An Overview of Inbound Sales Theory & Technique
The Internet has undeniably altered sales. We are currently looking at a generation that has no idea what it’s like not to own a personal device that gives them access to practically anything they could need. And I don’t mean just the under 30ies. Today, tasks once capable of taking up significant parts of our day can be done in no time on the web. The search and purchase of products and services, filing and tracking our taxes, paying bills and getting messages to anyone in the world can be completed in seconds. We are easily able to watch television shows and movies, conduct research, and find employment. Internet has changed the way we live.
And Internet has completely changed the way sales operate. Once upon a time, buyers had to rely on sales to learn how to fill their needs. The process included cold calls, handshakes, chance meetings, and dependence on sales pitches. If a buyer didn’t like what they heard, they could go elsewhere, basically starting over. Consumers needed sales. They were locked into regions and often stuck with local products and pricing.
The Internet changed the entire scenario. The buyer is no longer trapped in the sales cycle. Buyers can thoroughly research the item as well as access offerings, costs, comparisons, and more sitting on a public bus or sitting at their desk. The Internet has transformed the way buyers get information. Sound purchasing decisions are only a mouse click away.
Suddenly, it’s the buyer with the advantage and sales racing to get buyer attention. Sales have been forced to redefine the way to market and promote goods. Whether it’s a big franchise or small product manufacturer, a simple search for new hardware or complex research on an security and surveillance system,or a targeted outreach or inbound leads, sales has to rethink its ways to reach buyers. It’s about transforming the once mighty marketing machine to accommodate the buyer’s now powerful ability to make choices.
Today, the best ways to do this is through inbound sales. Independent enterprise or global organization, the strategy of inbound sales has reinvented selling; matching practices to the ways buyers make choices about their products and services.
The way the Internet has changed the market has forced the market to stop depending on traditional sales practices. Inbound sales is a way to transform the sales experience, personalizing it for the buyer. Inbound sales include ways of connecting with buyers outside of traditional sales channels. It means reaching potential buyers through unique content by researching and understanding a buyer’s goals and challenges, piquing their interest and leading buyers to trust a specific vendor as the authority for what said buyers are looking for.
Here are a half-dozen things that can help you get a grasp of the tactics behind inbound sales.
01. Creating the Buyer Journey
Traditional sales was – and to a large extent, still is – built around the idea of buyers fulfilling a seller’s needs, not the buyers’s. Salespeople were operating off of standard checklists supplied by their employers, hitting the points sales thought would clench the deal. Buyers could state their case and the sales rep would pretend to listen before leading the buyer down a set path to make their case.
Unfortunately for sales, today the savvy buyer can see beyond that. They know there’s a script. Plus, a buyer can get all the information they want and more without ever talking to a sales representative. Even worse (for sales), the buyer can get instant access to consumer opinion on everything from HVAC systems to ergo-dynamic chairs. This has left the sales rep in the cold, utilizing techniques that add no value to the buyer experience.
Inbound sales circumvents these downfalls by ensuring reps understand what a specific buyer wants. The approach requires an understanding of specific sales concepts. These are awareness, consideration and decision. With these tools, sales has a firmer understanding of buyer demand and an ability to fulfill it.
- Awareness entails acknowledging a buyer’s challenges or goals, understanding what a buyer needs or wants to solve a problem and whether or not a specific product or service solves that problem. If sales believes they fit the bill, they now have a basis for determining how to reach that buyer and bring the solution to that party.
- The Consideration stage is clearly defining what the buyer may do to address their problem. The Internet provides all types of solutions. Inbound sales establishes how to put a specific solution in the buyer’s path, letting them find their solution in context, giving them the pros and cons of choosing categories and differentiating one solution from the competition.
- Throughout the Decision stage, buyers narrow the field and want reasons to commit. They are evaluating their prospects, their challenges and their goals. Here the chance for sales to bring the goods, demonstrating their offerings and showing buyers the criteria that builds trust and authority. Sales needs to effectively distinguish themselves from others that offer the same products or services. It’s here where buyers will determine who is going to be involved in their final decision.
02. Manage a Sales Process that Supports Buyers
Unlike conventional and older sales patterns where the sale process was designed first and applied to all buyers, inbound sales personalizes the experience. Inbound strategies are built after getting a grasp of the buyers’s journey. The steps for an inbound journey aligns buyer and seller, walking buyers through the process organically by understanding where the buyer is during the awareness, consideration, and decision stages. Here, the sales team applies a methodology that recognizes identification, connection, exploration, and advisement.
- Identify: Inbound sales identifies consumers with goals and challenges that match specific solutions. These consumers are categorized as leads.
- Connect: Inbound sales requires recognizing a leads’s needs in order to decide how to prioritize their challenges and goals. Once a buyer has, the lead becomes a qualified lead.
- Explore: The next step in inbound sales is qualifying buyer goals and challenges with solutions. If it is a good fit, the qualified lead becomes an opportunity.
- Advise: With the establishment of opportunity, inbound sales now finds ways to reach out to buyers and educate them on solutions to their challenges and goals by addressing the buyer’s needs in context. The buyer agreeing turns the opportunity into a customer.
At this point, you now specify and fine tune the process.
03. Define the Identify Process
Traditional sales never differentiates between passive and active buyers. It basically hit targets randomly, hoping to locate leads. Inbound sales defines buyers who are at the awareness stage. These are buyers who have already visited the company website, opened an email, or filled out a form. Identification enhances the relationship through knowing buyer interests and behavior as well as traditional demographic information.
04. The Connect Process
The connect process involves reaching buyers on a one-on-one level that provides personalized information. It addresses interests, roles, industry, and needs. Inbound sales aligns with the Awareness stage, giving the buyer information that connects with the buyer’s goals and challenges. Inbound sales requires preparation, segmenting market, company, and types within those companies by title, function, or role.
Understanding buyer context defines the explore process, enhancing the chance to deliver an unique, value-filled presentation. By researching and grasping buyer needs, a presentation doesn’t have to be generic; offering information buyers could easily access on the Internet. Inbound sales looks to build credibility and interest through exploratory conversation. If managed smartly, inbound sales guides leads to draw their own conclusions about a company’s ability to solve their challenges and to help reach goals.
06. Defining the Advise Process
Traditional approaches to advisement in sales required the delivery of a presentation that did not factor in any value to the buyer. The presentation opened with generic info before the sales rep engaged in a little light conversation that allegedly implied exchange of information before the rep returned to the script, pretty much ignoring anything they learned that might have given a buyer reason to want to explore more.
Today, one has to have content and context that adds value to the buyer. Presentations have to at least appear spontaneous and leverage details gathered through the connect stage. If the process has been managed correctly, inbound sales has reached out to a buyer that has already researched the retailer or a competitor. Now it can be determined if the buyer’s needs can be met and inbound sales puts one in the unique position to provide the buyer with details about the goods they need.
Inbound sales is a process that requires a studied hand. It is about understanding and implementing concepts that highlight a buyer’s unique journey for finding particular products or services with a specific vendor at the right time. Salespeople in the modern market need to understand traditional sales is not viable in a world where buyers can get all the information they want on the smallest phone screen. The smartest marketing will include inbound sales, but that requires unique and specialized training that enhances a sales department’s skills, taking your products and services out of generic messaging and putting you on a path that launches campaigns unique to buyers.