How The Inbound Marketing Myth Is Crippling Consulting Businesses Worldwide

In a world of seemingly endless choice around the ways that your Consulting business can develop B2B leads, they really are only 2 main approaches:

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Outbound Sales

If you believe the ‘blogosphere’ and marketing machines of many businesses you’d be likely to believe that the future of B2B lead generation is all inbound marketing.

Don’t be too quick to believe the hype…

2014 Research by the Aberdeen Group into companies using sophisticated marketing automation software (i.e companies that are still ahead of the game for most industries), showed that the ‘best in class’ companies used a split of:

  • 80% outbound sales and
  • 20% inbound marketing

It’s compelling reading and something we concur with and see day in day out with consulting companies and clients.

So What Are The Often Recited ‘TRUTHS’ About Inbound Marketing And Why Might They Be False?

Lots of blogs (from marketers) say inbound marketing  allows you to educate people early on in the sales cycle. People who’re looking for your products or services, that you’re supposedly NOT aware of.

This has been termed ‘the invisible sale’.

As huge proponents of OUTBOUND SELLING we don’t agree with this at all – and especially not for consultants.

Why?

Well, when implemented correctly, outbound prospecting can connect you to the most senior people in an organisation and influence their long range business strategy. Outbound sales also allows you to influence their buying criteria and ultimately their specification criteria.

And the best bit?

You’ll reach them BEFORE they delegate the task of building the ‘short list’, or get their assistants to do a Google search and find you via internet research. Any time they find you via internet research it is just too late. 

They will already have determined what they think the problem is and what they think the solution is. Oh….as well as contacting 5 or more other people to supply prices to ‘benchmark’. You should check out my ‘Foot In The Door’ Email Template – The magic email that will get you a meeting with any Senior Executive or Corporate Prospect to give you a way to open those senior executives doors

 

“The most successful consultants understand this…”

When someone says “we don’t have a budget for this”…

…you’re in the right place AND at the right time.

You might think that’s a bit of an odd statement to make, but here’s why you can use that to your advantage,

You see, at this stage no one’s influenced the senior people in that company on their long range business strategy, That is good for you. Once someone has educated your prospect on options that exist for their long range business strategy you can guarantee that they won’t involve you!

Interestingly…

Hewlett Packard and Kenan Flagler business school researched senior executives involvement into a buying cycle, and found that senior people are heavily involved at the front end of a buying cycle when they’re seeking to:

  • understand current business issues
  • establish business objectives
  • establish long range business strategy

 

and shortly after that they duck-out and delegate decisions and research to lower management or admin staff. I cover this in  my ‘Foot In The Door’ Email Template – The magic email that will get you a meeting with any Senior Executive or Corporate Prospect

This is what’s traditionally know as a decision making unit (DMU)

Once you understand that…

You can take brilliant value-based outbound messages directly to the senior people in an organization that will educate and provide them with key insights they could never have seen without your help.

 

The Myth That Inbound Is Great At Targeting Industries and Companies

If you already have a list of Target Prospects, or Named Accounts, then inbound is a slow and indirect way to communicate with them.

These are the companies that you have singled out as being the ones to add into your top 20% percentile of best clients. These are the ones that great business growth expert (but sadly deceased) Chet Holmes would have called his ‘Hot 100′.

Inbound is great at building brand awareness, ‘Top of Mind’ presence and generating leads. I totally agree but sometimes there are more direct and more successful ways – especially for high value consulting contracts.

 

The Weaknesses Of Inbound Marketing For B2B Lead Generation

1) Badly Qualified Prospects

With inbound It can be hard to correctly qualify the prospects that are reaching out to you. Only a small percentage of people who engage will be a great fit with your Ideal Prospect Profile. This can often result in you spending a significant amount of time and resource with prospects that are never ever going to be a great fit.

 

2) It takes significant Resource

Not many people talk about this but a true inbound marketing lead generation system takes a huge amount of resource.

It isn’t just a case of turning on Google PPC and sending them to your home page!

You have to identify your prospect personas, identify their different evaluation stages and create a MASSIVE amount of professionally written and packaged content to serve up to them. This isn’t a cheap endeavor and very often gets overlooked when people do price comparisons between inbound and outbound methodologies.

It’s NOT just the cost of the PPC…

…It’s also the army of interns or outsourcers who created the content. The designers who packaged it. The marketing automation platform that delivered it. The heat tracking and analytic programs that tested engagement…

…You get my point!

And if you’re a solo consultant or growing practice, that can also mean long nights spent writing content after work. Long nights spent desperately trying to crack this “inbound thing”.

Many consultants I speak to are at breaking point.

They’re tired, struggling, and confused about why it’s taken so much time and resource to produce very few results – if any!

3) Little or No HUMAN feedback

Very often all of the inbound marketing process is done at the PC looking at buyer personas.

Amazingly…. with little to NO interaction or engagement with real human beings that you desire to help (and SELL to).

“My biggest fear for inbound is that, for many, it’s creating a culture where no one is capable of or wants to pick up the phone and speak to a potential consulting client.”

This is becoming extremely visible in the b2b sales world. There is a culture being perpetuated that it’s OK to try and grow a b2b sales based business without ever interacting with your prospects.

But here’s the thing…

“If YOU can find a way to connect with your ideal prospects without cold calling or pushy sales tactics, you’ll have a huge advantage in your market place”

In fact, that’s exactly what I give you in my ‘Foot In The Door’ Email Template – The magic email that will get you a meeting with any Senior Executive or Corporate Prospect

The more you actually talk to your prospects, the more you’ll understand them.

You’ll also find out what’s happening in their world, which means you’ll sell more and earn more revenue. Period.

4) Late In The Buying Process

By the time someone comes to you via an inbound enquiry, they are already well into their buying process and have decided what they think is the solution to the problem that they perceive exists. You’ll do well to have any ability to influence this!

Strengths OF Outbound Prospecting

 

1) Pinpoint And Cherry Pick Your Best Prospects

Outbound contact  enables you to pinpoint your best prospects and VERY QUICKLY and open up a dialogue with them.

2) Make A Human Connection

In most cases, it allows you to speak to a HUMAN, and ask questions.

If they aren’t in a position to be a good fit for your Strategy Call, or your Discovery Call, you can ask permission to put them into your marketing automation programs. This will position you as the logical choice when the time comes for evaluating solutions.

3) Very quickly gain access to senior people within an organisation

Most companies don’t have the traditional ‘gate keeper’ that protects, or ring fences, senior executives from the outside world anymore.

It’s easier today to access senior executives than it’s ever been ever.

The irony of course, is that this is a time when some companies are abandoning outbound prospecting.

Now, if that includes your competitor…

…That’s great news for you!

4) Outbound allows you to profile your marketplace and get feedback on what the market is thinking and doing.

I see so much ‘analysis by paralysis’ from companies who try to determine everything about their Ideal Prospects by boardroom sessions and analysing data.

What they often overlook is the fact that…

“You can use outbound to quickly engage with your prospects”

And that’s not all…

It also allows you to begin the process of testing and refining your messaging, your offer and even your core product.

 

The Myth Of The Buying Percentages

Many people happily cite research that shows that any one time 70 – 90% of the prospects in a market aren’t open to considering the purchase of any product, service or solution. They’re either satisfied with their current situation, or they’re simply not thinking about it.

About 7 – 20% of prospects are thinking about the problems you say you solve, and only 3 – 7% are in an active mode of searching for a product, service or solution.”

And they cite this as a negative which is what I find astonishing!

So what that means to me is…

The 3 – 7%

3 -7% of the market have already been influenced by someone else or they’ve come to their own conclusion about what their ‘problem’ is.

They’ve determined what they believe to be the best likely solution and they’re now actively seeking out every vendor in the marketplace to ‘cut a deal’.

These prospects have a very defined criteria which is often not a true reflection of what they NEED but actually what they think they WANT.

They won’t listen to you when you try to influence that choice.

They frequently won’t engage in a dialogue and want you to submit proposals, tenders or turn up and do a ‘dog and pony show’ presentation without being able to ask too many questions. Have you experienced that?

Hey, did I say that they expect you to be the lowest cost provider?

I’m not sure I want a pipeline full of these prospects. Never mind paying extortionate advertising costs to get an opportunity to quote for them. I show alternatives in my ‘Foot In The Door’ Email Template – The magic email that will get you a meeting with any Senior Executive or Corporate Prospect

The 7 – 20%

About 7 – 20% of your prospects are thinking about the problems you say you solve and may allow your outbound approach.

These are the real ‘low hanging fruit’. These are the people and companies that’ll be willing to listen if approached correctly and aren’t too far into their purchasing decision to make them more of a pain than a prize.

 

The 70 – 90%

These prospects in a market aren’t open to considering the purchase…

and that’s EXACTLY why these are your very best prospects.

These are likely to be the people and companies that you look back at after finishing your project and think

“those guys were great. why can’t they all be like that?”

These are the companies that you can really influence, educate, help set long range strategy and provide value to.

If, that is… if you can get to them. And that’s a VERY big IF…

I’ll give you some insights on EXACTLY how to do this for your best prospects if you check out my ‘Foot In The Door’ Email Template – The magic email that will get you a meeting with any Senior Executive or Corporate Prospect

Very rarely will you get to these ideal prospects in any quantity by using any inbound marketing methods.

BUT… you can with an effective outbound prospecting system.

 

Does that mean I don’t favor the use of Inbound Marketing?

Absolutely not!

The highest returns are there for companies that can effectively use both Inbound and Outbound methods.

If anyone ever tells you it’s an “either or” equation then run away kicking and screaming.

It’s like a childhood maths question:

Q) What’s 1 + 1?

A) 10

By combining effective inbound and outbound you can create value greater than the 2 component parts.

So that begs a question…

What exactly is outbound selling and which approach is the best?

The main 3 methods of outbound prospecting available to Consultants are:

  • Telesales
  • LinkedIn
  • Personalized Email

The most effective of those 3 – by a long shot, is Personalized Email.

That may surprise you…

Just imagine the control you’d have over your business growth and scale, if you could create an outbound prospecting system that didn’t involve pushy sales practices, didn’t clash with your brand ethos and was pretty simple to implement and get traction with.

That’s what Personalised Email gives you

IF you want to know more about the 3 outbound prospecting strategies and why personalised email is by far the easiest and best then check out my ‘Foot In The Door’ Email Template – The magic email that will get you a meeting with any Senior Executive or Corporate Prospect

 

 

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