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Inbound Sales and Marketing Techniques From My Nana

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 9/5/13 8:53 AM

My nana would love the idea of inbound. Growing up, she warned me about boys that just wanted to 'hook up'. She would tell me that any boy worth his salt would wait, be patient and not try to rush me into anything. 

In fact, she didn't just warn me, she was the kind of nana that if she didn't like how handsy a boy was around me, she beat them off with her cane. Seriously. Of course I was young and mortified by her actions, but as I got older I understood the wisdom of her convictions. To put it simply, as one of my oldest friends tells her teenage daughters, "No sex during high school- period!" 

So what does hooking up, casual sex, and impatient boys (or girls) have to do with inbound? Let's use the baseball analogy. Ever heard the song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" by Meatloaf? If not, you likely know what it means to get to first base, second base, and what coming home means in relation to sex. (Don't worry, I will keep this PG-13)

Inbound marketing is about finding the right matches, not just any match.

If you move too fast with a prospect, you might miss the signs that tell you whether or not they are a good match or not. Just because they filled out a form on your website doesn't mean they are ready to buy, nor does it make them a right match for you. Every interaction is another clue as to what direction to take and how to take it. As my nana would say, you can tell someone's true intentions and whether they are right for you the more you get to know them. If you rush into hooking up with them, then you will never be able to tell the good ones from the bad ones- until it is too late. So how do you get from being strangers to acquaintances, to friends, to the right match? How do you get from being on deck, to at bat, to the bases and home?

This reminds me of my story with Debra. While I was standing in line for a Bold Talks session at Inbound13, Debra was standing next to me and I asked her a simple question. "Is this your first time at Inbound?" That question led to others and in 5 minutes we had struck up a conversation about inbound and content strategy. Now if hooking up was my intention with Debra, I would have probably tried to move to first base as soon as possible. After all, content strategy is in my ballpark! But instead, as we started to talk about who we were and why we were at the conference, we started to discover some things that we had in common. She was working with a bank, I had worked with financial institutions who were trying to adopt inbound. She had worked previously with start-ups and wanted to take that experience to her new job to help the bank grow. I work with a lot of start-ups now. 

As we started to learn more about each other, we found more and more things that we had in common, or could relate to. As we progressed from strangers to acquaintances, we exchanged information along the way. I asked questions about her, her company, her experience and her thoughts on what needed to be done. I wasn't planning on hooking up with her and going in for the sale from that first meeting because I didn't know if we were a right match for each other yet. She is new to her job, she might not be ready for a serious relationship yet. 

Inbound sales is about connecting with, not hooking up with, the right match.

Debra and I happen to be standing next to each other. Online, it might be that someone finds your website, or tweet, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook post shared by one of their friends. Simple and non-threatening questions to start conversations with will help you to learn more about the person who found you.

As we were talking, a passerby stopped and stepped in the middle. Or more accurately, rushed in with his business card and the words, "This is a totally shameless self-promotional plug. But I overheard you talking about content strategy and that is exactly what we do! Here is my card- let's hook up!" 

Now it was bad enough that the overlord tried to move in for the hook up like that. Even worse that he tried to hijack our connection. But to me, the worst part was if you consider that not even 10 minutes earlier, the entire conference had just heard Hubspot co-founders tell everyone that inbound isn't just changing the way we market, or even just how we sell, but how we do business in general. Or was that just my takeaway? (By the way, 'overlord of XYZ' was his actual business card title. Who knows, maybe there is a right match for overlord out there. Nana used to always say there is someone for everyone.)

Debra cringed. I could physically see her demeanor change and I held my breath to see what her response would be. As my nana would put it, Debra was a nice girl who was smart enough to not fall for a boy who moved too fast. Clearly an inbound intervention was needed for this eager young overlord. He wasn't even at bat and he was already trying to make it to second base!

Here is what Debra and I did. We exchanged cells and made a first date for coffee the next day to talk and learn more about each other. On our date, we took things slow still. Lots more questions got asked (by both of us). We made plans to stay in touch after the conference and connected on LinkedIn. Did I make a sale? No. Did I make a connection? Yes. 

Which do you think is more valuable? What inbound intervention advice would you give to the overlord? 

How will inbound change the way you do business?

Topics: inbound marketing, inbound, inbound sales