The inbound sales methodology is a four-step methodology that begins with the idea of public authority. This public authority is just as it sounds; it is the credibility that you demonstrate to your audience through an understanding and expertise of a certain subject. This public authority is the driver of the education and the information that buyers seek when they begin their buyer’s journey.
Understanding the Buyer
The core of this methodology comes from its alignment with the buyers’ needs. The buyers are looking for education and information, thus companies share their knowledge in public forms. And in return we’ve committed to sharing our knowledge in public forms for all to see, gaining access to the buyer’s needs, wants and pain points
The second step of our inbound sales methodology is progressive qualifying. As buyers educate themselves, they essentially are providing information about themselves that helps the seller to not only qualify but also provide a contextual understanding of this buyer.
For example, if you have a company and one of the pieces of information or content that you have out on your website is maybe an e-book and it’s an e-book on comparing potential solutions in any number of categories and you provide this e-book. It’s a gated piece of information, so the buyer is going to give you contact information. Maybe their name, email address and maybe their title. In return, they’re going to get access to this e-book or this case study or report. Something that has valuable information and can provide an educational understanding for them.
What this also does is this allow you to track the visits of your buyer. For example, the seller has now the ability through tools and tracking to understand the number of visits that this buyer might be making out to their website. The frequency of their visits. What pages that they’re visiting and spending time on. Maybe even whether or not they’ve looked at a pricing page on a company’s website.
All of this information is as valuable to the seller as the e-book is to the buyer. It’s important that we understand that the importance of exchanging information goes both ways. Most companies don’t position themselves to make this information readily available to the salespeople, or even their marketing teams, depending upon where the buyer is in their journey.
The third stage of our inbound sales methodology is the collaborative decision-making, which begins at the first point of contact. Imagine if you are the seller of a product and you reach out to someone who has downloaded an e-book and then out on your website and gathering information and educating themselves. Right from the first call that you make, you began with very specific contextual understanding of where they are.
Think about the opposite of this: “So Mr. Smith, how can I help you today?” There’s nothing more frustrating than that to today’s buyer. For a salesperson to begin at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, simply because they have not accompanied or been with that buyer as they’ve been gathering information is incredibly frustrating.
Imagine if you were to, rather than begin your call with, “How can I help you?” Maybe you started your call with, “Mr Jones, I see here that you’ve downloaded an e-book and you’ve spent plenty of time out on our website looking at some of our case studies. It seems to me that, fill in the blank, might be one of the issues that you’re concerned with today. Let me share with you a story of a client of ours that was in a similar situation.”
Right from the start, you’re adding value. Basically, it’s the Jerry MaGuire moment of, “You had me at hello.”
Close and Continue
The third stage of the inbound sales methodology is what we call the close and continue. The close and continue stage differs from traditional methodologies in two important ways.
First, you don’t begin to close unless you have full commitment. Think about you would never walk down the aisle with someone, make that commitment, unless you had already qualified things like budget, need, authority, timing. All of those precursors to making your decision. Much like the marriage licenses to a couple getting married. The commitments have already been made, the understanding of each other’s roles and their responsibilities is there. You’ve talked through and you’ve received this commitment before you’re walking down the aisle.
The second differentiator to our close and continue is the nonlinear understanding of this inbound sales methodology. Unlike most sales methodologies that are linear, they begin at one point and then when a sales is closed, they end and the salesperson then begins another sales methodology with another prospect and ends and then continues to repeat that.
The final stage of an inbound sales methodology is the continuation of disclosure back to the beginning stage, the public authoritative voice. Very often, this is a handoff from the sales department to the marketing department. What the salesperson is doing is gathering the information, the story, the details that came out of this deal answering the why’s and the how’s. Handing this off to the marketing department so that marketing can then use this as future content to strengthen the public authoritative voice of the company and ultimately of the individual salesperson.
To close, the inbound sales methodology is a four phased methodology, what we refer to as a P2C2. The first phase being your public authoritative voice. The second stage being your progressive qualification. The third stage being the collaborative decision making and the final stage being your close and continue. They make up the P2C2. What is unique about this methodology is that it begins for most organizations outside of the sales department with what is typically the marketing department and it also ends outside of the sales department also ending in what is the marketing department. And this, ultimately, will allow sales people to sell the way that their prospects want to buy.