Whether they’re curiously calling after reading an interesting ad, in need of product support, or have questions about their order, inbound sales are excellent opportunities for any business. At first, it may sound way easier than outbound sales, but when a representative fails to respond adequately to a question, or a call is left unanswered, a sales opportunity is lost.
This article is a collection of inbound sale tips from industry experts to keep you on top of your game.
Here are the top 15 inbound sales tips from the pros:
1. Adapt Your Sales Script to the Prospect’s Motivation
James Leong, Adjunct Professor, Visions1
A common mistake in inbound sales is to have only one sales script, and this may not always fit each situation that prompted a prospect to call in. As a result, we fail to relate to the customer’s needs. Using the science of the four buyer personality types for values-based selling, we should have four different sales scripts for each product or solution. Focus on the desire for security for the Blueprint type, opportunity seeking for the Action type, sense of community for the Nurturing type, and mastery for the Knowledge type. For instance, when selling to a Nurturing type, you can highlight how each purchase of your product donates $1 towards a worthy cause that your company is supporting.
2. Be a Problem Solver
Randi Busse, President, Workforce Development Group, Inc.
Customers are calling you because they have a problem (need). You can solve that problem for them, or one of your competitors can. The choice is yours. The customer is yours to lose. Before you answer each call, put on your imaginary cape where you become a superhero, there to save their day and solve their problem. Don’t ask rapid fire questions of the caller. Have a conversation with them as if you were talking with a friend or a relative. Be knowledgeable, be curious, be genuine, be interested.
3. Don’t stick to your script
Romy Newman, President and Co-Founder, Fairygodboss
Listen more than you talk. Someone reaching out to you must have some level of awareness of your product, and certainly they have a well-established need for your services. So take the time to understand their perspective and context. Ask thoughtful questions. Stay away from your script!
Even though inbound callers know that you have to ask questions to help them with their concern, responding to a list of several questions can get annoying. Learn how to be a great conversationalist and encourage sales by pairing statements and questions:
- Add a statement before your question to explain the purpose of the question (e.g. “I just need to fill out your billing information, what address do you use for billing?”)
- Ask a follow up question after telling your prospect about your product, service, or promotion to see if they have developed an opinion on its value. For example, “This week’s promotion is 20% off of our A4 size bond paper–that’s $10.99 for a box of 3 packs. Are these something you will use in your business?”
- Give your prospect an explanation on why it’s best to act now, and then ask your closing question. For example, “The most common concern clients have is the interest rates on the loans, so I usually offer to help complete the application right away before the information I provide changes. It only takes 5 minutes, would you like to get this done?”
Pitching a product or service that doesn’t speak to a buyer’s needs won’t result in a positive buyer experience. Incidents like these normally signify a need for retraining, but more importantly, this kind of customer feedback can hurt your business reputation in the long run. Instead of blindly pitching inbound leads, sales staff should make good use of available lead data to determine the customer’s initial need. Build a relationship first by offering help and accommodating questions that can also help you identify what type of sales pitch will work well. Listen actively so you can easily offer a solution to the customer’s problem by offering the appropriate product or service.
Once you’ve determined your prospect’s goals, challenges, and pain points, you need to explore ways that your product or service could address these needs and whether you think the relationship is a good fit. If it’s not a good fit, don’t be afraid to say so – it’s better to be honest upfront than to end up with a dissatisfied customer down the line. Your prospect will appreciate that you showed respect for their time and might even give you a chance to offer an alternative to what they’ve been looking for.
Closed-ended responses are always counter productive when your purpose is to try and establish a connection. Responses limited to “Yes,” “No” or “Sure” don’t fuel further conversation with an inbound prospect. They make you come off as uninterested. Instead, teach your employees to follow up with further information or questions in order to sustain the conversation and boost the odds of establishing a connection. For instance, if the caller asks, “Is there a warranty for your product?”, don’t just say, “Yes.” Instead, say, “Yes, there is a one year warranty on parts and services and 6 months replacement. What are the usual issues do you encounter with your unit?” Of course, you must balance your desire to forge a connection with respect for the caller’s time.
One basic way to increase inbound sales leads is to improve your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Making sufficient use of keywords to describe your product or service will increase your website’s chance of making it to the first page of the Google search results. With better rankings comes increased traffic to your website. If that person reached your website while looking for a product to buy online, your chances of converting the prospect are high. Be sure to have a lead capture mechanism in place such as a sign up form once potential customers get to your website.
Knowing your company’s product by heart gives you the right confidence when answering an inbound sales call. And this confidence can be quickly sensed by your prospect. A caller who takes the time to place a phone call needs assistance. If you are not knowledgeable enough to respond to questions and process the sale, your odds of closing the sale are greatly reduced. Time and constant training are the key for you to develop product knowledge. It may be helpful for you to determine what the most frequently asked inbound sales questions are and talk with your sales training manager about the best way to address these questions.
When someone telephones for details of your products or services, do you make the most of that conversation, or do you just see that as a request for information and send a brochure? The best mindset to adapt is that every call is an opportunity to make a sale. What’s the reason behind the customer’s inquiry? How can you help? Always try to qualify an inquiry to determine if it’s right for you and your sales process. According to a 2017 lead response survey from Drift, a staggering 55% of incoming leads get no follow up. This only means that while sales agents spend so much effort trying to reach new leads, there are great opportunities sitting in your system that aren’t being followed up. For this reason alone, establishing a regular review of your inbound inquiries should help increase your sales.
Many inbound sales calls can feel very familiar, making it easy to slip into a routine. When this happens, you become too confident that you start making assumptions about your prospect the moment you hear them say particular keywords. It’s always important to remember every sale is different, and every buyer will have unique problems requiring a solution.
The best way to avoid this is to only use information that has been given to you by the buyer. Ask follow up questions if there are any gaps. Repeat what you understood back to your prospect to make sure you got it right. It’s important to avoid making assumptions about their situation because the moment you get it wrong, the buyer will read into it as you have not been listening. A buyer who feels ignored will question your credibility and ultimately ruin any possibility of a sale. They will also hesitate to put their trust on your brand leaving a lasting negative effect.
Let’s say your website ranked first on Google, and customers find their way to your online shop. What can you do to convince an undecided potential buyer not to visit competitor websites? You can add a live chat tool. It’s not unusual for customers to have questions they would rather get answered directly instead of having to search for it. Those who are looking to buy at that very moment won’t bother filling out a contact/inquiry form or making a phone call. When you make inbound sales representatives available on live chat, you give customers a chance to answer to get their burning questions answered immediately. It helps educate a buyer real time, build customer experience with micro-moments, and develop customer’s trust in your brand.
If you’re considering adding a live chat tool on your website, be sure you check out FreshChat. The basic version is completely free.
Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence & Persuade, suggested in his book that after the standard greeting and taking of name and company identification, the best next step is to ask your inbound prospect one question: “Why did you call us today?” An inbound sales prospect who answers this question, by all intents and purposes, is declaring the purpose of their call. If their answer is wanting to purchase your product or service, the prospect will feel compelled to stay consistent with the identity of someone who wants to purchase something from your company. A verbal commitment strongly compels consistency, and consistency is one of the major principles that influences a person’s decision making. This gives you a higher chance of closing the deal.
When a prospect contacts you with the intent to buy, a huge part of their decision is the price. They will naturally look for ways to get discounts and if they are not satisfied with what you can offer, they will end up visiting a competitor supplier. The right probing questions will tell you your prospect’s buying habits and preferences. Do they like getting bundle promotions? Do they go for straight discounts? Offer your prospects a range of pricing options to make them feel your commitment to giving them the best customer service and eventually close a sale.
Especially for small businesses, you can’t afford to miss an inbound sales call. What do you do when you’re away from the office? Set up a VoIP phone system from a company like RingCentral that offers advanced call routing features that can send sales calls to your cell phone or to another team member’s phone. If you still miss a prospect’s call, make sure to return it as soon as possible. You can offer a discount or a freebie if they show interest in buying your product or service as a form of compensating them for their wait. By giving them this great customer service experience, you have a good chance of closing a sale.
Not all deals, especially with inbound leads, close in one single conversation. Make a habit of asking for the prospect’s email address to move along the sales process. Email is the best way to follow up with the lead because it’s not as invasive of their time. The customer already feels a level of connection with you, so they are more likely to open your email. Make sure to take notes during your phone call and use the content of the discussion in your follow up emails. Regular follow up emails ensures that you remain on top of your prospect’s mind, increasing the chances of conversion.
Over To You
Converting inbound sales calls from stranger to happy customer is all about knowing how to listen to what your prospect needs. Try these top 15 inbound sales tips, and you should be able to master the art of bridging the gap between prospects and customers.
Do you have your own go-to inbound sales tip worth sharing? Let us know in the comments below.