Getting customers to contact you on their own is every entrepreneur’s dream, but it doesn’t just happen overnight. There are certain steps you need to take to fine-tune your inbound sales process for success.
These steps will require you to approach sales with a customer-centric methodology if you want to create more positive experiences for prospects that will motivate them to buy from your brand.
Now, let’s dive into seven tips that can help you develop an effective inbound sales process.
What is inbound sales?
Inbound sales refers to customers who reached out to your brand to buy a product or service. It is based on a marketing strategy that focuses on prioritizing the needs, problems, or goals of potential customers and creating personalized experiences that can guide them towards making a decision to buy from you.
To get this right, it’s important to know that outbound and inbound sales teams work with separate processes. One focuses on outright selling, while the other draws prospects in. So, to be successful with your inbound sales strategy, you need to know the difference between these two teams and the functions they perform. Let’s jump into our tips for devising an inbound sales process that will give you the results you’re looking for.
Start by defining your audience
The first thing to do when creating processes and setting goals for any sales or marketing strategy is to define who you’re trying to reach and sell to. That’s why it’s necessary for you to create buyer personas, which you can keep in mind when designing your inbound sales process.
To identify your audience, you should be prepared to do research on the characteristics of the people you’re trying to sell to. Some of the demographic factors you should be identifying are age, income level, gender, ethnicity, and geographic location.
You could also decide to use a competitor analysis tool like Affinio to look at your competitors’ audiences to see the people who are buying from them. Since you’ll be in the same industry, you’ll be able to get an idea of the kind of customers that might also be interested in your business. For more information on mapping out your ideal customers, Bookyourdata has a guide on identifying your target market that you might find useful.
Once you’ve done your research, you can start to build buyer personas that represent the people in your target audience, based on the demographics or interests you’ve identified. Buyer personas can really help to influence your sales process because they make it easier for you to have a clear picture of the people you want to sell to. They’ll also guide you in creating content and ensuring that your marketing efforts will speak directly to your target market.
Outline your customers’ buying journey
Your buying journey refers to all the interactions and processes that a person goes through while trying to buy a product or service from you. It can be helpful to try and understand the steps your customers go through before spending money with you, as this will give you more insight into the ways you can make their journey better.
There are typically three stages of the buying journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. In the first stage, people are just realizing that they need to solve a particular problem and are becoming aware of the products or services that can help them solve it.
The next is the consideration stage, where a buyer is trying to evaluate different solution options available from various brands. And the decision stage is the point where the buyer makes a choice on the product or service they believe is best for them.
As a business owner, you need to understand these stages and the different touchpoints customers will hit at each phase of their journey. Touchpoints in this case refer to the interactions a prospect has with your brand, whether it be online or in person.
But it’s not enough to only know what these touchpoints are — you also have to make sure you’re optimizing your website and social media platforms properly. And you can do this by creating high-quality content and images, as well as implementing other lead generation tactics that will help you generate more inbound sales for your business.
Provide helpful content for every stage of the buying journey
One way to support your inbound sales team in moving people through the buying journey is to create content that’s helpful at every stage. For example, you could publish blog posts that contain introductions to your products or services for customers in the awareness stage of their buying journey.
At the consideration stage, you can provide buying guides or comparison pieces that will help prospects evaluate their options. For instance, you could create useful guides and reviews for business services that would help your audience make the best choice between several tools to use in growing their company.
Finally, you can also create product demonstrations and case studies for people at the decision stage to assure them of how they can use your products or services to solve their problems. These types of content act as sales enablement materials and will help in guiding prospects towards the end of your sales funnel.
We’re going to take a look at some examples of businesses that do a good job of providing helpful content for every stage of their buyers’ journey.
First, we have Ping Identity, a company that provides identity and access management solutions for its clients. On their blog is a post that provides more information about single sign-on (SSO) solutions. They know that there are many people who might not even be aware of the fact that a service like this exists, so they’ve created a post to shed more light on the SSO feature they offer.
This is a great example of content that’s helpful at the awareness stage, and it acts as a good introduction to what Ping Identity does and how it can help potential customers. It will also work well for helping their inbound sales team generate more conversions from people who might have been looking for companies that provide this type of service.
Next up is Best Value Schools and their comparison piece for people in the consideration stage. The site is an online resource for prospective students who are trying to decide what schools to attend and, in one of their posts, they’ve provided a list of the 19 most affordable online MBA programs.
They’ve ranked these schools based on their program lengths, tuition fees, graduation rates, and other factors that can help future students make the best decision. Comparison pieces like this work very well for the consideration stage and can go a long way in helping people who might be on the fence.
One thing to take note of in this example is the importance of doing in-depth research before putting together a comparison piece. People usually use content like this to make very important decisions, so you want to ensure that you go the extra mile in uncovering information that could be useful to your audience.
Lastly, let’s take a look at an example from the Loganix website. One of the services we offer as a business is local citation building and, on the service page for that, we’ve made sure to include a case study that shows how we helped a client to efficiently handle their local citation needs.
Many prospects who get to this service page might still be looking for further affirmation that we can handle their projects. So including this case study is a great way to help clear their doubts and point them towards results that we’ve achieved for a client.
As a takeaway, you should notice that the case study was included on the service page for citation building and not on a separate page of its own. While it’s okay to have a web page for your case studies, it can also be effective if you include links to one or two case studies on your service page so prospects can view them while checking out your services.
In order to get the most out of the helpful content you’re creating, make sure that you perform adequate keyword research before writing. You can start with keyword research tools like Ubersuggest or the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool by inputting relevant words or phrases that you think are common at different stages of your buyers’ journey. The tools will then give you a list of queries or keywords that have been typed into search engines by people in your target audience. Including these keywords in your content will improve your SEO and make it easier for people to find your content through search engines.
Another useful tip is to ensure your sales team takes advantage of these helpful content pieces by using them to support the sales pitches they send out to potential customers, as they can help you get more conversions.
Assign prospects a representative they can build a connection with
When you get any inbound leads, it’s important to assign them a particular representative of your company who they can build a connection with. If a potential customer is being passed around your team, they might feel like they aren’t being taken seriously, or some of their questions and concerns might be missed.
Ensuring you assign one person to take care of them can be very effective, and it increases the chances of them spending money with you. To do this effectively, you could look into getting customer relationship management (CRM) software that can help you track leads and the representatives they’ve been assigned to ensure that no prospect is being overlooked.
Before assigning leads, you should also evaluate each representative, their abilities, and the history of leads they’ve handled to make sure you’re making the best possible matches.
If you need some more help with assigning prospects to representatives, CrankWheel has a great guide on how to make sales pipeline management easier for sales leaders. Feel free to check it out for more information.
Pinpoint your customers’ pain points, and address them
One of the principles of great customer service and a big part of inbound sales involves identifying your customers’ pain points and addressing them. This can show that you understand your customers’ concerns and questions. And it will, in turn, show that they can trust you to help them in the ways they need.
While your inbound sales team might be able to help your customers with their pain points on a case-by-case basis, it’s also worth creating content that addresses the most common problems your ideal customers tend to have. And, to do this, you’ll need to come up with the relevant topics to cover.
One way to find these topics is by going through the comments on your blog or social media pages. Your customers might leave comments telling you about the issues they’re having, or simply ask you questions that are relevant to your niche. By looking through the comments, you’ll be able to see places where people need help and then craft topics that can answer some of the questions they’re asking.
Another thing you could do is to look at the queries or questions people send to your customer service team. People usually look to customer service personnel for answers to some of their problems or pain points, so going through those queries will give you insight into the kinds of topics that your audience will appreciate.
Some of the content types you could create to address customer pain points include how-to guides, free tools, or expert guides. How-to guides are comprehensive pieces that show people how to perform a specific task and free tools can include templates, checklists, calculators, or any other free resource that your audience will find useful. We also have expert guides which are really in-depth content that helps your customers develop their knowledge on a particular topic or issue.
Let’s take a look at some businesses that have successfully created these content types to help address their customers’ pain points.
Roadside Dental Marketing is a digital marketing business that specializes in helping dental companies. On their blog, they have a post on how to update a Google My Business (GMB) listing. The post talks about the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, how it affected several dental practices, and how businesses could prepare for reopening after the worst of the pandemic is over.
Companies that claim their GMB listing get to display their business profiles on Google but, due to the pandemic, there’s been a need for businesses to make certain changes to their profiles. So Roadside Dental Marketing created a post to provide actionable information on how people could update their listing to reflect changes in their business hours, new Covid-related offerings, and other custom updates. It’s very timely and it does a lot to answer so many questions that people in their audience would have had at the time.
Another example is from Manhattan Tech Support. As an IT support company, they know that there are people in their audience who might have been thinking of getting involved in strategic technological projects before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And, now that the economy is opening back up, they’ve decided to create a post that tells people how to boost their technology infrastructure by starting long-term IT projects that will be beneficial to their businesses in the long run. They list various projects and even include tips on how they can help people get started on them. And, for people who have actually been looking to start an IT project, this post can work as a great lead generation tactic.
These examples show how you can use your content to address problems that people in your audience are having. And, sometimes, you might not even need to go looking for these pain points. For instance, the companies in the examples focused on addressing a current event, which was the Covid-19 pandemic. So that’s something you could do as well — choose to address a current event that is affecting businesses in your niche.
Focus on helping prospects fully understand your products or services
To generate positive reviews and repeat purchases, you want to make absolutely sure that your prospects fully understand your products or services before making a purchase with you. This should be your inbound sales team’s main focus.
One of the best ways to ensure this is by showing your prospects exactly how everything works. To help with this, you can use CrankWheel’s screen sharing tool to help you give presentations of your products to prospects.
To ensure that you’re giving effective remote presentations that will help your ideal customers understand what you do, you want to keep things simple and encourage people to ask questions if they need more clarification on what your product or service does. You should also remember to mention if you offer a free trial that will help them get a real feel for what you offer.
Besides presentations, you can also use product demonstration videos to help people understand the features and benefits of your products. Or you could write user guides that give detailed information about how your product works.
Make sure you maintain contact post-purchase
To encourage customer loyalty, you need to ensure that your inbound sales team doesn’t simply forget about your customers once they’ve spent money with you — they should always maintain contact to answer any post-purchase questions, concerns, or complaints that customers might have.
This means you should make sure your representatives reach out on a regular basis to check in and see how people are enjoying their purchases. You could include this as part of their key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure your representatives don’t forget. Keeping in touch with customers is a very important part of the sales process, as it’s one of the best ways to help you put the customer first and also ensures that your brand secures repeat purchases.
To recap, a strong inbound sales strategy is a great way to get prospects into your sales funnel and keep them moving until the point of sale. And some of the ways you can get started with this strategy are by defining your audience, providing helpful content for various stages of the buying journey, and making sure to keep in contact with customers after purchase.
Once you implement these tips, you’ll be on your way to getting even more leads. And, if you ever need a tool to assist in managing prospects and assigning agents to new leads, you can always use the instant demos mechanism created by CrankWheel to help you connect leads and agents in real-time to improve conversions and sales for your business.
About the author
Alex Ratynski is a Content Strategist at Loganix, an SEO fulfillment partner that works with agencies and marketers. The company focuses on helping businesses to improve their online visibility, so they can grow and reach their goals. If you enjoyed this article, visit the Loganix blog for more expert advice.