Inbound Sales Strategies: 6 Strategies to Attract + Close More Deals
Do you know the number one dream of sales professionals and business owners? You can summarize it in two words: Inbound sales.
You know, getting customers to come to you unprovoked—no need for cold calls, interruptive voicemails, or emails.
Is it a lofty dream? Yes. But is it achievable? Absolutely.
In this article, we'll dive into the definition of inbound sales and a few differences from outbound sales strategies. Then, we'll look into a few inbound sales strategies and tools to help you attract and close more deals.
Ready? Let's go.
First, A Preamble: What is Inbound Sales?
Inbound sales are a type of sales approach where a business focuses on attracting customers rather than reaching out to them.
The goal is to bring potential customers to you by identifying pain points and providing solutions using a mix of inbound marketing channels, like content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media.
Inbound sales strategies often involve tactics like providing helpful resources, creating educational materials, hosting webinars, and other forms of lead nurturing to drive sales conversations.
We'll dig into more of the specifics about inbound sales strategies in the next section.
Looking to magnify your content marketing efforts? Check out our AI-focused article.
6 Inbound Sales Strategies to Improve Your Close Rates
There are a lot of strategies you can use to attract and close more inbound sales. But this section will focus on six that we’ve found to be the most effective, especially for SaaS and SMB companies.
1. Intent-Driven Content Marketing And SEO
Almost every modern business has some sort of content and SEO strategy. But not all are intent-driven—and this often hinders their ability to drive inbound sales.
"Intent-driven content marketing and SEO" simply means creating content and optimizing for keywords your potential customers are likely to search for when they have an intent that aligns with your goal.
For instance, if you sell sales operations software, you'll want to create content and optimize for the keywords potential customers would search with when they're looking for content or solutions related to what you sell.
They could be looking for:
- top-of-funnel content, like "what are sales operations?"
- mid-funnel content, like "sales process optimization tips"
- bottom-of-funnel content, like "sales operations software."
To find these intent-driven keywords, you can use tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, or KWFinder.
What's important here is to focus on the intent behind every piece of content you create and optimize for inbound sales.
For instance, topics like "how to increase sales team productivity" or "sales process optimization tips" are great topics to target. The people searching for content on topics like this are likely founders, inbound sales team leaders, or managers—and they're actively looking for solutions that relate to your services.
If they find your content helpful, there's a good chance you'll be able to convert them into leads and, eventually, customers.
Case in point: Datapad's CMO and cofounder recently shared how this intent-driven content + SEO framework drives almost 400 product sign-ups per month.
Bottom line: Intent-driven content marketing and SEO attract potential customers already looking for a solution. And they might consider your product or service—if your content and SEO efforts are done right.
2. Social Selling To Drive Inbound Leads
Social selling is another inbound sales strategy many successful sellers use today; in fact, 78% of social sellers outperform sales representatives who don't use social media in their selling efforts.
One of the best ways sales reps can use social media to drive inbound leads is by:
- Connecting with potential customers
- Writing posts that motivate them to reach out
- Leaving comments on their post that helps to build relationships with them
It's a three-pronged approach that can help with lead generation and build stronger relationships with potential customers.
And it works. For instance, Product School's director of content, Charleen Parkes, wrote a LinkedIn post about how she focuses on one word or phrase to guide herself through the year rather than a list of new year's resolutions. I showed up in the comments and wrote about the part of the post that stood out to me the most.
Charleen responded, saying, "On that note, I'm looking for a content marketing consultant..."
That's just a glimpse of how social selling can work to drive inbound sales for your business. And it’s not just commenting; posting valuable content also drives inbound leads and sales.
3. Inbound Lead Scoring & Sales Automation
Inbound lead scoring is the process of assigning a numerical value or score to each lead based on their behavior and the likelihood that they'll convert.
If you use a CRM tool like Close, for instance, you can set up lead scoring rules that assign points for each action a lead takes—such as downloading a piece of content, visiting your pricing page, submitting a form, or any other criteria you set.
The more points a lead accumulates, the more likely they are to convert.
You can set the Close CRM (or any other alternative you're using) to send automated messages or content that nudge the highest scorers further down the sales funnel and convert them into customers.
For instance, you could set your CRM tool to email prospective customers with resources like white papers or a blog post when they trigger an action that shows they need such resources.
A good example of this in action is when a lead interacts with your form but doesn't complete the sign-up process. You could automate a follow-up email containing an article where you share something that might help overcome common objections buyers typically have at that stage of the buying funnel.
This is just one example; there are several other ways to use Inbound sales strategies and automation to increase conversions.
4. Encouraging And Incentivizing Referrals
Referrals are another powerful inbound sales strategy that can help to drive more sales for your business.
One effective way to get more sales referrals is by identifying your happiest customers and asking if you can arrange a referral or affiliate program with them.
If they're already pumped about your product or service, there’s a good chance they’re willing to spread the word for rewards or incentives.
Other ways you can use referrals to drive inbound sales include:
- Using an affiliate marketplace to connect you with influencers who have an audience that matches your target customer profile
- Running social media contests or giveaways to drive more referrals
- Creating a referral widget for customers to share on social media or elsewhere
No matter what referral strategy you opt for, make sure it's simple for your current customers to refer their friends and family. In other words—keep it easy, keep it rewarding, and you'll drive more inbound sales.
5. Lead Nurturing & Conversion Paths
Lead nurturing is one powerful inbound sales methodology to keep leads engaged, informed, and warm after they interact with your content and enter your sales funnel.
They can enter your funnel by:
- Signing up for newsletters
- Exchanging their contact information for a lead magnet or digital resource
- Submit a form to get in touch with someone in your company
Whatever the case, you can use lead nurturing to follow up with them regularly to build trust with them and keep them engaged and interested in your brand.
The key is maintaining conversations by sending resources, articles, and other relevant information about their job, life, situation, and values.
You can also provide them with conversion paths that will help them make the buying decision. In other words—create clear paths for them to take the next steps to convert.
For instance, if they've signed up for your newsletter, you can create a call-to-action button or link in each issue of the newsletter that leads them to a page where they can purchase your product or service.
Or you can also offer discounts, free trials, etc.—especially in newsletters where you cover topics related to your product or service.
By providing them with simple and obvious paths to convert, you can increase your chances of converting them into customers.
6. Account-Based Marketing + Inbound Marketing
Combining the strengths of account-based marketing (ABM) with inbound marketing can lead to remarkable outcomes, especially when paired with strategic outbound sales tools.
Account-based marketing doesn't entirely follow the typical inbound sales process. In many companies, it's more of an outbound sales approach.
But when combined with inbound marketing tactics, account-based marketing often becomes a powerful inbound sales strategy to target and close high-value accounts.
Let's say your inbound salespeople want to acquire larger companies as customers—companies who will use more of your products or services than the typical customer.
But getting the attention of decision-makers in companies like this is often hard. And it's understandable—they have more resources and are more likely to have stricter security measures.
Plus, every other company is targeting them with outbound sales pitches. Their inboxes are almost always filled with cold emails and messages.
So what do you do?
Combine inbound marketing tactics with account-based marketing strategies. Start by creating detailed buyer personas of the decision-makers you want to reach and target.
Then begin creating content specifically tailored to them. Focus on the topics, questions, and concerns they care about.
This will increase your odds of reaching the right decision-makers—and even start building relationships with them.
Dive deep into the Challenger Sales Model and revolutionize your sales tactics.
7. Artificial Intelligence-Assisted Inbound Sales
AI-driven inbound sales strategies are becoming increasingly popular to create inbound sales experiences that are efficient, effective, and highly personalized for each customer.
For instance, you can create a chatbot on your pricing page that pops up at the bottom right corner of the page, asking customers if they need help choosing the right plan.
Some of these technologies even employ personalization; they can identify your visitor's name, company, etc., and then use this info to personalize messaging to every visitor/potential customer.
Or you can use AI-driven assistance to create predictive insights and personalization for each customer when they're on their buyer’s journey. In other words, you can personalize their experience based on the data you have about them.
These are just two of the many ways to use AI-driven inbound sales strategies. There are many other inbound sales solutions available as well, and they can help you optimize your Inbound sales efforts and make them more efficient and effective.
Learn about the latest advancements in sales technology and the role of AI in our comprehensive article, "The Future of AI in Sales: What Changed and What’s Next."
5 Best Practices For Implementing Inbound Sales Strategies
Now let's look at a few of the best practices for implementing inbound selling strategies.
1. Get Clear On Your Buyer Persona
Before you start implementing strategies, get clear on your buyer persona.
If you're not 100 percent clear on what that means, it's basically the profile of your ideal customer. It contains details about them that relate to your business, like:
- The industry their business operates in
- The size of their company
- The challenges they need your product to solve
- Their general pain points
- How they prefer to be contacted and communicated with
- Any other info related to the buying process that'll help you target and engage them
All this info will help you craft an effective inbound sales strategy that's tailored to your ideal buyer’s needs.
2. Personalize Your Approach
Mass messaging is easy. Personalized messaging is a lot harder—but it's also more effective.
Let's say you sell social media scheduling software. It's easy to create content about the benefits of scheduling posts ahead of time—and hope your target market and prospects see it so they can convert into customers.
It's straightforward and requires relatively little effort to create, but this might not be the most effective approach.
If you know the details about your buyer persona (and you should), you can personalize your approach even further and drive more sales.
Instead of just talking about the benefits of scheduling posts, you can focus on the particular industries that can benefit the most from your product. You could talk about how lawyers, for instance, can cut down on wasted time by automating their social media content.
This way, they can speak more directly to their target audience and increase the chances for sales conversions.
3. Make Sure Sales And Marketing Are Aligned
What does it mean for sales and inbound marketing strategies to be aligned? And why does it matter?
In a nutshell, it means that both teams must work together to create a holistic strategy that attracts, engages, and converts leads.
The marketing team needs to understand what the sales team needs in terms of leads and the types of content that will help them convert these leads.
The sales team, in turn, needs to provide
- The info their marketing team needs to create content
- Feedback and insights about their leads
- Data about their process that could enhance inbound marketing efforts and drive sales-qualified leads
When both teams work together, it results in more sales and better customer experiences.
4. Use Automation To Deliver Timely Content
Inbound selling is all about making the most of your resources to meet prospects where they’re at in the buying journey—and provide them with the info they need to make an informed purchase decision.
This means having a system to help you follow up with leads in a timely manner and provide them with the right content at the right time.
That's where automation comes in—specifically, marketing automation. By automating certain parts of your sales process, you'll save time and ensure prospects consistently get the info they need.
For instance, you can use automation to set up automated email sequences that are personalized and go out at the right time. And that could be just:
- A few minutes after they sign up for your newsletter
- After they download a particular resource
- After they visit a specific page on your website—say the pricing page
As we've pointed out earlier, you can also set up automated lead scoring, so you can prioritize the leads that are most likely to convert.
These automated processes will help make sure prospects get the right content at the right time—increasing the chances for sales conversions.
5. Leverage Data To Attract The Most Qualified Leads
Data is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal when it comes to inbound sales.
It provides invaluable insights into who your prospects are, what they need, and how you can help them.
And data is everywhere, from your website and social media accounts to third-party sources like Google Analytics.
For instance, you can use data from your Google Analytics dashboard to find out which content pieces and topics are driving the most leads and revenue—and use that info to create more valuable content tailored to your ideal customer.
You can also use data from your website and social media posts; see which pieces of content are getting the most engagement from target customers and use that to inform your inbound sales tactics.
There are several other ways you can leverage data to identify, engage, and convert leads; the important thing is to remember that data isn't just a tool for tracking success—it's also a valuable asset for proactively finding ways to reach potential customers.
6. Focus On Activities That Help You Generate Inbound Leads
As you journey through the inbound sales world, you'll find tons of activities that can help generate inbound leads.
But it's important to focus only on activities that are most likely to bring in the leads you actually want.
For instance, if your target audience is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, and search engines, then focus your efforts on optimizing content for those platforms.
Whatever activities you choose, make sure they support your overall inbound sales strategy and help you get the results you need.
Inbound Sales FAQs
Let's answer some of the most common inbound sales questions we typically hear:
What’s The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Sales?
Inbound sales focuses on attracting customers organically, while outbound sales outreach relies on tactics such as cold-calling and email blasts to reach potential leads.
Inbound sales typically take a longer time to generate leads, but the leads are usually more qualified and have a higher close rate. That’s because customers who reach out to you are more likely to have a higher intent and are already sold on your solution.
There are pros and cons to both inbound and outbound sales. Outbound sales tends to drive a higher volume of leads, but it also comes with the risk of contacting lots of unqualified people.
Inbound sales tends to take longer, but the leads are usually qualified. In addition, there's less risk of contacting unqualified prospects.
What Are The Stages Of Inbound Sales?
There are typically four main stages of the inbound sales process:
- Attract (or awareness stage)
- Connect (or consideration stage)
Attract refers to the process of attracting potential customers through content and digital marketing campaigns. In this stage, the goal is to build awareness about your product or service and draw your potential buyers in.
Connect is the process of engaging with your prospects—answering their questions and providing them with information about things related to your business.
Convert is when interested prospects become leads and show genuine interest in your product or service. In this stage, it's important to nurture the relationship with your prospects by providing them with relevant content and services that are helpful and valuable.
Finally, Close is the end of your sales funnel and inbound sales process. It is where you actually close the deal and convert leads into customers. In this stage, your goal is to ensure prospects understand the value of your offering, pricing, and the benefits of working with your business.
Test New Inbound Sales Strategies + Drive Qualified Leads
There are plenty of inbound sales techniques out there, but it's important not to get lost in the noise. Rather than trying to try every possible inbound sales strategies, focus on the ones that target your users on platforms they already engage on.
Fortunately, we've shared some of the most effective inbound sales strategies to help you attract, connect with, convert, and close leads in this guide. Take the time to review each of these strategies and determine which ones will provide the best results.
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