57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer even speaks to a salesperson.
If you are in sales (like me), that is a hard pill to swallow. Sales has transformed considerably over the years, and with that change evolved a new buyer: the modern buyer. So who is this modern buyer, and how do we successfully sell to them? Let’s explore who this modern buyer is, and examine a comparable method to better sell to this new buyer persona.
Defining the Modern Buyer
Think of the sales process prior to the introduction of the internet. Buyers were relatively uninformed and the buyer’s journey began once a buyer recognized a need. We couldn’t browse specific product models, price compare other similar products or window-shop without actually stepping foot into a retailer.
Today, due to the internet, the modern buyer is no longer dependent on salespeople to access information necessary to make a purchasing decision. If the modern buyer has a need for a product or service, he or she can find answers to their questions online. They can research competitor information, read product reviews or engage in a product demonstration, all without leaving the comfort of their home.
Moreover, the modern buyer can reach the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, all without ever contacting or speaking to a salesperson! Just as the consumer has changed, today’s sales process has changed, and it is no longer about disrupting, pitching and closing. It’s about leveraging the inbound sales methodology while listening, analyzing and making recommendations that align with the needs of the customer.
Generic Isn’t an Option
Today, buyers are used to personalization. Companies such as Netflix and Amazon have made observing consumer engagement the new norm. These companies strategically track what their consumers are viewing, interacting with online and purchasing, then offer suggestions based on these actions. Not only does this keep a consumer engaged with a product, but it keeps that consumer coming back —and not cancelling a subscription or turning to a competitor.
One size does not fit all for the modern buyer. Customers spend 50% of their time online engaging with custom content, and 3 out of 4, or 73% of online consumers get frustrated when content such as offers, advertisements and promotions appear that are unrelated to their interests. The modern buyer expects you to know who they are and what they are interested in, then provide value tailored to their unique buyer’s journey.
The Inbound Methodology
Since its introduction in 2006, the inbound marketing methodology has helped marketers create and deliver content that appeals to the right people, in the right places, at the right times.
The Inbound Marketing Methodology Focuses on Marketing That:
- Attracts strangers and makes them visitors.
- Converts visitors into leads.
- Closes leads into customers.
- Delights customers, so they become promoters.
HubSpot reveals, “Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads and email lists then praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product - where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”
Successful inbound marketers know they must lose old outbound tactics, and deliver content based on the modern buyer’s journey. In fact, 32% of surveyed brands are now planning to cut down on outbound marketing costs and allocate more budget for inbound marketing.
Now that marketing has evolved, it’s time for sales teams to follow suit by questioning and reassessing their current practices, in an effort to meet and surpass their buyers’ expectations.
What Are Your Sales Team’s Current Practices?
Is your sales team cold calling and leaving cold voicemails? Are employees relying on untargeted mass emails? Is your sales team attending large trade shows —how many of the hundreds or thousands of people at trade shows can employees actually meet and engage in productive, qualifying conversations? Is your sales team giving the same generic presentations over and over?
These are all old sales tactics, centered around the way salespeople sell, rather than how consumers buy. It’s important to think about the modern buyer. Remember: they can get information about your product, competition, and price directly from your website. Sales teams must position themselves as trusted advisors by adding value and becoming thought leaders in their space. The inbound sales methodology follows this idea and has made implementing inbound best practices easy to do.
The 4 Stages of the Inbound Sales Methodology:
Stage 1: Identify
The first step is to identify who your buyers are. The easiest way to identify who your ideal buyers are is to set up workflows on your website that will alert sales when a visitor has visited your website, downloaded an ebook, filled out a form, or opened an email.
Stage 2: Connect
You have identified leads, and now know your potential buyers. Find out what blogs they are reading, what LinkedIn groups they belong to, and who they are following on Twitter. Always lead with a message personalized to the buyer as individualized content can be leveraged to increase connect rate. You can refer to the potential buyer’s industry, role, interests, or common connections as examples.
Stage 3: Explore
In this stage, you want to leverage initial buyer interest to develop additional trust and uncover deep buyer goals through an exploratory conversation. A phone call with your potential buyer is the simplest way to do this.
Stage 4: Advise
During this final phase of the inbound sales methodology, tailor your assets to the buyer’s persona, and leverage all of the information you have gathered from prior conversations. Again, personalize presentations that align your product value with the buyer’s needs, use terminology the buyer knows and can relate to, or conduct a product demo that illustrates features you know are important to the buyer.
Ensure your modern buyer that you understand their needs, wants, and goals. At this point, inbound salespeople have developed a relationship with the buyer, and this relationship ensures a buyer’s continued success as a lasting client.
No More Outbound Sales People & Old Sales Tactics
The old way of selling is gone and the new era of selling has already begun. If you want to succeed today, inbound salespeople must listen to their modern buyers' wants and concerns, analyze their needs, and make relevant and beneficial recommendations that align with the needs of the customer. The sales process has changed —and it's time for your business to change too.