• What is inbound sales?

Written by Tobias M. Pasma

What is inbound sales?

  • Last updated: 3 June 2019

Inbound sales is a methodology and process for closing more deals by being helpful and personalizing your sales process to the context of the buyer. The basis lies in a deep focus on your customers and a true desire to help them make the right decision.

Why Inbound Sales?

Due to the abundance of marketing materials available online, a buyer is no longer dependent on salespeople for the necessary information to decide. The role of sales in the buying process has shifted for the buyer, but sales departments often still operate in a traditional way.

Sales teams need to recognize they must transform their entire sales strategy to put the customer in the center. They need to personalize the experience to the context of the buyer.

A sales process that is in line with this new behavior of the buyer is more effective. With the right tools and strategies, this process can help your sales team to:

  • Improve their efficiency, response and close rates;
  • Improve in prospecting, targeting and customer retention;
  • Improve the alignment between the sales and marketing teams;
  • Improve the reporting and forecasting of sales performance;
  • Help drive additional revenues from existing customer base.

The Inbound Sales process

The inbound sales process supports the prospect in their journey to become a customer. In their journey, a potential customer moves through three different stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

Aligned with these three stages, there are four different action phases that a sales team should implement to make the processes of becoming a customer smooth and delightful. These action phases are discussed more in-depth below the image.


Image source: HubSpot.com

1. Identify

Identifying the right business opportunities from the start can be the difference between a thriving business and a failing one. Knowing what to look for also helps salespeople create a predictable, scalable sales funnel.

Most buyers are already in the awareness stage of the buying journey before they engage with salespeople. The sales team should prioritize active buyers ahead of passive buyers. Active buyers may have recently visited the company website, filled out a form or opened one of the salesperson’s emails.

Passive buyers could be people that fit the profile of a target customer but have not actively reach-out themselves. These passive buyers can be found on social media, at events, tradeshows and in other channels.

2. Connect

Once a lead is identified, the sales team should connect with the leads to help them decide whether they should prioritize the goal or challenge they’re facing. This usually takes place in a shorter 10 – 15 minute call / conversation.

When connecting with a lead, you don’t want to use the same generic elevator pitch but start the conversation with a message personalized to the buyer’s context. In the outreach address things like the buyer’s industry, role, interests, common connections, and so on.

Begin the outreach with advice or a surprising insight. When your prospect expresses interest and decides to prioritize the goal / challenge, transition into the next action phase.

3. Explore

Once a connection is established with the lead, the next step is to explore the qualified leads’ goals or challenges to assess whether the solution your offer is a good fit in their situation.

Understand the buyer’s timeline and adjust your sales process to match. Schedule an exploratory meeting. In this 45- to 60-minute conversation you want to be in control, but also make sure that your prospect feels like they’re being empowered to make the right decisions.

In this conversation you want to qualify the lead, validate the research you’ve done before on the prospect, identify their goals, clarify their pain points, provide a tactical suggestion, and offer next steps.

4. Advice

Once the lead is qualified to buy, the salespeople move into the next phase and advise prospects on why your solution is uniquely positioned to address their needs.

Don’t stick to a generic script but represent yourself as the solution to the prospect’s specific needs. Prospects want to know how this is going to help them and their situation.

The salesperson serves as a translator between the generic messaging found on your company’s website and the unique needs of the buyer. Sent a personalized contract to the customer. Because they have been throughout qualified in the preceding phase, this phase should have a very high conversion.

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