If you're in sales, you may have started to notice that buyers are a lot smarter these days. Today, buyers don't look to the salespeople for information. They come armed and ready to make a deal with a purchase plan already in mind. That's because in today's world, there is a wealth of information available to consumers that wasn't available a few years ago. This is why content that is tailored to these customers will help to bring them back to you once they've made the decision to buy.
When a new prospect comes to you, they don't want to be "sold." A new prospect has a problem and they want to know how to solve it. If you can solve their problem easily, you're more likely to get the sale. For instance, if you are a tech company, you probably get asked how to calculate ROI or how to keep someone from bouncing from your website? Before the prospective company comes to you, however, it is likely they've already tried to figure out the answer on their own. Your job as a sales rep is to provide helpful information that will not annoy them. Being genuinely helpful is what will get you in front of decision-makers, not annoying phone calls and emails to the wrong people.
The Inbound Method of Sales involves the awareness stage, consideration stage and the decision stage. During awareness, a salesperson's job is to provide helpful content to someone who is seeking the answer to a question. Someone in the awareness stage may not even know they are looking yet, so being a pushy salesperson could be quite off-putting. In the consideration stage, the person is well aware of the problem they are facing and actively searching for a way to solve the issue. As a salesperson, it is now your job to provide the helpful information for these people to research. This could be done by a webinar, a step-by-step guide or offering to LISTEN to the problem at hand. Yes, I said listen. In the decision stage, the problem now needs resolved and the prospect is looking for a coherent strategy. The decision stage is the most important for the salesperson. This is because the active prospect is now ready to be a buyer.
So why is Inbound Sales different from yesterday's way of selling?
First, it puts the buyer before the sale. That means that you are researching the "Buyer's Journey" that your prospect is likely to follow and helping them along the way. You are no longer cold-calling and sending emails to no-man's-land. Just like with inbound marketing, inbound sales will nurture the prospect along the buyer's journey.
In the awareness stages of Inbound Sales, providing helpful answers (marketing) to questions on social meda, writing content for their industry or company that gives credibility to you as a source, and being an active leader of online discussions can show someone looking for answers that you are a thought leader on the topic. Then, during consideration, the salesperson should be providing helpful blog articles, hosting webinars, and possibly calling to listen to a prospect's problem at hand. After this, you (the salesperson) will know the issue, can solve the issue, and then begin working on a strategy that will help close the sale.
The content you create for your inbound sales prospecting can work in conjunction with your inbound marketing campaigns. In the awareness stage, you will be creating top funnel content that can help bring the prospect into your buyer's journey-focused workflow. A workflow provides the prospective buyer with the awareness, consideration and then decision-making content in that order.
Here's how it works:
Top funnel content based on a common problem in your prospect's industry is created to draw in new prospects from social media, blogging, or an email. The prospect is provided a link that takes them to a landing page with a form. They fill out the form and receive the content, and you can now send them into your workflow. In the form, they'll be asked to provide an email address. The middle funnel content will be sent to them by email to provide a solution to the problem that they are actively searching for. That content download will then send them your bottom funnel content email to provide ways in which your company can help fix the problem. You may now contact the prospect with a strategy.
If you are finding that cold-calling is no longer working for your company's sales team, it may be time for you to consider trying Inbound Sales. In today's world, social media, Google, and other libraries of information such as Pinterest, Buzzsumo or industry blogs have already been readily available to your prospects. They don't want to start all over from square one; they want more information for a problem they're already having, even if they aren't aware the problem exists.
Where to begin:
Start by being a knowledgeable source for your industry. Create a list of common problems for your consumers and then create helpful content that's relevant to those problems. Send your content out on your blog, social media channels, and create online discussions. This will draw prospects to you in a natural, non-pushy way. Then provide case studies for ways you solved these problems for other clients that will give your company the credibility for prospects to look into your company further. If you can provide helpful information for common problems, teach them how to solve the problem, and then become a source for creating a strategy to fix them, you'll be closing a lot more sales.
Kristen is a HubSpot certified marketing consultant specializing in social media. She has a BA from Ball State where she studied art, English, and journalism. Her true passion is social media marketing.