People buy from people, so Sales people will always be needed, right?
That’s certainly true for larger B2B purchases, but buyer behaviour has changed. Our customers can do so much more research before they contact a company.
When they do, it might just be for a quote or a tender where they maintain control of the buying process and your opportunity to influence their thinking is limited.
In recognising these changes in buyer behaviour, many more companies are adopting an Inbound approach to Sales.
What that means is there are opportunities for Sales people that are ready to make a few changes in their approach.
What is an Inbound Sales Approach?
Traditional sales approaches tend to focus on what our (the sellers’) needs are. The sales process might include prospecting, demo or presentation, then close.
An Inbound Approach looks at helping the buyer through their journey – whatever that may be.
It tries to add value to their journey at every step. It is focused on helping the customer come to the right decision, even if your solution isn’t the right fit.
It is worth spending time thinking about what a typical buyer’s journey is. A good framework for this is:
- AWARENESS – Buyer identifies a challenge they have or an opportunity they want to pursue
- CONSIDERATION – Buyer has clearly defined the goal or challenge and is doing something about it
- DECISION – Buyer has decided how to approach this and which solution will work for them
An Inbound Approach means that you need to ask the question: How can we support these buyers at each of these stages? What do they need from us as an organisation?
The old-school approach says “You’ve had the demo, when will you make your decision?”
The Inbound Approach says “There may be many more steps here, how can we help? Do you need comparisons of the various solutions, case studies, training plans, payment plans, comparisons against competitors, help to understand how the new legislation affects this? There may be other goals and challenges and personalities involved here, how can we help you navigate this?”
What New Tricks do Inbound Sales People Learn?
Inbound sales people use clues to work out who needs their product or service. For example, they might:
Find the blogs that their buyers are reading – and read and comment on those blogs.
Find LinkedIn groups that their buyers ask questions in – and join those groups and answer those questions, and ask some of their own.
Follow the thought leaders on Twitter that their buyers follow – and retweet and comment as appropriate.
Some brave souls may even contribute to the company’s blog too. There is no better way to give yourself “trusted advisor” status, than freely giving away some of your industry know-how.
If you adopt these practices, then you will start to see more buyers actually reach out to you for help and guidance through their buyer’s journey.
If you don’t have these skills currently, find yourself an agency that can help you learn.
Set Yourself Apart from the Old School
An old-school approach is to deliver the same generic presentation or demo for each prospect outlining product advantages, company background and a popular case study or two.
Then the demo is a standard one, showing the same features in the same order each time.
Then you might show another generic ROI study that you share with every prospect.
The danger is that the buyer struggles to join the dots between this presentation and their own specific challenges.
In contrast, an Inbound Approach would present only the features and benefits that match up with what the buyer needs, and using their terminology. It would also include case studies aligned with the buyer’s industry and needs.
The demo or presentation would only illustrate the features that the buyer wants and in the buyer’s order of importance.
There would also be an ROI analysis customised to the buyer’s metrics and business and a proposal that explains the client’s goals, the scope of work and agreed KPIs that show what success is.
For those sales people, and indeed Sales teams that can adapt to a new way of selling, there are fantastic opportunities.
Most companies have not yet adopted an Inbound Approach to selling. If you can persuade your business to change tack, then you could get ahead of the crowd.
You would also reap the rewards of a new Inbound Sales approach where you have customer buy-in, respect and trust.
When this approach is combined with an Inbound Marketing platform like HubSpot, you will start to see an increase in lead generation, better quality leads and more insight into how engaged your prospects are.