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 good reason.

The buying and selling process has 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 that have 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 company or a small one, whether your sales and marketing processes are complex or simple, everyone needs inbound prospecting in today's customer-centric world.

With a plethora of advantages accompanying it, it is imperative for companies to be proactive in their inbound prospecting strategy and refine it to suit their customers' needs.

With that said, let's take a deeper dive into what inbound prospecting really 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 be able 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 that you have tools and strategies in place 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 the LinkedIn profiles and Twitter accounts of your potential customer to see who they are engaging with socially. This also means looking at other metrics such as the type of industry they work in, how large their company is, and more.

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

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

Once you have all this beneficial knowledge, you can then 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 not only benefits your sales team but also allows your marketers to create targeted marketing materials that work at generating leads.
Customer profile building infographic
This way, they won't just publish a blog post, a video, or an e-book and simply hope for the best. Rather, they will create content based on their audience.

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 who are already interested in what your business has to offer and building effective relationships with them.

Outbound prospecting, on the other hand, happens as a result of 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 yet is reached out to by your business. Outbound tactics engage potential buyers who might or might not be interested in a company's services and products.

Inbound prospecting takes place as a result of 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 what the customer's pain points are. As a result, they are better able to 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 simply 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, where they realize down the line that their challenges do not align with the solution that your business has to provide.

Whatever the case may be, it's always important to create a strong inbound prospecting strategy that is scalable to maximize your lead conversion.

Creating a Strong Inbound Prospecting Strategy

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

Not only that, but 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 the Sales and Marketing Teams

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

In order for the strategy to be successful, it has to make sure that both the sales and marketing teams are having regular conversations to ensure maximum conversion of leads.

Having an interconnectedness between the sales and the marketing team of an organization always pays off in the long run.

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

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 and revenue for the company.

Defining the Buyer's Journey

An ineffective sales team usually builds their prospecting process around their own comfort and needs. They have a specific checklist that they use 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 which keeps them engaged with your company till the end.

Building an Ideal Customer Profile

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

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

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

A few considerations to take into account when building an ideal customer profile 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 is using the exact language that they are on search engines and what kind of results they are expecting.

Based on your newfound information, you can then interact with that search behavior.

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 a lot of 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 the searches performed by users. You can then use these findings to create 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 are able to figure out which customers your business could potentially create the most value for. It helps you focus your prospecting efforts on the customers that are the 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 type of 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 also 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 make sure that others in the organization can utilize it too 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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