Everyone is talking about driving inbound leads and their inherent superiority based on the obvious expectation that someone who contacts you is naturally more interested than someone who you reach out to and manage to “grab” on a cold call. One thing that closely parallels this (hardly new) trend is that over the years buyers have frequently claimed that to have initiated contact with a company in response to their own research. In other words, they had the need and they did the hunt and they found their vendor.
That’s always amused me. Do you have any idea how many times, over the years, I have left people messages both verbal and in writing- sent countless reports and invitations, only to learn that they were the ones to reach out? If you are yourself in marketing or sales, you know the answer to that question- “Too many times to count!”
It’s okay of course, whatever makes my phone ring is perfectly fine and if you choose to believe it was your idea, that’s great too. I’m happy that you found me and became one of those wonderful things called an inbound lead.
So what’s the secret to driving inbound leads? Simple, do more outbound marketing. For all the things in marketing that have changed, nothing has really changed at all. We just have more channels to do it on.
So many people and companies are talking now about inbound leads from your website and I grant you that websites are great for leads, but where do you think people got the information to find that site in the first place? As often as not they have followed an email link, or a direct mail link, or a site highlighted on a blog post, or maybe just the post. You might have left the url in a voicemail or signed your emails with it.
They might have found you on an organic search, a PPC or clicked a Tweet. They might have found your site from someone other than you, but you can rest assured that at the root of that search was an outbound sale or marketing action that was initiated by someone in your company. All that outbound work to create the magical inbound lead.
I believe that websites are a wonderful place from which inbound leads can originate because they are still often perceived as safely removed from a sales follow up (although a lot of sites and companies are working hard to strip away that perception of anonymity). When that changes and people better understand that poking around on someone’s site is going to earn you a sales call, they’ll probably do less of it.
I understand that valuable contributions to group discussions can play a role in driving some excellent inbound leads – but for small companies who need a fairly dynamic funnel to stay alive, not nearly enough of them.
And so, send out your mail and your emails. Update your newsletters. Make pithy contributions on your blogs and leave your name, phone number and URL on your cold call voicemail messages. Take every outbound action that crosses your path and the spontaneous (?) inbound leads are sure to follow.