We’ve all noticed it.
There’s a disconnect between sales and consumers. Rapidly available information, cross device interaction, and protected data and information are only making the disconnect worse. It’s led us to the point where it’s increasingly difficult to connect with potential customers.
Today, buyers aren’t looking too immediately. Instead, they want to do research. They want to feel like they are in control of the process. They are looking for companies that create relationships and will be there to answer questions. They want someone to help them, to address the issues they are looking to solve.
This is where inbound sales comes into play.
What’s Inbound Sales?
Inbound sales is both an approach and action. The approach looks to understand and address the needs/wants, challenges and goals of the buyer. The goal is to personalize the buying experience. The action of inbound sales is building that relationship and providing answers, especially after a marketing activity.
The key to inbound sales is to remain focused on helping the consumer every step of the way. This isn’t the old fashioned, “sell, sell, sell” technique. Instead, it’s the, “what can I help you with and what do you need?” tactic.
Inbound sales is a natural extension of inbound marketing. Leads are found from consumers reaching out to your organization to understand how your products or services may be the solution they are looking for.
What’s the Difference Between Inbound Sales and Outbound Sales?
Want to know the difference? Just look at the words inbound and outbound.
Inbound sales is about creating personalized experiences while adhering to the primary goal — being helpful. It’s providing the answers, letting prospects come to you, and then helping them find the solutions they want.
Outbound sales is more disruptive. It focuses on forcing information at a potential consumer that doesn’t know or might not have a need for your organization’s products or services. Yell at enough people, and someone may want to engage with you.
The fact is, buyers have changed. They don’t want to be yelled at. You need to throw more resources and spend more time to find prospects with outbound marketing. You have a harder time converting prospects with outbound sales. Inbound sales better suits the modern buyer.
The Inbound Sales Process
1. Define the buyer’s journey and buyer personas
The ability of an organization to take a step back and consider the three steps of how a buyer moves through the buyer’s journey can bring clarity to what areas should be addressed in the process. This is a crucial part of an inbound sales process. It provides structure, helping to guide the inbound sale.
- Awareness: The awareness stage begins once the prospect realizes a problem needs to be solved or a goal needs to be achieved. Research will be tentative, more focused on the “what” of the problem rather than potential solutions.
- Consideration: In the consideration stage, the prospect starts connecting the dots and looking for solutions. As they do research and analyze options, they are looking for the best solution with the best possible outcome.
- Decision: After the research and analysis, the prospect is ready to pick and purchase a solution.
As a potential solution provider, you’ll want to provide help and answers at each stage of this journey, helping to position your business to win at the decision stage.
2. Understand the digital footprints and create personalized experiences
Digital footprints are how the consumers are engaging with your website and other online channels.
Buyers today want personalized experiences. They want an online experience tailored to their needs and their expectations. If you can provide the best experience for the prospect, they will be more likely to work with you in the future. An exceptional experience could mean something different for all of us, but consider the following questions:
- Is your website easy to navigate?
- Can prospects easily find the answers they want? Make sure the answers are easy to read and understand.
- Are you addressing any follow-up questions they have?
- When the prospect is ready, can they find the next step on their buyer’s journey?
- Are you available when they are ready to buy? Make sure you aren’t pushing them too quickly or aggressively.
When possible, personalize the experience. Use what you know about the buyer and their needs to make their time with you delightful.
3. Be helpful – create a valuable relationship
The inbound methodology is based on being helpful. You need to build a relationship between you and the consumer. Selling is an art, but buying is as well. There are a multitude of potential solutions out there, and finding the proper solution can be difficult. If your organization isn’t aligned in process, messaging and purpose, then it’s difficult to build a relationship with a prospect or customer.
Brent Adamson, Distinguished VP, Advisory at Gartner, notes, “As hard as it has become to sell in today’s world, it has become that much more difficult to buy.”
Be there to listen to their problems, and develop a personalized solution that addresses their needs, rather than pushing them to just buy. Answer their questions, and don’t push them into a sale until they’re ready.
Let them be the captain and your organization be the ship that helps them reach their goals. Don’t poke holes in the boat and force them into a decision quicker than they want.
Taking the Next Steps
As my mother always said, “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” I think she was right, and have seen it apply to most aspects of life.
Developing a plan for implementing inbound sales doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you have the right resources and mindset. GO2 Partners is a HubSpot Gold Partner that specializes in inbound sales and can assist you with reaching your lead potential and building that connection with your prospects.