The way people buy has changed.
That means marketing, advertising, and selling methods have to change as well. Old tactics are useless against new habits, channels, and expectations. For marketers, inbound marketing is the answer to new buying behaviors.
For salespeople, the answer is inbound sales.
Inbound Marketing Is Useless Without Inbound Sales
If you're generating new leads through inbound marketing without salespeople being on the same page, you're back to square one. Reverting back to old sales tactics is undoing the progress you've made in your lead generation.
That's where inbound sales comes into play.
Inbound sales will better align your marketing and sales teams
It helps your sales team to sell to buyers the way they want to be sold to
Makes sense, right?
Where Should You Start in Adopting Inbound Sales?
Your salespeople need three things to fully embrace an inbound philosophy:
- An understanding of how inbound marketing works
- How it relates to prospects/leads from a sales perspective
- Buy-in from upper management
They don't need to know how to perform inbound marketing tasks, but they should understand and support the methodology.
Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks
The old school sales approach would be to 1.) take a lead and 2.) move immediately to close.
Your sales team must understand that not everyone who converts is ready to buy. But that doesn't mean prospects/leads should be ignored until they're qualified.
With an inbound sales approach, you can start connecting and building rapport with prospects early in the buying process. Even though they aren't ready to be "sold" at this point, you have your foot in the door for when they are.
Educate Sales on Your Buyers & Their Buying Process
For maximum effectiveness, you need to ensure that the sales team is educated about your buyers. Don't let them tell you they know everything already - they don't!
If your company doesn't have at least one established buyer persona, you're not quite ready for inbound sales. Creation and ongoing improvement of your buyer persona(s) is an integral part of inbound marketing. You will not be successful without this step.
Whoever is handling your inbound sales should have a full understanding of the buyer persona. They should know them as well as they know their best friend:
What makes them tick
What makes them happy
What they do on a day-to-day basis
What drives them
This makes rapport much easier to build.
It's vital that sales understands the buyer's journey 110%.
The purpose of inbound sales is to support the individual throughout their journey. Without an understanding of the journey itself, how can you possibly support them in a truly helpful way?
The inbound sales team should become familiar with:
The outcomes of buyer's journey research
Your content library
How that content can be used throughout the inbound sales process
Content should be stored and categorized for easy access in conversations and emails.
The Inbound Sales Conversation
An inbound sales conversation looks nothing like a traditional sales conversation.
The purpose is not always to sell, but to truly support. This changes the dynamic of the conversation completely. Rather than the annoying pushy salesperson and put-upon victim, you have a helpful expert and a curious prospect.
The relationship is entirely different - it's built on a foundation of mutual respect and interest. When your foundation is stable, the rest is almost effortless.
Additionally, your more traditional salespeople will need to change their habits. Enable their success by helping them prepare for the new process. Make sure they're educated and comfortable with how inbound conversations play out (format, tone, language, etc.).
This will take some role play and practice. However, the time is well spent - the conversation is what makes or breaks any sales efforts.
It's time you start taking advantage of inbound leads. Stop thinking of them as "just any old lead" - they're much more valuable than that.
Whoever is handling your sales process needs to forget the old saying "Always Be Closing" and start thinking "Always Be Helping"! That will never happen if they don't understand the inbound philosophy, and truly understand the buyer and their journey.
Educate, my friends. Educate.