The rapid technological changes that have been taking place since the start of the 21st century have transformed many industries – from manufacturing and inventory management to marketing and sales, non more than B2B inbound sales.
In marketing, this digital transformation has had one significant effect: the consumer is no longer a naive individual that consumes the content that the brands serve them. Today’s consumers can make much more informed decisions by leveraging research and comparing products online.
To meet customers’ expectations, the sales industry has been adopting a new approach: inbound sales.
As opposed to outbound sales, the inbound sales approach focuses on attracting customers to you rather than engaging prospects directly. This strategy aims to build long-lasting relationships by providing value and meeting customer expectations.
Let’s learn more about inbound sales and see how we can use them as an integral part of a good B2B sales strategy.
What is inbound sales?
Unlike traditional sales (which are typically outbound sales), inbound sales is a methodology that doesn’t focus on closing the sale as soon as possible. Instead, this approach prioritizes the goals and needs of the customers and slowly guides them through the decision-making process.
The inbound sales approach relies heavily on buyer journeys – a good inbound salesperson looks to create personalized messages for each prospect, depending on where they are in their purchase process.
These salespeople, therefore, attract inbound leads to the brand (usually through quality content), qualify those leads based on their level of interest, and deliver a personalized message accordingly.
As you can see, inbound lead generation is much subtler than outbound sales. It’s a long-term approach that prioritizes value over numbers. It can also be more time-efficient, as you don’t waste time on those leads that are potentially uninterested in your offer, which is sometimes the case with outbound leads.
How is a B2B sales strategy different from a B2C one?
A B2B strategy is vastly different from a B2C strategy in all sales approaches, and inbound is no exception.
Here are some significant ways in which a B2B strategy differs from a B2C approach.
- Smaller lead pool. When you deal with B2C sales, you can safely assume that your target group includes millions, potentially tens of millions of people. You can expect a lot of website visits if you play your cards right. In B2B sales, your lead pool is much smaller and you need to execute a smarter strategy to get those leads’ attention.
- Required knowledge. In B2B sales, you’re dealing with people who know exactly what they’re looking for. Your sales team needs to be well-informed about the product to the point that they can have an intelligent conversation with an industry expert. The same goes for your website content – it needs to cover topics in great depth and provide value to people who are already familiar with the topics you’re covering.
- Slower sales process. B2C salespeople usually sell to customers that can make quick decisions – individuals and families that need consumer products. In the B2B industry, your contacts are decision-makers (often multiple contacts) that need to reach an agreement throughout the company that your product meets a specific need.
- Deeper relationships. Consumer products with a mass-market rarely manage to create a deeper connection with their audience. That may be the case if you have a particularly strong brand. On the other hand, B2B relationships are built on trust, results, and mutual success. As such, they can be longer and deeper than B2C relationships.
So, to summarize what we know so far: getting a B2B inbound lead takes more time and effort than getting a B2C inbound lead. However, it can also be more rewarding and start a long relationship that will increase your profits and give you profound personal satisfaction in the long run!
1. Define buyer journeys
The first step in creating an efficient inbound sales approach is to define your buyer journeys.
Here is how HubSpot, one of the global leaders in inbound marketing, defines this process:
They split the customer journey into three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. During each of these stages, salespeople should make an effort to evaluate the buyer and their level of interest.
Here is how it works.
- Awareness. In this stage, buyers are aware of the problems they want to solve or a goal they want to achieve. They start deciding on whether or not they want to address that issue or goal and whether or not your brand can help them do that.
- Consideration. Buyers now have clearly defined goals and want to address them. They evaluate various methods to help them. During this stage, ask yourself which categories they’re investigating and what makes your category unique in their eyes.
- Decision. Here, the users have landed on a specific solution category. They start comparing different vendors and their offers to reach a decision. In this stage, you need to identify which products the users are considering and what makes your products different from the competitors’ offering.
2. Segment your audience
Once you’ve defined the journey, you have the basics covered. Now it’s time to start thinking about different types of users that will be visiting your website.
You can segment your audience using several approaches.
One popular approach is to create audience personas. Those are your ideal customer profiles, fictional characters that you’ve created to visualize your customer types.
For example, let’s say you sell a social media automation tool. You might want to have an audience persona who is a decision-maker in a digital marketing agency. Ask yourself how old this person is, what are their interests, what are they like in private, etc. Answers to these questions will allow you to dig deep into what kind of content the person wants and what kind of tone they’ll likely respond to.
You can also always use analytics tools to segment your visitors. By examining your Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see which demographic groups visit your website. With heat mapping tools, you’ll see what kind of content they’re interested in. Bring these two together, and you’ll have a more accurate insight into your visitors and their behavior.
3. Create quality content ALL the time
One of the pillars of inbound sales is content: to keep users coming to your website, you want to consistently create relevant content.
You have to think long-term here. The goal isn’t to relentlessly sell something, the goal is to position yourself as such an expert in the industry that users in search of answers come to you.
SEO is a huge topic and it takes a dedicated approach to make it work but here are some basic things to keep in mind before you start creating content.
- Do keyword research. The basis of SEO is keyword research. Consult Google’s Keyword Planner (or invest in a different keyword research tool) and see which keywords you can create content for. Then start writing comprehensive articles about those topics, using the relevant keywords.
- Write quality content. As a long-term strategy, simply creating content that uses keywords isn’t enough. You need to provide useful, in-depth content that helps solve your visitors’ problems and answers their questions. If needed, hire a copywriter or a content writing agency to take care of this for you.
- Start link building. Once you establish a content strategy, you’ll want to get backlinks. Simply put, these are links found on other websites that lead to your content. If there are a lot of links that lead to your page from other sources, search engines will deem your page more relevant and position it higher in search results.
When you start to successfully cover these three things, you can say you’ve kicked off your content strategy. Of course, SEO is far too complex of a topic for us to cover in this article. So, do your own research but start thinking about SEO as an invaluable technique to get inbound leads.
4. Personalize your website
Another thing that can help you increase inbound sales is personalizing your website.
Think about it, which website has a higher chance of converting a lead into a customer: the one that has the same, generic content for every visitor or the one that calls each visitor by their name, uses personalized CTAs, and even displays a tailored offer to each lead?
You don’t have to think about it – the question has already been answered. Around 80% of companies report better results since investing in personalization. Consumers are also interested in getting more personalized content: 79% of them are willing to give brands their personal data to get tailored recommendations.
At Hyperise, we believe not only in personalization but in hyper-personalization. You can (and should) personalize more than just your offer – images, CTAs, and pieces of text can all be personalized for each visitor. That is what can truly impress prospects and turn leads into customers.
Just check out how our homepage would look if visited by Tim Cook from Apple, for example:
We use a deeply personal approach, using their company logo and name throughout the page.
If you want to do the same thing, register for a free trial of Hyperise!
5. Adopt a multi-channel strategy
For inbound sales to work best, you need to be present wherever your prospects might be looking for you.
That means social media, email, and website should all be viable options for your potential buyers to contact you and ask questions.
Since we’re talking about B2B sales techniques, you should probably pay special attention to LinkedIn. Chances are your B2B prospects will manually search for your sales representatives and reach out to them with questions.
Other than that, you’d be missing out if you weren’t using live chat on your website as a quick and easy contact point. That’s a great way to be present at the very moment your customers need you most!
6. Invest in paid search
While SEO is a long-term technique to get a good position in Google Search results, Search Ads are a technique that can give you inbound leads quickly.
The idea behind Search Ads is similar to SEO: you identify relevant keywords people search that are connected to your offer, and you try to position your website at the top of search results. The only difference is that, with SEO, you do this organically, with no ad spend.
With Google Search Ads, you pay Google a certain amount of money every month to do that for you.
The issue with this type of digital advertising is that most good keywords that people search for are extremely competitive. More competition = higher price, so to get results out of Google Search Ads, you’ll likely have to allocate hundreds of dollars to your budget every month.
Still, this can be a viable strategy to meet users at the exact moment when they’re searching for a solution to their problem. The least you can do is make sure you rank in the top three results when someone is searching for your brand name. Those people have already heard about you, so you’ll want to make it easy for them to reach your website.
Boosting your inbound sales: the final word
Inbound sales is a modern approach to an age-old problem: how do we set ourselves apart from our competition and get the users to choose our products?
By using some of these techniques we highlighted, you can increase your chances of converting those B2B leads and creating long-lasting relationships built on value and trust.
One approach we always like to suggest to make things more efficient is personalization. In just a few steps, you can set up a website that speaks to each lead on a more personal level and instantly grabs attention.
If you like this idea, register for a free trial of Hyperise and try it out yourself!