What is an inbound sales process?

03.08.2016 |

Episode #3 of the course Introduction to inbound sales by HubSpot Academy


Welcome back! In the last class, we discussed the two core parts of the inbound sales methodology—the buyer’s journey and the sales process. The first step in transforming to an inbound sales model is to understand the way your customers buy your product or service. This process is often referred to as the buyer’s journey.

Legacy sales teams that struggle with inbound sales skip the buyer’s journey step. Instead, legacy sales teams start by defining their sales process. For example, they may define their sales process as:

1. Prospect
2. Demo
3. Close

As legacy salespeople begin executing this self-serving sales process, they focus more energy on checking the boxes their sales manager laid out for them than listening to the buyer and supporting the buyer through the process. The seller and buyer feel misaligned. Furthermore, the process delivers minimal value to the buyer. Buyers don’t want to be prospected or demoed or closed. These steps add zero value to the buyer. If the salesperson cannot add value beyond the information their buyer can find on their own, the buyer has no reason to engage with the salesperson at all.

Inbound sales teams avoid this issue by starting with the buyer’s journey. To define the buyer’s journey, think about how buyers become aware of, evaluate, and purchase your service. You may already have an intimate understanding of your buyers such that you can outline the stages of the buying journey with ease. If not, conduct a few interviews with customers, prospects, and other salespeople at your company to get a sense of the buying journey.

We recommend the following framework for the buying journey:

1. Awareness
2. Consideration
3. Decision


During the Awareness stage, buyers identify a challenge they are experiencing or an opportunity they want to pursue. They decide whether or not the goal or challenge should be a priority. In order to fully understand the Awareness stage for your buyer, ask yourself:

• How do buyers describe their goals or challenges?
• How do buyers educate themselves on these goals or challenges?

During the Consideration stage, buyers have clearly defined the goal or challenge and have committed to addressing it. They evaluate the different approaches or methods available to pursue the goal or solve their challenge. In order to fully understand the Consideration stage for your buyer, ask yourself:

• What categories of solutions do buyers investigate?
• How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?

In the Decision stage, buyers have already decided on a solution category. They create a list of specific offerings in their selected category and decide on the one that best meets their needs. In order to fully understand the Decision stage for your buyer, ask yourself:

• What criteria do buyers use to evaluate the available offerings?
• Who needs to be involved in the decision? For each person involved, how does their perspective on the decision differ?

The answers to these questions will provide a robust foundation for your buyer’s journey. You might alter the Awareness/Consideration/Decision framework for your business. You may change the names of the stages. You may add a stage. However, you want to make sure you address the questions before and throughout the buying journey. In the next class, you’ll learn how to apply a sales process that aligns with your buyer’s journey.

See you next time!


Recommended book

“Fanatical Prospecting” by Jeb Blount


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