Is Your Sales Team Prepared for Inbound Sales?

Is your sales team ready to start working the inbound sales way?
Lionseye insights from AC Lion

We often think about disruption in terms of the way that it impacts industries. Uber and Lyft transformed the transportation sector; Netflix changed the way people flip through the channels on their TV. However, disruptions that change the way business gets done are all too often overlooked, and its impact frequently isn’t recognized until it’s too late.

Inbound marketing has transformed the Marketing function into a lead generation engine. By providing the customer with the content they need as they prepare to make a purchase, Marketing has facilitated a self-directed customer journey where the buyer completes 90% of their journey before ever talking to a sales person. In so doing, the Prospect – Demo – Close model that your Sales team has employed for decades is no longer effective. Outbound cold calls and cold email marketing are often rejected by customers who prefer to do their own research without being bothered by pesky salespeople. This process-driven disruption has left businesses of all sizes with outdated sales models and processes.

In its place comes a new model of sales; along with new stages. Identify – Explore – Connect – Advise which places the salesperson in unfamiliar territory. After receiving marketing qualified leads (MQL), the sales team is no longer aggressively working toward closing the deal. Instead, sales professionals focus on the buyers – rather than the sellers – needs. They are expected to act in a consultative role for their customers, guiding them through their sales pipeline towards a purchase decision.

It’s called Inbound Sales, and its sales people require a different set of skills. Is your team ready to sell?

New Sales Process Requires New Skills

Deep Researcher

After the prospect has moved through the marketing funnel, they are handed over to the sales team as an MQL. Included in that handoff is the prospect’s name, company, content they’ve downloaded, blogs they’ve read, and any additional information marketing captured.

Your salespeople now need to turn to their research skills and learn about both the customer and the company. Through social media, corporate websites, and other online resources, your sales reps need to be prepared with enough information on hand to develop a high-level understanding of the customer’s needs.

Master Communicator

Armed with research, your salespeople come to their initial conversation fully prepared to engage with the customer. In conversations, they use questions that stimulate discussion, as well as easy-to-understand answers that can articulately communicate their understanding of the prospect’s business needs and their point of view.

After talking with the customer, your salespeople use their natural curiosity to gain a deeper understanding of the buyer’s situation. Your sales rep is a great listener, and consults with the customer, helping them diagnose their needs, and shows a real interest in helping them overcome the challenges that they face.

After working with the customer and demonstrating an empathic understanding of the challenges they are facing, your salespeople are positioned to craft a solution designed to satisfy the customer’s needs.

Relationship Builder

Openness and transparency are key components in furthering the relationship with a prospect. Customers like to work with people they trust, and if they feel their salesperson is withholding information, or trying to manipulate them in some way, they will pull back and find a supplier they can trust.

As your salespeople move their buyers down the sales pipeline, they need to demonstrate an ability to help the customer in a way that they couldn’t otherwise help themselves. That often means providing product details, and helping customers assess whether or not your offering is right for their company.

Fast Learner and Quick Thinker

Throughout every phase of the sales process, your sales team will be challenged to provide information about your products or services. They will be called upon repeatedly to demonstrate a full understanding of your product’s benefits, features, and specifications.

Most importantly, they will need to think on their feet and show how the product features and benefits apply to the customer’s challenge, as well as take industry trends into account.

Helpful Advisor

As the sales process moves to the end of the sales pipeline, your sales reps become the trusted advisor your customer needs. They deliver presentations that are closely aligned with the challenges your customer is facing using the buyer’s terminology and presents demos focusing on the features that matter to the customer.

They demonstrate their understanding of the big picture and work collaboratively with other members of your team to close the sale.

Outbound Sales Skills Facelift

While many businesses have adopted an inbound sales approach, outbound sales teams still have their place, particularly with larger companies focused on bigger deals. However, even these organizations need to adapt the way that they do business in order to meet buyer expectations.

Outbound specialists need to hone their research skills, learning more about their prospects before walking into face-to-face meetings with them. Social media networking through platforms like LinkedIn are a must, as they help successful outbound salespeople get a better feel for internal reporting relationships, sidestepping around gatekeepers, and finding key decision makers.

Your outbound sales team needs to listen closely to customer’s needs. They can no longer deliver a one-size-fits-all solution; instead they must offer solutions that are closely aligned with the customer’s requirements.

A Transformed Process Means Updating Skill Sets

The success of inbound marketing and lead generation programs has wrested control of the sales cycle from the sales team directly into the hands of the buyers. This shift in control has completely changed the sales process and the skills you need on your sales team.

Assessing and hiring a sales team capable of viewing the sales process from the buyer’s perspective will keep you on the cutting edge of sales, while positioning your company for long-term sales success. Using a predictive assessment tool to identify sales candidates who are most likely to have the traits; skills and abilities needed for inbound Sales, such as Chally, will help you onboard the right kind of salespeople.

AC Lion will help connect you with the sales talent you need in a buyer-first world. Let us help you find the right talent.

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Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital media recruiting agency, AC Lion International, more than 20 years ago and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO.