Inbound Sales

Traditional sales is broken. Time to fix it!

What is inbound sales?

Once upon a time, marketing was all about the hard sell. Whether it was a cold call or a irritating email list, you’d be forgiven for mistaking selling for spamming. But then Inbound Marketing happened, and everybody’s life got that little less spammy. Both marketers and consumers got to say goodbye to pushy sales, and hello to clever campaigns, subtle storytelling, and consumer-led social media strategies. In short, marketing became a bit more like a conversation, and we all fell in love.
No surprise then that sales is beginning to follow suit. Here we give you the lowdown on inbound sales – the objectives, the method, and the results.

Do you want assistance in transitioning to inbound sales?

 

Inbound Sales 101: The Lowdown

Take a moment to remember the pre-internet age (or just imagine it if you’re a Millennial!). Back when Google wasn’t a thing, or a verb, how did people figure out how to spend their hard-earned cash? The answer’s simple: they turned to a salesperson – or rather, usually a salesperson attempted t0 approach them. These guys held all the cards. Using a technique known as legacy selling, these salespeople recycled the same elevator pitch to every customer, relying on the same old selling strategies, and were completely unaware of the buyer journey.

But then the internet came along. Sales changed. Or more accurately how people purchased changed.

Now the customer’s in charge. At the click of a button they can find out everything they need to know about a product, and then buy it. No cold calls. No pushy salespeople. No fuss.

So how do you adapt to this new buying experience? Say hello to Inbound Sales. Whether we’re talking about a huge corporation or a tiny business; a simple or a complex sales model, inbound sales makes sense.

Just take a look at its main philosophy:

From beginning to end, the entire sales strategy should focus on the buyer rather than the seller.
The experience should be personalised for the personal needs, points of pain, frustration and goals of the buyer.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? By decoding the buyer’s actions and preferences using the Inbound Marketing process, the savvy salesperson can tailor their approach to their customer’s interests and needs.

Here is the method:

 

Want to take a deeper look into this? Click here to read more.

Inbound Norway offers several modules with services that will help your company transition into the inbound way of sales and also help your sales team adopt and master inbound sales. We divide this service into two categories:

What is sales development?

1. Sales development

What is a good lead? What sort of customers are a good fit for us?

In this module, we help you to set up a prospect fit matrix. This will help your salespeople to understand whether or not this is a lead they should pursue. It also helps them to have a less pushy and more helpful conversation.

When using inbound methods, most businesses will find themselves with a lot of information about their leads, before anyone has even spoken directly to this person. With some help, your salespeople will be able to use this information effectively to analyse whether this is a lead they should spend their time on or not. Allowing salespeople to be more efficient and moves away from wasting time on leads that will not make your company money.

Do you want assistance in transitioning to inbound sales?

2. Sales enablement

“A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.” - CSO Insights

The goal of inbound sales enablement is to create a sales team that closes more deals. By using the proper tools, this should become easier and take less time than ever before.

Inbound marketing will not work unless the marketing team and the sales team can see the world through the same lens. After the sales team has a strong understanding of inbound sales, it’s time to look at how the methodology can best be used to enable better performance.

Close more deals with sales enablement

 

Sales process audit

The first step is hold a workshop and carry out an audit to examine the company’s existing sales process. What do you do today? What materials or content do you use and how do you sales team typically close a sale. Where are your biggest lead sources? How much time and money do you spend on smaller value sales compared to larger opportunities? It’s also extremely worthwhile to look for trends in leads you didn’t close.

This audit is an in-depth, data-backed analysis of current sales mechanisms. Using an external agency for this can be hugely beneficial, as they can bring a fresh pair of eyes to the way things are being done offering an honest, unbiased sense of how you’re set up today.


Buyer’s Journey

The next stage is to map the buyer’s journey, mapping from the very first point of contact with your company and every step up until they become a customer and beyond. This will help identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement that didn’t seem so apparent when working within your daily framework. Don’t be scared to take a hard look at how things are done today in order to improve. This is not about playing the blame game for how things could be better but a chance to identify hidden cracks into which potential customers are falling through who would otherwise make their jolly way along the road to destination: purchase.

You might also see more clearly how the trip up the road can be improved after the customer has given you their money. Many companies forget that the follow-up to a purchase is the best chance you get to create a connection and keep this person around as a paying customer for a long time.

 

Qualifying leads

Enlisting sales enablement professionals provides you with experts at lead scoring systems. Assigning either positive or negative scores to contacts and companies based on data you get a very proficient template indicating how good a fit a lead is.

Knowledge of which deals are of most value to your company is also useful here. Looking at what size of company, what industry and annual turnover your existing clients have is a great starting point for your lead scoring. You can also discover if certain characteristics describe a more profitable customer for your company.

Read more: 5 ways of generating more leads


Enable content

It is not only the marketing department who produce useful content. Most salespeople do as well. But of course, every minute someone from sales spends producing content, is a minute not spent on selling. However, content with personal or customised elements is crucial towards the end of the inbound sales process.

But what content is “sales content”? Below are a few examples of different sorts of content but you can no doubt think of some more!

  • Customer case studies
  • Whitepapers and eBooks
  • Product demo decks
  • Pricing and discount information
  • Competitive intelligence briefs
  • Checklists
  • Proposal templates

Creating this content, as well as organising it, can greatly improve the sales team’s efficiency. The ultimate goal is to shorten the sales process. By investing time in great content templates now can save time during the hectic day-to-day sales process.

Do you want assistance in transitioning to inbound sales?

Case studies

Case studies are the most critical content for the sales team. This is a great way of having others present what they think you do well. HubSpot states that within six months of launching a new product, companies should aim to have at least one case study highlighting the product. Case studies are so effective because they clearly show your product or service solving a customer problem or challenge out in the real world for real customers just like your audience.

 

Creating email templates

HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound Sales report states that email is still the second most effective way for sales (only behind connecting via phone). This is why salespeople should spend hours creating the best possible email copy.

Taking the time to create standardised email templates that salespeople can access will dramatically improve productivity. When creating these templates, keep in mind that not all prospects are the same. Leave spaces for customization with every email template ensures a sales rep can personalize it with information relevant to the prospect time after time. Additonally, using email templates makes it much easier to analyse and gain insight into the styles of email that work for your leads? What subjects lines work? Length, tone, images, etc?

 

Reporting and analysis

Although you might be used to a data driven approach to selling, the constant stream of information at times can be overwhelming and possibly hurting productivity. This is why inbound sales enablement focuses on systems to help make data your ally rather your enemy.

It will hugely beneficial for a company if the sales team can agree upon a standardized set of sales reports for everybody. Some of the most commonly used include:

  • Activities logged by salespeople
  • Product demos delivered
  • Deals won and lost
  • Leads generated/worked

The point of these reports is to provide a quick overview of how the sales department is doing, and which areas need attention. To offer real value and help boost productivity not hinder it, running the reports shouldn’t be time consuming or include manual work. With the right tools the sales people only have to spend a few minutes logging each activity and management and team leaders can easily assemble the reports.

 

Technology and automation

Sales absolutely doesn’t need to be a manual business any more. Modern sales should include automated processes to enable salespeople to sell better and faster. Some examples include:

  • Creating email sequences: Are you using HubSpot or similar software? If so it is easy to develop automatically triggered email sequences that follow up those who have not yet responded to their request. By using personalized tokens for contact and company information in these sequences ensures tailored emails to the specific lead. Such automated processes can limit the time salespeople spend every day on this communication.
  • Automate prospecting: This is a set of emails sent in a salesperson’s name including direct links to their calendar. Those who are ready to buy can easily schedule a meeting using the link. The salesperson can simply check their calendar for meetings booked.
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