Isn’t it funny how we all have phones in our pockets that we rarely use to actually speak to one another? They’re foremost handheld computers and short-form messaging devices—the average person rarely uses their phone for phone calls in comparison.
Perhaps that’s why phone calls are something of a forgotten element in B2B content marketing. Agencies tend to talk most about how blogs, whitepapers, emails and social media posts work together to drive qualified lead-gathering and conversions. But phone calls—the old stalwart of sales through the years—remain an integral part of the process and a way to bolster the efficacy of those other elements.
A simple phone conversation can do a lot to vet the quality of a lead and improve the chances of converting them to a purchase. Let’s get into some of the details of how phone calls fit into the wider philosophy of B2B inbound.
1. Have a plan for inbound and outbound calls
There are, of course, two pathways to a call: Either your prospects call you or leads provide their contact info for your company to call them. Each deserves a detailed game plan for how to make those calls count for something.
Inbound calls are one of the common weak spots in B2B companies’ marketing strategies. It’s a real missed opportunity to not use your landing pages, content or your company website itself as a platform for enticing prospects to call.
First, it’s important to buyers that they have a way to speak directly to a seller when they have detailed questions or concerns. Second, conversion rates from phone calls are remarkably better (generally north of 30 percent when the call is made within minutes/hours of the lead coming through) compared to other inbound channels, which makes sense, since an inbound call is about as clear a signal of interest from a buyer as you can get.
Create strategies to leverage this. Plan how and when you use your phone number as a call-to-action and make it prominent and clear when you do. And most of all, ensure that capable team members are standing by ready to field these calls or return any that you miss.
Outbound calls, on the other hand, are often equivocated with cold calling. Far more common (and effective) in the world of inbound marketing are follow-up calls. For these, the plan is much simpler—gather information about the lead and where they are in the buyer’s journey and prepare for important talking points and likely questions. Much of an outbound call strategy hinges on this next point:
2.Ensure marketing and sales are on the same page
Before conducting an outbound call, it’s vital to know each lead’s story so far. Unless you’re calling someone completely out of the blue (let’s hope not), gathers some essential information to make each phone conversation as smooth as possible.
Each sales-qualified lead will have a history with your company’s marketing material. Some will have a robust backstory of social engagement, emails and other interactions with your inbound content. Others may not have a lot to go on outside of their company profile and some stated needs. Either way, the way to make outbound calls count is to get sales and marketing in the same room—or at least communicating on the same CRM—to discuss these details.
Marketing should fill sales in on what previous interactions and research have revealed about a lead’s concerns, needs, questions, pain points and proclivities. Plan out together how calls should go and what specifics you should emphasized with whom. Do as much collaborative prep work as possible so it will be a seamless transition for leads to go from digital correspondence with marketing to a phone call with sales.
3. Use direct contact buttons
As much as B2B inbound marketing is about forging real connections with buyers, some of its early favored tools made the buyer’s journey less personal. Online forms, many have realized, make for a sterile and distant experience for some buyers. It can seem to keep them at arm’s length when they are looking for a way to get information about sellers directly from the source.
The prevailing wisdom now is to eschew forms in favor of direct contact buttons. Emails and calls move the process along more efficiently while also providing more accurate and trackable buyer data. While email is, rightfully, the platform of choice for communicating with leads, phone calls can go a step further in forging a buyer-seller relationship built on trust. It also gives your company more cues about the quality and motivation of a lead. An attentive marketer or salesperson can hear trepidation or urgency, glean the context of a buyer’s questions and match the solutions they offer to the specific decision-maker on the other end of the line.
4. Consider call-tracking tools
In order to understand how your inbound calls are performing, it’s essential to track their performance. CallRail is a perfect solution for that. It’s a phone call tracking and analytics platform that helps businesses understand which marketing campaigns are delivering valuable phone call conversions.
With CallRail, you can measure phone call conversions from your search, digital and offline marketing campaigns – including PPC keywords. One of the features that Callrail offers is call recording. It allows your sales team to easily qualify leads, improve customer service and coach the staff. The software also makes it easier to review and annotate phone calls.
The lost art of conversation over the phone is a hidden opportunity for many B2B companies. It’s a difference-maker in the world of inbound marketing, a channel to use with leads to keep them moving on the buyer’s journey when your content has accomplished its purpose. Do your homework and go into each call with a clear understanding of where a lead has been and where you’d like them to go. By making the extra effort of direct, personal contact you’ll find that many qualified leads will appreciate it and, thus, become more motivated to buy from your company in particular. This is also a perfect opportunity to bridge a collaborative gap between marketing and sales in your organization.