80% of Visitors Aren’t Sales-Ready: How the Inbound Marketing Methodology Nurtures These Prospects
The majority of visitors to your website (about 80%) aren’t sales-ready. When those who aren’t ready for a sales conversation leave, they don’t come back, resulting in a lost opportunity. In this post, we’ll explain how to approach non-sales-ready leads and how to use the inbound marketing methodology to gently nudge them toward purchasing later.
The Sales Funnel
To better understand the buyer’s journey and how someone goes from being a visitor to a lead to a customer, it’s helpful to know what the sales funnel looks like. The graphic below breaks it down succinctly where you can see that 80% of traffic starts at the top of the funnel in either the awareness or consideration stage.
A common mistake many marketers make, however, is treating all leads the same and only targeting them in the decision stage at the bottom of the funnel. This is problematic because it assumes everyone is positioned to buy right away, and they’re comparing final attributes such as pricing and value. But in reality, four out of five prospects are closer to the top of the funnel where they’re just performing preliminary research and learning about different brands, products, options, and so on.
By targeting all prospects at the decision stage, it often results in failing to supply them with the right content they need where the approach ends up being overly aggressive. Say, for example, someone is merely looking for a basic overview of your brand and what you offer and is by no means ready to make a purchase. If you immediately bombard them with “buy now” messaging, it’ll likely be a turn-off where they’ll simply leave, never to return.
It’s not that they’ll never be open to buying from you. It’s just that they’re not ready at that moment. Instead, they need to get comfortable with your brand. After adequate nurturing, there’s a good chance they will buy. But adequate rapport needs to be built. This brings us to our next point.
Why the Inbound Marketing Methodology is Vital for Nurturing Leads
Hands down, one of the best ways to nurture your audience and prime them for a sales discussion is through the inbound marketing methodology. HubSpot, the originator of this technique, defines it as “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.”
The purpose of the inbound marketing methodology is to capture leads early in the buyer’s journey, during the awareness and consideration stages, and nurture them toward a sale. This generates more leads and sales opportunities in the process. Rather than aggressively going for a sale right off the bat the moment a visitor lands on your site, it focuses on building a relationship with visitors and providing them with the information they need to make an informed decision. So when they’re ready to buy, they choose you.
How the Inbound Marketing Methodology Works
Here’s the process we use at 3.7 Designs:
- Identify what questions and challenges visitors are trying to solve
- Create valuable content resources that help answer these burning questions — so valuable we could charge money for them
- Instead of charging money, however, we give it to them for free in exchange for contact information
- This starts a relationship early on in the buyer’s journey
- We then nurture the relationship by continuing to add more value by sending them additional resources and advice
- When they’re ready for a sales discussion, they already know, like, and trust you
Here’s what it looks like visually as someone goes from being a stranger to a visitor to a lead to a customer and beyond.
At its core, inbound marketing revolves around the idea that “people love to buy but hate to be sold to.” With 82% of people saying they ignore online ads, using traditional, disruptive marketing techniques simply isn’t effective with most of today’s prospects. Instead, drawing potential customers in with valuable resources can initiate genuine relationships. This makes your brand the obvious, trusted choice.
Let’s say you’re a B2B SaaS company trying to sell a product to other companies.
During the awareness stage, you would aim to simply let prospects know your brand exists, the product you’re offering, and how it’s an effective solution to their problem. At this point, you’re not trying to directly go for a sale just yet. You’re simply looking to create initial rapport and hopefully capture their contact information.
To accomplish this, you would pinpoint what questions and objections prospects have, what they already know, and what they’re trying to figure out. After you’ve identified this, you would create valuable content with common examples being an email newsletter, buyer’s guide, checklist, and decision matrix.
Next, is the consideration stage where a prospect has become aware of your brand and the product you offer and has started comparing their options. Similar to the awareness stage, you’re also looking to collect their contact information to use it for nurturing. The main difference is you’re targeting prospects who are further down in the funnel and concentrating on helping them determine what the best solution is or who is the top vendor to choose.
Succeeding at the consideration stage hinges upon providing additional value and information that builds upon what a potential customer has already learned. What tends to work well here is free advice or access to a free resource that answers their questions and solves their problem. Popular content mediums for this stage include eBooks, guides, videos, online courses, and webinars.
Finally, in the decision stage, a lead has moved down the sales funnel from awareness to consideration and has been properly nurtured. At this point, they’ve demonstrated a genuine interest in your product/brand, have digested relevant content, and realize how your product can solve their problem. This is when you restate the value you offer and reiterate why they should choose you instead of a competitor.
Typically, this involves reaching out to key decision-makers and addressing any objections a lead may have. Considering you’ve already built a relationship and have established a significant level of trust, your company should be a top contender if not a front-runner for a lead. In turn, this greatly increases your odds of converting as opposed to trying to convert to a non-sales-ready lead who just entered the funnel.
Also, note that because of the experience and systematized process they bring, many companies benefit from partnering with an inbound marketing agency. At 3.7 Designs, for example, we’ve helped clients at every stage of this process and have seen dramatic results. If you’re looking for direction with your inbound marketing methodology and would like a partner with specific experience in your industry, this is a route to consider.
Let’s recap. Only one out of five visitors are ready to have a sales conversation when landing on your site.
Trying to convert visitors too quickly is a recipe for disaster given that 80% simply aren’t ready!
The inbound marketing methodology is strategically designed to nurture these non-sales-ready leads, supplying them with valuable content and information to build a relationship and gently nudge them toward a sale later on. Regardless of what stage a prospect is at initially, this dramatically increases your odds of ultimately converting them.