Fast responses lead to more conversions. If you respond to inbound leads quickly (less than 30 minutes), you’re 21X more likely to qualify that lead than if you waited even half an hour. And if you do so within 5 minutes, you’re 100X more likely to reach them.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. When a lead comes to your website and fills out a form, they’re actively engaged with your business and brand. But we all have short attention spans. One minute, a prospect is interested. The next, they’ve moved on.
And add on top of that: your competitors intuitively know this. Which means they’re positioning their sales teams to reply to inbound leads as quickly as possible. And 78% of customers are more likely to buy from the company that replies first.
The risks of ignoring scalability when building inbound motions
So how does this apply to inbound motions? Well, a system that’s slow, clunky, and bottleneck-ridden drives slower response times:
- Lack of real-time alerts means you don’t hear about leads until you log on
- Manual lead routing can lead to slowdowns and, worse, a poor outcome
- Manual qualification means extra steps or spending time with leads that can’t or won’t buy
- Lack of dashboards prevent you from measuring—and then improving—response times
Your startup may be able to handle your current volume of inbound leads. But as you grow, increased volume will put strain on manual processes and create downward pressure on lead conversion, exposing your startup to the following risks.
Slower time to market
A constellation of applications held together by ad hoc integrations just can't handle hundreds or thousands of leads without significant slowdown:
- Broken integrations causing loss of data and missed opportunities
- Bottlenecks & stoppages as various systems and integrations struggle to handle the load
- Inability to quickly correct errors with manual intervention—resulting in costly personnel time just to keep the system running
- Poor feedback loops that slow vital in-market learnings
As mentioned earlier, even minor delays—just five minutes—can significantly decrease your ability to close a deal. In other words, the slower your system, the more money you’re losing.
Poor product-market fit
While most of the leads you convert will have some interest or activity in your target market, not everyone is an ICP. So what do you do with unqualified contacts?
Gather their insights on the market to better establish and refine product-market fit. Without scalable inbound motions, your feedback cadence will slow dramatically and, by extension, so will your response.
Misallocation of resources
Startup operators have a DIY mentality by nature, which often blinds them to the fact that their time is precious. As such, when they spend time sorting through lead lists and manually qualifying inbound opportunities, the startup hemorrhages dollars on menial tasks.
Customer expectations and experience
Globally, companies lose up to 6.7% of their revenue due to poor customer experiences. For startups and new brands who have yet to earn a good reputation, this number is undoubtedly higher.
A poorly constructed inbound motion can lead to broken flows and a poor UX. Not only will this cause immediate loss of business, but it can also reduce future referrals.
Data privacy and compliance
Especially if you’re building to exit, it’s important to build a solid legal foundation early in your startup’s growth cycle. If you don’t have a system that stores and protects customer data, you run the risk of a security breach, fines, or legal action.
The strategy of building scalable inbound motions
Inbound is more than just a form on your website. It’s more than the funnels you build or the number of leads you generate. At its core, inbound is about attracting buyers who not only need your product, but are enthusiastic about purchasing it.
Building an inbound motion that scales, then, is a process that starts not when you launch your website or embed your forms, but when you establish your foundational go-to-market strategy. Ignoring this reality inevitably leads to higher costs, poor user experience, and lost opportunities.
Inbound motions aren’t there just to attract and convert any contact who happens by. Specifically, the goal is to find people who meet three criteria:
- Have a problem that your product solves
- Are aware enough of that problem that they’re actively seeking solutions
- Have the budget and internal authority to buy your product
Of course inbound tactics matter—any inbound expert cares about where they place a form or how they route the lead post-conversion. But these tactical considerations always come after developing your foundational go-to-market strategy.
Here’s a familiar example. Everyone knows about the two go-to-market strategies: sales-led and product-led. The option you choose depends on your ideal customer profile (ICP). An oversimplified breakdown could be an ICP consisting of entry-level employees could be a target for a product-led approach, while a C-suite decision maker would respond to a sales-led approach.
Let’s consider an inbound tactic as simple as putting a form on your website. Which fields will that form collect? What will be the next step post-conversion? How will you automate follow-up with the lead? These decisions vary depending on your GTM approach.
And that’s just one example of how your GTM strategy impacts your inbound motions. There’s a myriad of decisions you need to make from a strategic standpoint, including:
- Who is your ICP and how do they think about purchasing your product (i.e. product-led or sales-led)?
- What volume of leads do you expect on a monthly basis (i.e. do you have a lot of SMB leads or a handful of high-volume enterprise customers)?
- How many touches are in the lead’s customer journey (i.e. how many opportunities will you have to capture additional data)?
- Do you engage internal stakeholders then leverage their buy-in to influence decision makers, or vice versa?
Now consider the issue at hand: scalability. If you have aggressive revenue goals within the next 12-18 months, using an online form that pushes information to Calendly, Google Docs, and your CRM through Zapier integrations is a brittle solution that, in practice, results in excessive manual intervention.
How to build an inbound motion that scales with your startup
Inbound motions aren’t just about capturing and converting leads, but prioritizing them based on likelihood to close and not churn. To do this, you have to capture adequate data, which then informs how you route the lead:
- Does this lead align with our ICP? If not, are they positioned to provide insights on the market?
- Can the lead be qualified immediately, or does it require an SDR to get involved?
- Is this lead part of a target account? Are they a decision maker or key stakeholder?
- Based on the lead’s online activity, how informed or enthusiastic does it seem they are about our product?
The further customers progress through your inbound funnel, the more questions you’ll be able to answer. Let’s look at what this looks like at each stage.
Every inbound journey starts with a visit to a website (actually, the inbound journey starts before that—when the customer first realizes they have a need—but for our purposes we’ll start with the website visit).
Keep in mind that not everyone who visits your site is a potential customer. To plot an effective inbound motion, you have to be able to answer the following questions:
- How many visitors are coming to our site?
- What types of leads are visiting our site? Are they existing accounts, target accounts, or new opportunities?
- Which page/section/CTA is most effective at converting visitors to leads?
- What funnels do we have in place to convert visitors into leads?
- How can we leverage strategic sales touchpoints to convert contacts at target accounts into visitors—then convert those visitors into active leads?
Once a visitor fills out a form on your website, you’ll know they have an interest in your product. But there’s still a lot you don’t know:
- What’s the nature of their interest? Are they an active buyer? Are they collecting information for another buyer/decision maker within their organization?
- Are they aware of the problem you solve and that they have that problem? Do they know how you can help them?
- Are they prepared to make a financial investment in your product?
- What’s the ratio of quality to quantity? Are you getting a lot of leads, but they just aren’t qualified?
- Are you getting enough inbound leads to meet your revenue goals, based on current conversion rates?
Your inbound motion should be able to answer these questions once a lead converts, or shortly after that.
Unfortunately, too many companies rely exclusively on SDRs to do the qualifying and lead routing. While SDRs are an important part of the organization, they’re expensive to scale. Plus, they don’t run in the background or outside working hours.
Rather than rely entirely on a human workforce, bring the best of both worlds together. Use forms, data enrichment, and automations to expedite the process. Then, dynamically route leads to the best contact for rapid, contextual customer engagement.
Once a lead has converted, the next step is to get them to agree to a demo. This is where good qualification on the front end comes into play. If you’ve already determined that the lead is a good fit and ready to buy, convincing them to do a demo should be easy.
Usually, if you’re struggling to convert leads to demos, it’s a sure sign your lead qualification system is broken. These kinds of issues can fall into two categories:
- Operational challenges. Often leads will fail to convert to demo because the operation side is broken. One example is speed of response. As we mentioned earlier, responding more than 30 minutes after the form submission seriously hurts your chances of closing.
- Alignment challenges. The other reason leads fail to convert is a misalignment between your messaging, qualification criteria, and your internal understanding of your buyer’s problem, pain, or struggle.
As such, you should always have your fingers on the pulse of the following metrics:
- How many inbound demos are you scheduling per week/month?
- What’s the conversion rate of leads to demos?
- Where is the breakdown happening? Is it easily explained by operational systems? Or is there a deeper issue, and we’re struggling to understand our buyers?
Once a demo is complete, the prospect either sees the value of your product, or they don’t. If they do, then you’ve got an open opportunity. If not, then you need to figure out whether the issue is with the buyer, or whether you fundamentally misunderstand the value you offer the market.
The opportunity stage is where all of the objections your buyer faces come to light. Additionally, for B2B companies, this is where additional internal buyers, stakeholders, and decision makers get involved.
The more complex the buying situation, the more opportunity arises for slowdowns and bottlenecks. This is where automation and technology can improve your performance:
- Automated emails to follow up with ghosting contacts
- Meeting reminders to reduce drop-off times
- Integration between meeting platform and CRM to record participants and transcripts of conversations
- Clear next-step workflows that engage automatically
Like converting leads to demos, the problem in closing opportunities can either be an operational or alignment challenge. If the problem is operational, then the solution is simple to fix and streamline that problem. This keeps both teams oriented toward the same goal: revenue.
Finally, here’s where the rubber meets the road: do the inbound leads you generate convert to customers?
If you have streamlined, automated inbound motions in place, your conversion rate should be high. If not, then you’re going to see it on the low side.
As your startup begins to scale, ask yourself: are we setting our revenue teams up for success? Are they able to handle the inbound motions that are going to come in as our website traffic increases?
If there’s any question in your mind, it’s time to reexamine your inbound motions and make sure they’re set up to scale with your startup.
Qualify, schedule, and route inbound leads from a single, unified platform with Default. Save time and drive more revenue—see the platform in action today.