Inbound Sales

The power of buying and selling has shifted from the seller to the buyer.

On average, customers progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a sales rep. (CEB Marketing Leadership Council - The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing)

If you develop an inbound marketing strategy to match these changes in consumer buying behavior but continue to try to sell to your buyers with a legacy sales approach; it will leave your buyers feeling disconnected and confused. This leads to a lack of trust and credibility, harming your relationship with the buyer.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a closer look at the general principles of the legacy sale approach:

The Legacy Sales Approach

Stage 1

Prospect

The salesperson holds all the keys to the offering and expects all prospects to come to him/her for answers to all questions.

Stage 2

Consultation

The salesperson wants an opportunity to sell the prospect using features and benefits that only he/she can share.

Stage 3

Close

The salesperson pushes for a quick decision, often using high pressure sales techniques like expiring offers or gimmicks to close sales.

And here’s the problem, if the salesperson cannot add value beyond the information the buyer can find on their own, the buyer has no reason to engage with the salesperson.

Here are the main questions legacy salespeople have historically held the answers to:

  • What is included in an offering?
  • How much does something cost?
  • How does it compare to other competitors?
  • Who else is using the offering? Do they like it?

The good news is, the Inbound Sales Methodology provides a smarter approach to sales, transforming sales to match the way people buy.

Inbound Sales Methodology

It moves the traditional sales approach from being a high touch-point process to a frictionless, self-serve buying experience based on education, thought leadership, trust and credibility.

There are two important philosophies of inbound selling:

  1. Inbound sales teams base their entire sales strategy on the buyer rather than the seller.
  2. Inbound sales people personalize the entire sales experience to the buyer’s context.

Sales Strategy Development

The Inbound Sales process begins by gaining a complete understanding of how your buyers make their purchasing decisions when evaluating your products and services.

This information is revealed to us through buyer insights that are learned through buyer research. We use these insights to guide our strategic decisions through each stage of the buying process. This takes the guesswork out of how we should approach sales.

After conducting the required buyer research, you’ll be able to confidently answer the following questions through each stage of the buying journey.

Awareness

Buyers identify a challenge they are experiencing or an opportunity they want to pursue.

Consideration

Buyers have clearly defined the goal or challenge and have committed to addressing it.

Decision

Buyers have already decided on a solution category and one that best meets their needs.

Understanding The Awareness Stage

  • How do buyers describe their goals or challenges?
  • How do buyers educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
  • What are the consequences of inaction by the buyer?
  • Are there common misconceptions buyers have about addressing the goal or challenge?
  • How do buyers decide whether the goal or challenges should be prioritized?

Understanding the Consideration Stage

  • What categories of solutions do buyers investigate?
  • How do buyers educate themselves on the various categories?
  • How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?
  • How do buyers decide which category is right for them?

Understanding the Decision Stage

  • What criteria do buyers use to evaluate the available offerings?
  • When buyers investigate your company’s offerings, what do they like about it compared to alternatives? What concerns do they have with your offering?
  • Who needs to be involved in the decision? For each person involved, how does their perspective on the decision differ?
  • Do buyers have expectations around trying the offering before they purchase it?
  • Outside of purchasing, do buyers need to make additional preparations, such as implementation plans or strategies?

With a complete understanding of how your buyers make their purchasing decisions when evaluating your products and services, the final step is to build a sales process that supports the buying journey.

Personalizing the Sales Experience

With the content mapping process complete, you’re ready to start developing your content. Much of the content that is developed in the Awareness and Consideration stages of the buyer’s journey will be part of your strategic marketing plan.

However, all of your content should be readily available to your sales team at all times.

The Inbound Sales Methodology consist of 4 phases:

Phase 1

Identify

Listen to the market to identify the buyers who are active in the buyer’s journey. Practice social selling and proactively identify more buyers entering the buying journey.

Phase 2

Connect

Start conversations around the buyer’s plans, goals and challenges. Offer solutions aligned with the awareness stage of the buying journey.

Phase 3

Explore

The part where you truly learn how you can best help your prospects. It’s how you can open your prospects eyes to a better world.

Phase 4

Advise

Serve as a translator…between messaging found on your company’s website and the unique needs of your buyer.

Depending on how buyers decide to engage in the sales process, will determine how and when important pieces of content are delivered across the buying journey.

As a result, your salespeople and your buyers are aligned; rather than being at odds with one another through the buying and selling process.

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Keith Gutierrez, VP Inbound