Inbound Sales for Industrial Manufacturers

Learn how to effectively integrate an inbound marketing campaign for industrial manufacturers so your business can increase leads and sales.

5 top sales questions

What is Inbound Sales for Industrial Manufacturing?

Before the advent of the Internet, salespeople were essential to the buying/selling process because they were the only ones who could answer prospects’ questions. Today, the information buyers need to make a purchase decision is just a click away–representing a significant shift in power from seller to buyer.

The shift may partially explain why online engagement is the last point of influence for 57% of industrial manufacturers. Many sellers don’t take the following into consideration:

  • 90% of B2B buyers use online search tools specifically to research business purchases
  • Buyers have completed nearly 70% of the buying process before they ever identify themselves to a sales representative
  • Buyers conduct an average of 12 product-related searches before ever engaging on any particular company’s website

These statistics reflect a new reality: salespeople are increasingly cut out of the majority of a prospect’s buying process, making it very difficult to influence purchase decisions.

That’s why smart organizations are implementing an Inbound Sales approach to engage their best prospects. This methodology focuses on the buyer–not the seller–with a sales process that’s personalized to the buyer’s context.

Inbound Sales is comprised of four stages: Identify, Connect, Explore and Advise.

Inbound Sales for Industrial Manufacturers methodology chart

By engaging with marketing content or by directly reaching out to a sales representative, a prospect essentially “raises his or her hand” and self-identifies as a potential buyer. Inbound Sales lets you know if and when a lead is active in the buying process, eliminating the need for cold calls. This prioritizing of leads makes sales contact more effective, welcomed and even expected by potential buyers.
Lead nurturing is a key component in the Connect phase since your Marketing department develops and provides useful content so leads can evaluate the information and answer their own questions.
More About Marketing & Sales Alignment

Traditional/legacy salespeople have a standard elevator pitch they deliver to everyone. Not surprisingly, this generic approach usually results in poor response rates, no meetings set, and lots of wasted time. With Inbound Sales, you connect with a prospect by personalizing a message to their specific context–something you’re able to do because you know what they’ve downloaded, what pages of the site they’ve visited, how they’ve answered key questions on forms on your site, how frequently they are visiting, etc. Moreover, you connect with a disciplined approach called a Connect Attempt Sequence once the data reflects the lead is likely to engage in the sales process.


How Social Selling Fits into the Connect Phase of Inbound Sales
Social selling, not to be confused with social media marketing, is the process of using social media to develop relationships as part of the sales process. With buyers spending more time online researching their purchases, they’re influenced by the content they see on social media and the people with whom they’re connected. For salespeople, this provides opportunities to keep buyers informed, address pain points, maintain contact throughout a long sales process, keep your company top-of-mind, and much more

B2B sales is no longer a phone and email game. LinkedIn is an important soft-touch selling tool for industrial manufacturers that, when combined with the right LinkedIn social selling tactics, allow sales reps to better engage their prospects.

By the time you reach the Explore phase of Inbound Sales, you’ve identified and connected with a lead and know that further conversation is warranted to determine if the partnership would be a good fit.

The Explore phase results in one of three potential outcomes:

  1. Determine it’s a fit and get buy-in for next steps
  2. Determine it will never be a fit
  3. Determine it’s not a fit right now

Tools like BANT and GPCT will help you uncover if a prospect is ready to move to the Advise stage of the Inbound Sales process. There’s no shame in disqualifying a lead early in this process. In fact, it’s valuable. Inbound sales people avoid spending time with prospects who won’t move forward–time they can redirect towards finding and helping buyers who need and want assistance.


The Advise phase of Inbound Sales essentially equates to the “close” stage. However, instead of a salesperson focusing on making a sale, they’re focused on personalizing the approach and solution to the buyer’s context, ultimately confirming that what is offered aligns with what’s needed.

The ideal outcome at the conclusion of the Advise phase is, of course, a sale. A strong sales proposal will close the deal. There are nuances with all industries and companies that will shape the format and flow of a sales proposal. Getting input from both Sales and Marketing to determine what your essential pieces are goes a long way to preparing and leveraging a winning sales proposal template.


The Difference Between Legacy & Inbound Sales

Legacy Salespeople

  • Are unaware of which buyers are active in a buying journey
  • Use cold outreach; lead with generic elevator pitch to qualify on budget
  • Transition into presentation mode when a buyer expresses interest
  • Deliver the same presentation every time and offer discounts to get buyers to purchase on seller’s timeline

Inbound Salespeople

  • Prioritize buyers that are active in a buying journey
  • Build trust by participating in the buyer’s online conversations; lead with personalized messaging and advice based on buyer’s interests
  • Transition into exploration mode when a buyer expresses interest
  • Personalize the presentation to each buyer and adjust sales process to the buyer’s timeline

Aligning Inbound Sales & Marketing for Industrial Manufacturing

When it comes to how prospects are nurtured and when they’re contacted, if Sales is working on one set of assumptions and Marketing is using another, the plan is fundamentally broken. A set of “rules” is needed that clearly identifies what each part of the team is responsible for, what actions are taken (and when), and how a prospect is brought in. Today, only 39% of companies strongly agree/agree that they have excellent alignment between Marketing and Sales, signaling definite room for improvement.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Aligned Sales and Marketing teams work towards a common goal, and clearly understand what is expected of each team to reach that goal. For example, if the common goal is to generate $1 million in new sales, how many leads will Marketing generate for Sales? How will they generate them? How will Sales pursue and close those leads to reach the revenue goal?


A Service Level Agreement (SLA) breaks down the complex B2B process of inbound lead generation and sales so that everyone involved in business development has a clear and deliberate plan. This can also help shorten your B2B sales cycle. No more unknown or assumed expectations between departments or team members, no more wasted effort in pursuing low-value leads, and no more process confusion.

A Guided Tour of Marketing & Sales Service Level Agreements

There are 7 key components to creating a successful SLA:

  1. State your shared goal
  2. Agree on definition of qualified leads
  3. Determine how to qualify leads, what parameters need to be set
  4. Define what triggers lead handoff from Marketing to Sales and how the handoff occurs
  5. Delineate how leads will be nurtured during each stage of the prospect’s journey
  6. Outline how Sales will handle incoming leads
  7. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for both Marketing and Sales

Marketing Automation and CRM Integration

Sharing Lead Intelligence

The smart use of a CRM platform means that everybody involved has accurate and useful information, ensuring more productive initial contact and subsequent conversations than cold calls.

Inbound Sales for Industrial Manufacturers contact timeline in HubSpot

Closed Loop Reporting

Track business performance throughout the Marketing and Sales funnel with integrated data tracking of each visitor and lead, from their first web visit to lead conversion and sales activity.

Lead Handoff

Your CRM and marketing platform should improve the lead handoff process from Sales to Marketing and vice versa. Transparency between Sales and Marketing with one shared platform arms each side with information to streamline efforts and increase productivity.

Inbound Sales for Industrial Manufacturers lead hand-off in HubSpot

Sales Enablement

In order to align your marketing and sales teams, you need to have the tools – like HubSpot Sales tools – for your sales team to be as productive as possible – and to do their best work possible. Email tracking and notifications make lead followups timely and relevant, while email templates save the sales team's time (no more writing repetitive emails). Use of the document library means your team’s content is easily accessible to any team members. Finally, the HubSpot Sales CRM allows for accurate and transparent deal tracking.


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