What Is Inbound Selling?

What Is Inbound Selling?

Inbound selling is a sales methodology that focuses on monitoring qualified leads through the buyer’s journey, learning the buyer’s needs through targeted research, and meeting them with a personalized proposal at precisely the time they’re most primed for a sales rep’s input.

Inbound selling is a really effective sales approach for modern buyers, and definitely one you’ll want to add to your playbook.

This article will outline the inbound sales process, as well as actionable sales tactics to implement in the field. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

The Definition of Inbound Selling

Inbound sales is all about two things: the customer, and the timing.

Contrary to outbound sales (which involves a lot of cold-calling and impersonal sales pitches), inbound marketing and sales is a customer-centric approach that focuses on: 

  • Effective prospecting
  • Attracting leads by creating and sharing valuable content
  • Framing the offer around the individual buyer’s needs

Inbound selling is about tailoring your messaging to attract and nurture the most qualified leads for your offer.

what is inbound selling

Inbound salespeople know that it’s counterproductive to rush the buying decision; instead, they monitor potential buyers’ activity (through social media or LinkedIn, for example), and continually prepare to guide them through the rest of the buying process only when they indicate they’re ready for input.

Timing in inbound selling is crucial — inbound leads can turn cold very quickly if the sales rep is too pushy.

Brian Signorelli, a well-known sales specialist calls this “changing the way you sell to match how people buy.”

Tip: Inbound vs Outbound Sales Guide.

What Are the Phases of an Inbound Sales Strategy?

According to studies, there are four phases of inbound selling that salespeople need to focus on. 

inbound selling

You’ll notice that each of the stages of inbound selling loosely lines up with a corresponding stage in the buyer’s journey.         

1. Identify

Salespeople who follow an inbound selling approach should prioritize active, engaged leads over passive ones. Inbound marketing teams usually work closely with inbound salespeople — consistent messaging goes a long way in building trust with potential buyers.

2. Connect

At this stage, inbound salespeople are researching their prospects, usually via a personal interaction. Sales reps connect with prospects in this stage after they’ve made some outreach to the company, like opted into a lead magnet or signed up for a webinar.

Inbound sellers can usually (dis)qualify leads through one or more of four criteria: BANT.


The sales rep’s interaction with the potential buyer also gives them insight into the buyer’s readiness for guidance in their purchasing decision.

3. Explore

Once the potential buyer signals that they’re ready to learn more about potential solutions to their pain point, inbound sellers can get to work. But steer clear of the traditional “Features & Benefits” sales pitch.

Instead, take a more consultative role. Make a genuine effort to hear your customer’s concerns so that you tailor your proposal around solving them. 

types of pain points

Tip: Personalize all messaging to be as relevant and targeted as possible, in less time, with Yesware’s email templates. For Outlook and Gmail.

 4. Advise

At this point, any good inbound sales professional will be able to tell whether or not the offer is a good fit. Inbound sellers use the information they gathered earlier in the process to craft a personalized and highly effective proposal. 

The sales process should feel like it comes to a close naturally, with mutual benefit between buyer and sales rep.

The Inbound Sales Process

Here’s what inbound sellers need to know about how to execute this sales process in the real world.

  • Specifics, examples, details — make these actionable


There are many ways to make lead generation easy and optimized so that you’re maximizing your efforts on well-qualified and engaged leads. Try one of the following outreach strategies to tighten this stage of your funnel:

  • Leverage social media: Ask for introductions on LinkedIn or other platforms. Referrals represent the highest close rate by source by a landslide.

inbound selling

  • Subscribe and join: Look for relevant blogs, forums, and social groups in your sales field. This is a great way to share value in a non-intrusive manner.
  • Put yourself on the map: Although it’s hard to imagine adding more work to your plate, there’s a lot to be said for creating your own unique content to share with your audience and prospects. Sales professionals who are thought leaders in their industry gain huge points in the expertise category, which is a fantastic way to earn client trust.


After you make your initial contact, your priority should be connecting with your prospect. Look for ways to meet them exactly where they are in their buyer’s journey.

inbound selling: the buyer's journey

Connecting with your prospects doesn’t have to be complicated. You can mention common interests, mutual connections, or even anything noteworthy about the buyer’s industry.

That being said, crafting personalized correspondences with each and every lead can be unrealistic, time-wise. One way to resolve this is by creating a template and/or sequence map for each of your customer personas. These personas and sequences might require some legwork upfront, but they’ll go a long way in making the process more efficient.


The consulting conversation is crucial for propelling the relationship (and potential deal) forward successfully. Keep the following tips in mind as you learn more about your customer’s needs:

  • Ask questions: Open-ended ones are particularly effective and can get the customer to share their concerns and even objections in a non-intimidating way.
  • Highlight the gaps: You’ll want to try to balance the conversation between the prospect’s future goals and current challenges. In doing so, you’ll help illuminate to them that they don’t yet have a solution to reach those goals. 
  • Discuss budget and timeline: While you don’t want to get into the real nitty-gritty of the final contract, it is important to discuss some specifics around how your offer will (hopefully) fit into the client’s budget and timeline requirements. 


If the sales rep has been successful thus far, the proposal stage should feel easy and natural to execute. Here are a few ways to close the deal with the customer feeling like they’re in good hands.

  • Paraphrase what you heard: Recap your conversation, making sure to demonstrate your thorough understanding of the customer’s needs and goals. This will help them feel like you’re invested in helping them solve the problem. Active listening during the consultative portion will help when it comes time to paraphrase. 

active listening

  • Offer a solution (maybe two): If there are a few ways to approach the potential buyer’s problem, tell them that. Outline their options with them, and trust them to handle the decision-making process. Remember, buyers are turned off by pushiness or desperation to close a deal.
  • Be specific: Now’s the time to get into the details. Discuss pricing, timeline, and decision deadlines, and follow-up soon after the meeting to discuss next steps. 

How to Start Inbound Selling

Your inbound selling strategy will get more refined and more successful as you implement the sales tactics we outlined here. 

Get Social

If you’re not using social media to its fullest extent, start now. Social media platforms are built for inbound marketing and can be an amazing way to jumpstart your inbound sales program.

leads to sales conversions

Link Up

Make sure your sales team and marketing team have aligned their processes and goals.

With inbound sales, the marketing and sales roles are very dependent on one another and will require consistent collaboration

Get Creative

Remember — creating authentic, relevant, shareable content is another highly effective and organic way to generate warm leads. If you’re not sure where to start, check out your own inbox or favorite blogs. What makes you open their stuff? Why do you continue to stay engaged in their content?

Tip: Know what content is resonating with your recipients with attachment tracking. Receive page-by-page breakdowns to help you find what’s most engaging in your content and what needs work.

Think about what makes those companies stand out, and try that out on your own — most times, it’s easier than you think.

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