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A Closer Look: How Inbound Sales Works for B2B Companies

Marissa Walker
11 February 2019

With the internet making information and purchasing options readily available to consumers, the shopping experience has become easy and adventurous, just at the click of a button. And because information is power, then we could allude to the fact that power has shifted away from B2B sales people to consumers. This paradigm shift also spells increased competition and noise in the industry.

Evolving Sales Roles

Traditionally, B2B sales people would be oozing a lot of power during a sales meeting as they held all information that prospective customers needed.

Consider the three roles in sales: order taker, sales people and subject matter experts (SMEs). Order takers are already being faced out by automation (think Amazon, Alibaba, and other related vendors). The salesperson is tasked with selling their company products. The SME, on the other hand, offers so much expertise that a client would be willing to pay up for a meeting with them – in fact, customers and buyers are now choosing SMEs over sales people as the preferred brand interface.

Consequently, extensive research is usually done before and after meetings with SMEs, and even then there is no guarantee that your product will be purchased, pending further research. The truth is that the modern buyer no longer needs to go through a sales person to make a purchase.

But with increasing control in the hands of buyers, what is the fate of the modern-day B2B sales persons? And what happens to organizations which present B2B sales people as their customer interface?

This article presents Inbound sales – a process of focusing on individual buyers and their personal needs, pain points and goals – as the ultimate alternative for B2B companies.

Inbound Sales, the Ultimate Solution for a Winning B2B Salesmanship

Inbound sales strategy restores the centre of power to the B2B sales person and the brand. It seeks to support the customer prospects through their buying journey. Inbound sales people transform their B2B sales experience and personalize it for the buyer’s context. It is, therefore, a buyer-centred process as opposed to being centred on the B2B sales person. It is less intrusive, warm, trustworthy and appealing.

Here are a few comparisons between the traditional B2B sales strategy and the inbound sales strategy.

Traditional B2B Sales Strategy
Inbound B2B Sales Strategy
Not cognizant of buyers that are active in their buying journey.

Actively identifies and prioritizes buyers who are active in the buying journey.

It uses cold outreach messaging- the sales team uses generic elevator pitch when it comes to qualifying their budget.

It builds trust with buyers through online conversations on social media and blogs among others platforms. The sales team uses personalized messaging and choose to advise buyers on their interests without asking for anything in return.

When a buyer expresses interest, the salespeople quickly stage up a presentation for pitching and selling.

When a buyer expresses interest, the sales people start sales conversation using personalized messaging. It is basically an advisory one. The salespeople then transition into exploration mode and explore the buyer’s options and advice expertly and accordingly.

The sales team delivers the same presentation over and over. They thrive on discounts when it comes to getting buyers to purchase their products.

The sales team delivers a unique and personalized presentation to every buyer. They seek to deliver the right educational materials/content to the right prospects at the right time and right place. They adjust the sales process to suit the buyer’s purchasing timelines and purchasing journey.


How Inbound Sales for B2B Works

Here is a look at how inbound sales can improve your marketing big-time:

  • Identify

Transform strangers to leads. This sets aside thriving businesses and failing ones. At this point, most buyers are already in the awareness stage. B2B sales people need to research for good fits through LinkedIn or setting up Google alerts, etc. Consider those who have visited your site recently, filled up a form and provided their contact information. Consider if they are from a company that matches your ideal buyer persona.

  • Connect

The B2B sales person ensures connection with leads to transform them into qualified leads. They will segment their markets and then define their buying personas and the sequences (the preferred mediums and methods) needed for each persona and the number of times you need to follow up before giving up. Remember, your goal here is not to sell them on your product or even see a demo but to educate them on the problem or opportunity they are exploring on a personal level.

  • Explore

Identify your prospect’s needs/challenges in a deeper way, connect goals to those challenges/needs, share plans for meeting those goals that fit into the prospect’s timelines, and then discuss how their budget fits into all these.

  • Advise

Turn opportunities into customers. The B2B sales person interprets how the specific features of their product will solve the challenges and needs of their prospective customers, recap all information you’ve learnt so far, suggest options that provide solutions to meet the goals, establish the budgetary allocations, authority, and the buyer’s timelines.

Conclusion

Inbound sales when adopted rightly, ensures increased return on investment which is good for the bottom line. It is important that B2B sales people choose to transition early enough before they are phased out of business.

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