Sales in 2018: The Inbound Sales Method Explained
If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you would have read my previous article on the updated salesperson and the modern buyer’s journey. If not, then go get caught up and come back here, because taking care of the steps in that article is a must before creating a good sales method.
Okay, done with that one? Welcome back. Now that you have the background needed, I’m going to tell you how to use the knowledge you have from your buyer’s journey to create an effective sales process.
An inbound sales method is one that supports the customer throughout the whole process. This ensures that salesperson and customer feel as if they’re one team, not opposing forces. The inbound sales process looks something like this:
The identify stage occurs during the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. A good sales team will keep their eyes open using all their available resources to see who is currently experiencing a product they offer, and is looking for a solution. This is a widely different approach from the traditional cold-calling strategies that traditional salespeople love. What’s the point of contacting hundreds or thousands of people about your product if they have absolutely no use for it? Not only is it a waste of your time, it won’t generate a warm, fuzzy feeling towards your company. Keep an eye on who has recently visited your website, liked or commented on social media or opened one of your emails, as well as other tracking methods you may employ. This is when someone's statues switches from a stranger to a lead.
The connect stage happens when you take the information you have researched and put it to good use. When reaching out to a lead, start with a message personalized in the buyer’s context. This is not yet the time to pitch a demonstration. Instead, you want to establish yourself as a helpful resource. Why not offer access to an ebook, or schedule a free consultation? To develop trust with buyers, take this opportunity to offer advice and demonstrate that you are on the same team as the buyer.
Another good idea is to act as a thought leader in your field. Read and comment on the blogs your target audiences keep up with, follow industry influencers on Twitter and retweet helpful content and maybe even write a blog on your company’s website. This will establish you as trustworthy, and will allow customers to take your opinions seriously
The explore stage happens once a level of trust is already built, and a qualified lead has expressed interest in whatever it is you are offering. An inbound salesperson now enters into exploratory mode. Although the relationship is there, the salesperson recognized that the trust is still not strong enough to push anything just yet. This stage is all about exploring the buyer’s problem and its solutions on a deeper level. At the end of this stage, a good inbound salesperson will be able to help the prospect conclude if what you’re offering will fill his or her needs. Act as a guide in a non-pushy matter.
The advise stage is when you can finally present and make the case for your product. The prospect already knows all the generic information that is public knowledge on the web. This presentation should use what you have learned from the exploratory stage, connecting your product to the customer’s needs. This presentation could vary from a PowerPoint tailored to each specific buyer’s perspective to a product demonstration highlighting the points that will be most useful to this buyer.
And that's it! Now you have a customer. Remember the two golden rules of inbound selling: 1. The sales strategy focuses on the buyer, not the seller; and 2. The sales process should be tailored to fit the particular buyer's needs. The main takeaway? Selling in 2018 is all about ensuring your customers that we're all one team.
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Chaya Lencz is our marketing associate at AbilitySEO. In addition, she is currently a student at University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business.