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Inbound Sales: Why Selling Should Be More Advisory

April 7th, 2016 | 4 min read

By Darin "Doc" Berntson

Inbound Sales: Why Selling Should Be More Advisory

You're So Vain. You Probably Think This Sale Is About You. Don't You?

I don't know about you, but, I hate being sold.

No matter what it is I am trying to buy, if a salesperson tries too hard to push a particular product on me, I'm done.

So why is it that salespeople continue to pitch the same way they have for years?

  • Is it because they enjoy the rush of the sale?
  • Are they freaks of nature who love being told "no" 50 times a day to get to the one yes?
  • Do they just love the world of smile and dial?

Over the years as I have watched many salespeople present, been on the receiving end of a pitch, or read some sales guru blog, I think one needs to be a certain breed of human to survive and thrive in sales.

Unfortunately, that very breed of human often comes off as slimy, annoying, intrusive, sometimes rude, pushy, and not very helpful.

And assuming you buy what was being sold to you, you, the customer, often come away wondering why you ended up buying that $5000 mattress when you just needed a basic one for a guest room. Maybe you have some buyer's remorse. And perhaps, you will never do business with that company again, let alone refer a friend.

As a small business owner myself, I am in every aspect of my business, and I hate sales. Let me rephrase that. I hate traditional or legacy sales techniques.

I never get up early in the morning, set the auto-dialer, and call 20 people. I hate getting told no. It's a very deflating feeling.

There has to be a better way. There is a better way.

Introducing the Inbound Sales Methodology

HubSpot Inbound Sales Methodology

In a nutshell, inbound sales professionals base their entire sales strategy on the buyer, rather than on themselves (the salesperson or company).

From here on out, we are focusing on the advise stage of the above methodology.

Think about when you see a doctor. You have a symptom, and you may be worried about your health. Your doctor listens to you explain your challenge, maybe runs a couple of tests on you, and after all of that, they prescribe treatment.

Imagine if you walked into your doctor with one symptom, and they just rushed you out with either no help or even worse, a prescription for an ailment you don't even have. Crap, that could kill you.

Well, that's kind of what legacy salespeople do.

Let's look at a couple of examples:

  • Legacy salespeople deliver the same presentation to all buyers
  • Inbound salespeople tailor the presentation to the buyer's context
  • Legacy salespeople use discounts and promotions to get consumers to purchase on the seller's timetable
  • Inbound salespeople adjust the sales process to their buyer's timeline

The examples can go on and on.

At the end of the day, buyers don't want to be sold. They want a helping hand, and if you can be the most helpful, you may very well earn some business.

As An Inbound Salesperson, It's Your Job to Add Value

Once you have explored what the buyer wants, it's time to present your customized solution.

During your presentation or proposal, don't just give the same old spiel that you have rehearsed many times before.

Go back through all of your notes and reference things that the buyer may have said were important to them, and show how what you will deliver will help them achieve their goals within the timeline they want to be done.

Be the advisor your prospect needs you to be, not the pitchman you think they expect you to be.

A Typical Legacy Salesperson Presentation Flow Goes Like This

  • Here’s who we are
  • Here’s who we’re working with
  • Here are the things that you told me
  • Here’s how we’re going to solve the problem
  • Here’s where you sign

You are familiar with this scenario, aren't you? You are not alone. It has happened to all of us.

But, let's do it again in an inbound way.

An Inbound Salesperson Presentation Should Flow Like This

  • Here’s what I heard you tell me
  • Here are the ways those in your situation think about making this needed change
  • Here are the pros and cons of the different approaches you can take
  • Here’s the outcome that you want and the approach that will yield the
    the best result for you
  • Here’s why this choice makes the most sense for you
  • Here’s how we can best support you

In other words, it's advisory. It's thought out. It's customized to your buyer's needs, not yours.

Be The Solution Your Prospect Wants You To Be

In the inbound flow above you can see that it's not based on cost. There is no pressure. It's a proposal that lets your buyer know that you are uniquely suited to help them better than anyone else.

Is Every Customer a Perfect Fit for What You Offer?

Of course not. And hopefully, if you have worked the other areas of the inbound sales methodology correctly, you are not even at this advise step. You have already determined the fit is not there.

In inbound sales, you need to embrace both closed-won and closed-lost results. You can't control the ultimate decision the buyer will make, but you can control what prospects you spend your time with.

Just because it's a bad fit right now, don't stop being helpful.

  • If they may be ready down the line, move yourself to their timeline and follow up later.
  • If the fit is truly not there, and may never be, how about being an awesome human being and referring your prospect to another company or solution that may be able to help them? 

If you always strive to be a helpful advisor, your prospects will appreciate and respect you more.

And remember, just because they may not have bought now, they know people. Treat people well, prescribe the right solution, and you may even find yourself getting some referrals. 

Let's Wrap This Up, It's Getting Late

I picked up the nickname "Doc" about 15 years ago. And it's a nickname that I take some pride in. I always get asked by new people I meet "Are you a doctor?", and while I am not a doctor, I say I play one in the digital marketing world. 

My goal and the overall reason for Bernco Media being in existence is to be helpful and provide the right solution to the digital marketing challenges a business may have, and never force a solution that will not yield results just to get a sale.

We don't have traditional packaged pricing like many other agencies. I refuse to quote someone a price on a first-time call. We customize every single proposal we prepare for a prospect because it is the right thing to do. 

No business is the same. Why would a pre-packaged solution that worked for one business work for another? Well, the answer often is, they don't.

Does it take more time to walk a prospect through this process and create a customized solution? Yes. But the close rate is higher, and our prospects know that we understand them, and want to be their partner to help get them to where they want to be.

At the end of the day:

Want to learn more about the inbound sales methodology? Check out the new Inbound Sales Certification that HubSpot has just launched.

I think you will see sales in a brand-new light.

Until next time,


Darin "Doc" Berntson

Owner/Head Coach @ Bernco Media. Digital sales & marketing since 1997. Passion for teaching companies to be the most trusted voice in their space. They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach & HubSpot Certified Partner & Trainer. Reversed Type 2 Diabetes doing KETO. Wears Mickey Mouse Daily. Daydreaming of next Disneyland Trip.