Marketing used to be cold calls, trade shows, email list buying and other activities some would deem spam-worthy in today's day and age. Flash forward to present time, and we have Inbound Marketing, which is much more focused on the individual buyer than was the mass marketing that we once considered a best practice.
Luckily for human beings everywhere, sales is going in the same direction!
And the departments might already be more aligned than you think. Marketer respondents to HubSpot's 2014 State of Inbound survey "indicated an interest in helping Sales make better use of the leads being generated – citing bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) conversions as their biggest priority behind net new lead gen." Inbound Sales helps marketing achieve that second priority.
So, What is Inbound Sales?
Inbound Sales is the process of focusing on individual buyers and their personal needs, points of pain, frustrations and goals. As an Inbound salesperson, it is essential that you prioritize the buyer's needs before your own.
Think about it this way: when you're cold calling a lead, is it because they've expressed to you that they need your product or service in order to be successful, or are you making a large assumption? The bread and butter of Inbound Sales is that it encourages buyers to hand that information to you, so you DON'T have to make sweeping assumptions.
By puzzling out the buyer's actions in the Inbound Marketing process, the smart inbound salesman will be able to craft a sales approach personalized to the buyer's interests. And that's important, because Inbound Sales is really all about managing the buyer's decision-making process.
Who are Your Buyer Personas?
Now let's not get ahead of ourselves! Inbound Sales is fantastic, but before you can sell anything you have to understand who your buyers even are! The most important task on the way to effective Inbound Sales is defining your potential buyers. In fact, the first main takeaway from HubSpot's 2014-2015 State of Inbound Sales is that while "buyers are more equipped than ever with more information about companies, sales reps don’t have a similar level of insight into their prospects." HubSpot notes the importance of bridging that information gap; it will help you close more leads.
So, knowing your personas and then gaining knowledge about your actual contacts themselves is of high value. If your marketing team is Inbound-ready, they'll be thinking about this, too, and may even be working to find out which persona each incoming contact identifies with most.
Once you have a better understanding of your buyer personas' needs, you can become proactive in providing them with the tools and information they need in order to make a purchase.
As your lead engages with content and information, they build up what we call their digital profile. The digital profile is an aggregate of all the actions they have taken on your website, including what content they have engaged with, what pages they have viewed and all of the personal information they have submitted through forms.
As a bonus, it's pretty simple to capture all of this information, thanks to HubSpot's closed-loop reporting. Using this information gives the salesperson 'inside' information about what their prospect is looking for and helps them have a more meaningful conversation.
So, before you get a prospect on the phone, study their digital profile. Know what products they’ve been researching, know the buzzwords to listen for, and understand the pain they're experiencing that has led them to check out your organization.
problem and Solution-Oriented Sales
What's really great about Inbound Sales is the relationship which you and your prospect can build because of information. Because you have an abundance of valuable information about your prospect from their involvement in your marketing process, you can relate to them more easily and keep the conversation problem oriented first (as you help them identify their issue), followed later by solutions oriented, once the problem has been fully defined.
For example, if a lead has reached the bottom of the funnel for a website redesign, but also downloaded our top-of -the-funnel Inbound Marketing cheat sheet, we would be sure to speak with them about Inbound, but wait for when the time is right. Based on their actions it is clear a website redesign is their primary goal, but they have also shown interest in Inbound Marketing; thus, once the website conversation has concluded, we would segue the conversation to the benefits of running Inbound Marketing on their new Inbound-optimized website.
For a deeper breakdown of how the Inbound Sales process works at New Breed, check out this inside look blog post.
With the right tools and guidance, any organization, regardless of size, can effectively implement Inbound Sales. Working with an experienced Inbound Agency such as New Breed can help establish the strategy and structure of your Inbound marketing and sales process. That's key to success as you roll out this new methodology.
Because Inbound Marketing is a constant stream of flowing content, your Inbound Sales team should be supplied with the qualified leads needed for success. If you're at the point where you're running Inbound Marketing effectively, it's time to embrace the power of Inbound Sales as well! Soon enough, prospects will be flowing and you'll have two departments working together cohesively to accomplish your organization's — and importantly, your customers' — goals.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.