Having grown up with a father working in sales, I learned at a very young age to develop new business by going out on the street and knocking on doors. The deal was to leave business cards (hoping to make friends with the receptionist, so the business card would make it to the right stakeholder). Another relentless technique was to devote whole days making about a hundred calls, hoping to find the right prospect, and above all, the right people to deal with. All these efforts aimed at helping the potential customer to move forward in the notorious sales funnel.
Inbound Marketing: The talk of the town
When I started in the industry about 10 years ago, I can’t say that my father’s good old techniques were totally outdated. After all, the technology was not as sophisticated in 2008 as it is today. That said, an impossible to ignore trend has emerged in recent years and has had a major influence on modern sales: inbound marketing!
It was in 2017 that I was confronted with this prospecting method for the first time. Formerly in the field of sales, but in a more traditional marketing company, I had recently moved to a SAAS company. Quickly, “MQLs,” “SQLs,” “lead scoring,” “e-book,” “drips,” “blog posts” and contact forms became an essential part of my daily life. So to speak, overnight, the definition of my role had been completely changed, or at least the way I communicated with prospects.
So long, you Paradigm!
Let me tell you, this was a fairly major paradigm shift for me. Having always seen marketing almost exclusively as a branding machine, this department was now putting leads in my sales funnel. Qualified on top of that! What more could you ask for? At the same time, I was experiencing discomfort: would marketing know as much about my customers as I did being a “customer-facing” professional. I was wondering if the marketing department, which had long been considered as a cost centre, had become a revenue centre, just like the sales department… As a result, throughout my employment with this technology company, I was nourished by the most qualified prospects provided to me by our marketing department, while realizing that times had indeed changed, and digital marketing played an undeniable role in the sales process more than ever.
Same concepts, different platforms
Now I am back in a marketing company, this time digital, in a business development role. Although we operate inbound marketing campaigns to drive opportunities, and we offer inbound marketing support to our customers, the fact remains that consumers’ buying cycle is not the same depending on whether they are shopping for a product or a service. It must be said that the traditional business development of my dear father’s time is not to be relegated to oblivion, in the end. The telephone is sometimes replaced by e-mails and the Rolodex by Linkedin, but in the end, the principle stays the same. However, with the help of online marketing, the salesperson’s effectiveness is greatly improved, as he can focus on qualified prospects while reserving time to find additional opportunities.