A few years back, Connection Model saw the writing on the wall -- marketing was changing. With new digital access and capabilities, we realized that results from interruption marketing that we knew so well were diminishing. And more importantly, as information was becoming more and more available, the power was shifting from the company to the buyer. Consumers were purchasing goods and services on their time, based on research they were doing online combined with recommendations from their social media circle of influence.
That ushered in the Inbound Marketing movement. And slowly, more and more companies realized that they had to shift their marketing efforts to where now the most organizations budgets are no longer going to what was considered traditional brand marketing. Based upon Forrester Research, digital budgets are now taking up the largest piece of the overall budget at 31% when you combine the four categories below.
Now that marketing has adopted the Inbound Marketing, how are sales impacted?
HubSpot has been considered one of the catalysts to Inbound Marketing, as one of their Certified Platinum Partners, we were curious as to how they were approaching the expanding divide between Inbound Marketing and traditional sales. Well, we got our answer a few months back, they developed a course called "Inbound Sales" and brought in some of their top Partners as a beta. We are proud to announce that Connection Model has become one of the first agencies that have passed the HubSpot Inbound Sales Certification course.
What is Inbound Sales?
Let us start with the basics -- what has been the approach of the sales departments in the past? The ABC's of sellng, Always Be Closing.
- Prospect - all new leads are grouped as a prospect regardless of their role
- Demo - quickest path to a sales is to show the feeds and speeds of your product
- Close - pushing hard to get the final decision
Inbound Sales takes a slightly different approach. Applying the same philosophy of Inbound Marketing to your Sales Pipeline by creating a personalized experience for every lead at each stage of their journey. Put it in context, you are unique, why wouldn't you want your sales experience to be personally tailored to you versus a one-size fits all approach.
If done right that is what Inbound Sales delivers - a personalized sales experience until that lead comes to their logical buying conclusion.
What are the steps to Inbound Sales?
Step 1) Define the Buyer's Journey
Some people would call this the Sales Journey or the Sales Pipeline. Whatever you want to call it, bottom line revolves understanding the stages your buyer needs to go through to purchase your product. Regardless of how many stages you have, consider that the Buyer has three stages as identified below:
The role of the sales person is to add value at each stage of the journey - if they don't add value then what is their purpose and what reason does the buyer have to engage with the salesperson? To add value, the Sales Team should come up with core questions and record the results so that common objections or fears can be identified and incorporated into an FAQ and other communications.
Step 2) Build the sales process that supports the Buyers Journey
The goal is for inbound sales teams to build a sales process that supports the buyer through their journey. As a result, the salesperson and the buyer feel like they are aligned, rather than at odds with one another, through the buying and selling process. Now, we throw in your marketing team, which hopefully is aligned with your sales team so that ultimately they are in sync within the context of the Buyers Journey.
There are, at a high level five stages that a buyer typically goes through from the Sales Representative perspective. The typical five stages are:
- Strangers - they are visiting your site but have not made themselves known to you yet.
- Lead - something that peaked their interest, your product, your blog, etc and they raised their hand
- Qualified Lead - through interaction, you have been able to identify those that have budget and desire
- Opportunities - your conversion goes to the next stage and the decision makers are involved
- Customer - you reached your desired goal, congratulations
Many organizations would also add another stage...
6. Retention - maintaining positive relationship after the buying decision
Even though Marketing is playing a supporting role, Sales Representatives still need to engage with the lead. The goal is to provide value and gather information by asking questions and forming personas. This helps with defining both the content, sequencing and methodology of the next communication.
Step 3) Creating content for different roles and stages within the pipeline
Considering there are typically five stages within each companies Sales Pipeline, and three stages of each Buyers Journey, communication pieces need to be customized to add value and help move them along. Recognizing that not every lead is the decision-maker, knowing the roles is just as critical so that you can customize different communications components. It is easy to diminish the role of an information gatherer, however, that could be a big mistake as they can be a great influencer to the ultimate decision maker.
The graph below ties in the Buyers Journey (bottom row) to the Internal Sales Pipeline (middle row) with recommendations on potential communication directions (top row). Naturally, with each stage informing and adding value.
Aligning your sales efforts to the buyers journey with support from marketing can have a significant impact on organizations overall revenue. With the advent of the digital age the way people do business has changed. Marketing was the first to read the writing on the wall and adapt to a new environment, how is your Sales Team adapting?
Your ultimate goal should be to transform the way your sales department has traditionally sold to match the way your customer wants to buy.
This should be considered a very high-level overview of what Inbound Sales is all about. If you want to discuss further and go more in-depth in any of the categories or stages above please leave a note below or contact us to schedule some time to talk.As one of HubSpot's first Inbound Sales Certified Partners, we can help you increase the effectiveness of your Inbound Sales and Marketing strategies.