We are told it’s all about generating content. Quality, remarkable content that will be picked up by the search engines and drive high quality prospects to your site. These prospects will fill in forms or call you leading to great deals being closed. Simple stuff, get the best most insightful content published and you will drive sales though the roof. Elevate the marketing manager to god like status. Demote the sales manager to pen pusher and reviewer of quotes and you have the perfect model to scale you business.

One smal problem – it doesn’t work.

As soon as you treat an inbound lead with more optimism than an outbound call to a stranger you are in danger of falling into the “Order Taker” trap. The trap that your sales team are just there to shuffle the inbound leads along a path to a quote and a PO.

Inbound prospects are often just as unaware of the real issues they are suffering and the real questions they should be asking as the stranger who is suffering in silence. Don’t make that mistake. Inbound prospects think they know what they want. Just like when you go to the doctor and tell her what is wrong with you. We all think we are great at self diagnosis. We all think we know what’s best for us.

So when the inbound prospect calls in, the key is not to allow your sales team to become order takers and quote machines. No the key is to teach them investigative journalism skills. Teach them the right questions to ask. Teach them to listen to the answers. This leads to an ever powerful circle of Insight – Relevance – Credibility -Trust – Access and more Insight and more Relevance etc.

These days sales training should be about teaching how to find the right problem to solve. Problem finders is the key evolving from the old problem solver.

Inbound sales prospects need diagnosed. There is nothing more dangerous than a positive prospect.

As a starter the following questions tweaked for your environment will frame a better conversation with most inbound leads:

  1. Can you help me understand the issue that caused you to call?
  2. What are the consequences for you personally if you do nothing?
  3. Where will you find the money for this investment?
  4. Can you explain your decision making process for investing in solutions?
  5. What would your situation look like after a solution is implemented?
  6. Can you tell me more about the essential success factors the solution would need to nail?
  7. Can you clarify why this is a priority?
  8. Could you give a little more insight into your immediate team members and explain how our product might be used?
Sales has changed dramatically with the explosion of content driven marketing  – it’s become more challenging and more skillful not less.

The Portfolio Partnership offers Sales Process implementation services to transform your sales team’s performance. More info here.