The Innovative Marketer's Blog

How Inbound Marketing Produces Ethical Sales Processes

David Holmes
Posted by David Holmes


A friend of mine walked into Best Buy a few weeks ago to buy a part for his computer. He knew exactly what he wanted, yet the salesperson he talked to—who didn’t seem to know very much about computers at all—tried to convince him to purchase a whole computer.

Have you ever had a salesperson at a store like Best Buy try to upsell you additional products or software that you didn’t need, want, or even ask for? When all you want is to get in and out of a store with the item you came for, nothing is worse than some hack trying to sell you something that you are simply not interested in, especially when you make it clear you’re not interested.

Although my friend’s example seemingly has nothing to do with marketing directly, there is a connection. In a traditional sales pitch, you pretty much persuade the buyer that the value you are offering is worth the cost, but what if that offer is irrelevant to what the buyer wants or even needs?

As much as people in sales would detest this comment, in a sense, a company’s marketing strategy dictates the theoretical framework of its sales process. My impression of Best Buy is that their marketing strategy is to mindlessly upsell. If that is the case, then I would deem that as unethical because it does not use an educational process to make sure that what is being sold is what the customer truly wants or needs. To me, ethical marketing and sales prioritize educating buyers during the sales process.

Inbound marketing stresses this principle of informing your prospect about what they are purchasing to make sure they understand what they are buying and how it fits their needs

There are ethics in marketing and sales?

One doesn’t usually associate ethics with marketing and sales. That is because when people hear these words, they tend to think of terms like “telemarketing” or “cold calling.” Although these two actions are carried out by the sales team, the dialogue or script they read is written by the marketing team. The only outcome these methods really accomplish is to piss people off. Quite frankly, I don’t know anyone who likes being talked at let alone being sold to.                                                               

We live in an age when buyers have easy access to search engines like Google on their mobile devices to find whatever information they want. In an era when the buyer has the power to acquire information about products or services without talking to a salesperson, outbound marketing techniques have practically become obsolete.

So why is inbound marketing more helpful for the buyer?

Simple, because it is marketing that provides an answer or solution to whatever question is being searched for. For example, if I wanted to look up information regarding a Kirby Vacuum, I could look up a wide range of customer reviews, eliminating the chance of coming across only biased information and increasing my chance of visiting Kirby’s website.

If Kirby were to call me out of the blue to tell me how awesome their product is, I would personally be a little bit more skeptical about the information being conveyed and would probably never go on their website—especially if the call consisted of aggressive sales tactics. Aside from that, I may not have the availability or desire to talk at that specific time. I would much rather find out whatever information I need on my time.

It’s much more helpful for a customer to come to the realization of an offer’s value on their own terms. If someone is talking about how great their product or service is, people will lose attention very fast. Eventually, all this self-praise will turn into droning that will be easily tuned out by the buyer.

So what makes inbound marketing so effective?

Perhaps the most fundamental principle that makes inbound marketing so effective is the concept behind providing the right information at the right time. If you are looking to buy a starter guitar pack because you’re just starting out and want to learn, and the salesman is trying to sell you a top-tier guitar, then you’re probably going to be turned off by the offer because it’s just simply not what you are looking for at that time. Maybe in a year or so you would consider buying a $1,000 Gibson Les Paul, but not if you were just starting out.

Knowing when to make an offer is essential to the success of this philosophy, which is usually dependent on how much the customer knows about an offer. If a customer has no idea what the offer even is, then that customer needs more information explaining what the value of that offer is. If a customer is somewhat informed, but doesn’t completely know enough about the offer to make a decision, then that customer needs more detailed information.

Once a customer is fully informed, it is up to that customer to make the buying decision. In other words, inbound marketing is a marketing technique that attracts people who are searching for information, as opposed to force-feeding them information that they may or may not want to hear.

Rather than constantly pitching sales to people who may not even be sales-ready, it is much more effective to provide them with information that can better educate them on whatever product or service is being sold to them. People who feel comfortable in their understanding of an offer are definitely more likely to consider that offer, which facilitates the process of an individual becoming sales-ready.

If you would like to know more about how inbound market strategies can improve your sales, check out this link below.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, B2B Sales and Marketing