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Inbound sales

Inbound sales: Meaning, strategy, process & tips! 

Key Takeaways
  • Inbound sales is a customer-centric approach where reps track leads, research needs, and propose personalized solutions to win deals.
  • The four stages of inbound sales strategy are identify, connect, explore, and advise.
  • The Salesmate CRM platform supports inbound selling with advanced features like pipeline management, sale tracking, automation, and analytics.

Isn’t it easy to sell a prospect that comes to you in search of solutions? 

Today’s customers prefer to take the reins. They research, compare, and decide long before they enter a store or click the “buy” button.    

This shift in consumer behavior paves the way for inbound sales, a sales approach that resonates with modern buyers’ habits. 

The Aberdeen Group survey revealed that 64% of sales teams attain their sales quotas through inbound social selling, compared to only 49% of teams not using it. 

This guide will walk you through this transformative inbound sales approach, showing you how to attract, engage, and close prospects faster. 

Let’s first understand the inbound sales meaning.  

What is inbound sales? 

Inbound sales is where reps focus on individual buyers and their needs, pains, and interests, drawing them in through tailored interactions and solutions.

It involves engaging leads who have shown interest in the company’s products or services, typically initiated through their research and as a result of inbound marketing efforts.

Here is what the inbound selling journey looks like: 

Inbound sales journey

How inbound sales is changing?

Inbound sales is quickly evolving to align with modern customer preferences and behaviors. 

Here’s a look at where these changes are most evident:

  1. More personalized approach: Leveraging customer data and insights for tailored recommendations and interactions.
  2. Utilizing technology more: Increasingly using chatbots and AI for real-time support, allowing sales teams to focus on complex interactions.
  3. Dedicated teams: Creating specialized inbound sales teams for quick responses to leads, improving contact rates.
  4. Reporting to marketing: Inbound sales teams are now directly working with marketing departments, utilizing marketing automation for lead management.
  5. The role of the marketing team is more now: Marketers are more involved in the entire buyer’s journey, not just at the lead generation stage, to improve sales outcomes.
  6. Chatbots are working more: They are used for initial lead qualification and customizing online visitor experiences.
  7. Omnichannel engagement: Businesses are trying to be everywhere customers are to give customers a smooth experience, no matter where they are online.
  8. Importance of quick response: Focusing on prompt responses to the web leads to drastically improved contact rates and conversions.

These changes are making the inbound selling strategies towards a more customer-centric, technologically advanced, and responsive approach.

Further, these evolving trends are increasingly beneficial for the remote inbound sales model, accommodating the shift towards virtual interactions and decentralized sales teams.

In our next section, let’s understand the difference between inbound and outbound sales.  

Inbound vs outbound sales: What’s the difference? 

Inbound sales strategy attracts potential customers and typically involves a more nurtured sales process. At the same time, outbound selling is a more direct approach which includes cold outreach activities.  

In inbound sales, the approach is tailored to each buyer’s specific stage in their journey, unlike outbound sales tactics, which typically apply a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Explore the table below to get more details: 

Aspect  Inbound sales Outbound sales 
Meaning  Engaging customers who find your business online. Contacting potential customers directly. 
Techniques  Follow-up on website leads Engage with social media inquiries  Interact with webinar attendees Cold calling Cold emailing Door-to-door visits Asking for referrals 
Advantages  Builds trust with interested customers. More cost-effective in the long term. Targets specific groups directly.  Can quickly generate leads. 
Limitations  Longer buying cycle in case of B2B sales. Depends on customer initiative. Seen as an intrusive approach.  Requires more effort to convert leads. 
Key metrics  Lead conversion rates Engagement with content Time to close sales Number of calls or emails Response rates Conversion rates 
When to use  Effective in industries where customers do significant research and seek solutions; ideal for building long-term customer relationships. Useful when immediate results are needed, in markets with well-defined customer profiles, or where direct engagement is more effective. 

Get into more details on inbound vs outbound sales strategies! 

What are the most common inbound sales challenges and their solutions? 

Inbound sales teams often face some common challenges that are listed below with possible solutions: 

Challenge Solutions 
Getting good leads Use analytics tools to understand website visitors.  Include insightful questions on web forms. Introduce a lead scoring model to your sales process. 
Keeping leads interested Send targeted emails and content.  Nurture via omnichannel (email and text) with targeted content. Use automation for timely follow-ups. 
Sales and marketing alignment Schedule regular joint meetings to discuss growth and challenges.  Share a common software platform like CRM for transparency and centralized data access. 
Keeping up with changing customers behavior  Monitor social media and forums.  Regularly review and adapt sales strategies. 
Figuring out what works Implement tracking software for sales activities. Set and review clear performance goals. 

By focusing on these areas, teams can improve their chances of turning leads into customers 

What does a successful inbound sales strategy look like? 

For an inbound sales strategy to be successful, you need to develop a customer-centric approach, firm grasp of its key components, and implement the best inbound strategies into your sales process. 

Let’s understand in detail: 

1. Developing a customer-centric approach 

Studies on consumer purchasing trends reveal that 87% of buyers begin their journey online, a behavior that many inbound sales funnels effectively capitalize on. 

Being customer-centric in sales means always putting the customer’s needs first.  

This means understanding what the customer wants at each step – from first learning about a product to making a decision – and creating sales plans that build trust, feel personal, and offer real value.  

Instead of pushing sales, this approach focuses on educating and advising customers, leading to happier customers who stay loyal. By listening to customers and using what you learn, inbound sales build lasting relationships, turning happy customers into strong supporters of your brand. 

2. Valuable content for inbound selling 

Inbound sales teams strategically use content to guide customers through their buying journey. Initially, they capture interest with informative product details and FAQs.  

During qualification, they assess leads based on their interactions with specific content. In sales conversations, they reference case studies or product sheets to address queries and overcome objections using customer testimonials and reviews.  

As they close deals, detailed product guides and tailored proposals are key. Post-sale, they maintain engagement with helpful resources like usage tips. This targeted use of content helps nurture leads, close sales, and build lasting customer relationships. 

3. Alignment of sales and marketing efforts 

Ensuring a cohesive and consistent customer experience requires close collaboration between sales and marketing teams. This alignment involves establishing shared goals, clear communication channels, and regular feedback mechanisms. 

Implementing effective sales strategies requires a blend of top digital marketing channels and advanced tools. Leading inbound marketing and sales teams usually concentrate on:

Elements of inbound sales
  • Content marketing: Using engaging content to attract potential customers. 
  • SEO: Improving content visibility in search engine results. 
  • Social media engagement: Connecting with potential customers on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 
  • Email marketing: Sending personalized emails to guide leads through the sales funnel. 
  • CRM tools: Tracking and managing interactions with prospects using CRM systems. 
  • Lead nurturing: Building relationships with prospects at each stage of their journey. 
  • Analytics and data: Analyzing customer behavior to fine-tune sales strategies. 

All these efforts from introducing a customer-centric sales approach and utilizing the best sales and marketing inbound strategies to boost your revenue. 

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What are the most common inbound sales examples to learn from? 

These examples are rep’s insiders to you for effectively implementing inbound sales methodology: 

Inbound sales email examples: 

Create welcome emails for new subscribers, introducing your brand and valuable resources. For leads visiting specific product pages, send detailed emails about those products’ benefits, including customer stories. 

Inbound sales strategy example: 

Offer valuable content like webinars in exchange for contact info. Then, use a series of informative emails to nurture these leads towards a sales discussion. 

Inbound sales call example: 

For interested leads, make calls to understand their challenges and discuss how your product can help. Use CRM insights about their activities for a relevant and focused conversation. 

A powerful CRM and automation platform can help you improve your inbound sales efficiency. 

How does the inbound sales process help win potential customers?  

The inbound sales process focuses on personalizing the entire buying process to your prospect’s context and needs.   

Let’s first understand the buyer’s journey 

Inbound sales focus on three main steps that buyers go through: 

  • Awareness: At this stage, prospects realize they have a problem and seek possible solutions. Sales teams should really know their potential customers to help them engage at this stage. 
  • Consideration: Now, prospects know their problem and are looking for ways to solve it. Salespeople should understand what buyers are looking for and how their product stands out from others. 
  • Decision: This is when potential buyers pick the best solution for their problem, which could be your product. If you reach this stage, it means you’ve shown the potential customer why your product is the best choice. 

The sales team’s job is to handle inbound sales leads, explore their needs, and give advice that matches each stage of this journey. 

Let’s begin with the steps involved in an inbound sales process: 

Inbound sales methodology

1. Identify   

This phase aims to recognize and prioritize leads that are a good fit for your product or service based on their actions, such as visiting specific landing pages on your website or downloading certain content.  

Introducing an automated lead scoring system for inbound marketing can improve lead generation and boost conversions. 

2. Connect   

At the connect phase, sales reps initiate contact with potential leads to qualify further them in the sales pipeline. The focus here is on helping prospects rather than selling to them.   

Communication by an inbound sales representative is quite personalized to the lead’s context, using the information gathered. The goal is to establish trust and open the door for further communication.   

Inbound sales representatives can qualify leads by asking perfect sales qualifying questions. Moreover, they can use sales qualification frameworks to get more details about the prospect’s buying ability and intent.  

3. Explore   

This phase is a crucial part of every lead qualification process as it allows inbound sales reps to evaluate the compatibility between a lead’s needs and their product or service.   

By tailoring their approach based on the lead’s situation, inbound salespeople can address their concerns more effectively, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale.  

Interesting read: 6 Solid sales qualification frameworks that you must know!  

4. Advise   

This phase is about being a consultant who offers expert advice rather than just a salesperson pushing a product. It involves demonstrating how your solution will solve the lead’s specific problem or help them achieve their goal.   

Ensure you’re providing comprehensive inbound sales training to your team, as this is a vital component in boosting revenue and enhancing the overall sales process. 

Get a bird's eye view of the entire sales cycle!

Get a bird's eye view of the entire sales cycle!

Salesmate's custom pipeline management helps track and identify opportunities for inbound sales success.

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To succeed in inbound selling, build an effective sales funnel. Let’s understand how a funnel can enhance your marketing and sales efforts. 

How does an inbound sales funnel streamline the entire sales process? 

The inbound sales funnel is a step-by-step process that illustrates how potential customers become actual buyers, from the moment they become aware of a product/service to the point of purchase.   

It involves marketing initiatives, unlike the outbound sales process, which has no involvement in marketing.   

So, we can say that the success of inbound selling depends on the collaboration between the marketing and sales teams.  

Here is what an inbound marketing sales funnel looks like: 

Inbound sales funnel

Interesting readSales pipeline vs sales funnel: What’s the difference?

What are the key inbound sales KPIs – Lead conversion rate and CAC 

Different KPIs are helping each level of an inbound sales team (reps, managers, and top-level bodies) to meet their roles and responsibilities in a better way.   

There are two most essential inbound sales KPIs for any inbound sales strategies: 

  • Lead conversion rate: 

This KPI measures the effectiveness of your inbound sales process in converting leads into paying customers.  

It directly indicates how well your sales team is performing and how effective your sales funnel is.  

A high lead conversion rate typically means that your inbound marketing efforts successfully attract qualified leads and that your sales team effectively closes deals. 

It can be calculated using the formula below: 

Lead conversion rate = (Number of leads converted into customers / Total number of leads) × 100 

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): 

CAC is essential for evaluating the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of your inbound sales and marketing efforts.  

It helps you understand how much you spend to acquire a new customer, which is crucial for determining the sustainability and profitability of your sales strategy. 

It can be calculated using the formula below: 

CAC = (Total cost of sales and marketing efforts to attract customers) / (Number of new customers acquired 

Regularly analyzing these KPIs can help make strategic adjustments to improve performance and achieve desired sales outcomes.

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What are the best inbound sales tips to follow for boosting conversions? 

Inbound sales tactics focus on engaging and helping potential customers in a way that aligns with their buying journey and preferences.   

Here are some of the most effective inbound sales tips:  

inbound sales tips

1. Understand your customer personas 

Get to know your customers’ interests and challenges through social media, surveys, and feedback. 

Further, tailor your sales approach to provide solutions that align with their desired goals.

2. Curate and share relevant content 

Demand Metric’s survey revealed that content marketing costs 62% less than other marketing types and delivers 3x more leads on average. 

Ensure your marketing and sales team collaborates and invests time in generating lead magnets and social proofs to leverage during sales.

Utilize valuable content resources like in-depth case studies, detailed comparison charts, and authentic user-generated content to build trust and credibility with prospects. 

3. Engage passive buyers 

Reach out to buyers who fit your ideal profile but haven’t shown active interest yet. 

Try to leverage the data from your past campaigns to understand their preferences for more effective interactions. 

4. Personalize your nurturing campaigns 

Create different email campaigns for various customer personas, focusing on their specific needs. 

Use email automation to engage with prospects when they’re most likely to respond. 

Create segmented email campaigns for different customer personas. Include content that addresses their specific pain points and interests.  

Use email automation tools to nurture and engage with prospects at optimal times based on user engagement and behavior patterns. 

5. Build trust with a consultative approach 

One of the best inbound sales tips is consultative selling. It requires deep listening, insightful questions, and prioritizing the customer’s unique situation.   

By acting as trusted advisors, sales reps guide customers through decision-making. This fosters trust and credibility and increases the likelihood of conversions.

6. Training and empowering your team 

Invest in regular training sessions for your team, focusing on the latest inbound sales methodologies and customer engagement strategies.

Equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge for effective engagement.   

7. Set goals and measure success 

Establish clear, measurable objectives for your sales efforts, such as lead conversion rates or average sales cycle length. 

Regularly review your key metrics to assess the effectiveness of your inbound sales techniques and identify areas for improvement. 

8. Utilize technologies to boost results

Leverage CRM and other sales technologies not just for tracking, but also for gaining insights into customer behavior and preferences. Plus, use tools to streamline your sales process, making it more efficient and data-driven.

9. Analyze and improve 

Conduct regular analysis of the sales performance to identify trends, successes, and areas needing improvement. 

Use this data to refine your approach continuously, adapting to changing customer needs and market conditions. 

These tips help to enhance your inbound sales approach, ensuring more meaningful engagement with potential customers and higher conversion rates. 

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How is Salesmate proving as the best inbound sales CRM for growing teams? 

Your inbound marketing strategies draw traffic to your website, and Salesmate CRM, the best inbound software, can help you turn that traffic into results. 

Discover how Salesmate is a powerful CRM for inbound sales at each step of the journey: 

  • Capturing inbound leads directly from the web: Capture leads with Web Forms and Live Chat system effectively as soon as they land on your site, ensuring no opportunity is missed. 
  • Identifying and prioritizing prospects: Utilize custom lead scoring models to evaluate and prioritize leads, focusing your team’s efforts on the most interested prospects. 
  • Automated lead assignment: Efficiently assign incoming leads to the right sales reps automatically, ensuring a quick and effective response. 
  • Omnichannel communication for nurturing: Engage leads through Built-in Calling, Text Messaging, and Emailing, providing a comprehensive platform for personalized interactions. 
  • Streamlining activities with the sales automation tool: Simplify tasks like scheduling follow-ups and managing email campaigns, allowing your team to focus on closing deals. 
  • Consistent engagement with sales sequences: Maintain regular contact with leads using automated email and text sequences, keeping them engaged and moving forward. 
  • Tracking and enhancing sales performance: Monitor your team’s activities in real-time with a sales activity tracker, optimizing strategies to improve conversion rates. 
  • Collaboration for team success: Enhance team collaboration with a shared team inbox, keeping everyone informed and aligned. 
  • Strategic decisions with in-depth analytics: Use customizable sales reports to gain insights and refine your inbound sales strategy. 
  • On-the-go accessibility with mobile CRM: The mobile app keeps your sales reps connected and responsive, enabling management of customer interactions anywhere. 

Salesmate CRM integrates with 700+ business tools, including marketing automation platforms, social media, and productivity tools, facilitating a seamless workflow and enhanced data synchronization across different platforms.   

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Conclusion: Combining inbound and outbound sales   

An inbound sales strategy focuses on identifying potential buyers who express interest in a product or service, drawing them in through valuable content and personalized interactions.   

Implementing outbound sales strategies involves proactively targeting potential customers and generating outbound leads through targeted campaigns and personalized outreach.  

This combined outbound and inbound sales approach ensures a versatile strategy, seamlessly blending proactive outreach to generate leads with organic attraction through valuable content and engagement.  

Use Salesmate, a feature-rich CRM, to streamline your entire sales process, boost revenue, and grow strong customer relationships.  

Frequently asked questions

How to generate inbound sales leads effectively? 

These are the best ways to generate inbound sales leads: 

  1. Content Marketing: Share insightful blogs, whitepapers, and e-books. 
  1. SEO: Optimize your website for better search engine visibility. 
  1. Social Media: Engage with your audience and share valuable content. 
  1. Email campaigns: Send personalized emails to nurture interested leads. 
  1. Webinars/workshops: Host informative events to educate potential customers. 
  1. Referral Programs: Encourage referrals from current customers. 
What are the stages in the inbound methodology?  

Here are the four inbound sales methodology stages:  

  1. Attract: Drawing the right visitors to your website.   
  1. Convert: Turning visitors into leads by gathering their contact information.   
  1. Close: Transforming leads into customers.   
  1. Delight: Ensuring customers are satisfied and become promoters of your business. 
What is the goal of the identify phase of an inbound sales strategy?  

The identify phase aims to understand potential customers’ needs, preferences, and challenges for personalized engagement throughout the sales process.  

How does marketing support inbound sales?  

Marketers are increasingly involved in multiple stages of the sales funnel, ensuring seamless transitions from marketing qualified leads to sales opportunities. 

How does B2B inbound sales differ from B2C inbound sales? 

B2B sales target other businesses and involve a longer, more complex decision-making process with professional buyers or committees.  

In contrast, B2C sales target individual consumers, with decisions often being quicker and more emotion driven. B2B products are usually more complex and customized, while B2C products are more standardized. 

What is the difference: Inside sales vs inbound sales? 

Inside sales is remote selling (phone, email, online), covering both inbound and outbound methods. Inbound sales focus on leads from marketing efforts like SEO and social media. 

How can I use outbound tactics in an inbound way? 

To use outbound tactics in an inbound way, focus on content-driven outreach, personalization, social selling, and hosting educational webinars or events.  

How does marketing support inbound sales? 

Marketing supports inbound sales by generating and nurturing leads through SEO, content marketing, social media, and PPC campaigns.  

It builds brand recognition and trust, streamlines the sales journey, and offers helpful content resources like case studies and product information for sales activities. 

What is the difference between a sales process and an inbound sales strategy? 

The sales process is a set of structured steps for converting leads to customers, applicable in various sales methods.  

An inbound sales strategy is a specific approach where a sales rep engages and nurtures leads that come in through content marketing, SEO, and other inbound channels to convert them into sales. 

Sonali Negi

Sonali is a writer born out of her utmost passion for writing. She is working with a passionate team of content creators at Salesmate. She enjoys learning about new ideas in marketing and sales. She is an optimistic girl and endeavors to bring the best out of every situation. In her free time, she loves to introspect and observe people.

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