How to set up an inbound sales engine

Here's a simple 4-step guide to set up an inbound sales engine for startups.

How to set up an inbound sales engine

Initially, B2B startups often grow by tapping into personal networks and making direct sales efforts. However, as the company expands, it's common for these methods to become less effective, with lead generation slowing down.

At Relate, we faced this challenge, too. Early on, we could consistently get new customers, but we quickly learned that we need more than just personal networks and outreach alone.

So, we created an inbound sales engine to accelerate our pipeline. Now, most of our qualified leads that turn into customers come inbound.

What is inbound sales?

Let's break down what Inbound Sales means.

Think of inbound sales as the opposite of traditional sales methods. Instead of reaching out to potential customers, we have strategies in place that encourage customers to come to us. They might find us through our website, blog posts, social media, online directories, search engine results, or recommendations from friends and colleagues. When they show interest in our products, our sales team steps in to close the deal.

Components of an inbound sales engine

We call it an "engine" because it's designed to operate smoothly, much like machinery, automating the process so your team can concentrate on making sales.

Here are the essentials for a simple inbound sales engine in 2024:

  • Web forms - A way for potential customers to express interest in your product
  • Qualification logic & flow - A method for assessing leads and routing them to the appropriate destination (e.g., sales rep or automated email sequence)
  • Meeting scheduler - A tool for finding a time between the prospect and the sales rep to meet over a Zoom call
  • System of Record or a CRM - A way to track and visualize the customer buying journey and activities

Many startups begin by cobbling together single function tools like Calendly, Typeform, and HubSpot with Zapier integrations to manage their inbound. 

We’ve seen some may not even have a dedicated lead qualification form, using only a button to schedule meetings, which can overwhelm your calendar with unqualified appointments, including those with less serious prospects.

While having a rudimentary system is better than having none, building an inbound sales engine that captures lead data, qualifies and routes for meetings and automated follow ups is easier than you think.

It’s also much more efficient and effective in the long run as you scale.

How to build a basic inbound sales engine

Instead of thinking of every single lead flows and use cases to build an inbound sales engine, start with a basic one. Here is a four-step process for setting up a system that identifies and directs leads effectively.

  1. Capture lead information
  2. Qualify leads
  3. Determine where to route leads
  4. Track inbound pipeline and lead progress

1. Capture leads through web forms

Web forms are your first interaction with potential customers. You can embed these forms directly on your site or link to them via a button. 

Although some worry that forms might turn people away, for B2B interactions, a bit of friction is beneficial. It ensures that those who reach out are genuinely interested and likely to be better fitted for your product/service.

2. Set up a qualification process

After gathering lead details, the next step is to determine if the lead is a good match for your service or product. This process is about figuring out if the lead fits your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

In your form, include questions that help you identify if the lead matches your ICP. For instance, if you're targeting large companies, you might ask for their company size. If your focus is on a certain industry, inquire about the industry type.

This process can be automated with tools like Relate — which provides powerful all-in-one inbound forms and qualification process without the need to integrate with other tools.

3. Route leads to the right person or next sequence

Once leads are qualified, you need to decide where to direct them. This might mean scheduling a meeting with an AE right away or distribute among a team of AEs based on fit and availability.

For leads that need additional qualification, you might hand off to SDRs to follow up and further prospect.

For less qualified leads, you can route them to automated nurturing email sequences until they are ready to buy.

By using an inbound sales platform, you can automate the routing of leads and monitor their progress, freeing up your team to focus on sales rather than manual routing tasks.

4. Connect steps together and track inbound pipeline

Once you placed web forms throughout your marketing channels and mapped out how a lead gets qualified and routed to your team or automated sequence, the tying up each part together and building an automated inbound sales engine.

The final step is to integrate all these components into a seamless sales automation. By setting up web forms, qualification processes, and routing plans, and then connecting these elements, you establish your inbound sales engine.

Relate, for instance, provides a full stack inbound platform for capturing leads, qualifying them, routing them appropriately, scheduling meetings, and tracking everything inside the CRM. 

Ready to build your inbound sales engine? Discover how Relate can accelerate your inbound sales pipeline.