Drunk on Inbound, and the Hangover Is Severe

Customer Marketing


“Inbound marketing, that’s the ticket,” said so many experts. “It’ll cure whatever ails you. Need leads? We got leads. Need lower acquisition costs? No problem. Two words: inbound marketing.”

Here are two different words: no way!

Yes, I love the potential of inbound marketing, content marketing, social selling, and whatever else you want to call using genuinely helpful content to gain the attention of your future customers.

But—like almost every other initiative conceived of by businesses of scale—this one often becomes hopelessly derailed by silos. When that happens, a great idea ends up working like this:

  1. Sales stops prospecting
  2. Marketing starts generating leads
  3. Sales says the leads suck
  4. Marketing says sales doesn’t follow up on the leads
  5. Sales says the leads are the wrong accounts and the wrong people at the accounts (two guys and a dog are bad-fit leads)

Inbound is not dead.

Outbound is not dead.

Marketing is not lame.

Sales is not lame.

Folks, we just need to work together. Nothing, no acronym or fad, will work in a silo.

Instead of just randomly serving the world, you need to be very strategic about serving a certain set of accounts. “You” means sales and marketing and even customer success. Yes, and also your executive team. Click To Tweet

Take a targeted approach to generating demand. By focusing on your ideal customer profile (ICP) and identifying the right people within those accounts, you can develop messaging for each buyer persona and create specific content that facilitates the buyer’s journey. The account-based approach of being very specific and prescriptive is going to yield higher value deals, and ultimately bring in significant ROI. Set up a coordinated, well-orchestrated program structured around your ICP, buyer personas, and buyer journeys. Implement it with marketing and sales working in partnership.

For example, sales can’t just absolve itself from the prospecting role. CEB research shows the highest performing salespeople get in early and shape demand; they teach where their buyers are learning early in the buyer’s journey. Individual sales professionals—perhaps using content provided by marketing—can often do a better job of identifying and sparking a relationship with decision-makers and influencers.

Likewise, marketing can’t develop relevant and genuinely useful content without actively interacting with sales and understanding the needs of their future (and current) customers. Marketing can help develop provocative insights that get the buyer’s attention.

But please remember: focus on the buyer’s journey. Don’t just develop programs built around your products. Your future customers do not revolve around your products. In fact, unless you can focus more collectively on their needs, they may never become your customers. Click To Tweet

First one to destroy your silos wins.

One response to “Drunk on Inbound, and the Hangover Is Severe”

  1. Raj says:

    Nice title to the blog, Jill.

    Undoubtedly, we should focus on ICP. It just makes sense.

    On Inbound, I recently got lucky with an insight. Classic Inbound (i.e. Search) isn’t the preferred channel for Enterprise Buyers, as compared to SMBs. Thus, a large chunk of the market is still expecting to be ‘prospected’.

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