Inbound Sales Framework to Turn Prospects into Customers
December 14th 2021
Sales Best Practices
Upserving over upselling! The sales landscape has changed drastically and continues to evolve. Customers and prospects are looking for sales reps and companies that don’t just sell. They are looking for partners who can understand their pain points, give them the required support, and guide them through the process and give them the support that they need. Inbound sales can play an essential role here.

According to a report by The Aberdeen Group, 62% of sales reps who don’t use inbound social selling end up missing their targets. This alone points towards the manifold benefits that today’s inbound sales has to offer.

But how does Inbound sales function? What is the entire framework when it comes to turning prospects into customers using Inbound sales?

Table of Content

  • How Can You Transition into Inbound Sales?
  • Common Goals of Inbound Sales
  • Inbound Sales Framework: Steps to the End Goal
  • Final Advice: Do what works best for you

How Can You Transition Into Inbound Sales?

Inbound sales aims at providing a helpful and holistic experience to anyone who interacts with your company. In order to transform into Inbound sales, you have to understand how your target customer is buying your product. It involves helping, guiding, and educating the customers through the stages of their buyer’s journey process.

The stages of the buyer journey process can be defined as follows:

  • Awareness Stage

  • It is the stage where you define the goals and challenges of the customers. Along with this, it involves making them aware of the solutions available to them. It can also include the use cases of your product or services that directly address the pain points of your ideal prospects.

  • Consideration Stage

  • As the name implies, this stage of the buyer journey involves you helping them evaluate alternatives to solve their challenges. It helps prospects explore the value of your product or service over others. You can provide a free trial period or a demo for prospects to experience before they buy.

  • Decision Stage

  • Finally, this is the last stage where the best alternative is chosen from the ones identified. If the awareness and consideration stage has worked in your favor the decision stage becomes easier for you.

Inbound Sales requires you to understand each of these stages and help customers through them. However, before you make the transformation to Inbound Sales, it is also important to understand the common goals of Inbound Sales.

Common Goals of Inbound Sales

To adopt inbound sales and design your own inbound sales framework, you need to understand the aim of inbound sales.

Your customers are on the internet! They are actively researching your company so, what is your company doing to search for your prospects? Are you doing enough and going about it the right way? Inbound Sales helps you in reaching your prospects and turning them into happy customers. You need to remember the following two points as a mantra.

  • Early bird catches the worm!

  • Inbound Sales helps you in reaching your prospects early, ideally before the decision stage. It does so by helping you identify the ideal prospects, connect, and keep them engaged with relevant information that can help in their decision-making. It increases the chances of converting them with a structured and thoughtful approach.

  • Build a strong support system

  • Inbound sales not just helps in reaching prospects early, but it also provides prospects with the support they need throughout the sales journey. Inbound sales helps sales reps in delivering a personalized experience based on the buyer’s context through research and customized resources . It ensures the use cases, features, and other relevant aspects are accessible to prospects.

It has become extremely important for companies to adopt their own unique inbound sales to become more successful. In the next section, we cover the steps involved in the inbound sales framework to turn prospects into happy customers.

Inbound Sales Framework: Steps to the End Goal

An inbound selling framework follows a series of steps to help sales reps in converting prospects. It involves the use of multiple channels and tools that make selling more effective through personalization. Following are the various steps involved in reaching the end goal of acquiring revenue generating customers.

Inbound Sales Framework

1. Identify Phase

Identifying prospects that could become potential customers is the first step in the inbound sales process. It involves gathering information about the prospect through research on them. It is done before connecting with them to have meaningful conversations and verify their relevance. The identifying phase revolves around making active use of social selling techniques to identify active prospects. Some common ways of identifying active prospects are as follows:

  • Use the power of LinkedIn: Find your prospects on LinkedIn through groups and communities to attract and engage them with helpful resources.
  • The power of content: Find blogs and other relevant resources for your target prospects to share them. You could also comment on content shared by them to engage and start a conversation.
  • Identify the influencers: Find thought leaders that can influence your prospects. These market leaders or influencers can advocate your product or service.
  • Sort prospects by checking your own mentions on social media and that of your competitors and hashtags that align with what you are selling. Looking at mentions help us find ou
  • Try to determine the pain points of your prospects. Some common ways are looking at previous use cases or the pain points that competitors are addressing.

One thing to remember is that not all prospects that you identify would be good fits i.e. looking to actively buy what you are offering. It is thus important to prioritize the “good fit” prospects over the others. Prioritizing good fit prospects involves defining your ideal customer profile or a buyer persona.

In order to identify the prospects that can be moved to the connect phase, it is important to create a buyer persona. A buyer persona involves detailing the needs, pain points, timelines of the prospects your company is addressing. It includes demographics, buying and decision-making behavior or patterns, and their motivations.

The identification phase requires you to compare the collected prospect information to your buyer persona. If the prospect data and the ideal customer profile align,you can move to the next stage - building connections.

2. Connect Phase

It is the stage where your sales reps won't be actively selling but try to understand the goals and needs of the prospects. The sales reps offer consultation to the prospects and show genuine interest in helping them achieve their goals or overcome their challenges. One important thing to remember at this phase is that prospects are already overloaded with information. The primary agenda of this phase is to help them in connecting the available information and not overload. Some common tips to connect with the prospects are as follows:

  • Start with a personalized conversation because the general information is already available online. Define the interests, pain points, and challenges of the prospects and the areas where your company could help.
  • Connect with the prospect as soon as possible. You can then schedule a call when they are available. In case, you reach their voicemail, leave a small message highlighting your name, company, and why you are contacting them.
  • Personalize email line subjects and end all the emails with a distinct Call-to-Action.
  • Create templates out of existing content and keep the messages short to generate interest.
  • Make sure you reach out in a helpful way and don’t hard sell. Build relationships by helping them genuinely.
  • Lastly, remember that not all connected prospects will be moved to the explore phase.

3. Explore Phase

The prospects moved to the explore phase are guided towards an ideal solution by the industry experts - your sales reps. Along the way, the sales reps can try to explore opportunities and determine if your product or service can help them overcome challenges. The explore stage involves a series of steps which can be outlined as follows:

Step 1: Build a Rapport

It involves establishing trust and building a rapport with the prospect by asking open-ended questions. Through the open-ended questions, the sales reps try to make the prospect feel heard and extract important information about their pain points, past experiences, etc.

Step 2: Connect Again

It involves connecting with the prospect again to delve deeper into their problem. It usually begins with a recap of what was discussed in the previous call and talking more about it.

Step 3: Explore Propsect’s Goal

After gaining an understanding of the prospect’s business, their goals and challenges on the way,the exploratory phase concludes with defining their goals with your product or service. The goals are defined in terms of Budget, Authority, Timelines, Challenges, Plans, and other such parameters to determine if the prospect and your organization fit.

4. Advice Phase

It is the final phase of most inbound sales framework. It is when the sales reps try to help prospects in buying and make the final sales presentation. The final inbound sales presentation follows a specific flow. A common presentation flow can be detailed as follows:

  1. Step 1: Recapitulate what you heard them say during the connect and explore phases
  2. Step 2: Tell them what other competitors in the same field are doing
  3. Step 3: Highlight the pros and cons of their approach and that of the competitors
  4. Step 4: Advice them on the approach that you think is most suited for them
  5. Step 5: Highlight the pros of the approach you suggested and why you think it's the best for them
  6. Step 6: Finally, tell them how your company supports the approach identified. Demonstrate how your company will help them in achieving the goals identified in terms of parameters in the explore phase.

By the end of the advice phase, both the sales rep and the prospect should have agreed upon a common solution, be it in the favor of the sales rep or not.

Final Advice: Do what works best for you!

Inbound sales has a new world of opportunities waiting for you to discover. Each organization is different and so is what works best for them. Make sure that you figure out what is the best for you in each step of your inbound sales framework. Personalize each step within the broad framework as per the needs of your organization and the target prospects.

Shreya Palsani
Contributing Writer
Shreya Palsani
Contributing Writer
Sales Best Practices
Ultimate Guide on How to Respond to Common Sales Objections
Sales objections are unavoidable. Objections are one of the major roadblocks thrown your way to stop you from selling ...
Upscale Team