October 4, 2023

Inbound Sales: Strategies and Best Practices

Discover folk - the CRM for people-powered businesses

Fed up of reaching out to prospects with cold calls or messages that never get responded to? An inbound sales process could be your answer. 

The inbound sales methodology is a strategy that focuses on attracting potential customers who often find you through online searches, word of mouth and more. The key is capturing the right kind of traffic through SEO and content marketing.

While inbound sales is a customer-centric approach that focuses on personalized strategies to attract and nurture leads through personalized, customer-centric strategies. Outbound sales teams focus on the traditional sales process involving a sales rep cold calling, emailing and other forms of getting your product or service in front of prospective buyers. Regardless of wether they've expressed interest, or not.

In this blog, we'll look into what the best inbound sales approach looks like, what a typical inbound sales funnel is and top of the funnel examples. We'll also look at ways your inbound sales reps can collaborate using a CRM so you can see how essential tools such as folk can help businesses manage leads and interactions.

What is an inbound sales strategy?

First coined by HubSpot in 2005. Inbound marketing is a sales strategy that focuses on attracting customers through value-based content that's been carefully crafted to target the right audience through strategies such as:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Webinars
  • White papers
  • And more.

In other words, instead of going to the customer through an outbound sales process, the customers come to you. These customers usually initiate an inquiry by phone or email that go through an inbound sales representative. The catch is you can have multiple inbound leads, but you have to assess these based on quality, readiness to purchase and fit.

Adam Erhart explains breaks it down in this video.

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The shift to an inbound sales focus

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.

How do you get generate an inbound sales lead?

Getting an inbound sales lead requires close collaboration between your inbound salespeople and organic marketing team. Below we unpack the entire sales process your inbound sales teams should consider.

The buyer journey: An inbound sales funnel

A successful inbound sales process is based on three essential elements that uses different content marketing techniques to take leads through each stage of the sales funnel. The main stages of the funnel are:


  1. Awareness stage: At the top of the funnel the primary goal here is to make new prospects aware of your products and services. This is traffic built through lead generation.
  2. Consideration stage: At the 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. Decision stage: At the bottom of the funnel is the decision stage. At this point, it's about lead conversion so that your leads buy your product or service.
Image Credit: Drift

1. Inbound lead Generation

Lead generation is the first step in the inbound sales process. It involves attracting potential leads 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. But beware: even though you might get a lot of leads, not all of them are going to be qualified leads. So your content needs to align with your target market and target audience. At this stage, informative content such as blog posts, podcasts and social media posts allows businesses to organically foster warm leads with a higher likelihood of conversion.

2. Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is your opportunity to provide valuable information and building trust with prospects. It involves understanding what each prospect needs and leveraging targeted content that addresses the unique needs of each of your buyer personas to 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 through multiple touchpoints.

3. Lead Conversion

Lead conversion 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 for your sales professionals to convert prospects. You also need to make sure an inbound salesperson follows up in a timely manner.

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
  • Buying journey (Funnel steps)
  • Data capturing

You also need to make sure your sales and marketing teams are collaborating. We go into this in a bit more detail below.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you want to be seen at the top of search engines, you need an SEO strategy. Semrush defines SEO as a set of processes aimed at improving your website's visibility in search engine result pages (SERP). An effective SEO strategy fuels organic traffic and lead generation for businesses. By optimizing web pages and content for specific keywords, businesses can improve their search engine rankings and increase their visibility to potential buyers. The trick is not to get overly carried away and fall into the trap of keyword stuffing.

Organic marketing

Organic marketing is a strategy that focuses on creating valuable content to attract a potential customer. You need to have a strong understanding of your ideal buyer persona to tailor your content and get the right attention. Organic marketing efforts focuses on creating content that attracts and engages prospects without relying on paid advertising. Thus, bringing in organic traffic. 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. There are several best practices to consider for organic marketing 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

What does your customer journey or buying process look like? Defining your funnel steps is a critical aspect of inbound sales success. 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. Collect and analyze 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 like 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, marketing automation 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
  • Outbound 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 inbound sales best practices are and how you can use folk to manage your leads and new contact information. So it's safe to say, you'll be on your way to hitting your revenue target in no time. Try folk today, free.