Inbound Sales Is On The Rise
Proactive sales managers are starting to realize that the sales tactics of the early 2000s are just not matched to today’s buyers.
Regardless of your business, industry, product or service, your prospects are in control of the process and the last thing they want is to be sold to by a sales representative. In fact, the last thing they want to do is talk to a sales rep.
Instead, they want to be guided through their own individual buyer journey. They want to be advised, counseled and coached through that process. But most importantly they want to be educated. Every buyer wants to make a safe purchase decision and, as sales leaders or salespeople, your job is to make your prospects feel safe enough to say “yes, we want to hire your firm.”
Here are the top five inbound sales trends you need to know to remain competitive:
1. Sales Teams Finally Transition To Start Educating Instead Of Selling
We’ve all experienced the high-pressure sales guy. We all know what that feels like. Our stomachs tense up, we get defensive and our brains start working to find ways to get us out of that situation. Fight or flight kicks in and we’re NEVER buying anything from that guy.
While this is an extreme example, that same feeling is delivered by most of the traditional sales processes. Always be closing, leads are for closers, there’s no such thing as a no sales call ... we’ve all heard the rallying cry. But in today’s world this is the fast track to missing your revenue targets. You might not like it, but the world has changed and people don’t want to be sold to anymore.
So the first major trend is the move away from selling and toward educating. The best salespeople spend their time educating their prospects. They answer all their questions, they provide valuable information to help their prospects make solid purchase decisions and they work to understand their prospects’ businesses well enough that they become the trusted advisor instead of the pushy sales rep.
2. Sales Processes Get Redesigned To Provide More Educational Experiences
This shift means the way your sales teams sell and the process they follow also need to change. We see many more companies asking us to help them redesign their sales process so that it delivers a much richer, more educational experience from the time a prospect requests that initial call up to and in some cases even after they finally say “yes.”
This means taking the time to think through the process and experience to map exactly what gets said to whom and when. It’s about focusing on what information is shared, how it is shared, what stories are appropriate for what types of prospects and how the marketing material is leveraged throughout the sales process.
As an example, we create “reference reel” videos for clients so that when prospects want references, we send a link to a video instead of bothering our clients with constant requests to speak with prospects. It might not work every time, but it works most of the time and shortens the sales cycle by almost 20%.
3. Sales Recruiting Looks For Owls Instead Of Eagles Or Parrots
Most of you probably have heard of the DISC profile. Typically, salespeople fall into the “D” or “dominant” classification in the DISC profile, while other salespeople are the “I” for “influence.” You know what I’m talking about. Salespeople need to have the “sales gene.” They have to be able to light up the room at a party. These “dominant” personalities are also referred to sometimes as eagles and the “influence” personalities as parrots.
But today most people aren’t looking for eagles and parrots when they’re trying to make a purchase decision. Instead, they’re looking for the “C” (conscientiousness) personality, also referred to as the owl. This type of person is designed to follow a system, to be very analytical, to ask a lot of questions and to be extremely precise. All of these characteristics help prospects feel safe and do wonders as your prospects are getting to know, like and trust you, your company and your sales team.
So today, sales recruiters are looking for people who are excellent listeners, ask smart questions and take those answers into consideration as they work to identify the issues or challenges facing their prospect and start to analyze those situations to provide recommendations and solutions. They see where prospects need additional information and provide that. Most importantly, they’re following a process, so that the prospect gets a feeling of comfort and safety. The result produces sales teams much better suited for today’s buyers and today’s buyer behavior.
4. Technology Emerges For Superior Sales Experiences
People do business with people, but in today’s online marketplace, there are going to be a number of technology solutions that allow sales teams to create an even more remarkable experience for their prospects while they’re trying to make their decision.
CRM systems that provide much more data on the behaviors of your prospects. Systems that alert you when prospects are on your website, the page they’re on, the length of their stay and where they went next. Technology that allows you to open a virtual room where you share material, answer questions, and invite influencers and experts to collaborate virtually. These technologies are all designed to get the prospect to feel safer, faster.
5. Sales Leadership Embraces All The Numbers
The science of marketing emerged with inbound marketing and the same will take place with sales. Now you’ll know your exact conversion rate at every stage of the sales funnel and you’ll get data on the movement of those numbers. Projections won’t be based on a gut feel, but on the quantifiable score of a prospect that’s based on their pain threshold, if you’re working with a person who has the power to move forward and the level of fit between your two companies.
All of the trends outlined here take sales out of the dark ages and into the light. Finally, sales is recognizing that the prospect has all the power, and you need to be working with prospects the way they want to be worked with and not the way you’ve worked with them for the past 20 years.
This isn’t about opinions; it’s all about results. This approach produces consistently shorter sales cycles, improved close rates and bigger average deal sizes. Start considering what making these changes would mean to your organization and make your sales team better than ever.