The Difference Inbound vs Outbound Sales And Which One To Pick ?

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Ugljesa Djuric

July 11, 2019 |

Finding a sales technique that will lead to successful results is a challenge for every B2B sales cycle. Being more prominent in comparison to the competition and concluding as many sales as possible is not an easy task.

But, an interesting fact is that nearly 60% of salespeople do not change their process once they find one that works for them.

Although it seems incredible, it means that even when companies find a matching sales method, it’s still difficult for them to adopt new strategies, techniques, and tools.

Becoming used to changes and innovations is inevitable if you want your business to function and survive.

Keep in mind that nearly half of all buyers are millennials.

With the increasing use of social networks, young people spend more and more time on the Internet and consequently change the behaviour of the target groups.

They are aware of the fact that there are many options, and that if something does not suit them, they can easily find a satisfactory alternative.

Common conflict concerning inbound vs. outbound sales is how to generate leads and get many sales.

In the rest of this article, you will find out more about these two methods in order to help you determine which of them is appropriate for your business type.

What are Inbound Sales?

Marketing and the sales process itself are constantly changing.

Something that used to work perfectly earlier, today may be a complete failure.

The buying process has changed. Today, the emphasis is no longer on the seller, but on the buyer.

Whatever niche your business belongs to, everything you do should be customer-oriented.

Inbound sales is a personalized, helpful, modern sales methodology. Inbound salespeople focus on their prospect’s pain points, act as trusted consultants, and adapt their sales process to the buyer’s journey.

In order to successfully complete the sale, inbound sales focus on getting potential customers interested.

According to this method, forcing the sale on the uninformed and uninterested person is not overly meaningful and the chance to gain positive results are low.

For example, how many times have you asked yourself why do the advertisements that you do not care about keep on appearing on your social networks?

Earlier, this was not such a bad tactic because social networks and advertising through them was something new for Internet users, so it’s not uncommon for someone to click on the advertisement in order to find out more about it and potentially become interested. However, as has always been the case, people now feel overburdened.

When they are scrolling, people do not want to feel hindered by something that does not interest them.

Therefore, if annoying ads that do not have any connection with your interests keep appearing, someone is, most certainly, not doing his job properly.

The most important thing is that you know your audience, and the more you get to know them, the easier it is for you will be to determine their needs.

Of course, every method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of inbound sales:

  • Higher conversion rate

Statistics say that 6% of inbound leads convert into sales.

  • Measurable ROI

You can measure your return on investment.

  • Cost-effective

Considering that building interest is based on quality content on social networks and website, SEO optimization and advertisements delivered to a well-targeted audience, investments are smaller than when it comes to mass media advertising or a large number of phone calls.

  • More leads

Although it requires a longer period of time, inbound sales have a higher potential to generate more leads over the long-run.

  • Unintrusive approach

People choose for themselves on what will they spend their precious time, and with whom will they enter into the conversation.

Disadvantages of inbound sales:

  • It takes a lot of time

Creating a customer journey requires a lot of time, from raising awareness of the brand to the conclusion of the sale which is at the very bottom of the sales funnel.

  • Quality content

When it comes to Inbound sales, creating quality and valuable content is greatly appreciated. If you want to keep people’s attention and build strong relationships with them, you will need to get them interested in the relevant content through:

  • visuals
  • video clips
  • blogs
  • surveys
  • demos
  • e-books
  • webinars

Of course, you do not have to include all of the above. Find what’s most interesting for your target audience, and you’ll be able to present your business in the best way possible.

Use cases of inbound sales are:

  • sales via social media channels
  • viral blogs
  • search engine optimization
  • e-books, online courses, demos

What are Outbound Sales?

Outbound sales represent the process where a seller, usually represented by a sales agent, initiates customer engagement from its end. Initial contact is traditionally done by placing “cold calls” to potential buyers (more commonly referred to as “leads” in sales). Contact numbers are usually taken from a phone directory and lead lists.

In other words, this means that there is no “warming up” of people to take the offer.

Unlike the case where there is an initial interest in the product or service, the leads here are facing with the offer when the sales agent contacts them.

Implementing outbound sales method generally looks like this: the sales agent has a list of contacts and then he calls them, one after the other, or sends them emails.

For example, you’ve probably happened to notice an email from a company, but you do not remember that you left them your contact. Often, these emails end up in a spam folder.

And because there is no initial warming up of leads, such calls or emails fall into the category of “cold outreach” emails.

Sales agents are frequently not sufficiently informed about the product or service they promote, which is a big mistake. If people give you even a minute of their time to answer your call or read your email, it’s important to preoccupy them with the right information.

Like inbound sales, outbound sales also have their advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of outbound sales:

  • Easy to measure

Given that the process is quite simple, you will be able to conclude which sales are successful and which are not.

  • Takes a small amount of time

It is possible to make a large number of calls within one day, and you can send emails automatically.

  • Direct conversation

Direct conversation with the target group allows you to find out their opinions, how they respond to your offer, and what interests them. If they are willing to talk to you or reply to your email, of course.

Disadvantages of outbound sales:

  • Intrusive approach

People get irritated when you offer them something that they do not care about and when they have to spend their time telling you ‘no’, so this method of selling is often considered excessively intrusive.

  • Hard to nurture leads

Given that there is no previous interest, it is often difficult to maintain relationships with leads.

  • Low conversion rate

Also, sales are not often because there is no extreme connection between the brand and the potential buyer.

Only 1.7% of all outbound leads result in sales.

  • There is a possibility of avoidance

Thanks to the advancement of technology, there are many ways to “block” cold emails and cold calls, so they can not even reach people.

  • Expensive channels

Advertising on channels such as mass media is usually very expensive and rarely brings a positive ROI (return on investment).

Some use cases examples of outbound sales are:

  • Cold calls
  • Cold emails
  • Mass media: TV, radio stations, magazines
  • Outdoor advertising: billboards, posters, flyers

Differences between preparing Inbound and Outbound strategies

There are many differences concerning inbound vs. outbound sales, but the main thing is that, when it comes to outbound sales, there is no previous interest or any connection between brands and leads.

Preparing inbound strategies requires much more time, but they are therefore considered more effective, which we will be able to see a bit later when we reach a comparison of the effectiveness of inbound vs. outbound sales. 

Techniques you should adhere to when choosing an inbound sales method are the following:

1.Create an ideal buyer persona

Imagine who this person is, is it a male or a female, how old is he or she, what he or she like, what he or she does not like, what interests him or her and what not, how he or she acts, what is he or she doing for a living, and similar.

Find as many features as possible to help you create an ideal buyer image.

An Ideal buyer persona is actually a representative, an avatar, of your target audience or a target group.

In your advertisements, on your website and social networks, in everything you do, you are talking to that person and you expect a reaction from her.

When you start creating a commercial for your product or service, those people will be your target audience, that is, you will adjust the parameters for delivering your advertisement to them exactly.

Of course, this can’t be absolutely correct. Not every person who sees your ad will immediately decide to make a purchase or to communicate with you. But, it’s certainly important to know where you should start from and towards whom your offer is oriented. 

2. Design a buyer journey

The road from the moment your potential customers become aware of the existence of your brand to the time they make their first purchase can be a long one.

But, that does not mean that you have to give up or that you are doing something wrong.

Some people need less “persuasion”, some more, and that is all.

Each lead funnel has its own stages and it is logical that the more people get closer to the bottom of the funnel, more of them will disappear from it.

It is up to you to make sure that their experience is as pleasant as possible. Grab their attention using interesting content and quality offerings, and nurture them through communication via emails, invite them to interact on social media and provide them with interesting information.

As Goldenlion mentioned, inbound sales are all about attracting interested consumers with quality content and converting that traffic into leads.

3. Analyze your leads’ behaviour

See how they react to your content. 

Pay attention to their feedback and comments.

For example, with Google Analytics and similar tools, you can see which page of your website is usually being abandoned and for how long people actually stay on it. Maybe this page specifically is slower to load or does not provide enough relevant information.

Take advantage of all the “insights” available to you to understand your leads’ behaviour and improve their experience.

4. Stay in contact with your customers

A big mistake made by many companies is that they forget about their old customers.

For example, Demand Gen Report states that only 29% of companies are nurturing existing customers after the first purchase.

People who have already made purchases with you have had the opportunity to get to know you both as a representative of your company and as a product or service that you offer. If they are satisfied at the end of the day, they are more likely to buy something from you again than to go to your competitors.

So keep in touch with your old customers, ask them about their experiences and whether they would change something or not, what are they particularly pleased with and so on.

You can build pretty strong relationships.

In order to achieve successful outbound sales, your sales reps have to:

1. Understand your target group

For example, if your target group contains people who are working regularly, keep in mind that during working hours it makes no sense to call them. You can send them an email, as it is very likely that they are online.

But, if they are senior citizens, the time of the afternoon can be a good opportunity to get in touch with the largest number of members of your target group.

  2. Be informed about the offer you promote

Your sales reps have to know every important thing about your business offer.

If leads ask some questions, the reps should give them adequate answers.

Sales agents not knowing enough about a specific offer is not a good start if you want to make an impression and launch a great presentation.  

One of the most important things is that the USP (unique selling proposition) is being stretched through the promotion.   

3. Be concentrated

Be sure that you will encounter various interlocutors, with different levels of education and different abilities when communication is in question.

Sales reps must be ready for this, especially when it comes to outbound sales by phone.

Concentration is important in order not to forget any important item related to the offer, but also to give the right answer to every question asked.

4. Be motivated

Motivate your sales team through bonuses and rewards, besides regular salary.

Organize meetings where you will inform them about the innovations and listen to their experiences, suggestions, and opinions gained on the account of their conversations with leads.

Not only will they see that their opinion means to you, but on the basis of their conclusions from the conversations with leads you will find out how to improve your business if there is a possibility for that.

Check also our : Callback apps for automotive business

Lead generation in Inbound Sales

The content you create on your website and social networks should be interesting to your leads.

In inbound sales, everything is oriented to the leads, who should become your customers.

You generate leads through your content and communication.

When it comes to inbound sales lead generation, all decisions are on the buyers. They choose to give you their attention, whether they will leave you their contact information or not, whether they will ask you questions and similar.

To keep your leads’ attention and to generate and nurture them, you need to offer something valuable to them.

The thing that you’re offering should have some benefits for your target audience:

  • to entertain them
  • to inform them
  • to educate them
  • to help them

Your leads should see your product or service as a solution to their problem.

If you succeed in getting them interested in quality content, it will be easier to build your mailing list.

For example, in order to subscribe to your newsletter, your leads need to leave you their email addresses.

You can do this also with free demos, e-books, online courses and/or webinars, depending on which niche you belong to and what fits your brand.

Exchange your valuable information for their contact.

Check our : Callback apps for travel agency

Lead generation in Outbound Sales

Unlike in inbound sales, in outbound sales accent is on you as a seller. In this case, all decisions are up to you.

In other words, outbound lead generation implies that you are coming to leads, using calls or messages, independently of whether they have asked for communication with you or not.

By establishing communication, try to convert leads into buyers.

In order for outbound lead generation to be successful, your sales reps should be informed about the offer they promote, they should be kind, communicative and motivated.

Even during a conversation or through an email, people can sense your intent and tone and remember how you’ve made them feel. Emotions play a big role when it comes to selling.

Because of that, your sales team should keep trying to maintain the best impression possible in order to successfully generate leads.

Comparison of the effectiveness of Inbound and Outbound sales


INBOUND SALES

OUTBOUND SALES

ORIENTATION

CUSTOMER-ORIENTED

SELLER-ORIENTED

PURPOSE

HELPING

SELLING

LIFETIME

LONG PROCESS

SHORT PROCESS

ACCESS

NON-INTRUSIVE

INTRUSIVE

COST

LOW

HIGH

To summarize, the key differences when it comes to inbound vs. outbound sales are:

Outbound sales belong to the traditional way of selling. Earlier, the selection of offers was lower, so people also had fewer options.

Today, the market is huge and there are many great choices, so it is very easy for prospective customers to pass over to your competitors if the smallest thing in your business does not suit them.

Statistics about inbound vs. outbound sales say the following:

  • Cold calling, an outbound selling strategy, only has a 2.5% success rate.
  • 62% of salespeople, who do not use inbound social selling, miss their quotas.
  • 77% of B2B purchasers said that they would not even speak to a salesperson until they had done their own research.
  • By the time an actual salesperson gets involved, up to 90% of the selling process could be over and done with.

As you can see, it’s obvious that performance statistics are in favour of the inbound sales method.

The conclusion is that today it is extremely important to create interest for your brand before someone from the sales team comes into contact with the potential buyers – which is completely the opposite of the outbound sales method.

By gradually ”heating” leads, you will easily convert them to customers.

In addition, you will allow them to decide on everything, such as whether they will leave you their contact information or not or whether they will make purchases at all.

But, keep in mind that you are creating the whole buying process through which they pass, that is, your sales funnel. They are left with a choice, nevertheless.

It’s up to you to create an offer that they cannot and do not want to refuse.

Check also our Callback apps for real estate

Is the Inbound or Outbound method better for you?

Inbound sales could be better for smaller businesses. 

There are several reasons for this:

  • Since you are a beginner, you still do not have a large mailing list or list of phone numbers to reach your customers.
  • Advertising via mass media or outdoor advertising can be very expensive, and your budget may not be big enough for such an investment.
  • By carefully researching the target group, you will find out all of their most important characteristics and you will know exactly who you are talking to.
  • By building a buyer’s journey, you will gradually ”heat” up the leads that have never heard of you before, and in due time you will get the opportunity to build strong relationships with them.
  • By maintaining communication, you will be able to create a loyal customer base that will always be pleased to return to you.

Large companies can use outbound sales for their own benefit..

The reasons are as follows:

  • You have a big enough budget to be able to use mass media channels for promotional purposes to reach as many people as possible.
  • You have a large base of contacts that you can convert to your customers.
  • If you are already a popular brand and people have already heard about you, a call or email with your company name can surprise them and create the effect of feeling special.
  • Your sales team counts enough members to cover a large number of calls and to answer all of the customer replies.

Of course, these considerations should be taken only as a suggestion.

Nobody knows your brand better than you yourself.

Take your time and make the right decision.

The bottom line

As you may have noticed, when it comes to inbound vs. outbound sales each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

When you decide to create your own business, you will find out which approach is better for you and whose characteristics you prefer.

You will have to pay attention to how big your budget is, how much time are you willing to spend, what are your options, and how big your team is.

Of course, you can also combine inbound and outbound sales if you have the opportunity to do it, and get the best out of everything.

You do not know until you try it, with our callback software features .

If you realize that one method is much more cost-effective than the other, you will be able to recognize what you need to do.

Check our Callback Software and Limecall Pricing .

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Ugljesa Djuric

Ugljesa is passionate about the content market, sales, and marketing. He's has been working for several SaaS companies on similar topics.