October 4, 2023

Inbound Sales: Strategies and Best Practices

Inbound sales is a customer-centric approach that focuses on personalized strategies to attract and nurture leads through personalized, customer-centric strategies.

Essential tools such as folk can help businesses manage leads and interactions. It can also foster collaboration across your sales team as they move through the sales cycle.

In this blog, we'll unpack exactly what inbound sales is, what the sales funnel looks like and how you can manage your pipeline using folk.

What is inbound sales?

According to Gartner, inbound sales are sales leads created by prospective customers. These customers usually initiate an inquiry by phone or email that go through an inbound sales representative.

When it comes to inbound leads your focus shouldn't be about volume. You can have multiple inbound leads, but you have to assess these based on quality, readiness to purchase and fit.

The Shift to Inbound Sales

The importance of inbound sales is largely driven by consumer behavior.

Today’s customers are more likely to look online for information and solutions. This has led to a growing emphasis on inbound selling, which focuses on attracting interested prospects and assessing their suitability.

Maximizing its effectiveness requires a mix of marketing strategies as well as inbound and outbound sales strategies. Outbound sales tactics, including traditional methods like cold calling, can synergize with inbound tactics such as content marketing and SEO to reach a broader audience and generate more leads.

What is an inbound sales funnel?

A successful inbound sales process revolves around three essential elements that uses different content marketing techniques to take leads through each stage of the sales funnel. There are three main stages of the funnel, including:  

  1. Top of the funnel: The primary goal here is to make new prospects aware of your products and services. This is lead generation.
  2. Middle of the funnel: The goal here is to nurture your leads. They're aware, and are conscious they have a problem your product or service might solve. This is lead nurturing.
  3. Bottom of the funnel: At this point, it's about lead conversion.

We go into more detail about what each step means below.

1. Lead Generation

Lead generation is the first step in the inbound sales process, and it involves attracting prospects to your business using organic and paid marketing strategies such as SEO, content marketing, and social media. An effective inbound sales team can leverage these techniques to engage potential customers and guide them through the sales funnel.

At this stage, informative content such as blog posts, podcasts and social media allows businesses to organically foster warm leads with a higher likelihood of conversion.

2. Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of providing valuable information and building trust with prospects. This is crucial to both inbound and outbound selling, as it helps establish relationships with potential customers and guide them through the sales process.

Understanding prospect needs and delivering tailored content enables businesses to cultivate solid connections and boost the odds of conversion.

At this stage, case studies, email marketing, and gated content such as white papers and fact sheets can help to build brand authority and trust.

3. Lead Conversion

The final step in the inbound sales process is lead conversion, which focuses on understanding prospects’ needs and offering tailored solutions to address them. Sales reps assess prospects’ problems and determine how the product or service can be utilized to solve them by doing a demo.

At this stage, product reviews, customer testimonials and sales collateral are key to convert prospects.

Top of the funnel marketing techniques for inbound sales

Leads at the top of the funnel are the least qualified, so the goal is usually to maximize lead generation to generate awareness. There are a few marketing techniques you can use at this stage including:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Organic marketing efforts

We go into this in a bit more detail below.


SEO, or search engine optimization, is a critical technique for attracting potential customers to your business. By optimizing web pages and content for specific keywords, businesses can improve their search engine rankings and increase their visibility to potential buyers. An effective SEO strategy fuels organic traffic and lead generation for businesses.

Organic marketing efforts

Organic marketing efforts focuses on creating valuable content that attracts and engages prospects without relying on paid advertising. High-quality, shareable content naturally attracts potential customers and nurtures their interest. This approach can be particularly effective for inbound sales, as it helps create awareness of the product or service.

Inbound Sales Best Practices

There are several best practices to consider for inbound sales success. Defining funnel steps, capturing and analyzing relevant data, and fostering collaboration between sales and marketing teams are just a few strategies that can help drive growth and maximize results.

Funnel steps

Defining funnel steps is a critical aspect of inbound sales success, as it helps guide prospects through the buyer’s journey from initial awareness to conversion. By clearly outlining each stage in the sales process, businesses can ensure that potential customers receive the right information and support at the right time, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates. Understanding the buyer’s journey also helps businesses to craft tailored content and campaigns.

What data to capture and how

Capturing and analyzing data is essential for successful inbound sales, as it enables more precise targeting and personalization of sales efforts. By collecting and analyzing data such as:

  • Lead source
  • Discovery date
  • Predicted Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Company fit

Businesses can gain valuable insights into their prospects and tailor their marketing and sales strategies accordingly.

Collaboration Between Sales and Marketing Teams

Effective collaboration between sales and marketing teams is critical for ensuring a consistent and successful approach to inbound sales. Aligning objectives, exchanging data, and capitalizing on each other’s strengths allow sales and marketing teams to collaborate effectively, driving growth and maximizing results.

Foster a strong collaboration between your sales and marketing teams by having weekly catch up calls so each team can share insight into the latest content, on-going conversations and more.  

How to use a CRM to manage your pipeline

To support the inbound sales strategies, businesses need the right tools to manage and track leads, customer interactions, and sales cycles. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms folk are essential.

Introducing folk: an intelligent CRM

folk is a lightweight, customizable CRM platform that can easily adapt to your needs. It offers a range of functionalities, including contact management, lead scoring, and automated workflows, to help businesses develop stronger relationships with their customers.

With a free plan and affordable paid options starting at $18 per month, folk is an accessible choice for businesses looking to streamline their sales processes.

folk can help you:

  • Automate pipeline creation
  • Fill in missing data gaps with its contact enrichment feature
  • Auto-deduplicate any contacts you might've accidentally doubled up on
  • Save time writing ultra-personalized messages with the use of AI and more.

How to manage your pipeline using folk

You can optimize your team’s workflow by choosing how you want them to be able to view a contact list. This includes:

  • Pipeline view for both people and companies
  • Table View
  • Inbound leads

Simply do the following:

  1. Go to the group of contacts you want to organize
  2. Click ‘new view’
  3. Select people or companies depending on the contact type you want to activate.
  4. Choose how you want to organize your pipeline by selecting the right field in the group such as ‘status’ or ‘stages’. If you don’t have one, it will automatically create a status field for you.
  5. Once you click create your contacts will be automatically organized in your pipeline.

Send ultra-personalized messages to your leads with the help of AI

folk has a clever AI integration called 'Magic Field'.

With it, you can create something called a magic field which is an AI-based field that generates custom data for your contacts. You simply have to create a prompt telling the AI what to take into account about each contact such as their first name, job title and more. So next time you send a message, you can use these prompts to save time.


Your inbound sales process and strategy is the best way forward to address the changing nature of your consumer's behavior. Now that you know what the best practices are when it comes to inbound sales, and how you can use folk to manage your leads, you'll be on your way to hitting your revenue target in no time. Try folk today, free.