Why Inbound is the future of sales

Make your sales process slicker, faster and easier with inbound

The way that people shop, live and communicate is constantly changing. Think back over the last ten years – how have your shopping habits changed? You’re now more likely to personally research a brand and their products before shopping around – it’s this habit that has forced businesses to react to their consumers, rather than using self-promotion in the ‘traditional’ way.

This power shift means your website and online content is now more important than ever. The buyer will make decisions about you and your brand based on the information you put out there, instead of listening to a sales pitch, and then making an informed decision.

Salespeople now need to have additional knowledge about the product they are selling, the buyer process, and the competition, in order to promote the product and the business in the correct manner. The majority of people will understand the frustration at being ‘sold to’ when you’re just not ready yet. The growth in digital technology now allows businesses to remain one step ahead, as you analyse where the consumers are in the buying process, in order to provide them with information they didn’t know they were looking for. Take email marketing for example, we can now see where and when a contact clicked, and we can then react accordingly. Did they interact with that email promoting stilettos? Great, let’s send them some info on stiletto boots in the hope of engaging them further.

A consumer shift is happening – right now

This means that inbound selling has taken over. Businesses must add value in a different way. Consumers are now savvier to typical sales behaviour – they can see through sales techniques and have more information at their fingertips, making the sales person’s job harder than ever.

Tesco’s chief executive Philip Clarke understands how the consumer shift is changing business across all sectors, as the ‘digital world has a deep impact on emerging customers’. Writing in the Daily Telegraph he said: “Everything about the school-leaving generation will change our business, from how they are persuaded by a brand, product or idea, to how they group together in socially structured economies to collaborate, barter, share and exchange.”

He added: “In this open, connected, always-on world it is the digital properties that matter”, claiming the shift in people’s habits was “probably the biggest generational change in consumer behaviour since the 1960s”.

Take your sales inbound today

Customers now control the buying process and businesses are trying to regain control by using inbound selling. So how can your business make the switch from outbound to inbound?

Let’s take a look at a few ways your businesses can utilise inbound selling:

1. Re-evaluate your lead process

A lot of businesses follow the same sales process – you may be using cold calling and telesales to find a lead and push them towards the end of the sales funnel. But this new inbound world will require a re-evaluation of your typical sales process. According to recent studies, around 60% of a prospects buying decision is made based on the information they find online. This means it’s imperative that your online presence represents everything your company is and wants to be.

If you are spending a lot of time and effort cold calling or using traditional techniques, such as direct mail, telemarketing or radio or TV adverts, it may be time to re-consider your tactics to ensure the best return. Relevant and informative content will not only help you get found online, but will build relationships with your prospects – which is essential for long term sales.

2. Accept that consumer shift is happening

There’s no point delaying the inevitable – the consumer shift is happening, and in some sectors it has been happening for a number of years. One of the worst things a business can do is try to avoid the consumer shift. Fifteen to twenty years ago consumers had to speak to sales reps about the ins and outs of products, but they can now find this information with a quick Google search. So there is absolutely no point in trying to hide important information, when a competitor may be completely open and honest about their services.

3. Don’t underestimate your customers

The vast wealth of information that exists online makes your customers very knowledgeable, and you should not forget that. If you are speaking to a customer for the first time, don’t assume that they know nothing about your brand – this is sure to annoy them, and before you know it, your poor service and lack of understanding will be promoted across social sites and your reputation is tarnished. Make your customers happy by recognising the knowledge and understanding they have, and aim to have a conversation with them, instead of a straight forward sales pitch.

4. Start an online charm offensive

Gone are the days of door-to-door sales and fancy networking dinners. Now it’s time to take your networking skills and personality online. It is harder to network online, in comparison to schmoozing a business associate over lunch. Instead, use the tools that are available to you. Spend time creating social accounts that reflect you and your brand, perfect your email signature, and remember that Skype is readily available for ‘face to face’ meetings.

5. Customer service is more important than ever

The idea behind inbound selling is basically ensuring the customer has all the information they need before making an informed decision. But this doesn’t and shouldn’t stop once the sale is complete. Customers have now become programmed to assume that all businesses offer perfect customer service, and if they don’t then it’s something to shout about. You only need to search for ‘bad customer service’ on Twitter to find out how many unhappy customers are tweeting their dissatisfaction. Put a customer service plan or program in place to ensure your customers are satisfied post sale, as they’ll then be more likely to recommend you, or return to you in the future.

As so many businesses remain in the past, it’s important that your company keeps an eye on the future and reacts to the needs of the customer. Inbound selling will only continue to grow, and your business must on hop board to remain relevant and successful.

How are you dealing with the consumer shift? Have you encountered any issues with inbound? Let us know below, or tweet us @Wired_Marketing.

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