Lead generation is one of the most important activities for marketing teams and it has become more difficult as ad costs increase across platforms. Many companies pay agencies thousands of dollars per month for lead-generation services.
Even with this investment, companies often have subpar leads and this doesn’t translate well into paying customers. The good news is, there’s a way to generate higher quality leads without breaking the bank: inbound lead generation. Inbound lead generation enables companies to attract strangers and turn them into interested prospects and eventually customers, without having to rely on middlemen or interruption-based marketing tactics.
- Inbound or outbound lead generation
- Inbound sales strategy phases
- The difference between a sales process and an inbound sales strategy
- Inbound sales methodology
- Ways to generate inbound sales
- Inbound sales tips
- Getting the most out of inbound sales
Inbound or outbound lead generation - which is more valuable?
Before we get into the strategies you can use to generate inbound leads, it’s important to understand the difference between inbound and outbound lead generation. Inbound leads are prospects that come into contact with your business through a specific marketing channel. Instead of reaching out to them and trying to sell them, inbound leads come to you after they gain value from your free content.
In contrast, outbound lead generation is when you go out and find yourself. These are people who don’t know anything about your business yet, so someone from your business reaches out to them and educates them about your services. Once they know about your company, they become a lead that you can work to turn into a paying customer.
Both of these lead generation strategies work, but inbound has several key advantages over outbound. The advantages include:
- Cost-effectiveness: Inbound leads are often generated through social platforms. It’s free to post on these platforms and you can build a brand over time that generates many inbound leads.
- Scale: It’s much easier to scale the number of inbound leads you get than outbound leads. You can hire more content creators to produce more inbound leads without having to increase your ad spend.
- Quality of leads: The quality of leads for inbound is far better than outbound. With outbound, you have to continuously qualify your business and your offer. With inbound, the lead is already interested in what you do and many are already willing to purchase. Using inbound marketing is a much better customer retention strategy than outbound.
Inbound sales strategy phases. Source: HubSpot
Inbound sales strategy phases
In addition to the benefits of inbound leads over outbound, the sales strategy is much easier for inbound. With outbound, there are many touchpoints and prospects can easily fall out of your sales cycle.
With inbound, there are three general parts of your sales strategy:
The first step is the awareness phase. In this phase, prospects identify a problem they’re experiencing and they start to go look for solutions on different platforms. This is usually where they will make their first touchpoint with your business.
In the consideration phase, prospects are looking at different options to solve their problem and they start to compare these options. They might search for specific keywords related to their problem and they’ll start making a list of possible providers for their problem. In this phase, the prospect is weighing out the pros and cons of different solutions and is getting ready to make a purchase.
The final stage in inbound sales is the decision stage. In this phase, the buyer will make the best-informed decision based on the previous two phases and select someone to purchase a solution from. They might consider different offerings and payment options, but they have chosen a business to solve their needs.
The difference between a sales process and an inbound sales strategy
Before diving into the different inbound sales methodologies your business can use, it’s important to understand the difference between a sales process and an inbound sales strategy.
The majority of companies with sales teams use a standard sales process. A sales process simply refers to the actions that a sales rep takes to convert a prospect into a paying customer. This is generally what your sales team is already doing. This covers how they find prospects, how they qualify them, and how they ultimately close the deal.
In contrast, an inbound sales strategy encompasses all of the activities that need to happen to your inbound leads. This sales strategy is specifically designed to align with the inbound methodology and it will not work if you use it on your traditional prospects. Your inbound sales strategy identifies your buyer’s journey, personalizes your messaging to fit their needs and empowers your prospect to make the best decision.
The Inbound sales methodology
The different phases of your inbound sales make up your inbound sales strategy. According to HubSpot.), you need to use all three phases to implement an inbound sales methodology.
Without moving your buyers through the awareness, consideration and decision stages, your inbound marketing will fail to convert into paying customers. What makes an inbound sales methodology successful is the ability of your sales team to personalize your messaging and address the different pain points of your prospects.
Throughout your inbound sales pipeline, you need to identify each prospect’s needs and tailor your sales pitch around those needs. If you can do that, you’ll be able to increase their perceived likelihood of success and this makes them more likely to convert when you decide to close them.
Each organization has its own inbound sales methodology, so you can keep refining your process to cater to your audience.
Ways to generate inbound sales
Now that we’ve covered the different stages involved in an inbound sales strategy and what makes up a successful inbound sales methodology, let’s look at some of the best ways to generate inbound sales:
Start a blog
Many prospects go to Google as their first resource when asking a question. When you create a blog, you can use SEO and optimize your content to rank better on search engines. This allows you to get in front of your ideal buyer when they’re already searching for an answer to their problem. The great thing about having a blog is that you can get organic visitors to your site every day and convert those readers into leads for your business.
A great example of this is Split My Fare’s success with their SEO. Split My Fare is a train service in the UK and they’ve grown their organic traffic from 25,000 monthly visitors to over 150,000 monthly visitors in under 2 years. They target specific queries like “train tickets UK” that their customers search for and build specific pages on their site to answer this. This has helped them grow their traffic and increase their inbound leads dramatically.
Post content on social media
Social media platforms are extremely powerful at generating inbound leads. You can share your blog posts, infographics, ebooks, and other types of content on social media to attract new leads. With social media, it’s best to focus on one platform and build a strong presence there. Trying to be everywhere at once will only dilute your message and make it harder for you to attract leads. As an example, in a recent study 93% of small businesses reported distributing content on Facebook, with 61% doing so at least weekly. But social media isn’t just for smaller businesses…the bigger your brand is, the more you’ll attract inbound leads.
Get involved in online communities
There are online communities for almost every industry and market. These forums and discussion boards give you the opportunity to market to a very specific group of people. By being active in these communities, you gain trust and this ultimately helps you generate more inbound leads.
Examples of online communities you can start creating and engaging on include:
- Slack channels
- Reddit groups
- Facebook groups
- LinkedIn groups
Inbound sales tips
Using some of the strategies above will help you generate more inbound leads, but your team still needs to convert these into sales.
Some of the best strategies to get more inbound sales include:
Building a strong offer
In order to attract inbound sales, you need to create an offer that your prospects can’t resist. You need to remove as much friction from the sale as possible to entice your leads to purchase. Your offer can include guarantees, free shipping, or anything else that makes it an easy decision for your leads.
Investing in lead nurturing
Just because you generate a lead does not mean you get a sale. There are a lot of steps between someone becoming a lead and buying from your business. The better you can make your lead nurturing process, the higher the likelihood of a prospect becoming a customer.
Creating a seamless buying experience
Once you’ve attracted a lead and moved them through your inbound sales pipeline, you need to make sure they have a seamless buying experience. You need to make sure that you have a user-friendly website, provide helpful customer service, and make the purchase process as simple as possible. All of these efforts reduce the friction between the buyer and the sale.
Capture inbound leads and qualify them instantly
The quicker you are to contact an inbound lead, you will have a better chance of qualifying the lead. A lead that you contact within 5 minutes of an inquiry is 100 more likely to respond and 6 times more likely to enter the sales pipeline.
CrankWheel users can leverage the Instant Demos lead capture widget that alerts sales teams the second a prospect begins entering information into the contact form. Even more, the widget shows what page the prospect was visiting and which campaign contributed to the inquiry.
Getting the most out of inbound sales
Even with the different inbound sales tips covered above, you can get even more outsized results from your inbound marketing. The key is to use your inbound sales methodology correctly and not deviate from the process. Remember, inbound sales is a long-term strategy and you need to continuously refine your process in order to see results. You can improve your inbound sales even further by:
Hiring an inbound sales specialist: You need someone on your team who’s solely responsible for generating inbound leads. This person would ideally be someone who’s worked on inbound for other companies before and can replicate the best practices in your business. When you utilize outsourced IT support service make sure to check their previous work in order to have a full grasp of their abilities.
Building your brand: Inbound marketing can be amplified dramatically if you have a stronger brand. With a brand, you have more credibility and this makes it much easier to generate leads. This gives you a lot more leverage with the same amount of effort being put in.
Investing in marketing automation: Marketing automation software like HubSpot can help you automate your inbound sales process. With automation at your disposal, you can easily nurture your leads and close more sales. Additionally, the analytics features in these software programs will help you track your progress and make data-driven decisions to improve your inbound sales strategy. You may wish to consider hiring an IT support company to help set up your marketing automation stack.
These are just a few of the strategies you can start deploying to increase inbound sales for your business. If you’re not already using inbound sales, now’s the time to start. To learn more about how to leverage inbound sales for your business, explore this blog post on ways to develop an inbound sales process.