Inbound Sales vs. Outbound Sales: How To Bridge The Gap And Fill The Pipeline

Inbound Sales vs. Outbound Sales: How To Bridge The Gap And Fill The Pipeline
Inbound Sales and Outbound Sales

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. That’s exactly the sound of the countdown that starts each day of every week of every month. Unarguably, it is the one aspect of pure sales that just never changes.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Sell, sell, sell.

After all, there is no denying the fact that the sales process essentially boils down to two crucial aspects: time and numbers. Believe me when we say this, both these amazing things often go hand-in-hand. 

Now comes the bitter truth, the landscape of sales is changing — quickly. Sales representatives have started to develop their techniques, hacks, and processes for prospecting as sales conversations and interactions (both offline and online) are becoming more buyer-focused.

Today, inbound sales have become the go-to instruments. Is there merit left in the outbound sales of old? Is it really possible to strike a balance between inbound sales and outbound sales while leveraging both to fill the pipeline with customers? In a word, yes.

Outbound sales started getting a bad rep ever since the concept of inbound sales took off in the 21st century. Once a crowned jewel in the armor of every success-driven business, outbound sales and its advocates were soon humiliated and made the butt of their share of “dinosaur” jokes. 

Now comes the most interesting aspect – a huge majority of successful companies across the globe and over the years are still using a combination of both inbound and outbound sales approaches. Of course, there is nothing wrong to say that each method has its own share of pros and cons, but the truth is together both inbound and outbound sales are usually more than the sum of their parts.

Let’s talk in detail about inbound sales (also referred to as high-velocity marketing) and outbound sales (also referred to as ABM or account-based marketing). We will also be discussing how we can leverage both inbound sales and outbound sales to earn more opportunities, leads, sales, profits, and ultimately more ROI and revenue.

Inbound Sales vs. Outbound Sales: What’s the Difference?

The dividing line between inbound sales and outbound sales is the first touchpoint between the prospect and sales. With inbound, it is the prospect that starts the process of sales, while with outbound sales, it is the sales rep that contacts the prospect first.

Inbound Sales

A prospect reaches out to you. Usually, this is right after the prospect making a search (online) for a solution to their pain point (s) becomes aware of your organization. 

The prospect decides it was right for them to have a word with a salesperson of your organization for further information about your products and/or services. The best thing is that they’re already warm.

Why Inbound Sales?

  1. Lots of people are,in fact, looking for this solution online
  2. Budget for the sales team is really tight
  3. You’ve got content creators
  4. There is a considerable interest in educational/informational content around your topic
  5. You’re providing quick, high-demand, and easy purchase decisions

Building Inbound Sales Capabilities

A powerful and result-oriented inbound sales strategy is all about attracting the members of the target audience, developing engaging and optimized content, and optimizing searches through the right keywords so prospects can find and engage with you.

It is easy to qualify and engage with the visitors to your website that are most likely to buy your products once you have a good flow of visitors.

Let us now proceed ahead on our journey by talking about 6 amazing ways by which we can develop a rock solid inbound sales strategy.

  1. Start with your website. The most essential tool for an inbound sales strategy is your website. You need to educate your prospects by posting unique, relevant, and engaging content. For this, you need to teach them about how your business offerings can solve their problems, what are the expected benefits of your products and services, and how your products and services work.

Additionally, you can try putting out some case studies, business & sales presentations, webinars, whitepapers, eBooks, and even landing pages for pricing and product offerings. Remember, the point is to drive as many eyeballs as possible to your website. The more the eyeballs, the better the traffic on your website, and it will eventually lead to more leads, opportunities, and sales.

  1. Develop content. Content is the King,” and trust us, there is nothing better than to produce lots of high-quality, educational, and engaging content with a strong, unique point of view. 

For this, you can try out different forms of content such as product data sheets, industry articles, whitepapers, press releases, Do-it-yourself tutorial videos, blogs, and customer case studies to engage prospects. Furthermore, you should have a carefully planned and executed social media strategy to amplify your online presence.

  1. Leverage SEO keywords. Search Engine Optimization is critical to website traffic. To get the best value, you should consider both paid and organic search. The point is to research the right SEO keywords that will lead people to your website.

For this, you can try out tools such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, and Ahref to identify what keywords are already ranking well for your business and what keywords you should be targeting.

  1. Grade your inbound leads. Once you’ve got the quantity, it is time for you to determine quality. The best part- it’s quite simple with tools such as HubSpot to grade leads and find out which prospects are ready to engage with your sales team.
  1. Automate process components and develop nurturing campaigns. One of the biggest mistakes that most business owners make unknowingly is not to engage and educate customers when their prospects are not ready. 

For this, you have to build your content that can guide customers through the initial stages of the buying and education process. Furthermore, it is important to develop, nurture, and rejuvenate campaigns to recycle less qualified leads to develop over time.

  1. Ensure a timely and accurate follow-up. A study found out that businesses that are quick to respond to customers (within 30-45 minutes) are approximately seven times more likely to qualify leads than those who keep their customers waiting for more than an hour. The most interesting aspect is that they are more than 60 times more likely to qualify leads than those that have waited for 24 hours or more.

In order to achieve excellent results, it is critical to ensure that sales and marketing should have the same expectations for lead follow-up. Moreover, it should be ensured that no leads are falling through the cracks.

Outbound Sales

You reach out to potential prospects. An advertisement (radio spots, TV commercials, billboards, etc.) might ask for or catch the attention of your audience’s attention and time. 

Alternatively, your organization may have paid for a list of contact information for people with relevant interests or demographics that your sales team can call directly. 

It’s also possible that your own team may have done the research (data mining) itself – based on industries, designations, or professional connections – to compile a list of people or organizations who might be interested. 

This can be classified as a “cold” outreach that organizations across different niches use regularly to identify and qualify warmer, more engaged leads. 

Why Outbound Sales?

  1. Long sales cycles with lots of layers of decision-makers
  2. You want to laser focus on known, specific individuals
  3. Expensive product for a high-status, select crowd
  4. Your product is absolutely new or unheard of in the market
  5. Extremely limited pool of potential prospects/small target audience

Building Outbound Sales Capabilities

Like with everything else, preparation is the key to developing an “out-of-the-box” outbound sales strategy.

  1. Develop your ideal customer profile. Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) should include both your targeted accounts and your target markets.

Please ensure that you include:

  1. Environmental information: internal processes, tech stack, and regulatory issues.
  2. Firmographic information: geography, company size, and verticals.
  3. Behavioral information: actions an organization initiates such as mergers and acquisitions, advertising, and other behavioral characteristics.

2. Define your buyer personas. In an ideal situation, you will require at least three to four personas (for example: the entry point, the decision-maker, and the business owner) to get started with the development of multiple messaging and touches within a targeted organization. Personas must contain a definition and purpose of their role, the tools they use today, and what they care about (personal wins).

Let’s make things a bit tidy and real by naming your personas. It will help you teach the sales team easily about the personas. 

It is not uncommon for organizations to identify and engage their prospects in both ways (inbound and outbound). After all, there is every possibility that people are looking for different ways to find a solution to their problems. It could lead them to visit your website or call your business after being referred by a friend. 

Others may have got interested after receiving a cold call from your team or after being left impressed by your advertisements, and then continued the conversation with a sales rep. All of these instances could possibly lead to a sale.

When you include both inbound sales and outbound sales in your sales strategy, you can pull in as many leads as possible from as many sources – a complete win-win situation. Now let’s come to another interesting question – which inbound and outbound sales techniques work.

How To Choose A Primary And Secondary Sales Strategy?

There is no denying the fact that a strategy that includes both inbound and outbound will always have one of them as the primary sales strategy. Whichever of these strategies is your primary will dictate where you apply resources and spend money. 

It will also have a noteworthy impact on the shape and future growth prospects of your organization and your cash burn. Therefore, it is important to keep trade-offs associated with strategy changes in mind (e.g., the first hires you make or the tools you pick).

Let’s have a close look at the trade-offs of each strategy on the sales motion that you’ve in place to ascertain which strategy should be the primary one for your organization. We will also be considering the sales team you are building and the type of buyer you sell to.

Your Sales Motion

First things first, ask yourself how many deals you make on average and what your average deal size is.

Generally, small deals in large quantities lend themselves to a successful inbound strategy. Inbound sales is a fantastic way to extend your reach to a large audience.

Larger deals generally require a targeted outbound sales strategy. Outbound Sales allows you to aggressively target a set of buyer personas and targeted companies.

Your Buyer

It is crucial to ascertain your ideal customer profile (the company or client that would have the biggest requirement for your product) and your buyer personas (the people who will spend time evaluating your products and/or services and ultimately purchase from you).

It is worthwhile to remember here that a niche market will likely push you towards an outbound sales strategy while a broad ideal customer profile favors an inbound sales strategy.

Your Team

Finally, it is vital to ascertain the practical limitations and challenges of your business – people, resources, and money.

Usually, an inbound sales strategy is less expensive to set up when compared to an outbound sales strategy. Typically, an inbound sales strategy involves content creation and search engine optimization (SEO) that can be handled by one person or a small marketing team. On the other hand, a majority of outbound sales strategies require many more business development reps (BDRs) or salespeople to generate leads.

How To Bridge Inbound Sales And Outbound Sales?

Ideally, you must explore the combination of inbound sales techniques and outbound sales techniques because of the relative advantages of each. Now comes the big question – how can you explore both in tandem?

It is interesting to note here that it is not right for any sales team of any organization to sub-divide itself into two teams: inbound sales vs. outbound sales teams. In fact, aligning both is more natural than you may think.

Apply Data Insights In Both Directions: The success of inbound sales and outbound sales is heavily dependent on a data-driven approach. Gut instincts, anecdotal stories, or arbitrarily-chosen targets would never be able to clearly and rightly define the “ideal customer” for you.

It is worthwhile to note here that inbound technology is highly effective when it comes to gathering highly-actionable analytics that provides a clear idea of the people who are most interested in extending their reach to you or at least in consuming and appreciating material related to the solutions offered by you. You can leverage the data you receive to tweak, refine, and improve on your inbound sales approach. 

If this is not all, you can harness these insights for creating and nurturing an exceptional understanding of the outbound groups that should be on your radar. (Tip: People who have been successful in converting your inbound sales campaigns are most likely to be the same group of people who are likely to benefit from direct outreach in an outbound fashion.

In a similar way, your outbound interactions with prospects could be the ideal platform where your inbound techniques can be geared towards the right set of people.

The underlying point is – you should identify which audiences respond in which all ways to your outbound material. Once this has been done, it will be time for you to adjust your organization’s inbound strategy to emphasize more closely on those customers.

Set your eyes on a shared target: Working B2B? Get your sales and marketing teams together for creating precise and amazing shortlists of the accounts or organizations that you are most interested to target. This will be based on job titles, regions, company size, verticals, and more. B2C? You can collaborate on data-driven and detailed personas to set demographic parameters.

Inbound content and sales enablement resources can be created by your marketing fo reps to wield as you start to attract more inbound leads. To add more power to your results, you can pay for result-driven lists of outbound leads that match the same criteria. At the same time, you can start with prospecting for matches on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

The best thing about such efforts will be that you’ll always have something for every possible entry point leading to your sales funnel. Moreover, everything will be customized around the people you want.

Fill in your inbound learning gaps: Reps focusing on outbound sales are constantly communicating with your target audience. It is highly recommended that you work out on the insights about the questions often received by them or the feedback or complaints (if any) they frequently face. With insights collected from your outbound sales reps, your marketing team can create inbound content to fill in the gaps in the inbound journey of your customers. 

Additionally, you can equip your sales reps with this content so obstacles in an outbound conversation.

Outbound Recognition equals to Inbound Interest: Outbound sales techniques are excellent ways to create awareness and make huge inroads, especially when your business is in its early stages. Over time, powerful outbound campaigns can demonstrate huge potential to build recognition for your brand and most importantly for your solutions, and the issues or things you want to talk about.

With every passing day, more and more members of the target audience will start knowing you and this enhanced brand recognition, acceptability, and awareness will drive them towards your inbound channels. 

Conclusion

It will not be wrong to say that Inbound sales and Outbound sales are a lot like the defense and offense of an NFL team. Both sides have their own share of skill sets and responsibilities but both uniquely work together to help you win as the offense is in a better position to score points when the defense does well. Similarly, there is less pressure on the defense to win the game for you when the offense does well.

Leverage an inbound sales strategy to streamline the buyer’s journey, create and nurture lasting relationships, and enhance the bang for your buck. Complement your outbound sales strategy to set the parameters of the conversation, enhance awareness, and reach high-value pools of leads. Together, outbound and inbound sales techniques and strategies are greater than the sum of their parts.

Call inbound sales experts and outbound sales specialists from Propel Guru at +1 (604) 256-0821 or drop us an email at hello@propelguru.com.

Nitish Bhardwaj

Chief Technical Officer

Experienced executive with an emphasis on efficiency, process, follow-through, collaboration, and delivering results. Proven ability to successfully manage individuals, groups, and businesses to reach goals. Highly organized with excellent written and verbal communication skills and adaptable to change. Adept at streamlining processes and procedures and able to wear many hats and juggle multiple priorities.

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