Welcome to 2017, where the internet has changed the way we do just about everything. One of the many things affected by this is the buyer-seller relationship. With the information buyers need to make a decision only a click away, the sellers are no longer the ones in power. However, this doesn’t mean salespeople aren’t needed.
Salespeople are still vital in bridging the gap between the generic information available online and how it relates to a buyer’s unique needs and specific situation. The process has transformed and we as salespeople must transform to keep up. To sell the way that people want to buy, we have to change the way we do thing. The way to do this is inbound selling. Following the inbound sales methodology we can prioritize the most active of buyers and use context to help them bridge the gap and discover how our solution works for them.
By prioritizing those buyers that are active in their buying journey and following the inbound sales methodology, you can turn more strangers into leads and more leads into valued customers. Inbound sales people listen and identify buyers that are active in the buyer journey and prioritize these leads. They reach out quickly as they understand that timing is vital. If they reach out to passive buyers, they identify context before moving to connect. First, let’s look at what it takes to identify these priority leads.
Have an Ideal Buyer Profile
The first step is defining an ideal buyer profile. Defining your ideal buyer profile means asking questions to define which buyers you can help and which you cannot. This is done at the company level if you sell to businesses and at the contact level if you sell directly to consumers.
Some things to consider are the size of the company (this could mean revenue, employees, or something else), the industries, the geographical locations, specific verticals, other attributes. Remember that ideal buyer profiles are different than buyer personas. An ideal buyer profile is a type of company that is an ideal fit for your business. A buyer persona is a role involved in the buying process at that company. You may have multiple personas that all match your ideal buyer profile. Your best leads are strangers that match your ideal buyer profile and are in their active in their buying journey. So how do we find those active leads and see if they fit our ideal buyer profile? There are two steps to this:
- Your website needs to be configured to send inbound leads to your CRM in real-time and alert your salesperson when the lead is generated.
- Enrich the lead using demographic information and interest data and move them to the connect stage immediately.
Enrich using Demographics and Interest Data
Enriching your leads means adding context using demographic information as well as interest data. Having this information available is part of what makes HubSpot such a powerful tool. When you have a lead, finding demographic information is great but interest data takes it a step further, allowing you to truly personalize the sales experience to their needs.
Demographic information may include things like the contact’s title or role at the company. It may also include the company size, industry, location, and more.
Interest data is more than what we can figure out by searching someone’s LinkedIn or bio page on their company website. Interest data includes things like:
- Information a contact has provided in a lead form
- Content they consumed on your website
- A conversion event
- Emails the contact has opened
- Their original source
- Community engagement and social presence
- Content they’ve produced or has produced about them
- Public information about the company you can find from 3rd parties
Listen for Active Buyers
Once you know what to look for, how do you find potential buyers? Listen for active buyers. Active buyers include inbound leads, inbound companies and those performing trigger events.
Inbound leads are visitors who complete a form on your website. As mentioned before, timing is everything when it comes to inbound leads. The moment a lead completes a form or takes action on your site indicates a moment of interest in your company. The closer you can be to help the buyer at this moment of interest, the more helpful you will be.
If you follow up with web leads within 5 minutes, you’re 9 times more likely to convert them. [Source: InsideSales.com]
I have a perfect example of this from a recent inbound lead we received. After they submitted the form, I completed contact with the CIO within 4 minutes. I discovered their needs, set up an additional discussion with all the stakeholders, and they became a client within two weeks.
When an active buyer expresses enough interest to take time and detail a potential project, an inbound sales person reaching out in a timely manner indicates the level of importance and appreciation of their time spent indicating their needs.
How can you accomplish this?
- Your website must be configured to send leads to your CRM in real-time.
- Salespeople should be alerted for when an inbound lead is generated so they can evaluate the company against the ideal buyer profile first, add context, and if appropriate, contact the lead.
Even if the lead is a lower level employee, they may be conducting research you can help with even if they’re not the ultimate decision maker. This is still an active lead that fits your ideal buyer profile.
There may be times where an anonymous visitor is on your site but you can tell the company they’re from is an ideal fit. If this happens, you can try to find the company’s team page or LinkedIn and find the contact who is most likely the buyer of your solution. Create a new lead in your CRM for this contact, add any context you can, and reach out to them.
The final way to find active buyers is to be on the lookout for trigger events. While the internet has provided buyers with access to more information, it has also provided salespeople with more information about the buyer’s behavior and actions. Listening for trigger events is a great way to find people who fit your ideal buyer profile and are actively buying. Some things you can do include:
- Set up monitoring streams for certain keywords, hashtags, etc.
- Look for press releases announcing that the company is expanding, raising capital, etc.
- Keep an eye out for new job openings or new executives hired by the company
Prioritizing Active over Passive Buyers
Buyers who fit your ideal buyer profile but have yet to start their journey are considered passive buyers. Inbound salespeople may choose to reach out to passive buyers as well. However, it’s vital that inbound salespeople identify context for the buyer before attempting to connect. In fact, it’s a good idea to practice social selling before moving on to seeking out passive buyers. Social selling means doing things like participating in LinkedIn discussions where your prospects are active or publishing posts to your company blog. You expand your personal brand while also establishing authority, credibility and trust.
Legacy salespeople identify buyers who they believe are a good fit, whether they’re in the process or not. Inbound salespeople prioritize buyers who, in some way, have indicated that they might need your product or service. They’ve indicated or given clues, such as a trigger event or action, that they are aware of a goal they need to accomplish or a challenge they must solve. Only after all active buyers have been identified, evaluated, and contacted or marked as unqualified do inbound salespeople move on to passive buyers. At this point they will learn everything they can about a passive buyer before connecting.
By leading with a message personalized to the buyer’s context and having a two-way conversation, salespeople can develop the trust and find the information you need to create a personalized presentation instead of canned presentation that covers information that buyers already have.
Let's Start Inbound Selling
By using interest data to prioritize active buyers, we can stop highlighting the same information that’s on our website and provide a more valuable sales experience. It’s time we stop wasting time qualifying buyers based on the size of their budget and their authority to spend it, but rather whether or not the company itself may be a good fit. By doing this we can reach people earlier in their buying journey and help them bridge the gap between the generic information available to them and how your solution can help in their specific situation.