The sales world is ever-evolving. Over the past few years, we have seen a number of companies drift away from the traditional outbound, cold calling sales techniques. The shift has moved us toward an inbound sales approach, where sales teams are working warm leads who have shown interest in their product. This approach has made salespeople's lives easier, but this isn't to say that initiating that first sales conversation is a simple task. A lot of strategic preparation goes into an inbound sales call, especially if you're to make the most out of a conversation with a prospect. In this post, we'll discuss some of the most effective approaches our own sales team here at New Breed leverages in our customer acquisition process.
11 Sales Techniques for Your Next Inbound Sales Call
Before the Sales Call
1. Do your research
What is your prospect's background? What's their company's background? Why did they find you, and how? These are the first things to understand before you jump on a call with a prospect. Having this background information will help you to be more prepared when they ask questions or when they bring up their reservations about your product. One of the best ways you can prepare for the conversation is by looking into your prospect's HubSpot digital body language. Discovering the prospect's most recent conversion on your website or the list of emails they've opened can provide great context into their interests and pain points.
2. Leverage social media
Over 70% of B2B decision makers use social media to help them make a purchase decision. Social media, LinkedIn in particular, is a great way to not only find new prospects, but also learn more about the prospects you already have. Looking up prospects on LinkedIn helps you identify key realities about the company your prospect is currently working for and gives you a deeper understanding of your prospect's career history. With this information, you can better tailor your conversation to the person you are speaking with. Have they worked in this industry for a long time? Or are they new to the industry? Have they always worked in this type of role? Or did they recently transition to it? Answering these questions, or even putting a face to a name, can really give you an information advantage when that initial sales conversation occurs.
3. Leverage their company website
One of my personal favorite places to go when looking for information about a company is their website career page. This may seem like an odd place for a salesperson to go, but stay with me here. Going to the careers page of a company's website and seeing which departments have the most open positions helps give me a better understanding of the gaps in their business operations. This information is extremely helpful, as it allows me to match resources with the prospect's needs.
4. Remember, at the end of the day, it's just a conversation
While doing research prior to your sales call is important, you don't want to spend copious amounts of time finding out every little detail about your prospect. An initial sales conversation is simply a conversation, and there is no guarantee the relationship will extend further than that. You don't want to waste a bunch of calories on one conversation when you have other prospects in the pipeline. Additionally, knowing too much about your prospect could lead to analysis paralysis. You want to feel prepared going into your conversation, but not so prepared that you know your prospect's entire life story.
During the Sales Call
5. Build rapport
The first thing you should always do in any sales conversation is build rapport with your prospect. We already mentioned that social media is a great way to gain some insight into your prospect's background, but it is also a great way to discover a conversation starter. Starting a conversation with something like: "I saw that blog post you shared on LinkedIn the other day on demand generation. Is that something that interests you?" is a great way to initiate common ground and propel the conversation further. Building a digital blueprint and creating an experience where your prospect has something tangible to take away from the conversation is one of the best ways to foster trust in the relationship. And once you have established that trust, remember not to lose it as you progress through the sales cycle. Always confirm that you and your prospect are on the same page. Continue asking questions and providing guidance, and, of course, remember to be human.
6. Live by the "Always Be Helping" mentality
There has long been this "sleazy used car salesmen" stigma around salespeople. But as we transition into a new era of sales, this is far from the truth. The goal in sales is no longer about selling a product, but instead about educating a prospect. Over the past few years, salespeople have transformed into consultants, mentors or even professors of a product or brand.
This transformation occurred due to the shift in mentality. We went from adhering to the mindset "Always Be Closing" to the mindset "Always Be Helping". The best salespeople know that the key to sales is to always be providing value before you extract it. Value could come in the form of a compelling statistic, information about a challenge you previously solved, or a piece of content that you think would be of interest. Providing this value up front is a way to gain trust and create a relationship with your prospect.
7. Let the prospect guide the conversation
As salespeople, it is tempting to ask our prospects a lot of questions to learn more about them and what they are looking for. When we think of good salespeople, we typically think of people who are extremely talkative. But the best salespeople are the ones who know how to listen.
Letting our prospects guide the conversation and carefully listening to their responses is one of the best and quickest ways to get the information you are looking for. A lot of the time, a conversation is built off of a prospect's response rather than a salesperson's question.
8. Ask open-ended questions
Some prospects are harder to draw information from than others. When working with prospects who aren't willing to divulge as much information, be sure to ask open-ended questions that facilitate a conversation and can provide deeper insights than a simple "yes" or "no" answer. The longer you can keep your prospect talking, the more you can drill down and learn what is important to them. And sometimes, you'll realize it doesn't always make sense to keep the conversation going. Maybe it's a bad time, or maybe they just aren't interested. If a conversation feels forced, evaluate whether or not it is worth your time and effort to continue with the prospect.
9. Be transparent
Prospects aren't fools. Our goal as salespeople is to educate, but specifically to educate a prospect on why they should buy our product. Prospects know this, which is why it is beneficial for you to just be honest about your goals. The relationship between a salesperson and prospect is mutually beneficial, and it's OK to acknowledge this. Don't try to beat around the bush with your prospect. Instead, try being honest and transparent through relevant content about how purchasing your product could provide them with great value.
10. If your prospect has reservations, find out why
Sales requires an inquisitive nature. If your prospect is hesitant about purchasing your product, try to dig into what the cause is for that resistance. For instance, if your prospect makes the comment, "We aren't looking for a partner right now" consider asking a question back like "Have you had a bad experience with a partner in the past?". This will help you to get a better understanding of where your prospect stands and if they have legitimate reservations or if they are not in a position to drive change. This position is the number one thing you should be looking for in sales. If your prospect is not in a position to drive change, it's an opportunity for salespeople to leverage fear- or reward-based selling techniques. Reminding your prospect what might happen if they don't drive change for their company (e.g., they won't meet their marketing goals), or reminding them what could happen if they do drive change (e.g., they might get promoted) will likely make them reconsider their reservations.
11. Have a goal for the conversation
You're goal isn't always going to be landing a HubSpot Demo. Sometimes, your goal is something as simple as gaining an understand that your prospect is interested in marketing automation, or an agreement that you could send them some free resources you think would peak their interest. But your ultimate goal for the conversation should be to make sure your prospect feels comfortable and that your conversation was a valuable use of their time. If you can provide that value for your prospect, the odds of having another phone conversation with them are far more likely.
The main thing to remember about any inbound sales call is the "give-get" mentality. You always want to be giving your prospect something before you get anything in return. Carrying this mindset with you into your sales conversations is the best way for you to establish a sense of trust with your prospect and make them feel comfortable throughout the conversation. Our goal as salespeople is not to jump down our prospects' throats in our attempt to get them to purchase our product. We want to provide them with guidance and relevant content that shows them firsthand why our product would be valuable for their company. If you can build a strong rapport with your prospect, give guidance and always be providing value before extracting it, your prospect is far more likely to turn into an actual paying customer.
Ready to get started with these inbound sales call techniques? Download our guide today.
Beth is an Inbound Advisor at New Breed with a particular strength in email marketing, optimization, and webpage creation and strategy.