The Inbound Sales Methodology

Inbound sales transforms selling to match the way people buy.

Inbound Sales Methodology
inbound sales methodology

A Methodology for Creating a Sales Process That Matches How People Buy

Due to the proliferation of marketing materials on the internet, the modern buyer is no longer dependent on salespeople to access information to make purchase decisions. Inbound salespeople recognize the need to transform their sales experience to be personalized to the buyer’s context. Inbound sales teams recognize the need to transform their entire sales strategy to be based on serving the buyer, rather than the seller.

How to Interpret the Graphic

Inbound sales develop a sales process that supports the prospect through the buyer’s journey. Along the bottom are stages that buyers move through (Awareness, Consideration and Decision) that buyer move through during their purchasing process. Along the top are four actions (Identify, Connect, Explore, and Advise) inbound sales teams must implement in order to support qualified leads to become opportunities and eventually customers.


Build a sales process around the buyer’s journey

Begin by prioritizing buyers that are active in a buying journey. Build trust by participating in the buyer’s online conversation on blogs and social media. Kickstart your sales conversation with personalized messaging relating to the buyer’s industry, role and contact preferences. Begin that first conversation with advice. Then, transition into exploration mode when the buyer expresses interest. Understand your buyer’s timeline and adjust the sales process to match. You want to deliver the right educational content to your prospect at the right place and time. Now that’s a sales process buyers can love.


Base the entire sales process on the buyer, rather than the seller. Sales conversations provide advice on the buyer’s challenges.


Tailor your sales content to the wants and needs of your prospect. As you learn more about your leads over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs.


Inbound sales is about building trust with your prospect. Salespeople should help people make buying decisions, instead of just focusing on making a sale.

Comparing Legacy Salespeople to Inbound Salespeople

Legacy Salespeople

Inbound Salespeople

Are unaware of which buyers are active in a buying journey
Prioritize buyers that are active in a buying journey
Use cold outreach; lead with generic elevator pitch to qualify on budget
Build trust by participating in the buyer’s online conversations; lead with personalized messaging and advice based on buyer’s interests
Transition into presentation mode when a buyer expresses interest
Transition into exploration mode when a buyer expresses interest
Deliver the same presentation every time and offer discounts to get buyers to purchase on seller’s timeline
Personalize the presentation to each buyer and adjust sales process to the buyer’s timeline

Get Inbound Sales Certified

Register now for the five-part course and watch the on-demand videos at your own pace.

The Four Inbound Sales Actions



Identifying the right business opportunities from the start can be the difference between a thriving business and a failing one. It also helps salespeople create a predictable, scalable sales funnel.

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Legacy salespeople focus their prospecting efforts on cold emails and voicemails. These types of cold outreach highlight the same generic elevator pitch and entice the buyer with a discount or promotional.

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In the “Explore” stage of the Inbound Sales Methodology, you need to guide an exploratory conversation so that you’re in control, but your prospect feels like they are being empowered to...

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Inbound salespeople advise prospects on why their offering is uniquely positioned to address the buyer’s context. By sticking to a generic script, legacy salespeople fail to represent their strategy...

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  1. action-list-identify.png Identify

    Most buyers are already in the awareness stage of the buying journey before they engage with salespeople. Inbound salespeople prioritize active buyers ahead of passive buyers. Active buyers may have recently visited the company website, filled out a form or opened one of the salesperson’s emails.

    Do your research. Talk to good fit customers, ask for introductions on LinkedIn and set up Google alerts. Use the data from 19 million businesses in the free HubSpot CRM to search for good fit prospects.

    Begin contacting inbound leads and companies. These are website visitors that provide their contact information via a conversion form and are from a company that matches your ideal buyer profile.

    Start contacting leads based on behavior. Leverage triggered events technology to understand which of your prospects are visiting your website, opening your emails and even viewing your pricing page!

  2. action-list-connect.png Connect

    Legacy salespeople use cold emails and voicemails with the same generic elevator pitch and entice the buyer with a discount. Inbound salespeople lead with a message personalized to the buyer’s context. This context could be the buyer’s industry, role, interests, common connections, etc.

    Define personas.Understand the unique perspectives of the individuals you’re attempting to reach. First, segment your market by the types of companies you target. Then, define the personas of the different types of people you target.

    Define the sequences for each persona.Determine which mediums you’ll use to reach out to each persona. Does your persona prefer being contacted via phone or email? How many times will you reach out before you give up? We refer to these outreach strategies as your “sequences.”

    Define the content for each sequence. Most of these buyers are in the “awareness” stage of their buying journey. Therefore, your goal is not to sell them on your product or even see a demo. Instead, your goal is to educate them on the problem or opportunity they are exploring.

  3. action-list-explore.png Explore

    Guide an exploratory conversation so that you’re in control, but your prospect feels like they’re being empowered to make the right decisions. Unlike traditional qualification frameworks like BANT, this new exploratory framework is something you’ll openly share with your prospects.

    Focus on the prospect’s challenges first. People generally don’t make changes unless they have a challenge that impedes their progress. Use the small yet powerful wording adjustment of “challenges” instead of saying “problems.”

    Connect goals with those challenges. Talk about the prospect’s goals and listen for an acknowledgment that they don’t have a good solution and are afraid they won’t achieve their goals.

    Share plans that fit the prospect’s timeline. Introduce how your product can help with the buyer’s goals and challenges. Ideally, your strategy is uniquely positioned to help that competition can’t match.

    Then, discuss budget. The final thing to understand is how the prospect will fund any investment they must make to implement their new plan. Consider all costs involved including financial, time and human resource investments.

  4. action-list-advise.png Advise

    Inbound salespeople advise prospects on why their offering is uniquely positioned to address the buyer’s context. By sticking to a generic script, legacy salespeople fail to represent their strategy as a solution to their prospect’s specific needs. Prospects want to know how features are specifically going to help them and their situation. As an inbound salesperson, you serve as a translator between the generic messaging found on your company’s website and the unique needs of your buyer.

    Here are three steps to advising your prospect through a presentation, and turning opportunities into customers:

    Provide a recap of what you’ve learned. The beginning of the presentation is all about restating where the prospect is now and the insights you’ve gleaned from your earlier conversations, such as a challenge your prospect has or a goal they want to achieve. Impress upon your buyer that you are uniquely suited to help them.

    Suggest ways to achieve their goals. Now you’re ready to suggest different ways to make the change you both agree they need. Craft a customized presentation that connects their goals and challenges to your offering, and shows exactly how they’ll benefit with your service.

    Confirm budget, authority and timeline. Based on what it takes to set up their account and implement your solution, work backwards to determine when they need to sign your contract. Outline a timeline that meets the buyer’s deadline.

A New Sales Methodology

The Inbound Sales Methodology covers every step of the buyer’s journey traveled on the road from stranger to customer, and each corresponding salesperson action. The new methodology acknowledges that Inbound Sales doesn’t just happen -- you do it. And, you do it using tools that help you personalize the sales process to appeal to precisely the right leads, in the right places, at just the right time in their buying journey.

Get Inbound Sales Certified

Register now for the five-part course and watch the on-demand videos at your own pace.