The Hardest Part of a Sales Job and How To Make It Easier With Inbound Marketing



Selling your product or service to other businesses can be tricky.

You know you’ve got the perfect solution for so many struggling entrepreneurs, and if they only knew what your service could do for their business, they’d “beat a path to your door.” But in the modern marketplace, traditional advertisements and cold-calling simply won’t produce viable leads to grow your clientele. Plus, cold-calling really sucks…and it’s one of the fastest ways to burn out a great sales team.     

So if you think that there’s got to be a better way to reach your target market—you’re right.

Inbound marketing can accomplish what months of cold-calling and traditional advertising can in a fraction of the time. But what’s really significant is that it’s able to empower your sales team with tools that, to the uninitiated, may seem like the gift of second sight.

Tools that not only pinpoint the businesses who’ll benefit from your unique service, but also gauge the level of the buying stage for a specific lead and provide crucial insights into the mentality of your prospects.

But wait…hold on…I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

First we need to examine the specific buying stages that are typical for B2B consumers, and understand the specific needs at each point in the process. That way you’ll be able to understand how inbound marketing can enhance your selling power at any given time in the process by eliminating the hardest parts of the job…the guesswork.

The Buyer’s Journey: Phases of the Buying Process

The consumer buying process, or as I call it, ‘the buyer’s journey,’ is generally identified in three stages:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Intent

But I’ve included an additional stage that many B2B owners must contend with:


Probably the simplest way to understand these stages is with a strep throat analogy.

  • Owner “Bob” begins to notice a sore throat, feverish aches and pains, headache, and other symptoms—this is the awareness stage—the point when Bob recognizes a problem.
  • Next, Bob must “consider” the meaning of the symptoms. During the consideration stage, Bob may draw on previous experience, realizing that his symptoms indicate strep throat. Or he may search WebMD or another medical site to try to determine what his symptoms mean.
  • Finally, Bob realizes that he needs to make a decision to get appropriate treatment. His final choice will be based on factors relative to his situation, i.e. the ER will offer the speediest remedy, and Bob has good insurance…so he acts.

But before I discuss how inbound marketing addresses each of these buying stages, I’d like to talk about the fourth stage…unawareness. This is the situation that most B2B business owners must overcome for success.

Unawareness: the first step in the buyer’s journey.


This is the time when owner Bob has contracted the illness, but he hasn’t recognized any symptoms yet, or if he has recognized a few, he wrongly attributes them to something other than the real issue. He is unaware that he needs specific treatment, and is untroubled by any physical manifestation of the problem.

Marketing Action:

It is during this stage that your inbound marketing strategy can begin to positively influence your targeted consumers. By incorporating educational and informative content about your service in various media avenues, you help develop the buyer’s awareness about something he hadn’t considered before. Because he is unconcerned at this stage, this is when your marketing plan must focus on establishing awareness.  

Now that Bob understands his need, he can make the connection…and begin to notice symptoms.

The next stage in the buyer’s journey: Awareness.


Bob realizes that the problems he’s been experiencing are due to a specific problem, he begins to desire more definitive information about his particular symptoms. During this stage, he will seek out unbiased information or neutral evidence about his problem. His research will focus on gaining insight into the best methods of identification.  


Your inbound marketing plan can help Bob’s progress during the awareness stage, by offering downloadable information he needs, like:

  • Expert advice and content
  • Analytical reports
  • eBooks and eGuides
  • Professional White Papers
  • Educational content

But that’s not all it can do.

At this point, Bob is still acting without assistance, trying to identify his particular problem or opportunity. But during this phase, Bob needs guidance, and you certainly don’t want your sales professionals to misinterpret his needs.

Empathy is the key to sales success and the hardest part of any sales job is timing. 

With an inbound marketing program that offers consumer tracking, every time Bob visits your site, notations can indicate the stage of his buyer journey.

This gives your sales team a powerful ally in offering the information that will help Bob identify his issues and discover optimization and prevention techniques. In other words, your sales team can track and analyze what Bob is reading, downloading, and viewing on your site…giving them a better understanding of his present needs.

But this is the really cool thing. With the right programs, your website can automatically adjust to Bob’s needs when he visits it—presenting new content that coincides with his particular progress in the buyer’s journey.   

Buyer’s journey stage 3: Consideration    

Now that Bob knows exactly what his particular problem is, he begins to consider options for relieving or curing the symptoms.


At this point, Bob is committed to discovering all the different solutions available for his circumstances. And he will voraciously consume as much information as possible through informational comparisons… searching for tools, services, and providers who can offer the best methods for assistance.


Inbound marketing strategies provide the information for this stage of the buyer’s journey with:

  • Technical White Papers that offer comparisons
  • Live interactions with sales teams
  • Expert guides, podcasts, webcasts and videos

Your website can adjust, and your sales team can maintain contact during this stage by offering applicable information that propels Bob into the final step in the buying process.

Final Stage: The Decision—Commitment


At this point, the buyer, “Bob,” is ready to take action. He has identified his need, diagnosed his problem, researched the best methods for eliminating the problem, and is now ready to commit to a final decision. So he is interested in vendor comparisons…not regarding techniques, but regarding value-added benefits.

He wants to ascertain which company can offer him the most advantages, depending on the problem or circumstance. Namely time, overall cost, and effectiveness will be factors in the decision, but the urgency of the solution will depend on the severity of Bob’s particular situation.


Inbound marketing provides the tools that help your sales team close the deal. They can monitor Bob’s situation and act according to the indicators that have been complied on his specific buying journey with items like:

  • Vendor/Product Comparisons
  • Case studies and Service Literature
  • Trial downloads and Live Demos

Here’s the point:

The hardest part of any sales job is timing…and instinctively knowing what information to provide, and when and how to provide it, can be tricky.    

Inbound marketing programs that feature tracking software and website adaptation can remove the guesswork involved in sales—providing the tools and information your team needs to convert prospects→ into leads →into clients.

sales and marketing management