As you probably know, inbound marketing is a form of marketing that attracts the modern buyer to your page by their own initiative. Translation? They’ll be the one looking for you rather than you popping up, rudely interrupting them as they’re minding their business. Welcome to the new world of marketing.
This is the way buyers prefer to find brands these days, and it’s here to stay.
But what is inbound sales? And what is inbound sales methodology? Similar to inbound marketing, inbound sales transforms the regular sales strategy into one that accounts for the customer’s entire buying journey. It is a method of sales which, like inbound marketing, is less invasive.
Pushy sales is so 2017. Today, the cleverest marketers employ storytelling, conversation, education, and connection with the consumer. Today, marketers need to help the customer and develop additional trust long before they can ask them to make a purchase.
Outbound sales, like trade shows, seminars and cold calling, only have a 2.5% success rate. When IBM implemented an inbound sales strategy, their sales increased by 400%. We hope that’s enough to convince you that inbound sales, where your customer reaches your organically, is where you need to place your focus.
Unlike outbound sales, the inbound sales process is personalized to the buyer persona and the buyer’s journey. The legacy salesperson is usually ignorant of where the buyer is on their journey. Let’s not be that kind of salesperson. Your inbound sales methodology should be deeply strategic and personalized. The buyer goes through the: Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage, and the Decision Stage. To move the buyer through these stages, the sales team needs to Identify (leads), Connect (qualified leads) , Explore (opportunities) and Advise (best product choice). We’ve broken this process and methodology down for it to make sense to you:
1. Identifying leads
Identifying your leads or business opportunities is the first step inbound sales teams need to take to achieve their sales strategy objectives. The Identify action is a part of the awareness stage, where you find out who your customers are, create buyer personas, and begin to convert these people into leads*.
*Lead: a lead is a person or organization who has expressed an interest in what you’re selling.
2. Connecting with your leads
This is the fun part. This is where you get to interact with your leads. You create messages personalized to their needs, meaning educational content (how-tos, tutorials, videos) tailored to their current needs. Here, you interact with them via all channels. You’ll need to create a different buyer persona for each step of the buyer’s journey, since not all your customers will be at the same stage (e.g. your interaction with someone only in the awareness stage will not be the same as a lead in the explore stage).
3. Exploring your buyer’s goals
At this point, your buyer has begun to engage with your content and is moving into the stage of considering the purchase. At the explore stage, don’t go for the hard sell yet. Start a conversation with your potential customer and lead with a message that you are only trying to understand their needs. What business opportunities are there? Help take them to the decision stage.
4. Advising leads on their decision
The last action is to advise your leads on their decision. At this stage you know your customer and you deeply understand their needs. Create a tailored presentation or proposal to give your customer an offer they simply can’t refuse.
Above all: Identify potential leads
You’ve probably heard Mark Twain’s quote “the secret to getting ahead is getting started”.
The only way you can get started with an effective inbound sales methodology is by getting your hands dirty trying to understand all the aspects of your potential leads. Focus on active buyers rather than passive ones. A passive buyer has a problem, but it isn’t big enough yet to find a solution. Active buyers are looking for their solution. Also note the difference between your Ideal Buyer Profile and your Buyer Persona.
- An Ideal Buyer Profile is the COMPANY that would buy from you: what kind of product or service does it sell? How big is it? How long is its sales cycle? It is important to define this, but when designing your inbound sales methodology, you also need to know your Buyer Persona.
- A Buyer Persona is the PERSON you are selling to. This is a human you are fictionalizing (based on your real customers): what’s her (or his) name? What are her pain points, achievements, position in the company, worries during her job? How will your product help THIS PERSON? The answer might range from it will help her get other work done faster or will make her boss happier with her.
Define Your Buyer’s Journey
After you know who your buyer is, you need to define your buyer’s journey. You will need to do this before you can design the inbound sales methodology. The buyer’s journey starts from their job, personal life, or wherever their problem starts and it moves them through becoming aware that there is a way to live without that problem. They begin to discover there is a solution, and hopefully that solution will be your product.
In inbound sales, the salesperson becomes a trusted advisor. You are not here only to sell your product. You are here to help your customer solve their problems. You are here to show that customer that how your product is a good fit to make their lives easier.
Where To Go From Here
The modern buyer followers a very structured and clear buying path. They want to take their time. Having access to All The Information, the modern buyer is an informed one, and they want to have all the information they need before they make their purchase. So now that you have:
- Defined your Buyer Persona and Ideal Customer Profile
- Defined your Buyer’s Journey
- Created your Inbound Sales Methodology based on the above
Keep educating them, keep the conversation and engagement going. Use your content to become a credible authority and a trusted advisor. This is your inbound sales methodology. After you’ve converted your lead into a customer, all your work will be focused on keeping your customer loyal.
Want to know more about customer loyalty? Read our definitive guide to customer loyalty!