Sales / Sales Process

The Three Skills Every Great Inbound Salesperson Should Have

Chris Molitor

Updated: Jun 01, 2020 · 8 min read

Toolkit for download in this article


Every inbound sales professional wears many hats, but you might be missing the three most important to creating a lasting connection that leads to your best outcomes.

The sales process is all about focusing on your customer, creating a meaningful connection, and solving their pain points by putting their needs first. To do that, it’s smart to borrow some skills and tactics from three professionals that focus on empathy first: the psychiatrist, the teacher, and the marketer.

Whether you’re new at inbound sales or a seasoned professional looking to sharpen your skills, here are a few reasons and tools you can use by adopting these new hats.

Psychiatrist: How does the pain point make them feel

Build trust

Inbound sales focus on improving the lives of the leads on the other end of the call or email. You must prioritize the buyer’s needs, which requires understanding their pain, personality, and desires. The need to address concerns means your inbound efforts start with the psychiatrist hat.

A good psychiatrist and a good inbound salesperson both start with empathy. You’ll want to understand the problems your targets are facing on a personal level. To establish a solid rapport with your buyer, start with a conversation rather than a sales pitch. Take the time to get to know them and treat them and their needs with the same respect you’d want to receive.

Work on having the target explain their concerns to you. If you address this in terms of feelings—especially the feelings of stress, anxiety, or worry—you’ll give yourself an easy in to explain how your product or service can counter these feelings. For example, a better workday is less stressful and can make for more efficient workers. Controlling costs can help kill anxiety. Highlight the ways you can make them feel better at the end of a long day.

Teacher: Create a lesson plan

Teacher trust

Now that you’ve determined the pain and concern driving your sale—whether that’s an existing problem or one that could potentially crop up—you need to do some educating to seal the deal. Put on your teacher hat and bust out a lesson plan to accomplish your goals and the customer’s.

Let’s follow the lesson plan guide that ThoughtCo uses to help actual teachers keep their students in check:

  1. Objectives and Goals – For each inbound opportunity, you need to create a clearly defined goal for them. What do you want them to take away from an interaction or do at the end of a call or email? Yes, we all know your goal is to get the sale, but what is your target’s? Based on your industry and call, figure out what you’re solving (use that psychiatrist hat to help).
  2. Anticipatory Set – The first week of school often revisits what was learned or brought up the previous year. This practice helps refresh students’ memory and provides the right context to new lessons so students are prepared to take the next step. Work with your target to see what they understand about the problem they want to solve and use that as a framework for your discussion about the benefits and solutions you offer.
  3. Direct Instruction – This is going to feel more like a battle plan than our other steps. In this guide, you clearly say what you’re going to show people based on their needs or objections. You’ll want to get spec sheets, benefit statements, and your best sales pitch here. Write it down and include a few options to address the common concerns that you’ve run into previously.
  4. Guided Practice – It’s important for teachers to let their students work independently so they can put their lessons into practice. You don’t have much time during your sales calls, so you’ll want to ask leading questions throughout the interaction to get your target to put your “lesson” into their own words. By using their own voice and terminology, it helps them see you as the solution.
  5. Closure – Teachers plan their lessons with a wrap-up in mind. Closure is about reframing the issue to focus on the conclusion that is most important. Often this is aspirational, about how the solution you offer not only solves a pain point, but also makes their day better.
  6. Independent Practice – This is optional, but good if you have a longer sales cycle. Once a rapport is built, give your lead some “homework” in order to get them to follow up with you, or to be receptive to your follow-up. Ask them to count the number of times their issue arises in a day or week, how long it takes to solve the issue currently, or give them some other task that helps them see how useful your solution can be. Time, money, and frustration are your big focus areas here. (Consider posting your “homework” to your social media channels, since the majority of buyers are likely scoping your business out there prior to purchase.)
  7. Required Materials – This is a list just for you. Figure out what’s required for your sale to be successful, especially what your customer needs. Having this handy can quickly determine if someone is a bad fit so you can move on and prioritize quality leads, or spend more time on people who are likely to buy. According to Marc Wayshak, about 50 percent of your prospects will be a bad fit.
  8. Assessment and Follow-Up – Every great lesson ends with more work for… the teacher. Sorry to say, but you’re going to have to assess the outcome of your efforts and see what worked and what didn’t. The more often you’re able to review successes failures, the smoother you can get your sales process.

Marketer: Start with trust

marketer trust

Marketing is about winning business on a big front: It’s like fighting a battle to convince a market full of buyers to consider your business over others’. Sales takes that big approach and drills it down to the individual, winning the battles that lead to victory.

In the sales space, one of the few constants during this process is trust. The customer needs to trust your company and you, the salesperson. Win the buyer’s trust and you win their business.

The reason we’re honing in on this is because frequently, the topic of price comes up all too soon during a sales conversation.

Yes, price is important, but when your buyer feels they can put their trust in you, it makes your product or service worth the cost.

Marketers know they need to meet customer concerns and listen closely to their audience, just like psychiatrists and teachers. You can mix marketing into your sales process by making it a big show when you can. Talk big, get a little flashy, and get excited. This can help get your prospect excited about you and your business.

Previously, we wanted the customer to restate our benefits in their own words. Now, you restate their concerns in your own words and immediately tie it into how you can solve that issue.

Another core part of marketing is the follow-up. Shockingly, almost a quarter of companies don’t respond to their inbound leads. Many also fail to create a process that reminds their inbound leads of a product or sale. Content marketing teaches us that people like helpful things, so look for opportunities to be helpful (or remind people about how you can improve their day) in emails or calls that follow the first interaction.

You might have guessed it already, but the core element to any follow-up being successful (or email getting opened) is having that foundation of trust.

Capitalize on people coming to you

Inbound sales start with the advantage of the customer seeking you out. They are showing a willingness to engage and interact. Your job is to capitalize on that interest and attention by focusing on the problems each lead has.

Successful dating often involves getting the other person to talk about themselves. In much the same light, successful inbound strategies which can be managed through tools like Keap require you to get the customer talking about their issue so you can demonstrate your ability to solve it. Our teacher, psychiatrist, and marketer hats all come with useful ways to establish that connection, build out a game plan to reinforce your ability to solve your buyers’ problems, and develop the trust that’s needed for the long-term sale.

You’ll always wear many hats, but the three covered in this article might be your most useful additions to getting a successful sale started.

Chris Molitor is the Vice President of Business Development Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in sales and business development.

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