Do you consider yourself a pushy salesperson? The answer is probably not. But would your customers agree?
According to HubSpot whilst only 17% of sellers would call themselves pushy, 50% of prospects have been subject to pushy sales techniques.
69% of buyers today want sellers to listen to their needs, 61% don’t want sellers to be pushy in their approach, and the same number want sellers to provide them with information that is relevant.
No wonder then that inbound selling is so vital to sales success today.
What is inbound selling?
Whilst traditional outbound sales strategies still very much have a place in the B2B landscape, successful B2B sales is no longer just a case shouting about your products and services on social media, or hitting the phones to prospects to fill them in on the latest solution you have to offer.
A typical inbound sales definition is ‘a methodology that prioritises the needs challenges, goals and interests of individual buyers.
Instead of focusing on closing the sale as soon as possible, inbound sales people work to meet customers where they are and then guide – not push- them through the decision making process.’
To put it more simply, inbound selling is about harnessing intelligence and insight to tailor the path the buyer takes to become your customer, not forcing them through the traditional sales funnel. It’s a strategy that works.
According to The Aberdeen Group, 62% of salespeople who do not use inbound miss their quotas.
Looking at wider team success, 64% of selling teams that use inbound reach their quotas compared to 49% of sales teams who don’t.
Inbound selling is the B2B sales strategy of the successful B2B seller – if you’re still stuck using only outbound techniques here’s our top inbound sales tips…
The seven habits of the highly successful inbound B2B seller
Habit 1 – Define Your Persona
Defining a buyer persona is the first step to successful inbound sales, it ensures you’re attracting the only the most valuable leads and customers, and that you’re focusing your time in the right places.
In short, buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers, they are critical to lead generation, reach out, closing and retention.
Building buyer personas helps you understand your prospects and customers better, and therefore define your sales approach.
It’s about getting a deeper understanding of what makes them tick, their role and buying power, what their motivations are, what problems they have, what their ultimate goals are, how they like to be sold to, and what they’re looking for in a supplier.
Knowing your buyer persona sets the tone for your inbound sales methodology, it is the foundation for all the activities you undertake to align your targeting and sales activities – content generation, proactive sales outreach, tone of engagement and messaging etc.
Habit 2 – Gather Insight
Once you’ve defined your buyer persona and you know which customers to target then next thing is to do your research – get beyond generalisations and personifications and instead truly understand each individual buyer.
Insight informs the relationship with your customer or prospect and is at the core of inbound – changing the conversation from a vendor or product focus to a customer focus.
Insight comes from corporate data points (structured), as well as news and social media sources (unstructured data).
Insight should be gathered both at company level as well as individual buyer level – their job role, what they post about most often, their preferences, sentiments and interests, their needs, goals and aspirations, their pain points and challenges.
These insights into the personality and behaviours of buyers improve real time understanding of what’s driving them at any given moment, and therefore your ability to prioritise their needs.
Insight for inbound sales:
- Improves understanding – pulling out the actionable intelligence that improves real-time understanding of the customer and what’s driving them at any given moment
- Improves relevance – having the power to determine in advance what a customer needs, and what product or service will have the greatest impact
- Improves timing – uncovering trigger events that highlight when a customer would benefit from an upsell or cross-sell, and pinpointing the optimal time to get in touch
- Improves value – understanding where, when and how you can bring additional value to the relationship, demonstrate trust and shared goals
Habit 3 – Align your journey to theirs
Successful inbound sales techniques are less about figuring out how to sell, and more about making it easier to buy.
Your inbound sales strategy must be directly linked to the buyer’s purchase journey. It must be centred around providing the right kind of sales outreach at the most appropriate time to influence the buyer and cater to their needs.
Once you have a deep insight driven understanding of the customer you’re better positioned to help shape the customer journey – target them more effectively with the most appropriate messages at the optimum time.
Insight assists in the production of more effective campaigns, improves the quality of every engagement, and the crafting of relevant content that resonates with the customer agenda.
Influencing the customer journey requires the building of trust.
Making your sales outreach relevant to the customer, fortuitously timed, contextualised within their marketplace and demonstrating genuine interest in them builds credibility and trust, again making it easier to buy.
Habit 4 – Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader
As we all know by now customers no longer start their buying journey by engaging with you.
Instead they are researching their options through search engines, seeking opinions from those in their social networks, and looking to online content as their guide when seeking ideas, inspiration and validation during their purchase process.
Positioning yourself and your company as a thought leader is an important step in the inbound process.
Use the insight you’ve gathered to create compelling content that weaves into the buyers context, and publish it on the platforms your potential customers use frequently.
Thought leadership lightens the buyer’s burden and demonstrates your expertise and insight in addressing the buyer’s main issues and concerns – important triggers for getting buyers to engage with you.
According to Edeleman 86% B2B decision makers say they would engage with a sales professional who provided insights or knowledge about their industry.
Habit 5 – Engage In the Way Customer Want
A key inbound message is the importance of engaging with customers the way they want to be engaged with, not the way you want to engage with them.
This is particularly important when targeting first-time customers. The most successful sellers today are those that capitalise on every business moment in a way that is customer-centric, contextually aware, empathetic and personalised.
Today’s buyers are turned off by generic mass broadcast communications, spamming and untargeted, untimely, irrelevant and poorly-delivered engagements. They want sellers to reach out at a time and in a manner that’s right for them.
Insight provides this level of context by pulling out trigger events and propensity to buy sentiments – events, situations and circumstances – that cause companies to consider buying your product or service.
Contextual insight removes the guess work when it comes to relevance and timing, ensuring you know the best time to act and the most appropriate attention-grabbing ways to engage with customers and prospects.
Habit 6 – Anticipate needs
B2B buyers are more likely to choose to work with companies that can accurately predict their choices, therefore B2B sellers must be able to anticipate purchasing behaviours and proactively deliver relevant content, product, price and message.
Indeed, according to Salesforce 75% of business buyers expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions.
Anticipation of need should feed into you inbound strategy, by building an understanding of what the customers next steps are likely to be (using intelligence and insight gathered to construct predictive models based on patterns of event types, market changes and customer attributes), you can begin implementing solutions before the buyer needs it.
By anticipating needs you can augment your inbound strategy with the engagement activities that are likely to have the greatest impact and push out the content that will resonate most with customers.
Habit 7 – Use the right tools for the job
The key to success for inbound sales is a constant stream of intelligence and insight. With the right tools and guidance in place B2B sellers in any industry can effectively implement a successful inbound sales strategy.
Looking to turbo charge your inbound strategy, get in touch with Artesian today.