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How Inbound Salespeople Identify Leads

 Inbound sales professionals personalize and modify their strategies to fit their buyer’s context.

Inbound salespeople acknowledge recent changes in the modern buying process. Where prospects once relied on a sales team to provide resources such as product information, company information, and competitor information, the newly empowered buyer can access all this information, and more, thanks to the Internet and its ease of accessibility.

Today, the average prospect is 70% or more into their sales cycle before reaching out to a sales professional. Often, this leaves the sales team scrambling at the last minute to make an impression or forced to compete on price, unable to prove their value in a short amount of time.

Adapting the Sales Model

Practicing inbound sales requires businesses first to define the way their buyers make purchase decisions—otherwise known as the buyer’s journey—and then build or adopt a sales process to support this.

The Inbound Sales Methodology is an effective sales model businesses use to support the above criteria and add value to their prospect’s buyer’s journey. The methodology consists of four stages:

  1. Connect
  2. Explore
  3. Advise

In the Identify stage, sales professionals strive to identify well-fitting business opportunities. Sales teams will sift through strangers with the intent of identifying qualified leads.

Inbound sales professionals identify leads by defining their ideal buyer profiles and finding leads that match their ideal buyer profiles.

Ideal Buyer Profile

Businesses begin defining their ideal buyer profiles by establishing which companies they can help and which they cannot. Once setting these parameters, they will then research their ideal prospects to learn more about them.

When defining your ideal buyer profile, take note of factors your prospects must meet. Consider:

  • How do you define the size of a company? Is it by the number of employees? The annual revenue? The number of customers?
  • Is there a company size ideal to work with?
  • Are certain industries better than others?
  • Are certain geographical locations more desirable?
  • What other attributes make this specific business more desirable?

Identify Leads

To identify leads that match your ideal buyer profile:

  1. Listen for active buyers
  2. Practice social selling
  3. Proactively identify passive buyers

Active buyers (as the term suggests) are buyers active in their buyer’s journey. Active buyers can stem from inbound leads, inbound companies, and trigger events.

  • Inbound leads are website visitors that complete a form. To capture inbound leads, businesses must add opportunities for visitors to convert throughout their website for each stage of their buyer’s journey. A way to convince visitors to part with their anonymity is by gating valuable premium content like a report, an eBook, or a checklist behind a form.
  • Inbound companies are also website visitors. Where inbound companies differ is they do not need to fill out a form to be identified. Today’s software allows us to identify the source (the company) from which an anonymous visitor originates without revealing the anonymous visitor’s identity. When a company fits your ideal buyer profile, determine which company employee is most likely a buyer of your offering (which department/job role usually seeks this specific offering?) and add this new lead to your CRM software.
  • Trigger events enable sales professionals to reach out to their prospects by referring to something relevant to their prospect’s company. Salespeople should listen for trigger events that imply a buyer is active in their buyer’s journey. Examples of trigger events can be referencing an article written by or about your prospect, your prospect mentioning you or a competitor on social media, or referencing a job listing your prospect posted that your product offering can help.

The Bottom Line

Social selling requires salespeople to engage and interact with prospects via social media. Sales personnel should dedicate a couple of hours each week to publishing suitable content for prospects, corresponding in relevant conversations/forums, and sharing engaging information or content. Stay in the know by following the same influencers, groups, companies, blogs, and business leaders your prospects follow to ensure your content follows similar themes.

A final tactic in identifying leads matching your ideal buyer profiles is proactively identifying passive buyers. As active buyers describe those actively engaged in their buyer’s journey, passive buyers describe prospects inactive in their buyer’s journey.

Salespeople who do not correctly discern passive buyers from active buyers can waste time, resources, and revenue peddling to those who are simply not yet ready to enter the first stage of their buyer’s journey.

How does your sales team identify leads? Do your sales strategies support the modern buyer’s journey? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.


To learn more about identifying leads in various stages of their buyer’s journey, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.

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