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What I’ve Learned About Inbound Sales

Why Listen to Me?

Honestly, I have no real training. In fact, I never used to consider myself a good salesmen. I just always dealt with inbound leads because I’m a designer / programmer that knew the answers to what the clients wanted to know, and because I was slightly talkative…so it seemed like a good idea.

But more recently in the last year or so I started to realize that I’m really good at it. I just thought it was normal for the vast majority of inbound leads to actually become customers. But the more I learn about it the more I realize that that’s not normally the case. Most inbound salesman would consider 50% spectacular. So I’m starting to think “maybe I’m doing something right…”

So let me make one thing clear: I don’t have all the answers. I just talk to people via email the way I’d talk to them face to face. I didn’t even consider myself a salesman really, so I doubt I can train you fully. But I want this blog to help small business owners, so here are a few things I’ve learned about dealing with inbound leads.

Honesty

Does it get any more cliche? Not really. But hear me out, my theory is a bit different from most. In fact it’s probably better described as candor.

Basically, there’s reasons for many of the things you do in sales. Often a client needs to take a few days to think about something and then get back to you. As a salesman you need to keep in regular contact with them or the plain fact is that 90% of the time you are going to slip to the back of their mind and be forgotten about. So what to do? Tell them that. Be candid about it. Say things like “Ok, I’ll send you emails every week or so just to stay in touch so that we don’t forget about each other!

Why not? That’s exactly why you’re doing it…and it really isn’t that ridiculous when you put it into words. And of course there’s a zillion things that a salesman says and does while interacting with clients: apply candor to all of them.

My theory is that most salesman try to be shifty about why they do the things they do. Even if it’s an honest service, they push to get on the phone rather than just email, along with many other tips and tricks to raise their chances of getting the sale. I think people really appreciate it and feel closer to you if you just explain why. Tell them “hey, I really think I can explain things better and gauge exactly what you’re looking for better over the phone than email, so you should call me“. That candor helps them trust you, and that’s what we really need: to build trust and a relationships with clients.

Provide Value

Lets face it, they contacted you for 1 reason and 1 reason alone: they believe that some service or product of your company can provide value to them, and they’re willing to pay for that.

But they never really know for sure how much value you have for them until they talk to you a bit. So how do you prove to them that you can be valuable? By being valuable. It really is that simple. If they ask a question, do not use it as a hook to dangle to get them on the phone and pressure them…use it as an opportunity to be valuable by providing a thorough answer that will help them.

Answer their questions, and think of things they may have not thought of that will be helpful. For example: just the other day a client asked about a project of his. I answered his questions, but also thought of some more. How will your database be populated? Will you need an interface for people to add their own profiles or an interface for your employees to create them? How do you plan on marketing it? Because that will affect what you want to build and how to design it, etc. I gave him back a list of questions to think about that would help his business plan a ton by being answered. I was of value to him. That’s the #1 best thing you can ever do for potential clients.

Don’t Over-Pitch

“Up-selling” has become really popular. I see the allure: you already got clients in conversation with you, why not try to get the most out of them? Well, first off with strong-willed people you can lose the sale entirely. The moment I see you trying to push onto me things that obviously are not of value to me is the moment I realize that you really don’t have my best interests in mind. The moment that happens I will cut the communication. Even with more timid people you harm their confidence to come back for future jobs.

Does this mean up-selling is bad? No. That is actually not the point I’m trying to make. The point I’m trying to make is to only up-sell services or products that you actually believe will be of value to them. When used that way you are increasing trust and providing more value…rather than the other way around.


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