In the last few posts we have been discussing the trends that are leading meetings industry suppliers to shift the way they market their hotels, destinations and other services to meeting planners (see Understanding the NEW Sales Process and Inbound Marketing for Meetings Industry Suppliers).
This post will outline how successful salespeople leverage their company’s inbound marketing efforts. For this I need to look no further than Greenfield Services’ own Director of Client Solutions, Meagan Rockett.
Meagan started as one of our Client Care Specialists in 2005 and quickly rose through our ranks to become our Director of Client Solutions two years ago. Many of our clients and industry colleagues have said to me how they “see Meagan everywhere.” In a short time she has established herself as a trusted – and highly visible – supplier and partner. This makes me proud because Meagan’s only executive sales experience has been the last two years in her current position with us. She is a natural but I believe the key to her success also has been her ability to leverage our inbound marketing model.
These are the best practices she exhibits and what you should look to do with your team:
- Be a keen learner: Meagan is an avid consumer of research reports, white papers and blogs about associations. She has made it her mission to understand her clients’ pain points from our work with them at Greenfield but also from what she observes with other solution providers. This positions her as the helpful adviser, not as a stereotypical salesperson.
- Be a thought leader: With her appetite for information Meagan is able to connect the dots. And while she appears to be very proficient at documenting outcomes in her blogs and monthly enewsletters, the truth is that she works with a writer/editor to do that (and he is terrific – click here to learn about Mitchell Beer and SmarterShift). And this is the crux of inbound marketing (a.k.a. content marketing in some circles): you need to know your stuff but if writing is not your thing,get someone to help you.
- Be willing to share: Social media is the third pillar of inbound marketing. Meagan shares the resources that she creates with her social media followers, carefully to striking a balance between posting Greenfield content, sharing industry news or other consultants’ association management advice and engaging followers in relevant conversations.
- Expand your reach: This is where the inbound marketing model begins to take a life of its own. Meagan began blogging in 2011, and she steadily has grown her circle of influence with followers on Twitter, and several groups on LinkedIn. Not a huge followership, but a quality one. And recently her social media activity led to guest blogging invitations on Cvent, Socious, MeredithLow.com and XYZ University. Her influence is being leveraged by other inbound marketers eager to associate their brands with thought leaders like her!
- Don’t Sell – Create Conversations: With the steady stream of content Meagan is never at a loss for opportunities to open dialogue with clients, prospects and other interested parties. She participates in groups and answers questions on LinkedIn. When appropriate, she asks online contacts to chat by phone or meet in person. With our marketing automation platform, she knows when someone downloads a tips sheet or our Pulse Report, and she’ll reach out by email or phone to see what they thought of the material. The point is that she never has to feel like she inconveniencing someone with a sales pitch.
- Give Value, Not Swag: As the owner of the company, one of my favourite secrets to inbound marketing success is that we choose to give valuable resources at tradeshows and other industry events, not trinkets. Promotional products have a place in the marketing mix, but they can also attract the wrong kind of prospect if used just to draw traffic at a show. For the last two years at the CSAE National and Ottawa Tête-à-Tête Shows, Meagan has sent emails inviting association executives to pick up a copy of a research report, a tips sheet, or other resource that would help them in their work. We didn’t have throngs of people lining up to grab the latest electronic gadget or squishy toy – we had serious, interested buyers.
Could this work for your organization? We invite you to leave us a comment or ask us a question!