The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Sales

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It’s a question as old as time: inbound vs outbound sales? The thing is, you need both to thrive. Leads are the lifeblood of every sales team and sustaining them in more than one way gives your company the flexibility it needs when it comes to shifting from one marketing trend to another. 

When it comes to inbound and outbound sales, there’s always an argument as to whether which is the more optimal option. On the one hand, people who swear by inbound sales assert the method can attract customers no matter the nature of the business, scale well, all the while being cost-effective while doing so.

Contrary to this, people who put outbound sales on a pedestal say that even if it requires more effort, it’s one of the most trusted and fool-proof ways to maintain control, build trust between current and prospective audiences, and close big deals.

It’s hard to pick one because, in the end, you’ll need a balance of both–depending on the type of business that you run and the goals you have in mind.

Let’s dive a little deeper into each type

Inbound Sales: What’s It All About? 

Inbound sales is a sales method whose priority is understanding and addressing the challenges, goals, interests, and needs of individual buyers. Compared to outbound sales, this method technique is more focused on solving the customers’ problems as opposed to selling the product in the first place.

In order to address these challenges, inbound sales take on a more modern approach to sales by acknowledging and leveraging the fact that the consumers of today have access and take advantage of the information available to them online. Inbound sales’ goal is to establish trust and a personal connection with the use of relevant information that your customers might be searching for.

Inbound sales is all about pulling in interested consumers and offering them the content they need to convert them into leads. The channels that inbound sales commonly utilize are search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, growth-driven design (GDD), and pay-per-click (PPC).

Simply put, inbound sales are the sales that come to you. Once a prospective client sees your content, they are bound to investigate further. Along the way, they will realize that they can benefit from your products and/or services and reach out.

In the modern age, inbound sales might sound like a no-brainer. However, much like any other strategy, it has its pros and cons.

Pros of Inbound Sales

Increase Brand Awareness and Visibility 

The very act of helping others with the information and solutions you know a lot about increases your brand’s awareness of numerous online and offline platforms.

By creating great content that you will eventually share with your prospects, they are likely to be satisfied with the answers and solutions you’ve provided for the questions and problems. What’s more, they could even end up sharing this information on their various social media platforms, giving you leverage in other peoples’ consciousness.

Higher Level of Engagement 

Inbound sales give you the ability to personalize your content and, you know what they say, the most impactful sales tactic is that human touch. With this strategy, your inbound sales team can engage with buyers and build a robust connection. This, in turn, will let your prospective consumers move down the buyer’s journey seamlessly through the right type of content.

Focus on Better Leads

There’s no denying it: outbound sales require a lot of guesswork. On the other hand, inbound sales use available technology where features like lead scoring can be used. This is an excellent way for a team to understand and determine which lead is a good fit or not.

With this method, there’s less room for error as the team will most definitely opt to close sales more effectively and efficiently by only focusing on the relevant ones.

Cons of Inbound Sales 

Takes More Time

Inbound sales will only work well if you work well. It will demand a lot of your time. Chances are, if you don’t spend time building a solid foundation, then your strategy will backfire at any moment. 

Take note, as well, that aside from the time it’ll take you to prepare for a robust inbound strategy, it’ll also take you quite a bit before you begin seeing any results. Typically, there’s a learning curve for content marketing. With inbound sales, you’ll need patience.

Requires both Sales and Marketing 

With inbound sales, there’s a need for a content marketing team to create content to support the sales team’s goal to reach its target audience. This means that there’s usually an additional overhead cost required.

Outbound Sales: What’s It All About? 

Typically referred to as the more traditional sales strategy that sales teams have been using for years in order to reach out to prospective customers. This strategy is more about influencing a prospective consumer to purchase a product or a service.

Outbound sales is a method that is usually practiced by small and medium enterprises. This is done through channels such as cold emails, cold calls, trade shows, social media advertising, outdoor advertising, and mass media.

While outbound sales might be the traditional way of gathering leads, it has its pros and cons.

Pros of Outbound Sales

Immediate Results

The most significant advantage that outbound sales have on inbound is the immediate feedback you’ll get from prospective leads. This will help you generate leads much quicker than when you utilize inbound.

With the direct approach, the sales professional can reach out to their prospects and, right there and then, nurture a close relationship with them and close the deal.

It’s the human to human interaction that outbound apart from inbound.

Measurable KPIs

For outbound sales, it’s easier to measure the methods used to deploy these techniques. The conversion rates through cold calls and cold emails can be easily checked. Furthermore, various tools allow teams to send cold emails and analyze their email open rate and response rate. This data will then help the teams recalibrate their strategies should they need to do so.

Best for Startups and Small Businesses

Since new businesses start their journey with limited assets and investments, their main goal is usually to achieve the break-even point. Outbound sales is an excellent method for them as it wouldn’t cost much. They can directly move forward with finding their leads, nurturing relationships, and closing deals.

Cons of Outbound Sales

Annoying for Prospects 

Customers tend to find cold calling irritating, and they might even choose to ignore these types of calls altogether. Furthermore, since you’re practically doing a lot of guesswork, the product or service you offer might not be relevant for the prospect’s needs.

It’s Not Sustainable

Imagine all the calls and emails your sales team will have to go through every day to find the right person. With outbound sales, you’re taking a shot in the dark. There’s no guarantee that a prospective customer will have a positive response to what you are offering.

Now that inbound and outbound sales have been defined, it’s to see where they differ. 

  • Sharpshooting versus Scattershot. Inbound sales use content marketing that is tailored for each stage of a buyer’s journey. In direct contrast with outbound sales, inbound is more precise in that everything is connected to the buyer persona. It’s all about nurturing a relationship with a prospective buyer through a sales pipeline and building trust along the way.
    On the other hand, outbound sales utilize mass emails and calls regardless of the potential buyer’s current needs. Sales representatives who use this method often waste a lot of time pushing demos and emails, making a targeted sales approach close to impossible.
  • Multi-Channel Sales versus Single Channel Sales. Inbound sales build its critical brand mass across different channels to generate more robust closing rates. Opposite to this, outbound sales are less integrated; therefore, it has fewer customer touchpoints.

Considering the digital world landscape today, it might seem like inbound sales is a much better option. The truth is, you need a mix of both to grow your pipeline. While you can heavily rely on content marketing to capture leads online, you may want to look into outbound methods to follow up on those leads, qualify them, and close the deals.

Moreover, if you still lack inbound leads, you can opt to use outbound techniques to prop up your funnel.

It doesn’t have to be a competition. Inbound vs outbound sales? That shouldn’t be a question anymore! Nowadays, it should be inbound and outbound sales. 

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