Everything to Know About Inbound Prospecting

The best sale is the one that comes to you.
Inbound prospecting article cover photo
Inbound prospecting is gaining rapid popularity amongst sales and marketing teams today and for a good reason.

The buying and selling process drastically changed from that of decades ago. Nowadays, the power to affect a company's bottom line largely lies in the hands of the consumer.

Buyers want to see content that speaks to them. They prefer to engage with businesses that have a strong social presence. In fact, 81% of customers are more likely to interact with brands with a cohesive and professional presence on social platforms.

For this reason, inbound prospecting has become a crucial foundation of any successful sales and marketing team's strategy. As the buying process transforms, so do the sales and marketing processes.

Therefore, whether you are a big or small company, whether your sales and marketing processes are complex or simple, everyone needs inbound prospecting in today's customer-centric world.

With that said, let's dive deeper into what inbound prospecting is and how you can create one for your organization to reap its many benefits.

What is Inbound Prospecting?

Inbound prospecting is the process of attracting and funneling potential customers who match your target audience to your web properties. The goal of this strategy is to convert them into qualified sales opportunities.

You can think of inbound prospecting as your website's content acting as another important member of your sales team.

Many people confuse inbound prospecting with inbound marketing. While there is a lot of overlap between the two processes, they are not quite the same.

Inbound marketing is a way to generate leads by creating customer-centric content and then requesting the prospects to provide their contact information to access that content.

However, figuring out the quality of your leads is not always as simple as it appears. This is where inbound prospecting comes in.

Everyone that interacts with your company is a lead. But to ensure you have sales tools and strategies to research these leads and determine which are bonafide marketing qualified leads is known as inbound prospecting.

This means spending a fair amount of time reviewing your potential customers LinkedIn profiles, and Twitter accounts to see who they are engaging with socially. This also means looking at other metrics, such as the type of industry they work in, their company size, and more.

You need to know whether the companies that you receive from your marketing are worth your time. Researching your leads ensures you don't spend too much time following up with the wrong accounts.

It also provides valuable insights into every inbound lead's organization, pain points, and specific characteristics.

Once you have all this beneficial knowledge, you can reach out to every lead with the right message curated just for them, through the right medium, and at the right time.

A successful inbound strategy always makes sure to align sales and marketing efforts.

For example, defining your ideal customer profile benefits your sales team and allows your marketers to create targeted marketing materials that generate leads.
Customer profile building infographic

Inbound vs Outbound Prospecting

Inbound and outbound sales prospecting are two varying processes. The primary difference between the two methods is the point where a lead originates from.

Inbound prospecting begins when a lead comes from a potential customer who reaches out to your organization to inquire about your product or service. It is a scalable strategy that focuses on attracting prospects already interested in your business and building effective relationships with them.

On the other hand, outbound prospecting happens due to a prospecting effort on the company's first. In this scenario, a customer who has not yet engaged with your business or shown any interest in it is contacted by your business. Outbound tactics engage potential buyers who might or might not be interested in a company's services and products.

Inbound prospecting occurs due to the inbound marketing team's efforts. Both the inbound sales and marketing teams work together to provide timely information and visibility in target markets.

Typically, outbound prospecting is the responsibility of the inside sales or business development team. Some demand-generation responsibilities are also shared with the sales leadership and marketing teams.

Inbound prospects are often also known as "warm leads." This is because the prospect is the one who initiates an interest in the product or service that your business has to offer. In this process, SDRs and BDRs have a better idea and more information on the customer's pain points. As a result, they can better prepare for an inbound sales conversation.

In both inbound and outbound prospecting, sales reps should not assume that every lead is ready to convert into a paying customer.

For instance, some people make inquiries without any intent to move forward and engage with your business. They only do it on an exploratory basis.

Others might be uninformed, to begin with, and they realize down the line that their challenges do not align with the solution that your business has to provide.

Whatever the case, it's always important to create a scalable inbound prospecting strategy to maximize your lead conversion rate.

Creating a Strong Inbound Prospecting Strategy

According to research by LinkedIn, 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect with them by sharing useful content and insights with the buyer.

Also, 84% of C-level executives and 74% of B2B buyers conduct over half of their research on social media before making the final purchasing decision.

All of this magnifies the importance of having a strong inbound prospecting strategy for your business. There are a few key aspects that you should keep in mind before building out your business's inbound prospecting process.

Let's take a look.

Aligning Sales & Marketing Teams

An efficient inbound prospecting strategy cannot happen with the efforts of a singular team.

For the strategy to be successful, it has to ensure that both the sales and marketing teams have regular conversations to ensure maximum conversion of leads.

An interconnectedness between an organization's sales and marketing teams always pays off in the long run.

The goal for each department should be to have conversations around what KPIs are working well for them to meet their weekly or monthly campaign goals. Both teams need to review what they are to be successful regularly.

Members of both sales and marketing should also be able to develop a repeatable and self-reinforcing mechanism that builds over time and leads to a favorable outcome. That outcome, inevitably, is increased profit, growth rate, and revenue for the company.

Defining The Buyer's Journey

An ineffective sales team usually builds its prospecting process around its own comfort and needs. They have a specific checklist to define every buyer's journey without intently listening to the customer and guiding them through the purchasing process.

Owing to this, many buyers feel misaligned with the seller. Prospects don't just want to be prospected, demoed about the product or service, and then quickly closed. Instead, they want valuable information from the entire process.

Any inbound prospecting strategy should avoid this. Involved teams should prioritize understanding the buyer's world and helping them through the purchasing process by:

  • Building awareness of the business and its services
  • Helping them consider the different solutions and their pros and cons
  • Guiding them in making a final decision

Developing a Process That Supports The Buyer's Journey

Once you have defined the buyer's journey, you should develop a process that supports that journey.

Instead of designing your sales process first, inbound prospecting teams should build the sales process after the buying journey has been defined.

This way, buyers feel supported throughout their journey, keeping them engaged with your company until the end.

Building a Buyer Persona

Any sales or marketing campaign is rendered useless if it has no idea who the ideal buyer persona is. Having an intimate knowledge of your customer – whether a company or an individual – will improve every aspect of your business.

The key here is not to try and guess what kind of customer likes interacting with your company.

Instead, companies should use data – such as customer conversions, insights from sales teams, competitors, and any other relevant metric – to develop specific customer profiles that are more likely to engage with their product or service.

A few considerations to take into account when building a buyer persona are as follows:

  • Income
  • Job responsibilities
  • Size and complexity of the organization
  • Existing tools they use
  • Fears
  • Aspect(s) of their job they dislike the most
  • Motivations

Performing Intent-Based Keyword Research

Creating content for your business's website is important to inbound prospecting. However, simply producing content around keywords is not enough. You need to do your keyword research as market research.

This means conducting your keyword research to see why your target audience uses the exact language they are on search engines and what kind of results they expect.

You can then interact with that search behavior based on your newfound information.

In this process, here are a few useful questions to ask:

  • What do your competitors at the top of this search result have in common?
  • Are many people looking for this, or is it a niche with only a few people seeking it?
  • Are businesses spending a lot of money bidding for this keyword? If yes, how much?
  • Is the person looking to learn something new, purchase, or find a company they already know about?
The key in this step is to find commonalities between user searches. You can then use these findings to create a language that can be used in sales conversations with the buyers to keep them engaged.

Building a Solid Lead Qualification Process

No matter how amazing your product or service is, it will not always be the perfect fit for every type of potential customer. This is why qualifying leads is such an important step in inbound prospecting.

By qualifying leads, you can determine which customers your business could potentially create the most value for. It helps you focus your prospecting efforts on the customers most likely to benefit from the solution you are providing.

An inbound lead qualification process often includes the following steps:

  • Defining the characteristics that make a good or a bad fit
  • Using market automation tools to screen leads based on those criteria
  • Confirming the quality of good leads manually
  • Implementing a process for future qualification of leads without wasting your time

Regardless of the research you do, you need to make the best use of your team's time by using some CRM tool for tracking and sharing a prospect's important information.

A CRM tool allows you to store prospect information and identify sales opportunities while managing your marketing and sales campaigns – all in one location.

Therefore, as you learn about new prospects and enter them into the company's database, you need to ensure that others in the organization can utilize it by entering the info into CRM software.
Inbound prospecting strategy infographic

To Wrap It Up

As we head into the future, inbound prospecting is a mindset shift that companies would need to adopt if they want to increase revenue and improve their bottom line.

In the end, it's important to keep the process simple and experiment frequently.

Whether your campaigns are going smoothly or doing terribly, it's good practice to hit pause and analyze how things are shaping up. Based on your observations, form new plans and strategies and iterate the process.

This will lead to accelerated progress and an increasingly efficient inbound prospecting strategy.

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