The sales and marketing landscape has undergone dramatic changes in the past 10-15 years. As people become increasingly reliant on the Internet to research the products and services that can address their needs, inbound sales has developed into a crucial aspect of a sales team’s success.

In many ways, inbound sales leads offer you with significant advantages compared with outbound sales leads generated by strategies such as “cold calling.” In particular, you are benefitting from the fact that these people made the effort to contact you. As a result, it is likely that these individuals already have some degree of interest in the services or products you provide.

But this initial interest doesn’t necessarily make it easier to convert this lead into a sale. In all likelihood, you are not the only company this person has evaluated during their research process. If your sales team cannot make a compelling case for why your products or services are the best option to address the prospect’s needs, they may just move on and speak to the next company on their list.

There are additional challenges that must be addressed in order to successfully close inbound phone leads, including:

  • Determining how to qualify which leads are the highest quality and most likely to convert
  • Building instant trust and rapport with a person you are speaking with for the first time
  • Understanding each prospect’s unique pain points so that you can cater your conversation to address their needs
  • Having a thorough enough understanding of your products or services to know which particular options are likely to appeal to a particular prospect and to demonstrate how they will benefit the prospect’s unique needs (this challenge impacts all sales teams, not just salespeople handling inbound phone leads)

We spoke to five top industry experts and thought leaders in order to find out what advice they have for improving the success of their inbound sales team. We asked each of them the following question:

“What top 3 inbound sales tips for closing phone leads would you give to promising salespeople?”

We encourage you to peruse their answers. Hopefully this insight will help you provide your inbound sales team with the tools necessary to close more leads and help your company grow.

Kyle Porter, CEO at SalesLoft

Kyle Porter has been an entrepreneur and sales professional for over a decade. He founded Sports Bar Digital in 2009, became VP of marketing at NanoLumens in 2010, co-founded B2BCamp in 2012, and is now co-founder at SalesLoft. Here are his 3 inbound sales:

  1. Connect with the authority. Understand their business objectives in your area of focus.”Hey, Mr. VP. What are your Q3 goals for {insert what you help with here}?”
  2. Tie your solution to their objectives (aka needs) through questioning.
  3. Create a burning platform of urgency (“You said you needed to hit X metric by end of Q3 and you agree you aren’t going to do it with the status quo. We’ve established that our solution can help you get there. Are you ready to act?”

Matt Heinz, President at Heinz Marketing

Matt Heinz has more than 15 years of experience in marketing, business development, and sales. He started Heinz Marketing in 2007 where he helps clients scale revenue and customer growth. Here are his 3 inbound sales tips:

  1. Know the prospect group well enough in advance that you can ask very specific questions tied to the pain and need they have, if in fact they’re qualified to benefit from your solution.
  2. Tailor your questions and discussions to their specific role (IT, finance, engineering, etc.) vs. using generic statements or questions related to your products or their overall business.
  3. Be specific about next steps, including when you’ll connect again, about what, and what’s to be done between now and then on both sides to keep the deal moving forward.

Sean Alpert, Director of Product Marketing at SalesForce

    1. Be upfront with the prospect about your role and what your part in the sales process will be. If you set proper expectations, prospects are more willing to open up and share key information that can be helpful to close the deal. Act as their consultant, not sales rep. “If we validate that we can help you achieve your goal, are you comfortable coming to a yes/no decision at the end of our call? Yes? Great, let’s get started. No? Help me understand what you need to get to that comfort level.” Seek first to understand.
    2. Ask the right discovery questions. Discovery questions should focus not only on what the problem or ideal solution is, but also around impacts they are having or will have on the business, to understand how and if the problem/solution can negatively/positively impact your prospect on a personal level (promotion, raise, etc.).
    3. With adequate discovery you can feel comfortable positioning your solution in a relevant manner, or be honest and upfront if this isn’t an area you can help. For the former, always use your prospects’ words. You took their time asking questions, so speak in their language, not yours. This is huge since most prospects don’t understand internal jargon and the myriad of features and functions you may provide. Be specific in how what you do aligns with what’s important to your prospect, and use customer examples when you have them. From there, validate what you started with and ask for the business, or identify additional contingencies to a decision.

Bonus tip: Most consumers/businesses don’t know all that a deal cycle entails, so it’s up to the rep to educate them. If the rep handles the call with the expectation that they can lead the prospect to close on one call, they will have more success moving the deal along.

Andrea Sittig-Rolf, Chief BlitzMaster & CEO

Andrea Sittig-Rolf is a sales trainer, public speaker, and president and founder of BlitzMasters. She has authored four business books, is a frequent media guest and is a high demand speaker.Here are her tips on closing inbound leads:
You can improve your numbers and success ratios by improving your skills around prospecting phone calls. The most important skill you can learn is how to handle the objections you’ll hear when asking for the first appointment with a new prospect. I’ve developed what I call the AHA formula:

    1. Anticipate the objection: Anticipate that you’ll hear an objection so that you’re prepared to handle it.
    2. Handle the objection: Now handle the objection. For example, “that’s what ABC Company thought too, until they realized we could decrease their IT spending by 25%.”
    3. Ask for the appointment: Immediately following your response to the objection, ask for the appointment by saying something like “how is Thursday at 10:15?” Be specific when you ask to set up a time. Adding options make it more difficult for your prospect.

The key to success in building the value of your products and services lies in asking the right questions at the beginning of the sales process. This allows you to gather the information that points to the decision-making criteria of your customers. Ask open-ended questions such as “tell me about,” “help me understand,” or “please describe” to allow your prospect to do the talking and tell you what their pains are.

At the end of your call, if the prospect says something like “it’s too expensive,” you can refer back to one of the pains they mentioned earlier. Build the value of your company by sharing positive stories of the experiences current customers have had with your company. You’ll show them that your company can take away the pain of a bad experience by dealing with difficult situations in a positive manner. Then price might no longer be an issue.

Before you try to make a sale, you need to establish your credibility as an expert in the field. You need to communicate with your prospects that you’re the best sales person they can work with and can offer the best solution to meet their needs. To do that, you need to write, speak, and help others.

You should already be writing and publishing your expertise on a blog or other industry-related websites. Gather a list of the articles you’ve written and turn them into speeches. Offer your speeches to industry-relevant publications.

You should also be helping others to enhance or establish your credibility. Make an effort to learn about what your colleagues, associates, networking partners, prospects, and customers want and do what you can to help them get it.Your reputation and credibility will build trust in your prospects and make closing sales easier.

Aaron Ross, CEO of Predictable Revenue, Inc.

Aaron Ross is the CEO of Predictable Revenue, Inc. and author of the best-selling book “Predictable Revenue,” which is based on the outbound process and sales team that he built for while he was their Director of Corporate Sales and Senior Director of Corporate Development & Acquisitions.Here are his tips for inbound sales:

  1. Make sure your inbound sales team is specializing in only inbound calls. One of the biggest productivity killers in sales is giving a sales rep more than one core sales responsibility, such as giving an inbound lead to an outbound sales team member. A highly productive team requires a specialization of roles.
  2. Focus on becoming an expert in your area – at inbound sales qualification, closing sales, prospecting leads, or farming. Choose only one. Generalized sales people create inefficiencies and cost money.
  3. Most businesses rely on sales people to multi-task, which is an issue. Many people believe specialization can only happen in larger business, but that’s the problem. As soon as you have two people in sales in a business-to-business company, it’s essential to start specializing or planning to specialize.
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