Welcome to the new era, and the next evolution in the sales process. Where loyal customers are defined not by their purchases alone, but by their whole customer journey. How did we get here? And more importantly, where do effective lead generation and sales strategies go from here?
A solid sales process is key to your company’s success. Building a buyer-empowered, customer journey-focused sales strategy can change what would have been a one-time purchaser into a loyal return customer. If your goal is to generate more qualified leads that keep on giving, then read on!
Inbound vs. Outbound Sales Approaches
You may have heard the terms inbound and outbound lately. These can refer to marketing or sales processes.
Inbound sales and marketing create a process that dovetails with how people actually buy. The modern buyer is no longer dependent on a salesperson to find or purchase what they’re looking for. Research opportunities, product or service reviews and competing brands can be found in seconds on a mobile phone or voice search. Inbound methodologies leverage this information, and work to create personalized buyer journeys that lead a customer seamlessly through a natural process. Strategies and touch points are integrated into a buyer-centric experience, where the customer finds you.
In contrast, outbound sales and marketing are more traditional approaches, where a seller initiates the conversation and sends information out to a wide, typically untargeted audience. Tactics would include making cold calls, or arbitrary email blasts to unqualified lists.
Why Switch From an Outbound Sales Approach?
Today’s market has shifted to a buyer-empowered focus. Inbound marketing is not only a hot topic but also is increasingly becoming a necessary staple to a salesperson’s toolkit. At the same time, outbound marketing is becoming a thing of the past.
In this digital era, customers are more discerning and research-oriented when it comes to their purchases. The strategy that interrupts, pitches and closes is no longer an efficient way to gain or keep loyal customers.
The New Sales Methodology: Become an Advisor
Only 17% of marketers say outbound practices provide the highest quality leads for sales. (HubSpot, 2016). The best way to reach those high quality leads is through inbound sales methodologies and practices.
The new sales process includes four main stages. Each stage leads your customer through a more personalized, organic journey, resulting in more loyal customers who will likely even become promoters of your brand.
1. Identify. In the past, a sales team would cast a wide net to try to engage strangers, unaware of which buyers were active in the customer journey. Non-targeted groups were reached via purchased mailing lists and blasted generic information. Today, it’s about cultivating leads who have already expressed interest and targeting buyers who are already active in your customer journey. These leads have visited your website, filled out a form, or opened a highly targeted email.
2. Connect. Leads were once gained by cold outreach. Generic elevator pitches were used to get in the door and qualify a budget. With the new methodology, you can turn cultivated leads into qualified leads. Build trust with personalized messaging and strategy based on the buyer’s interests with blogs, social media and other personalized content.
3. Explore. At this point, your team would have been working on creating qualified leads—transitioning into presentation mode with generic information distributions to any and all who expressed interest. However, now since you have already targeted your qualified leads, you are ready to present opportunities! Transition to exploration mode when a buyer expresses interest and leverage this interest to uncover their needs and goals.
4. Advise. This once meant offering generic opportunities—delivering the same content every time and offering discounts to move buyers to a seller’s timeline. And usually that relationship would end once a purchase was made. Now the key is creating loyal customers through personalized content to each buyer and adjusting the sales process to the buyer’s timeline. You want to become a trusted advisor—sharing information post-sale and turning your customer into a promoter.
Using inbound sales methodologies will get you to the right audiences faster, and will help you keep those customers.
3 Tips for a Successful Inbound Sales Process
It is important to understand the new path to creating loyal customers. Here are some helpful tips for making sure you are on the right track to a more successful inbound sales process:
1. Listen to Your Customers’ Needs (Listen vs. Interrupting)
Learn about your typical customer and their interests through inbound marketing intelligence gathering, so you can best meet their needs.
2. Diagnose the Issue (Diagnose vs. Pitching)
Tailor what you offer to your customer’s interests. Effectively use marketing leads gained through website visits, email opens, and completed forms.
3. Prescribe the Best Solution (Prescribe vs. Speculating)
Become your customer’s solution-finder by becoming a trusted advisor and adding value.
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