ProTips: 4 ways to succeed at inbound sales   

This is a guest post by Jesse Wisnewski, Director of Marketing at PhoneBurner.

The buying process has been flipped on its head.

Historically, you had to find customers, but today your customers often find you—through online searches, polling their friends on social media, and browsing websites. The consumers of today no longer wait passively for someone to approach them with a solution; they are actively online, foraging for information, searching for answers from blogs and forums, media outlets, and peer-to-peer review sites like Capterra and G2.

What does this mean for you?

You need to be in a position to capture people’s attention, build a relationship, and nurture them toward becoming a customer. One big way you do this is through inbound sales.

With inbound sales, you work with leads who have expressed an interest in your product or service (these are technically called "inbound leads"). From starting a free trial to downloading a resource, there are many ways leads initiate this process with you. How you follow up with these leads is considered inbound sales.

Now, let’s talk about four ways you can succeed at inbound sales.

ProTip 1: Clarify your inbound sales cadence   

You just received one new inbound lead. Now what? Do you send them an email, make a phone call, message on social media? How many times should you follow up?

Regardless of the approach you take, clarifying your inbound sales cadence is the first step. An inbound sales cadence doesn’t have to be complicated—it’s simply the process you and your team use to lead prospects toward becoming a customer. This process can include things like making phone calls, sending emails, or even connecting with someone on social media.

Clarifying your inbound sales cadence will help you focus your efforts, make it easy to onboard new team members, and place you in a position to improve your process if needed. For instance, if you know many people aren’t responding to your emails or taking the next step in your sales process, a sales cadence can help you pinpoint the problem and work towards improving it.

If you don’t have a sales cadence in place, you can get started creating one by answering the following questions:

  • What does a prospect need to make an informed decision?
  • How do your prospects prefer to communicate?
  • How should I follow up?
  • Is your solution easy or difficult to grasp?
  • What am I asking them to do? Schedule a demo? Sign up for a trial?
  • What should I say?
  • When should I follow up?

With these questions answered, you can build upon this sales process and make whatever adjustments you need along the way.

ProTip 2: Quickly respond to inbound leads

When it comes to clarifying your inbound sales cadence, it's important to keep a mindset of urgency.

When someone starts a free trial, schedules a demo, or requests to speak with someone in sales, this is a clear indication that they’re interested in what you have to offer.

The moment they express that interest is the moment you want to follow up. Unless it was submitted outside of your normal business hours, there’s no need to wait for hours, days, or longer to follow up with someone. If you wait too long, there’s a good chance they will lose interest or find a different solution.

As you create or adapt your sales cadence, be sure to build in the capability to respond quickly to inbound leads. At a minimum, set up an automated email acknowledging someone’s form submission and letting them know what to expect next. It's also good to request the lead's phone number on your inbound form (more on forms below) so you can give this person a call to follow up. Calling your prospects to offer more information or a personalized introduction to your product will make you stand out from the crowd, as many companies don’t call their leads.

To determine if a lead is a good fit for your business, one common approach many companies use is to have a Sales Development Representative (SDR) give them a follow-up call. After following up, the SDR can directly connect this person with an Account Executive (AE), schedule a demo with a product expert, or give the lead whatever guidance they need to better understand your product or service. If you don’t have an SDR on your team, no sweat. The main idea here is to follow up with prospects to ensure they get personalized information and guidance to explore your solution and see how it meets their needs.

One way you can make follow-up calls quickly is by using a power dialer like PhoneBurner. The PhoneBurner for Zoho CRM integration will greatly increase your teams' ability to make more calls, have more conversations, and close more deals.

Whatever you do with your sales cadence, quickly respond to people before they cool down, move on, or lose interest.

ProTip 3: Gather essential information for your sales cadence

One crucial key to inbound sales is the form you use to capture someone’s information. It can either lead to a smooth process or become a source of tension.

When creating your inbound form, keep this in mind: This form is for you, not for your prospects. The information you gather with your inbound form should include only what you need to know to ensure your product or service is a good fit for whoever completes it.

As you create your inbound form, ask yourself these questions to guide your form's content:

  • Are you providing a free trial? 
  • What information do you need to know before someone can access your product?
  • Are you leading people to schedule a demo?
  • Aside from name and contact information, what else do you need to know to qualify the lead as a sales opportunity?
  • Do they need to talk to someone in sales first?

Focus your inbound form on gathering the essential information you need to know and cut out the rest. In general, it’s best to keep your inbound form short in order to reduce friction in your process. If your inbound form is too long, many people may not complete it.

One last thing: Your inbound form is something you cannot set and forget. You’ll need to keep track of how many people complete it to ensure the form is doing its job and converting well. Make sure someone in your company keeps tabs on your form and sign-up flow. This way, you can see if it's performing well and that interested people are not falling through the cracks.

ProTip 4: Serve as a guide

Here’s the deal with inbound sales: You’re connecting with people who have already expressed an interest in your offer. They’re aware of their problem, challenge, or what they’re interested in accomplishing. And they’ve done enough research to know you may be able to help them reach their goals. This means you need to serve as your prospects’ guide.

There will be times when the lead is ready to sign on the dotted line. They’ve done their research and they know what they want. In these moments, you can easily guide your prospect toward becoming a customer.

On the other hand, assuming your offering isn’t transactional in nature, a prospect may not be prepared to become a customer yet, and that’s okay. When this happens, you don’t have to necessarily try and close the deal on your first call. Instead, be empathetic: ask questions, try to understand your prospects' needs, get to know their business goals, and demonstrate how your product or service can help them to produce the results they’re looking for.

When you’re interested in your prospect as a person, get to know their needs and wants, and show them how your product or service will benefit them, they’ll be more inclined to do business with you. Why? Because you’ve taken the time to make the entire process about them, and demonstrated how your product or service can help them succeed.

Succeeding with inbound sales

In essence, a successful inbound sales cadence depends upon a proactive approach. Create a user-friendly form that asks for the key information you’ll need, and make use of software and personnel to follow up with those who’ve expressed interest. When you do make contact with potential customers, take the time to listen and understand their needs, and your leads will be much more likely to become your loyal customers.

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