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0 comments | Posted by: Spencer on May 11, 2011 | Categories:
Doesn’t “inbound sales consultant” sound nicer than “salesperson”?
“Consultant” suggests collaboration, partnership, an assurance to equally shoulder any buyers’ remorse. “Consultant” feels adaptable. It feels professional.
On the flip-side: I’d be okay buying gum from a “salesperson.” But not a car.
Whenever I’ve walked into a store to make a major purchase, I’ve hoped to exit having made a carefully considered investment. That’s exactly what consultants are for. When I bought a smartphone several months ago, what surprised me (even more than my willingness to shell out $250) was that the two-hour process, believe it or not, was actually enjoyable.
I got lucky. My salesperson acted like a salesconsultant.
I asked questions, and he listened carefully before answering. He asked follow-up questions. What did I use my phone for? Did I need it for work or play? How often did I use my phone for talking, and how often did I use it for texting or emailing? Did I mostly travel in major cities, or was I visiting off-the-beaten path places, and how frequently would I use the phone in those situations?
A few of my questions were frank. There aren’t many indirect ways of asking “Is this thing going to drop half of my calls?” His responses felt like insights, rather than pitches. Yes, it might drop occasional calls. All phones do. Yes, the phrase “death-grip” sounds frightening. Yes, you can return it if it doesn’t work in your apartment.
His demeanor was patient and professional, but he didn’t talk down to me. Nor was he overly casual. He talked with me instead of to me. He made sure I felt comfortable with my decision, and when I left with a shiny new phone, I was. I still am.
Good inbound sales consultants know their product inside and out. That knowledge lets them consult with their customers. They’re focused on solutions, maybe even more than sales, a position that helps establish them as trustworthy. That demands solid listening skills.
Regardless of what they’re selling, businesses would do well to adopt a sales philosophy that embraces this consultative approach. From a customer perspective, it’s more respectful than feeling manipulated. Sales often begin by establishing trust, and trust begins by consulting with rather than selling at. In time, perhaps even our language will catch up, and “used car consultant” won’t sound quite so smarmy as it does now.
Beneficial inbound sales techniques include quasi-revolutionary notions like natural conversation, customized call scripts, lead tracking and deep product knowledge.
You’ve heard of the phrase “You catch more flies with honey”? Nothing could be truer in the realm of inbound sales.
Calls reaching you don’t need the hard sell. Remember, customers are contacting you. Because of that, about 80% of your sales work is already done by the time a call comes in.
If you guide and educate those customers calling you, and if you believe in your offerings strongly enough, your products and services should sell themselves. If the tables were turned, wouldn’t you prefer an honest recommendation over a pushy or desperate sale?
Know Your Product
Customize Your Call Scripts
Answer Your Door
What is a decent inbound sales definition?
Every company manages their sales teams a little differently. But most, if asked, would provide an inbound sales definition that’s more or less the flip-side of outbound sales.
Assuming you’re like anyone with a phone and an inbox, you’re familiar with the latter; cold-calling and lead-generating (maybe interrupting your dinner) are traditional examples of outbound sales. Customers contacting you are inbound.
From an operational perspective, both approaches should work in tandem. That’s a well-oiled sales machine. When your company receives a follow-up response, about 80% of your sales work is already done.
Obviously, you still need to pick up the phone, answer that chat or reply to that email. And that’s where our definition gets a little more specific.
In the real world, people are accustomed to brick-and-mortar companies closing for business every evening. In the online world, people expect a human presence 24/7.
It could be they’re calling to ask a question. Maybe they need product support. Maybe they’re first-time customers with a question about their order. Every time a current or potential customer calls, emails or chats, it is a chance to cultivate leads: a sales opportunity.
Your optimum chat-, email- or call-back window isn’t long. The difference between picking up a phone within four rings and returning a call in four days is huge. You’ve got more leeway with email, but if you don’t respond to a chat within, say, a minute, forget it. No more inbound sales opportunity.
You’ve got to be there to answer.
So what is “inbound sales?” It’s every time a customer contacts you, for any reason. So even though you have more control over the first sales stage—outbound sales—you can’t reliably control the inbound stage. That’s why we’re continually emphasizing a 24/7 presence— one that encompasses every contact, potential or actual, you make.
Signing up with an inbound sales call center—that is, partnering with a company that manages the details of live telephone answering, email and chat support and everything this entails—is a crucial choice to make. You’ve built up your product and brand. You don’t want to jeopardize all that hard work.
Then again, the realities of business dictate that you’ve got to be there when your customers call, chat or email. A missed contact is a missed lead, regardless of when that contact comes through.
That’s a strong argument for working with a call center. They’ll provide support after you’ve turned out the lights for the day.
Another excellent argument for picking wisely: Working with a good call center makes your growth scalable, solidifying your brand, nurturing customer loyalty and increasing profitability.
Working with a bad call center damages your brand and wrecks your customer base, not to mention sales and profits.
Before contracting with a dedicated service, ask them these questions:
0 comments | Posted by: Spencer on May 4, 2011 | Categories:
Traditionally, inbound sales are the kinder, gentler flip-side of outbound sales, which involve a lot of cold-calling (and which have been known to strike terror into the hearts of the most stalwart agents). But inbound sales are not for the weak; anyone who’s ever dealt with an irate customer’s call will tell you that.
The trick is considering even irate customers as, well, customers.
Every single customer call, email or chat marks the start of a relationship, and from a sales perspective, that’s a terrifically effective way to view them.
Customers reach out to you for plenty of reasons. Some to complain, some to follow up on an order, some to get advice, some to solve a shipping problem. Whenever they do so, they’re instigating an opportunity for you to
If you’re not able to manage your flow of inbound calls, seriously consider partnering with an external call center that can—especially one that can help you manage your incoming calls, emails and chats on a 24/7 basis.
If you’re not having success closing sales with an old-school, aggressive method, try something different. A consultative, educational approach often works better in capturing leads and closing sales.
Keep these things in mind, and you’ll start boosting your inbound sales results right off the bat. You’ll treat people with respect. You’ll make sure each customer query finds a satisfactory answer. You’ll pick up the phone when it rings (all the time). And even complaints might begin sounding like opportunities.