TeamRevenue’s Definitive
Guide to Inbound Sales

Best practices, tips, and action steps

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Buyers have changed. Everyone knows it Today's B2B buyers don't want to be cold-called and they definitely don't want to be on the receiving end of a sales pitch. What they do want is personalized guidance and support They want a trusted advisor. It's an evolution that has resulted in a brand new buyers journey. And it's transforming sales and marketing approaches.

The landscape: According to research from HubSpot, only 19 percent of buyers want to connect with a salesperson when they're first learning about products and solu-tions. Instead, they expect to easily find what they need, without having to talk to someone in sales. Just like customers in the consumer world, B2B buyers are online, using search engines, websites and social media to research solutions that will help them meet their needs. They're accessing articles, reviews, industry reports, guides and ebooks. They're attending webinars and watching videos. But where is that information coming from? Is it your competitors? Are you even showing up?

A report from DemandGen reveals 95 percent of buyers chose a solution provider that gave them ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying jour-ney. This means it's critical for you to earn their trust and build credibility early in the sales process. This is difficult at the best of times, but even more so today with all of the options and resources available to buyers.


Fast Fact

Only 3%

of B2B buyers trust salespeople.

What does this new reality mean for B2B companies? Selling and the role of salespeople is shifting from pushing products, services and their features to becoming a trusted resource to help buyers make smart, effective decisions that will help them achieve their objectives. This happens best when sales and marketing work together. When sales and marketing work collaboratively and share common goals and strategies, they can win more sales and drive revenue growth.

Inbound Sales Explained

Inbound sales is all about prioritizing and helping buyers. It's about providing buyers what they need, when they need it to make the best decision for them. Just like inbound marketing, inbound sales is focused on bringing clients to you. In direct contrast to traditional outbound sales, which is singularly focused on closing a sale as fast as possible, inbound sales is a modem sales methodology focused on educating, guiding and supporting the buyer through each stage of their buyer's journey/decision-making process. HubSpot has categorized these stages as: awareness, consideration, decision.


AWARENESS: The buyer identifies they have a problem to fix or opportunity to pursue.

PRO TIP: During this stage, the buyer is looking for information: blogs, whitepapers, videos and webinars, for example.

CONSIDERATION: The buyer clearly defines the problem or opportunity and educates themselves on potential solutions.

PRO TIP: During this stage, the buyer is looking for specifics in the form of case studies, comparison guides and samples.

DECISION: The buyer chooses a solution.

PRO TIP: During this stage, the buyer is evaluating and looking for demonstrations and trials.

The importance of data to a successful inbound sales strategy cannot be overstated. Inbound sales relies on data to create a personalized strategy for each buyer based on their buyer's journey and to develop content that will help them to advance through each stage of that journey.


Why You Need an Inbound Sales Strategy

Simply put, historically tried and true sales and marketing strategies and tactics just don't work for today's modern buyer. At the core of an effective inbound sales strategy is the understanding that people buy when they're ready. Until then, sales should be building trust and the best way to do that is by providing useful content that brings value to the buyer and that brings the buyer to you. This is a fundamental shift and one that makes getting quality leads even harder.

In our digital world, getting quality leads is all about attracting the right visitors to your sales-ready website. Converting them into leads and eventually customers will only happen with strong content, Search Engine Optimization (SECI), social media, email marketing, and many other proven inbound marketing tactics. The days of sales and marketing working independently are over.

Research from HubSpot shows it's a numbers game. This isoft new but the numbers are getting bigger, which mean can't fall just to salespeople to find prospects. Consider thi 72 percent of companies with less than 50 new opportunities per month didn't achieve their revenue goals.

This compares to just 15 percent of companies with 51 to 100 new opportunities and only 4 per cent with 101 to 200 new opportunities each month.

At the same time, there is more competition than ever. Technology is changing daily and becoming more advanced. This will only continue. Technology companies aren't just trying to set themselves apart from other technology companies, they are also competing for potential buyers' time and access. It's a lot Business owners and decision makers want helpful information. They don't have the time to sift through product pitches.

More importantly, buyers don't need salespeople in the same way as they used to. In the past, buyers turned to salespeople to get educated about products. Now, they turn to Google.

PRO TIP: Find out how your prospects are searching online and what they're searching for so you can ensure your company is showing up early and organically in their buying journey. This goes beyond pay-per-click and Google ad words. It's about creating effective content.


Inbound vs. Outbound Sales

The main difference between outbound and inbound sales is who initiates the sale. In a traditional - and now outdated - outbound sales approach, the sales rep contacts the prospect first. By implementing an inbound sales approach, sales and marketing work together to get the prospect to start the sales process.

Traditional or outbound salesladies rely on sales reps contacting potential buyers by cold calling, through direct mail or by attending trade shows and events. Pitch decks and elevator pitches are favored tools to get the word out about your product or service and its top features. In other words, an outbound sales approach is all about the seller and what they want. The Interaction is one-sided.

Inbound sales puts all the attention on the buyer, what they want and need, and delivering that information when they're ready for it. To make this happen, salespeople use Linkedln, Facebook and Twitter to find, understand, connect and build relationships with prospective buyers. Engaging, value-add educational content developed by marketing combined with 5E0 and Search Engine Marketing drive organic and paid search results to your company's site.

The biggest benefit of inbound sales over outbound sales: the buyer comes to you because you have positioned yourself as a thought leader. With each interaction across the buyer's journey, you have the opportunity to demonstrate you can take on the role of trusted advisor.

This is a huge change. In the not-so-distant past, the role of the salesperson was to pursue and promote. Repeat. Today, the sales rep is tasked with helping buyers by providing education and guidance.

Fast Facts:


It takes an average of 18 calls to connect with a buyer. Using email isn't much better. Only 24% of sales entails are opened. ironically, technology has made it harder to connect.


A quick word on traditional marketing vs. inbound marketing

Outbound aka push aka interruption marketing relied heavily on advertising such as billboards, radio, TV, print advertising and direct mail. The messages had to be general to appeal to the largest number of people, which meant there was no way to address specific challenges and pain points. These tactics were used for years but nobody really knew how well they worked or if they necessarily worked at all. Why? Because it was extremely difficult to track the return on investment for these campaigns.

Enter "inbound marketing" and it's a brand new day. That's because inbound marketing is all about developing quality content and metrics that align with the buyer's journey. You will drive more traffic to your brand and generate higher quality leads for sales. In addition to generating traffic and leads, because its trackable, inbound marketing can prove the ROI of marketing activities to show you what's working and what's not.

What does all of this mean to the sales process? Thanks to technology, marketing can now be held accountable or recognized for their contributions to revenue, just like sales. More than this, technology has closed the gap between the two departments. Companies can no longer afford for marketing and sales to be at odds (which was often the case in the old days of outbound marketing). Today, because of the much higher expectations of B2B buyers, it's absolutely critical the two teams work together.This means having shared goals and putting the buyer's journey front and centre.

Aligning Marketing & Sales

Let this sink in: 5o percent of a B2B salesperson's time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. Imagine if marketing generated more qualified leads for them. They could spend more time in active selling situations making them more likely to close more deals. And they do. Research shows that companies with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams enjoy 38 per cent higher sales win rates, achieve a 20 per cent annual growth rate and benefit from 36 per cent higher customer retention rates. On the flip side, according to IDC, B2B companies' inability to align sales and marketing around the right processes and technologies costs them 10 per cent or more of revenue per year.

What it takes to align sales and marketing

Aligning marketing and sales is the first step in creating an inbound sales culture. Achieving alignment, or "smarketing", as the process is commonly called, will involve ensuring sales and marketing have the same goals. For example, the marketing pipeline is directly connected to meeting the sales quota. Compensation should be tied to achieving these shared goals. It will also require transparency between the two departments around these goals and how teams are working towards them. Finally, both departments should have a clear, shared ongoing understanding of your unique buyer personas and their decision-making process.

Are your marketing and sales teams working with the same playbook? To find out, determine if both sales and marketing teams have the same understanding of:

  • Your buyers' journey.

  • Who your high-value leads are and how to identify them.

  • What types of content your buyers are accessing.

  • The stages of the sales process and the required steps and actions within each stage.
    For example, do both teams know who is expected to follow up on leads, when and how to do so?

  • The barriers to conversion and how to overcome them.

If the answer is no to any or all of the above, then you have some work to do.

Get on the same page

DEFINE the stages of your sales and marketing funnel. MAP the buyer's journey to thelifecycle stages in the funnel.

MAP the buyer's journey to thelifecycle stages in the funnel.

CLEARLY outline each team's roles.

For example:

Marketing is responsible for the top three stages of the funnel - subscriber, lead, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) - which aligns with the awareness stage of your buyer's journey. It's up to marketing to drive the right people to your website and convert those contacts into leads.

Sales is responsible for the bottom of the funnel - Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), Opportunity, Customer and Evangelist. The tactics used in these bottom stages can include demonstrations, customized presentations and ultimately converting leads to customers. This coincides with the decision stage of the buyer's journey. The leads identified by both teams are either nurtured by marketing or followed up on by sales.

PRO TIP: What your marketing and sales teams need to know to get on the same page:

  • Your buyers' journey.

  • What qualifies a prospect or subscriber

  • When leads are ready to be added to a nurturing campaign

  • What makes a lead sales qualified (i.e., a great fit, highly interested) and ready to connect with a sales rep.



Schedule a weekly sales and marketing meeting for all members of both teams.

This is an opportunity to make sure you're all up to date on team successes, campaigns, product updates, buyer personas, and how both teams are meeting the terms of the SLA.

Schedule a monthly management meeting.

This is an opportunity for managers to address issues and opportunities.

Collect data

Establish KPIs and metrics for each department designed to help you advance the buyer's journey and drive revenue.

Create and share a common dashboard with reports aligned to both teams' goals.

Review the dashboard daily to monitor progress and address issues in real-time.


  • Volume and types of quality leads against the monthly goal

  • Leads by source

  • Leads by campaign

  • Progress against the sales goal

  • Sales activity

Hold sales and marketing accountable to each other

Implement a sales-marketing service level agreement (KA) that defines what each team commits to accomplishing in order to support the other and to meet shared revenue goals.

The agreement The agreement should have specific, measurable, achievable goals and a clear timeline. For example, marketing commits to delivering a specific number of quality leads to help the sales team hit its sales quota, while the sales team commits follow up on those leads with a specified number of contact attempts before abandoning that lead within a specified timeframe.

Connect sales and marketing

Set up closed loop reporting. This will complete the feedback loop between marketing and sales and ensure both teams have access to the same information.

Marketing will measure how its initiatives are performing at each stage of the funnel and buyertsjourney and share that information in real-time with sales. They will be able to assess the effectiveness of content in converting contacts into leads and customers. Closed loop reporting will increase marketing ROI.

Sales Sales will use the data being collected by marketing to avoid duplicate leads, prioritize leads and follow up at the best time. Closed loop reporting will increase win rates and sales ROI.


of B2B companies state that thee leads require long-cycle nurturing programs.


of visitors thot reach your site ore not ready to buy.

How to build & implement an inbound sales process in four steps

Help your buyers at every stage of their buyingjourney. This is the guiding principle that informs every aspect of a successful inbound sales process. It's also a key step in a modern approach to sales. It requires you to understand your buyer's journey first so that you can effectively support them with the right information at each stage of their decision making: awareness, consideration, decision.


Job one is to create your ideal buyer personas. This should be based on the key attributes, challenges and pain points shared by your happiest clients, and why they've been successful with your product or service. Being precise in who you're targeting will help you tailor your marketing and sales initiatives to provide relevant information at the right time. At this point, your prospective buyer is in the early stage of their journey, researching potential solutions.

Take Action

Prioritize buyers who have visited your website, accessed a blog or filled out a form on your site.

Regularly post or share content relevant to potential buyers.

Update what you know about potential leads and what's happening in their industry as well as changes within their own business.


At this point, you have enough information about the potential buyer to know they are entering the second stage of the buying journey and considering their options. It's time to reach out directly with the goal of qualifying them as a lead.

Take Action

Provide relevant guidance on how the buyer should frame their specific challenge and the criteria necessary to evaluate potential solutions.

Leverage the information you've already gathered about the buyer and their needs to tailor your presentation so that you connect your solution with their context. This will allow you to show the buyer how your solution is uniquely able to meet their specific needs.


This is your opportunity to set yourself apart as a trusted resource. At this point, it's clear the buyer is well into the consideration stage of the buyingjourney. This doesn't mean they're ready to be pitched.

Take Action

Understand the big picture. Talk to the buyer more specifically about the challenges they're facing, the goals they're working toward and what they're looking for in a solution. This will also help you determine if your solution can help them.

Use the data you're collecting to enhance your understanding of the buyer's needs, wants,likes and the context for this purchase. (e.g., the content the buyer is accessing online as well as what they're posting on social media)


This is all about empowering the buyer as they come to the decision stage of the buyingjourney. It's not a hard sell, but more an opportunity to show the buyer you know them, understand their needs and the value your solution can bring to them. In today's B2B marketplace, generic case studies just don't cut it.

Take Action

Provide relevant guidance on how the buyer should frame their specific challenge and the criteria necessary to evaluate potential solutions.

Leverage the information you've already gathered about the buyer and their needs to tailor your presentation so that you connect your solution with their context. This will allow you to show the buyer how your solution is uniquely able to meet their specific needs.


The advent of the Internet has provided buyers with access to more information and resources than ever before. This has changed the buyer's journey and their relationship with sellers. Implementing an inbound sales strategy is the best way to help you find and connect with the right buyers at the right time: when they're ready to buy. It's up to you to put in the work and it starts by rethinking your approach to safes.

The days of controlling information and pushing your solution are over. And that's a good thing all around. Aligning marketing and sales and working towards mutual goals all in service of helping the buyer is a key building block of an inbound sales methodology. it is a proven, better way to sell.

Inbound sales brings interested buyers to you, giving you the opportunity to establish trust and build strong, lasting relationships and loyal customers. Are you ready to embrace this new opportunity?