What is inbound sales? 3 steps to success

What is inbound sales? 3 steps to success

5 minute read

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It's 2020, and your customers are making purchasing decisions on their own – no surprises there. 

For example, when a business is looking for a new software solution, they may have a broad or well-defined idea of the pain points they'd like to address. A quick online search will turn up the products and services that align with their needs and preferences. They'll then dive into your available content and learn more about your SaaS solution's features. The lead may even check out your social media profile to see if they like your company culture and find out what your customers have to say about you. If they like what they see, it's highly likely that they'll be giving your sales team a call for further info. 

The inbound methodology encompasses marketing and sales activities, enabling the two core business functions to support the customer on their buyer's journey and help to establish fruitful, long term relationships for your brand. 

So, in answer to the question, “What is inbound sales?”, here’s our answer:

Inbound sales happen when a business decides to focus on the unique challenges that their targeted buyer personas are facing. An inbound sales team will generate data, set goals, and formulate a strategy that addresses the needs of prospects relative to their position in the buyer's journey. Rather than approaching unqualified leads at scale, they will nurture and educate prospects with helpful content that guides them towards making a purchasing decision.


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Do outbound sales still work?

The traditional approach to selling meant that businesses initiated interactions with potential buyers, rather than the buyer discovering the brand for themselves. In this scenario, engagement isn't always focussed around the customer and whether they're a match for your business proposition. Closing the sale, by whatever means possible, is often the preferred path. 

This method utilises mass marketing techniques and hard-sell tactics to convince customers that purchasing from you is the best solution. While this may lead to sudden peaks in demand and profits, it doesn't always prove economic or support the growth and longevity of your business. As the world becomes increasingly connected via the internet, customers prefer to self-educate and study the experience of other consumers before making contact with a sales representative or undertaking further in-person inquiries. 

While a healthy marriage between outbound and inbound sales tactics is possible and encouraged, there needs to be a cultural shift in your company where the focus becomes the customer's individual needs. Analysing your buyers' behaviour and guiding the right leads through your sales funnel will make your marketing investment more fruitful, and your buyers more satisfied. 


Three steps to inbound sales success

1. Collaborate and align with your marketing team

Since marketing is responsible for creating the content your salespeople use to support and nurture leads, communication and alignment between the two teams are essential. Marketing works to generate leads, but without an efficient system to pass this information onto the sales team, visibility is lost, and conversion rates will suffer. 

It's crucial to find a customer relationship management (CRM) software that fits the needs of your business. Onboarding and training your sales staff is an essential part of ensuring that your CRM brings in ROI, as this system will become a foundational tool in your sales and marketing process. Sales can have a quick overview of the available leads in their pipeline, as well as all the necessary information to profile them and make sure that their communication strategy matches the leads position in the buyer's journey.

At this stage, it's also important to establish your lead scoring model so that both the sales and marketing teams can identify high-quality leads. 

Effective lead scoring enables you to increase sales efficiency by focusing your attention on the leads that show the highest potential of converting. This will save your sales team time on pursuing leads that aren't yet ready or sufficiently warmed up. 


2. Clearly define your buyer personas

Defining your buyer personas should be a joint task between your sales and marketing departments. The two teams can collaborate to carve out the ideal customer so that there's no confusion about who they're targeting and why. Being detailed and thorough in this process will help you to come up with tangible and practical solutions for your customers. 

Some key characteristics and features to establish:

  • - What’s your buyer's job role?
    - What’s their seniority level?
    - Do they have particular interests relating to their industry?
    - What challenges are they facing?
    - What priorities are they likely to have?
    - What is the size of their company?
    - What kind of budget do they have to work with?
    - How would they like to be contacted – telephone, email, social media?
    - What personal and professional goals are they looking to achieve?

By getting this part down in the initial phase of your inbound strategy, you will create a scalable model that allows you to reach your business growth potential. 


3. Implement and continuously test your strategy

Once you launch your inbound sales strategy, you'll have to be prepared to analyse your customers' responses and tweak your plans where necessary. There are key metrics which you will have to pay close attention to in order to optimise your campaigns and ensure that your inbound sales strategy is always on track. The metrics to study include outreach activities, lead generation metrics, as well as your sales teams' activity and productivity.

By this we mean: 

  • - calls
    - emails
    - conversations
    - social medial interactions
    - meetings scheduled
    - proposals sent

When looking at your customer's behaviour, you want to pay close attention to:

  • - the actions they take on your website
    - the content they engage with
    - the personal information they submit
    - the time they spend on particular pages

All of this information can be an indicator of how your inbound marketing strategy is working and whether something else can be done to support the sales process. Building up an understanding of your customer's interactions and behaviour will help you to tailor your services and align our efforts with what your customers truly want. 


Inbound sales in a nutshell

In an interview, Mark Roberge describes inbound sales as "[...] a sequence of stages that an opportunity goes through as it progresses from a lead to a customer." SaaS businesses that apply this methodology to their sales will take a much more systematised and measurable approach to pursuing and converting leads into customers. 

Key features of inbound sales:

  • - automation
    - personalisation 
    - measurability
    - scalability 

Inbound sales allow businesses to drop expensive, generalised marketing activities that create dissonance between the customer and the offering. Instead, your sales team has well-defined buyer personas to target, along with a set of criteria that everyone in the company understands and applies to all other business activities. Essentially, this unifies your efforts, shortens your sales cycle, creates happier customers, and ensures the longevity of your brand. What's more, the inbound sales model makes it easier to identify any hurdles or blockages in your pipeline. Instead of blindly forging ahead, your sales team can frequently review their progress and make adjustments that will help to reassure the customer and move them along to the decision stage of the buyer's journey. 

At Klood, we’ve helped countless SaaS businesses to implement inbound sales into their daily practice. We can equip and onboard your team with industry leading sales tools such as HubSpot, and teach them how to get the most out of their efforts. To learn more about how an inbound sales strategy can transform your approach to selling and help you to intensify your presence in the market, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly experts today.

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