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The 4 Key Stages Of Inbound Sales

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As buyers, the internet has greatly improved our lives by allowing us to conduct most, if not all, of our research leading up to a purchase online without leaving the office.

However, this change has actually made it more challenging for salespeople.

This is due to increased competition, noise, diminished opportunities for sales representatives to have an impact on the sales process, and the abundance of options and information currently available to consumers online.

The sales industry has been pushed to modernize by this new era of empowered consumers. Fortunately, Set 2 Close has been able to assist B2B businesses in changing with the times but also increase sales using a more contemporary strategy.

The inbound sales methodology is a way to expand your business by creating enduring connections with clients, customers, and prospects. Doing this by using methods that exchange the amount of time your sales teams use for cold outreach for lead-generating methods that book directly into your team’s calendars. The old adage is “nobody likes being sold to but everyone likes to buy.” 

So how do we improve the sales experience without being an interruption in our prospect’s lives while still maximizing our effectiveness in influencing the buyer’s decision?

You do so with 4 key stages:

Identify: The awareness stage of your buyer’s journey where you communicate to potential customers through valuable content & convert them from strangers to leads. 

Connect: Take actions to qualify leads and move them through to the consideration stage. This is really allowing the sales person to be the educator on the industry, product, positioning and competition if done correctly. The best modern salespeople specialize in giving the right info at the right time to progress deals. 

Explore: As your qualified leads start to consider solutions to their problems this is where you have the opportunity to step in as an expert and explore their needs more deeply. This is where great needs analysis comes into play and customizing approaches such as video, custom reports, active demos with their data loaded, and a variety of other solutions to stand out from the crowd and show them you want their business and it is the right fit.

Advise: Finally, when your potential buyer is in the decision phase of their journey, advise them on the best solution which hopefully results in making the sale. This is where acknowledgment of needs and providing an expert sounding board can come in handy. Please note if you have not handled other stakeholder objections then make sure your champion inside your client is well prepared to field them directly.

Your consumers today want to wait until they are farther along in the sales process and closer to making a choice before speaking with your sales staff. In order to drive customers down the sales funnel and into a position where they are prepared to contact a sales team member, you need to produce content & resources that can educate your customers. Make it as easy as possible for your customer to serve themselves up until the point they are ready to make contact with a sales rep. 

Inbound Sales Process

Identify Phase

How do you convert prospects from the identify phase (building awareness) to the connect phase (a lead)? There are 4 critical aspects to hit in the Identify phase.

  1. Obsess Over Your Buyers’ Needs & Fears – The effectiveness of your inbound campaigns in the identity phase can be boiled down to how well you can eliminate their fears & instill confidence that your product is the solution. 
  2. Become A Teacher – The goal of every piece of content shouldn’t be how much attention you can put on your own company but how well you can educate your prospects on your expertise. 
  3. Resources – Provide an abundance of online resources in every format possible to make it easy to communicate with your prospects. Produce written guides, videos & even podcasts. 
  4. Social Proof – Maximizing your social proof is a must. Build up your Google reviews & other 3rd party review sites, get an abundance of testimonials & develop case studies. 

Examples Of Identify Stage Content Channels

  • Social media content (LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, etc.) 
  • Articles 
  • Email Newsletters
  • Evergreen Content (Lead Magnets) 
  • Case Studies
  • Whitepapers 
  • Product walkthroughs 
  • Demo videos

Connect Phase

Connect with your leads in a way that makes them want to build a long-term relationship with you. 

  1. Don’t Rush The Sale – Not every chance to speak with a potential customer should be used as a chance to make a sale. The objective of reaching out to a prospect is to achieve one small victory: to start a two-way conversation that reveals enough details to turn an inbound lead into a qualified lead.
  2. Qualify Your Leads – Not every potential customer that contacts you will be qualified to make a purchase. To ensure that the sales staff is investing its time with prospects that are a good fit, businesses must create lead qualifying processes. 
  3. Use Content For Efficient Qualification – Qualify your prospect efficiently by analyzing their engagement with your marketing content & sales collateral. Send them content that fits the context of their stage in their journey & analyze data like page views, emails opened, amount of content downloads, etc. 

Explore Phase

This is most likely where you will have your first real interaction with your prospects on the phone, over a video call, or even in person. 

  1. Set The Intention of The Meeting – Connect with potential customers through email prior to the meeting to define expectations/agendas and common objectives. Position this meeting as simple fact-finding and general idea sharing to see if a fit is possible and what other solutions they have tried in the past Send any helpful content in this email as well that will allow them to further educate & qualify themselves. 
  2. Eliminate Sales Pitches – when you see initial interest resist the urge to leap into a sales pitch. Instead, use the opportunity to teach, explore their options, understand their goals, understand how they plan to get there, & their timeline to get there. This guides your prospects to their own conclusion that your product is right for them & changes the perception of your sales team from “pushy” to “helpful”. 
  3. Track & Analyze Your Calls – When initially making the switch to inbound strategies you will notice traditional outbound callers fall into old habits quickly. It’s important to record all calls review them with your team & constantly analyze them like a football team studying their old games. Make notes on improvement opportunities & highlight the wins or strong points of the call. 

Advise Phase

At this point, your prospect is ready to make a decision & if the job was done correctly your product should already be the obvious solution. 

  1. Make Sure Your Prospect Is Educated – Before the closing call sends your prospect even more information. It’s critical that the information is contextually specific to them showing you have a strong understanding of their needs & can be trusted to provide the solution. 
  2. Sell The Value Not The Product – Focus on a product’s return on investment rather than its features or pricing advantages. Highlight answers to questions like: How is life easier with your product? Which challenges or tasks are eliminated or reduced? Does your product save the buyer time? If so, how much? What could they accomplish in those minutes, hours, or days? Etc. 
  3. The Close Should Be Easy – At this point, the agreement that there’s a mutual benefit should be glaringly obvious for all stakeholders and the path to the solution is clear. Your Proposal should focus on each stakeholder’s needs and be derived to accomplish the overall goals of the client, asking direct questions here makes sense to eliminate all ambiguity in a closing scene.  

The core principles of Inbound Selling are valuable & timeless. Dialing the sales process back from being an interruption and robotic to prioritizing value, education & win-win situations. When you introduce this mindset to your organization your team will enjoy their jobs more, your prospects will enjoy your team more & your organization’s reputation will grow. If you want to learn more about implementing inbound systems into your organization with advanced implementation, modern tools & effective team coaching/support book a call with our executives.

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