Meet Jerry. He works at your local car dealership and boy - has he got a deal for you. Nevermind that you’ve told him you need a sedan with enough room for the kids, that can handle city traffic and has less than 75,000kms on the odometer. He has a hatchback and it’s a real beauty. The boot is deceptively big, the manual transmission has just been replaced and it’s only done 30,000kms (apparently the previous owner only drove it to church on Sundays). Don’t worry that you hate the canary yellow exterior too, his buddy Ron owns a car respraying business down the road. Mention Jerry’s name and you’ll get a great deal on a new colour.
Does Jerry sound like the kind of guy you’d like to do business with? Hardly.
However, there was a time when Jerrys of the sales-world enjoyed an immense amount of power over consumers. They used their superior product knowledge to prowl department stores, car yards, corporate offices and call centres — preying on poorly informed customers with just one goal in mind: make the sale.
Thankfully times have changed, and so has the balance of power. In our online environment customers can start their buying process long before they set foot into a store and arm themselves with more product knowledge than ever before.
This new environment has rendered Jerry as a dinosaur, his tactics lost to a bygone era. Legacy Sales are still alive and well across many industries, and it could be turning customers away according to HubSpot.
“Legacy sales teams build their sales process around their own needs, not their buyers’,” says HubSpot’s Mark Roberge. “Legacy salespeople focus their energy on ‘checking the boxes’ their sales manager laid out for them instead of listening to the buyer and supporting them through the purchasing process. As a result, the seller and buyer feel misaligned.”
“If salespeople cannot add value beyond the information buyers can find on their own, the buyer has no reason to engage with salespeople at all.”
Inbound Sales - The new way to do business
By now we’re familiar with the concept of Inbound Marketing - the idea that producing valuable, helpful content attracts people to your business.
The same concept is now being applied to sales. HubSpot is pioneering a new movement call Inbound Sales, a methodology for creating a sales process that matches how people buy. It’s built on the premise that the modern buyer is no longer reliant on salespeople to get the information they need to make a purchase. Inbound Sales recognises that the sales experience needs to be aligned to the buyer’s context so that the process serves the buyer, not the seller.
“The internet changed everything. And it turned the buyer-seller relationship completely upside down,” Roberge continues. “Today, the information that buyers need to make a purchase decision is just a click away. The power in the buying and selling process has shifted from the seller to the buyer. The buying process is transformed.”
“And that means to keep up with today’s empowered buyer, the sales process needs to transform too.”
Know The Buyer’s Journey
According to HubSpot, understanding Inbound Sales means understanding the Buyer’s Journey. These are the common steps someone takes before they’re ready to buy. This approach allows you to conceptualise the Buyer’s Journey as a defined process, and create targeted content for each stage.
The three stages of the Buyer’s Journey:
This initial stage is when people focus on a specific problem or need. They are aware of a problem and start researching possible solutions. They are also looking for information that provides education and insight into the various solutions. Information at this stage isn’t brand or company specific, it’s focused more on their individual problems or needs.
This stage is focused on the solution. People at this stage have clarity around their problem and the solution for which they are looking. They are weighing up different solutions, vendors, products and brands. They are looking for information that will educate them on a product or service and why yours is the best solution for their needs.
This stage is focused on the vendor. People are looking for information that will give them confidence that their vendor of choice can be trusted to deliver. Guarantees, testimonies, case studies and awards are common ways vendors demonstrate credibility, expertise and trust, and are proven ways of helping prospective buyers choose to buy from you.
Don’t sell… support!
The notion seems counter-intuitive: that in order to make sales, we shouldn’t necessarily be sales focused. Instead, Inbound Sales dictates that we need to be focused on the buyer and ways we can personalise the entire sales process to the buyer’s context. This means supporting them through the buyer’s journey, not just selling to them.
In a detailed blog post on Inbound Sales, Mark Roberge outlined the four steps to supporting a lead through the buying process and offers a new sales model that focuses on the buyer, not the salesperson:
Inbound salespeople Identify strangers who may have goals or challenges they can help with. These strangers become leads.
Inbound salespeople Connect with these leads to help them decide whether they should prioritise the goal or challenge. If the buyer decides to do so, these leads become qualified leads.
Inbound salespeople Explore their qualified leads’ goals or challenges to assess whether their offering is a good fit for the qualified leads’ context. If it turns out it’s a good fit, these qualified leads become opportunities.
Inbound salespeople Advise these opportunities on how their offering is uniquely positioned to address the buyer’s context. If the buyer agrees the salesperson’s offering is best for their context, these opportunities become customers.
TIMCo - Your Inbound Sales Partner
TIMCo is now Inbound Sales Certified and can help you align your sales process to an Inbound methodology. Contact us today to start your journey towards Inbound.