HubSpot coined the term "inbound marketing" in 2006, introducing a new methodology that transformed marketing to match the way people buy. It's taken marketing by storm, encouraging an approach of helping through marketing and using informative content to encourage prospects to become buyers.
Last week, HubSpot introduced a Inbound Sales Certification for salespeople. And although it wasn't the first day HubSpot has encouraged us to change the old sales playbook to match modern buyer behavior, it does mark the day that they've released their official version of the inbound sales methodology. As you'd expect from HubSpot, the inbound sales methodology is simple and straight-forward in a good way, aligning the buyer's journey with the sales process:
The four stages of the sales process (identify, connect, explore, and advise) may be called something different at your company, but chances are it's representing the same steps. The difference with this methodology is changing the way you sell in each step; first to focus on the buyer rather than the seller, and second, to personalize the entire sales experience to the buyer's context. To learn more about the ins and outs of HubSpot's new inbound sales methodology, you can check out their brand new inbound sales certification courses.
There are so many best practices of inbound sales to share in each stage of the sales process, but in this article I'll focus on the stage where you qualify your leads and learn how to best help them—the Explore stage.
At this point in the sales process, you've identified and connected with a lead and have determined that further conversation is warranted to determine if there's a good fit. By the end of the Explore stage, there are 3 potential outcomes according to HubSpot:
All of these outcomes are good even if it means walking away (contrary to typical legacy sales goals of always advancing leads to the next step of the sales process). If your products or services are not the best fit, then it's time to be honest about the suitability of your product or service and, if it makes sense, recommend alternative solutions. Both scenarios are good for the seller and buyer because neither party is wasting time on a poor fit that could mean disaster for both down the road.
Determining which outcome is the best for your lead is critical, but let's face it—it's not always easy. Using the right framework to ask the best qualifying questions will empower both the buyer and the seller to make the right decision. Fortunately, HubSpot's done a lot of our homework for us; they've been practicing the framework and questions to ask in their very own inbound sales process for many years. I'll share some of those questions as well as ones we've found to work for us below.
The first set of high gain questions can be remembered by the acronym, CGPT (Challenges, Goals, Plans, Timeline). These questions get to the heart of the matter—what is your prospect trying to accomplish, along with how, why and when:
After challenges and goals are identified, it's only natural to guide the conversation to what the significance of those goals and challenges are. What are the consequences of not hitting the company's goals? What are the rewards? That's where CI (Consequences and Implications) comes into play:
And, finally, once CGPT and CI have been discussed, it's time to move on to a coversation about next steps and the decision-making process, including Budget and Authority, or BA:
Not every call is perfect. You may not get all the answers to the CGPT-CI-BA questions above, but there's no doubt the framework will keep your conversation on track with the right questions to understand what's truly best for your customer. Kudos to HubSpot for laying the groundwork for a more effective inbound sales conversation.
What have you found to work exceptionally well for you?
Topics: Inbound Sales