According to author Josh Kaufman (The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business), there are five standard objections to sales of any kind:
- It costs too much.
- It won’t work.
- It won’t work for us.
- We can wait.
- It’s too difficult.
Forward-thinking CMOs and marketing department managers have the unique challenge of selling inbound marketing to the decision-maker -- a decision-maker that may not fully understand the method, or who has immediate objections to incorporating inbound marketing into a company’s greater lead generation mix.
As with any innovative technology, methodology, or product, CEO objections are justified: there are very few benchmarks or case studies to compare against with new products, and early-adopter zealotry can often skew perspective before a product has been properly tested in the marketplace.
However, if you are building the case for inbound among key stakeholders, you may appreciate some help in fielding common objections. The five sales concerns outlined by Kaufman are familiar territory for us.
One: Inbound Marketing Costs Too Much
Marketing has always felt the need to justify itself departmentally, notably by proving ROI on it’s efforts.
This need to justify is understandable: strategic planning relies heavily on theory -- theory about who your customers are, whether or not they need your product, and if you’ve crafted the correct message, timing, frequency, and media mix for them. Guess wrong, and you stand to lose heavily on your investment.
However, sales don’t happen on their own: there’s always a cost associated with generating leads -- marketing is a necessary expense in achieving sustainability. Thus, two questions arise:
- Does average Customer Lifetime Value exceed Cost Per Customer Acquisition?
- If so, do profits attributable to inbound marketing exceed that of outbound marketing?
Considering how varied financial aspects can be from company to company (expenses, cash flow, etc.), I’ll leave it to you do these calculations. (We’d help during a personalized consultation.) Marketing automation software company, HubSpot, has made available a great tool for performing a simplified lead volume evaluation. It will help get you started.
Two: Inbound Marketing Won’t Work
I can see this objection arising out of second-hand experience: a friend or partner tried inbound, three weeks went by, nothing happened, they cut their losses and went back to YellowBook.
To build sustainable traffic and rankings, content downloads, and social engagement requires committed, regular effort. It doesn’t happen overnight.
But, after building a solid Foundation and implementing a Demand Gen strategy (and sticking to it), you’ll begin to see a bump in search traffic after about 4 months. It will happen slowly, little more than a trickle at first. Then around month 6, you’ll begin to see a hockey stick curve in your Google Analytics dashboard -- ditto your social followers.
Developing and promoting highly-targeted premium content collateral will provide a way for you to segment audience by interest -- the ‘ice-breaker’ your salesforce needs to establish and build relationships with prospects. Give it time, it’ll work.
And it’ll stick.
Three: Yes, But, Inbound Marketing Won’t Work For Us.
If you’re a HubSpot user, do your homework and segment VAR agencies in the marketplace by industry experience. We’re at a point now in the evolution of inbound that most agencies have begun to splinter off into their own preferred verticals -- and there appear to be no stones left unturned.
If you’re not a HubSpot user, and you’re concerned that nobody’s going to download your eBook about fly fishing reels, talk with an agency about how they might re-engineer your website to funnel visitors toward a sale or other conversion point; there are likely improvements to your website copy that can be made to bump your search rankings; and, I promise, there are online social communities for fly fishing reels...thousands, probably. Get advice on how to engage them.
Four: We Can Wait
No you can’t.
According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2012 Response Rate Report, average direct mail response rates are at 3.4%, while average email response rate is 0.12%. In-person/event networking is a highly-effective way to market your company or personal brand, but the technique can’t scale. And according to Pew Research Center, social media usage continues to increase across all demographics.
Five: Inbound Marketing is Too Hard
Unfortunately, inbound marketing is not as easy as direct mail or renting email lists. But there’s a reason for that.
Inbound is a method built on providing consistent information-based value to prospects and customers not unlike traditional journalism. This type of ongoing value-add, though challenging, is the only sustainable way to engage an audience in a purely demand-oriented medium. If you don’t provide ongoing value, the audience will leave for someone who is.
In order to alleviate the demand, seek out an agency based on three important criteria:
- Demonstrated success -- ask for case studies, references, and a previous body of work.
- Defined process -- do they have a clearly defined workflow for creating and delivering value?
- Tangible success factors -- any agency has to work closely with you to define and deliver upon a set criteria of KPI’s. This keeps everyone on the same page and working toward the same goals.
Have more questions about implementing an inbound marketing system? Get in touch. We can help.