In B2B, inbound sales are a result of the digital age, transformed buying process, and power balance between the buyer and the seller. Each company puts a lot of content out there, feeding into buyers’ willingness to educate themselves. However, B2B buyers still need help in visualizing how the company’s solutions can address the obstacles they are regularly facing. Helping prospects throughout their buyer’s journey means for SDRs making inbound sales. But what are they, exactly?
Inbound sales definition
Inbound sales is one of the methods of selling that is based on the principle ‘help first and sell later.’ In contrast to the traditional sales process where companies used to sell their products no matter what, a new approach is to first establish a human connection with leads and help them overcome their challenges. It gives leads space and air to breathe and think. In turn, SDRs see what stage a lead is on (Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent) and guide them along the inbound sales funnel without pushing and pulling.
Using a personalized approach, SDRs are able to address the lead’s needs and create value. As a result, sales teams win not only well-thought purchasing decisions but also loyal customers. Thus, personalization and a humane approach are the basic notions of inbound sales.
Inbound sales are preceded by inbound marketing and followed by outbound sales. The key definitions of all these phenomena are – buyer personas and ideal buyer profiles ensure a good product/market fit.
Inbound vs. outbound sales: What is the difference?
For people who are not yet deep in marketing and sales methodology, inbound and outbound sound indistinguishable. The basic difference between inbound vs. outbound sales is in how leads are courted. If a lead gets interested in a company’s content or comes as a referral, it is part of the inbound sales: A lead comes IN. If SDRs reach out to leads via cold emails or cold calls, those are the outbound sales: A sales rep goes OUT to get a lead.
Some confusion may result from the terms ‘inside sales’ and ‘outside sales’ meaning the way SDRs do sales prospecting. In inside sales, SDRs stay in the office, make calls and write emails to attract prospects, whereas outside sales happen outside of the office during face-to-face meetings and events.
Both inbound and outbound sales processes use the same set of definitions: A sales funnel, buyer profiles, content marketing, personalization, etc.
What is different in inbound and outbound sales then? As the primary difference lies in lead sourcing, each sales strategy has its own way of sales prospecting. Inbound sales leads come from:
- submitting a lead form on the company’s website;
- signing up for a newsletter or webinar;
- leaving their email address or phone number in exchange for a free ebook or case study.
Outbound sales prospects are usually found by sales reps who work on a leads list or do lead search on LinkedIn.
Whereas inbound reps get lead data from onsite forms and lead magnets, outbound representatives can appreciate the importance of having a B2B sales leads database.
Inbound marketing and inbound sales: Two parts of the same strategy?
More or less, that’s right - the entire inbound strategy can split into inbound marketing and inbound sales, especially given that many companies don’t tell the two apart and have one team to handle all the inbound aspects.
The goal of B2B inbound marketing is to set the stage for people’s interest and brand recognition. Based on a company’s buyer profiles and personas, inbound marketers create content – social media outreach, SEO-friendly landing pages and website, blogging, and lead magnets – appealing to the target audience and generating leads.
If there’s a great product/market fit, a company’s inbound brings a stream of qualified leads. It’s possible, however, for inbound marketing to generate a broad spectrum of leads with a poorer product/market fit. Then it is up to inbound sales reps to qualify leads and give feedback to marketing to adjust buyer personas and sales tactics.
How have inbound sales changed by 2021?
Without looking back at how sales used to be in the past, let’s zoom in on how inbound sales are in the present. What are the key features of B2B inbound marketing and sales?
- Role specialization. Sales prospecting has become more complicated than ever. Now businesses split their teams not only into marketing and sales but also into inbound and outbound types. To make sure that inbound leads from onsite forms and landing pages are never missed, and outbound lead lists are thoroughly worked through, marketing and sales teams have roles to take care of each stage of the sale process: Lead researchers, hack growers, demand generators, lead generators, appointment setters, deal closers, account executives, etc.
- Automation tools. The advancement of AI and machine learning is useful for both SDRs and leads alike. Whereas sales reps rejoice to have their tedious tasks automated (email outreach, data scraping, lead search, etc.), leads get help in form filling. Filling forms can be irritating because they gate content like free ebooks, webinars, podcasts, and so on. Technology comes to the rescue. First, many web forms are auto-filled. Also, tech companies try to avoid irritating leads by putting barriers on the way to their content. Instead, they engage them on their social media DMs through chatbot solutions and personalized automated messages.
- Guided selling. Guided selling is one more aspect of the automation trend discussed earlier but with more intelligence. Sales and marketing automation software guide sales reps with useful information in their lead nurturing and selling activities. Smart prompts and suggestions enable reps to prioritize leads based on their lead scoring, personalize email outreach, and ultimately make better decisions. With its customer-centric focus, guided selling solutions help reps have better sales performance and close deals faster.
- Account-based approach. ABM (account-based marketing) is a new approach in B2B sales characterized by focusing on closing an account (company) rather than a lead (individual). For high-ticket business-to-business sales, it indeed makes more sense to work with several decision-makers at the same time. Using smart insights from AI-powered marketing automation software, reps can cater to specific pain points of each decision-maker, improving their sales performance and winning an account in the long run.
What inbound sales techniques can I use?
Before you take any tactical steps, (1) create an ideal customer profile and buyer personas and align all content; and (2) make sure your website is fixed and ready for qualified leads. Now use the following inbound sales techniques:
- Target the audience. Use your ICP and buyer personas to understand what problems your best-fit leads are facing, what words they use, and what they don’t care about. For example, if you’re targeting enterprise companies, free information (like ebooks or tools) has lower chances of getting their attention. For startups, in turn, that’s a great lead magnet.
- Less is more. Email marketing remains an important marketing and sales technique. Many businesses steer away from bulk messaging. Instead, they opt to create highly targeted and personalized email sequences. It definitely takes more time, but open rates and CTRs are much higher. This inbound technique requires a lot of lead research and fumbling with automation software, but the result is totally worth it.
- Help not sell. Modern reps came to realize that in the long run, it makes sense to start conversing with qualified leads with the intent to solve their problems. After you send highly personalized emails and connect with them, you will see if there’s a fit between the product/solutions and the prospect. If there isn’t, move that lead to the waiting list and get back to them later to see if something’s changed.
Skyrocket your B2B inbound marketing
It is not necessary to pit inbound vs. outbound sales. Many companies tailor their sales strategy using both inbound and outbound sales tactics.
If you want to learn more information about B2B sales outsourcing with Belkins, our website is chock-full of useful content. For a consultation, leave your details below, and our team will get in touch shortly to book an appointment.