The approach to efficient sales has changed a lot in recent years. Customers have more power, better access to information, and more control over the whole buying process today than they ever had. Pushing a sale on an uninterested consumer won't work since people don't like being sold to and would rather have a natural conversation, learn something new that will help to solve their problems, and build relationships with companies they're buying from.
Reflecting on that shift has led to the creation of a completely new way of selling. Instead of chasing down potential customers and trying to force them to buy your products or services it takes the customer-centric approach, focuses on their needs, builds trust, and guides them throughout the journey. It helps your customers to make more informed purchase decisions and enables your business to have more satisfied customers. This new way of selling is called inbound sales.
What's Inbound Sales?
Inbound sales is a powerful and scalable sales framework that enables you to grow your business and improve customer experience. It's not just limited to large corporations, but also small and medium-sized businesses that don't have dedicated sales teams or an army of marketers. It focuses on customers' jobs, pains, and gains and puts them in the centre of everything you do. It's a practical and concrete way to build relationships, establish trust, and drive the bottom line by delivering tailored-made value propositions.
What's the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Sales?
The main difference between inbound and outbound sales is that inbound sales leverages passive tactics to generate demand for your products and services that bring long-term benefits. Inbound sales accumulates knowledge over time and keeps it with the company to continually attract clients, instead of being lost when your best sales representative decides to leave the team.
Outbound sales relies on making assumptions that the person from a contact list is going to be interested in your products or services when you cold call them. This however is rarely true and often leads to frustration on both ends, and can be considered as SPAM. In other words, the outbound sales approach tries to "push" your message to a large number of people hoping that some of them will buy.
Inbound sales on the other hand aims to attract potential buyers that are interested in the areas relevant to your business and then qualify them based on how well they fit your offerings. This can be described as "pulling" interested customers towards your brand and leads to improvement in staff well-being improvement in staff well-being while improving customer satisfaction because your brand appears when they need it most.
Is Inbound Sales Easier than Outbound?
Inbound sales may be a lot easier in some aspects because you don't have to spend time chasing customers or deal with rejection that often when prospecting. On the other hand, it's a lot more difficult because clients want to share less information explicitly but still expect relevant and useful information.
This implies that inbound sales requires more research, experimentation, and testing on all fronts to find out what works and what doesn't. When you can do it well however it brings sustainable and scalable business benefits since repeatable results are partially automated and require less human attention.
Why is Inbound Sales Important?
In a world where information is easily accessible, where customers expect immediate replies from businesses, and where owning the demand is more important than owning the supply trying to push products and services to uninterested customers and hoping that they'll buy will inevitably lead to a conclusion that this approach to selling has become obsolete.
Over the past few years, there's been a growing disconnect between the services salespeople used to provide and the experiences today's consumers crave. This is especially true in the world of professional service providers, where most businesses still use communication methods that pale in comparison with the experiences their customers have elsewhere in their lives.
People are increasingly getting used to the fantastic buying journeys that big brands deliver. It's not like they can have a wonderful purchasing experience on Amazon or Sephora and then they say, "We'll now expect something far worse." and be happy with that. Today's buyers demand more, therefore you as a salesperson, have to learn and adapt your plan of action.
Today, if you hide information behind website forms, potential buyers may simply look for it elsewhere. Today, if your prospects are trying to reach out to your sales team and you make them wait hours or even minutes before someone responds, they're unlikely going to become your customers and probably end up with your competitor who responds in real-time.
Today consumers have all the power, and the most successful companies won't be the ones who first ignore their customers forcing them to wait for a reply, and then try to pressure them into buying decisions that are not tailored or beneficial for them. Instead, the most effective businesses will guide their customers at every step of the way, build trust and make themselves available to answer questions.
How to Develop an Inbound Sales Strategy?
To create a successful inbound sales strategy you need to be able to efficiently identify and connect with the potential buyers to better understand and tune into their needs and the journey they go through to find solutions to their problems. Your goal is to add value, become a leader in your space, and anticipate the buyer's next move to become a trusted adviser.
To implement such a strategy you need to empower your sales team with tools and processes that help them deliver personalised, engaging, and useful experiences every single time. The following approach helps to grab each buyer's attention and make it actionable to quickly assess the potential of successfully aligning their needs with the services your company provides bringing value to both parties.
What are the Steps to Follow When Implementing an Inbound Sales Strategy?
Your goal is to offer authentic and proactive conversations, listen carefully to the needs of your customers, and respond thoughtfully. There are just three steps you need to focus on to spend quality time with promising prospects, build trust, establish credibility and efficiently convert first-time visitors to happy customers.
Customer expectations are at an all-time high, they dictate how they engage with businesses and while they want to provide less context they expect quick and relevant answers over their channel of choice. To succeed at this stage your business need to be available for them whenever their need arises, and be able to engage them in real-time conversations that are aligned with their interests.
The needs of potential customers can vary greatly. They have different problems, expectations, and budgets, and while automated bots can help you assess their needs, check how well they align with your objectives, and route the most promising prospects to human reps, you might still need to engage in real-time conversations to gain a better understanding of their challenges by asking precise questions.
The goal here isn't just about going through all the benefits of your offerings but tying some of them to the specific problems the buyer is trying to solve. You won't be able to drive the deal across the finish line unless you can present how valuable your solutions are to an individual you're talking to. Closing a deal is the best possible outcome, but you should always act in your client's best interest.
What are Inbound Sales Channels?
Customers use many types of devices and interactions during the day, and the number of channels they use to interact with businesses is consistently growing. While websites and social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram are the leading channels for inbound sales activities, many others are emerging like messaging apps and virtual assistants.
It's important to remember that it's vital to free your business from the limitation of any particular channel, leverage artificial intelligence to provide a consistent experience across all of them, and think holistically about customer interactions to be able to provide exceptional experiences for your customers wherever they happen to be in the omnichannel spectrum.
How to Generate Demand for Inbound Sales?
One of the best ways to engage with potential buyers and generate demand for your products and services is to identify people who have started looking for information and potential solutions to their problems in search engines. This is when their attention and engagement are the highest, and so is the potential for influencing their actions.
When the prospect lands on your website you can start engaging them in a real-time conversation with a chatbot. Depending on the page they've landed on and their website behaviour you can tailor the experience to make it more personal and useful. This is going to help you build strong foundations for the upcoming interactions.
To succeed in inbound sales you need to build trust, guide your visitors at every step of the journey with engaging and useful content, highlight relevant products and services when your prospects are looking for a solution to their problem, and enable them to schedule appointments to fulfill their needs. While it sounds like a lot luckily many of these tasks can be successfully automated with a chatbot.