The consistent evolution in inbound sales processes has transformed buyers' purchase decisions.
Here's your hands-on guide to Inbound sales covering the following topics:
Table of contents:
- What is Inbound Sales?
- Inbound Vs. Outbound sales
- Is Inbound Sales the Same as Inside Sales?
- Evolution of Inbound Sales
- Why does inbound sales work?
- Inbound Sales Workflows
- 4-steps To creating An Inbound Sales Strategy
- Upscale & Inbound Sales
- Key Takeaways
Are you ready to sell better? Let's get started.
What is Inbound Sales?
The modern framework of inbound sales creates a personalized customer experience. It focuses on the pain points of prospects. Salespersons become trusted consultants and adapt their sales process based on the customer journey. The primary focus is to attract prospects by providing incomparable value. Instead of hard-selling products or solutions, inbound sales representatives focus on customer needs and address their pain points. It has transformed traditional sales making it more customer-focused.
The Inbound sales path for a customer has three primary stages:
- Identifying the problem
- Consideration of different solutions
- Deciding on a specific solution
Inbound sales strategy is focused on nurturing prospects to finally make their purchase decision instead of pushing a sale on them. The ideology is that 'everybody likes to buy, but they don't like being sold to.' Inbound selling makes it easier for prospects to understand if your product or solution is a good fit for them. Inbound sales representatives are focused on selling to those most suitable to buy their products or solutions instead of facing rejections from those who are not interested. How is this different from outbound sales? Let's find out.
Inbound Vs. Outbound Sales
Inbound sales strategy focuses on prospects who are interested in your business, products, or solutions. The technique prioritizes building customer relationships than selling the products or solutions.
On the other hand, outbound sales is a proactive approach to reaching out to potential buyers who may or may not be interested in your product or solutions. Outbound sales representatives use a sales funnel to reach as many prospects as possible and filter them out based on their engagement. While inbound and outbound sales differences are evident, what about inside sales?
Is Inbound Sales the Same as Inside Sales?
Inbound sales is the method or approach to selling a product or solution, while inside sales provide the technology and tools to get it done. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote selling has become more prominent than ever. Inside sales is when your products or solutions are sold remotely and not in person. In comparison, inbound sales is the method to approach prospects for inside sales. While they are both different concepts, inbound sales and inside sales are interdependent.
Evolution of Inbound Sales
Before inbound sales, the primary focus of customer outreach was on outbound sales. Marketers and sales representatives began collecting information about customer interests and behaviors. Customers felt more involved in the purchase journey, and businesses had targeted campaigns for their prospects. The result of these advancements in sales strategies led to the rise of inbound sales strategies.
Inbound Today and Beyond
Sales have become more personalized to align with customers and their purchase journey. Inbound sales focus on relevant content which is shared with prospects at each stage of the purchase journey. Prospects now find companies through search engines, social media, and the information on the Internet.
Inbound sales have endless opportunities, especially with the rise of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Companies are learning more and faster about prospects to deliver better-personalized experiences. By knowing and understanding your customer needs and pain points, your product or solutions can sell itself.
Why does Inbound Sales Work?
Inbound sales have modernized selling by adding a personalized, consultative, and customer-driven approach. Inbound sales have been impactful for B2B companies for the following three reasons:
- Change in Purchase Behavior - The pandemic has drastically changed the purchase behavior leading to a significant change in the sellers' approach. Selling has moved beyond cold calling. Customers are more informed than ever and powered by their research to stay away from hard-selling strategies. Inbound sales work better now because customers continue to evolve. Their transition of behavior requires a tailor-made approach instead of one process for all methods.
- Aligns Inbound Marketing and Sales - Inbound marketing and sales are aligned instead of working as separate departments. Both the sales and marketing teams are working together for a common goal - revenue generation or growth. The dynamic inbound sales and marketing approach has led to nurturing and focusing only on the most relevant leads. The combined effort is to focus on generating more sales opportunities through a personalized experience.
- Promotes Brand Ambassadors - A value-adding product or solution, along with a personalized experience, can convert customers into brand ambassadors. B2B companies need to promote brand ambassadors to build value-driven, long-lasting relationships. Engaging existing customers can help in getting into their network, clients, and partners through recommendations. If inbound marketing is a lead generation source for you, you need a strategic approach to inbound sales to grow your business through brand ambassadors.
Inbound Sales Workflows
Traditionally, sales representatives had an upper hand while selling because they had all the information of their prospects. With the advancement of the Internet, prospects can learn and choose a company by themselves. Customers no more need a sales representative to make a purchase. However, creating an inbound sales workflow unique to your customer journey is important. The many factors that affect inbound sales workflows are as follows:
- Mode of Communication - Reports claim that 3 out of 10 customers prefer messages over phone calls. The change in preference for communication has a large impact on how inbound sales leads to conversion. Clear, concise, and customized messaging opens the door to a better approach to inbound sales workflows.
- Personalized Experience - The abundance of information along with technology advancements has prioritized personalization. Even though inbound sales workflows are essential, they may or may not work in the same way. Personalizing the experience for prospects can help in building long term relationships.
- Digital Presence - In this digital age, customers are more equipped to reach out to companies. Businesses with a strong digital presence may appear more approachable. Prospects learn about a product or solution and reach out to sales representatives as per their requirements. Inbound sales workflows can form the core but the path to conversion may differ based on customers.
Inbound Triggers and Their Use Cases for Inbound Sales
Trigger events help you prioritize new prospects through a constant flow. Once you have defined your ideal customer profile and segmented prospects using tags, triggers can help continue the sales workflow. Further, triggers help in giving a sneak-peek into your company and help prospects to take informed decision-making. Through triggers, you can even understand and apply data-driven sales strategies. Here's how they help:
- Identify and prioritize prospects - Triggers help you segment and filter the accounts and prospects for better prioritization.
- Strategic outreach - Anticipating the requirements of your prospects and reaching out right in time can increase your chances of deal closure.
- Smarter conversations - Triggers can help you customize your communication based on the stage of the purchase journey. They can also help you identify their preferred mode of communication for personalizing conversations.
4-steps To creating An Inbound Sales Strategy
A result-driven inbound sales strategy requires a step-by-step approach for sales outreach. We can divide an inbound sales strategy into four essential parts. Here's how it goes:
- Step 1: Identify active buyers
- Step 2: Connect to prospects
- Step 3: Explore different opportunities
- Step 4: Advise best solutions
Let's move to each step for more details.
Identifying active buyers or prospects is the first step to inbound sales. Recognizing people searching for a solution to their problems is essential but ensuring they are suitable to your ideal customer profile is also critical. The prospects are already at the awareness stage of their purchase journey. They may have landed on your website through the blog, other downloadable resources, or interacted with the chatbot. This step is also essential to identify passive buyers. Passive buyers are those who haven't started looking for a solution but match your ideal customer profile.
Essential tasks in this step include:
- Identify passive leads - Use channels like LinkedIn to identify people who match your ICP.
- Identify prospective customers - Tracking the website behavior of your identified prospects can give you significant insights into their interest in your product or solution. Your sales representatives could help them sail through the purchasing process.
Once you have identified prospects, the next step is to reach out to the most relevant prospects. Understanding their concerns and recommending only the most suitable solutions can be the ideal approach here. Sales representatives can personalize conversations by discussing their problems and the different ways to fix them.
Suggested tasks in this step can include:
- Match prospects with ICP - You can differentiate every lead on the sales pipeline based on their requirements, team sizes, budgets, industry, and more. It is essential to understand if the identified prospects match your ideal customer profile. Segmenting prospects into different groups can help in intelligent routing to the sales representatives.
- Communication plan - You have segmented prospects based on their match with the ideal customer profile, but what next? You need to identify the most preferred method of communication. To begin with, you can use the following tools and practices:
- Live Chat
- Email automation/campaigns
- Warm outreach
- Personalized presentations
- Plan the next tasks - Ensuring that you are educating or teaching but not selling directly is critical in this step. Share resources from your website or exclusive materials to inform the prospects of your products or solutions.
This step involves exploring opportunities through problem-solving. Sales representatives can start discussing how the product or solution can help resolve the prospects' concerns. At this step, sales representatives can start identifying prospects who are not potential customers. Prospects who tick the following three boxes should be the only ones to move ahead in the sales process.
- Your product or solution solves their concern
- They can afford your product or solution
- Their purchase behavior is compliant with your sales cycle
Tasks to include in this step:
- Focus on the problem statement - Clearly define the problem statement to know why they reached out to you. The most common reasons could be time, money, resources, or the team. Discuss every aspect in detail to know their pain point and simplify their decision-making process.
- Identify their goals - It's important to know what your prospect is expecting from the product or solution. You need to know if your product or solution can help them achieve their goals.
- Plan for the next step - You can bring all the pieces of the purchase journey together and build a plan for your prospect. Explain the different use cases of your product. It's crucial to discuss the budget here and understand how they would move forward from here.
Yes, the last step is essential; your support can help convert the ideal prospects into paying customers. You can capitalize on this step by giving a sneak-peak into your product or solution. Free trials, demos, or anything that provides a first-hand experience can help in their decision-making.
The final tasks to focus on are as follows:
- Educate - If your prospect is taking time, you need to educate them to help them decide. Answer questions through case studies, webinars, demo videos, or even one-to-one discussions.
- Personalize offers - Since this is the last stage, you would have enough information to understand the prospect's concerns clearly. You can personalize a proposal that shows them the benefits of using your product or solution.
- Final tasks to closure - Confirm details such as budget, purchase cycle, and implementation to map out a clear timeline. Onboarding and contract signing timeline confirmation will take you the closest to deal closure.
Sales strategies are evolving, and customers are more informed than ever.
While prospects are looking for real solutions and compatible products, inbound sales become the most suitable method. Instead of hard-selling to every prospect, inbound sales techniques form the modern approach. Personalizing solutions based on the prospects' pain points makes you a trusted advisor. Prospects are also more likely to purchase from a company that focuses on solving their concerns.