that have an unusually low conversion rate between the pitch and negotiation stages.
How to Fix It: As with the problem of too many leads, you must figure out how to qualify your leads quickly and correctly. That’s the only way to provide your sales force with the data they need to successfully and quickly follow up on inbound leads.
Inbound Marketing Problem #3: The Black Hole Between Marketing and Sales
Let’s say your marketing efforts are generating leads and you’ve got an effective lead qualification process in place.
If you’re still not increasing sales, check to see what’s happening between your marketing and sales teams.
I’ll bet you your lunch money you’ve got a time gap between when leads get qualified and when your sales staff actually follows up with the prospect.
Time kills sales. If you don’t follow up on leads quickly, you’ll lose them, simple as that. In fact, if you aren’t able to respond to a lead within 5 minutes, you’re probably leaving money on the table.
It’s surprising, because it seems so simple: decrease your response time, win more business. Yet very few businesses have figured out how to do this well. It’s a massive opportunity for anyone willing to put in the work to ensure prompt response to leads, however they come in.
How to Fix It: Awareness is the key to response times. If you aren’t currently measuring how fast your company responds to inbound leads, it’s time to start. Once you have your baseline, do whatever you can to speed up the process. The faster you can respond, the more money you’ll make.
Business fads cause companies to jump into strategies they don’t yet fully understand.
In the case of inbound marketing, inadequate lead qualification and poor response times are two of the biggest problems we see companies struggling with.
If you’ve been disappointed with your inbound marketing results, see if you can better qualify leads, find and clear the logjams in your sales funnel, and then find a way to decrease your response time.
Do those three things well, and you should start to see a better return on your inbound marketing investment.
Mike Kamo is the VP of marketing for Strideapp. Stride is a Cloud-based CRM and mobile app that helps small to medium sized agencies manage and track leads, as well as close more deals. They can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Topics: Inbound Marketing