In the past—before the internet—consumers actually needed sales people when buying products or services. They needed your sales team’s help in increasing their knowledge, getting their questions answered, learning more about your product features or prices, and ultimately making their purchasing decisions.
But the internet has changed the sales game—it’s completely turned the buyer-seller relationship upside down. Consumers now have access to virtually all of the information they want and need before making purchasing decisions right at their fingertips. They don’t rely on your sales people anymore.
Buyers are empowered and they’re now in control of the sales process. You know this. It’s why you’ve implemented an inbound marketing plan in order to generate leads for your sales people to close. But for your inbound marketing plan to succeed, your sales people need to be on board. They need to change their selling techniques to match the new sales process.
Ensuring that your sales people can effectively close inbound leads requires them to adapt to the new way customers buy. Using the selling techniques below can literally make or break your inbound marketing plan, so pay attention.
1. Identifying the Buyer’s Journey to Add Value
The buyer’s journey can be made up of three parts: awareness, consideration, and decision. The first thing sales people need to do, before they call or email a prospect, is to understand the buyer’s world. Doing so will allow them to actually add value through their conversations, depending on which part of the buyer’s journey the prospect is in.
In the awareness stage, buyers identify a need, pain point, or challenge that they are trying to overcome. In the consideration stage, they clearly define their needs or pain points and are committed to addressing them. And in the decision stage, prospects have decided on the category of solution to pursue, such as a list of specific vendors or offerings that best meet their needs.
By understanding the buyer’s journey, sales people can build their sales processes around their buyers’ needs. And the more they know about their prospects, the better they can sell. Otherwise, your sales process might suck.
2. Being a Guide
Once sales people understand where buyers are coming from and what stage of the sales process they’re in, it’s time to connect. But this doesn’t mean making a cold call and throwing a pitch at the buyer. This type of selling can break your inbound marketing plan.
Instead, sales people need to stop selling and start helping. They need to reposition themselves as helpful guides on the buyer’s journey. Instead of pitching, offering demos and trying to sell, they need to offer advice, provide recommendations, and guide buyers to the right purchasing decision. This selling technique lets the customer stay in control.
3. Implementing Thought Leadership
But for your buyers to care about your sales people’s advice, information, and recommendations, your reps need to be thought leaders. They need to write blogs, post on social media, speak at seminars, create podcasts and webinars, and let their experience and expertise in the matter be known, far and wide.
When your sales people take the time required to show buyers, and the world, that they’re experts in their field, buyers will want to come to them for advice, and they’ll trust the content and information they’re given. Gaining credibility through thought leadership can create all-important trust in the sales process.
Making Changes to Ensure Success
Your inbound marketing plan no doubt relies on the success of your marketers to change the way they market, publicize, and advertise your company and your products or services. However, your sales people must also make effective changes to their selling techniques in order to ensure that your inbound marketing plan not only generates leads, but closes them, too. Today, sales people need to understand the buyer’s journey and truly get to know their individual prospects, reposition themselves as guides instead of sales people, and increase their thought leadership in order to sell to inbound customers.