Inbound vs outbound sales - the complete guide

Inbound vs outbound sales - the complete guide

The art of selling is an essential aspect of the success of any business. By neglecting your sales strategy, you are more likely to lose tons of potential profits to your competitors. Inbound and outbound sales are two opposite strategies that form a central core for many successful businesses. 


Both of these strategies have managed to serve plenty of business well over the years. And depending on the kind of business you are running, one of them may be suited better than the other. Both of them do have their ups and downs, which is why you need to learn the difference between them. 


For this article, we are going to explain both outbound and inbound sales. We are going to go through everything you will need to know about inbound vs. outbound sales.  


What is Outbound Sales?

Outbound sales is a sales strategy that allows a sales representative to initiate a communication with the prospect, cultivate it and sell the product. That method is intended to further influence a prospect into purchasing a product. Plenty of small and medium-sized businesses practice outbound sales strategies. A sales representative will typically contact the prospect, schedule an appointment, and sell their product. 


Salespeople will also send out cold emails to several prospects unaware of their placement and try to develop a relationship with the recipients. 


The outbound sales process comes with five stages:


Identifying potential customers: You need to define the target market and market segment and prepare your sales team to reach out to them.

 

Generate leads: Once you become aware of who you want to reach, you need to acquire their contact information. You can do this either as a lead generation team, buying a database, or outsource sales lead generation to a third party. 

 

Contact and high-quality leads: Your outbound sales team reaches out to the list of contacts through phone or email to see if they are suitable for your product or service. If they are, then they proceed to the next step. If not, then they are removed from the list.

 

Present your solution: At this point, your sales team needs to schedule a meeting or a demo to show the prospect every benefit they get from using your product or service. 

 

Closing the deal: If everything went well, the contract gets signed with the customer. 


Advantages and Disadvantages of Outbound Sales

Outbound sales offer several benefits you should be aware of, especially if you are a small or medium business. Here are the advantages offered to you by using outbound sales. 


Return on Investments (ROI)

Return of Investments (ROI) is one of the most critical aspects of any business. With an outbound sales strategy, the salesperson directly reaches out to the prospect, nurtures them, and finalizes the deal. The outbound sale usually requires interactions between two people, which increases the chances of a deal closure that results in swift ROI. 


A great option for startups

New businesses will usually begin their journey with a limited amount of resources and assets. Their primary focus needs to be mostly on reaching a break-even point. For this situation, an outbound sales strategy can become a significant boon for a new business and ensures they achieve their goals quicker. 


Automate the process

Outbound sales can be entirely automated with the use of sales engagement tools. There are plenty of tools out there that can automate every sales-related process, such as cold calling, email marketing, social media, nurturing the prospects, following up with them, and closing deals. Choosing the right set of tools ensures your sales cycle runs smoothly and increases rapidly. 


Qualify leads

When a salesperson is nurturing a prospect, they turn that prospect into a quality lead by telling them how their issues can be solved with the features of the product. The salesperson will pitch their product but go into details about the lead's issues which offers them the chance to provide them with a solution.


Measure the KPIs

The sales team will have an easy time checking the conversion rate of their cold calls and emails. The data gathered from this can easily be analyzed for the results of the cold email outreach performance. That offers your team the chance to create better templates to achieve better results. 


For this part, we are going to go over the disadvantages: 


Irritating the prospects

For the most part, a sales representative is communicating with a stranger, which could annoy the prospect. The salesperson could be unaware of the buyer persona and problems of the prospect. That means that if the product is not relevant to the prospect's needs, they are going to become irritated by the call. 


Big budget

To use outbound sales strategies, you are going to need to spend a hefty sum of money. An outbound sales process requires tons of paid promotion methods such as cold calls, advertising, emails, and so forth. However, you should be using the mediums that have your target audience, but that still requires you to set up a sizable budget in place. 


Inbound Sales

Inbound sale is a method where companies can pull interested prospects and qualify them to see if they are suitable for their product. That is to say, inbound sales concentrate on the customer's needs, and the sales representative adapts to the buyer’s journey, all while acting as an advisor. 


Inbound sales have four stages: 


Identifying potential customers: This is the part where your sales team engages with a stranger that visits your website and converts them into leads. For example, if you managed to acquire their contact details, you can send them information through downloadable content, webinars, or live chat. 

 

Connect with the leads: At this point, you need to help the leads become aware of their own needs and device, whether you can assist them or not. Here they are going to consider your solution as part of their goals.

 

Gain more insight: For this stage, you need to start a conversation with the lead to gain their trust and acquire insight into their challenges in a meaningful way to see if your product meets their needs and identify sales opportunities. 

 

Offer a solution: If you are sure that your offering can help them with their needs and you have gained their trust, provide some advice (meaning your sales pitch) on how your product is the best solution for their needs. That should cause the lead to become a customer. 

 

Advantages and disadvantages

First, we will start with a list of advantages inbound sales can offer your business. 


Improves your sales funnel

By helping your customer resolve their issue, they are more likely to reach out to you in the future and become your customer. Those prospects have already become your leads. They merely need some quality nutrition before they convert into buyers. 


Easy to convert leads

People these days like to take their time to research things and take the time to consider if it's worth the purchase or not. When you provide a solution, the potential customer is going to most certainly look into your brand, read reviews, and ask for feedback. Once they are satisfied with their research and are convinced, they become one of your customers. During the final stage, a salesperson needs to ensure the customer experiences a smooth onboarding process. 


Boost brand awareness

Spreading your solution and assisting others with their problems shall increase your brand awareness on various platforms. When you offer some excellent results, you can easily promote your brand on a massive scale. 


Develop trust and relationships

When you offer quality content for your audience, you develop a brand authority in your industry. Over time, your brand will generate trust, loyalty and build a unique relationship with your target audience. The association happens with engagement from your content, nurturing them at every stage of a funnel, and converting them. 


Now, let us go over the disadvantages of inbound sales. 


Takes a while

Before you can launch your inbound sales strategy, you need to ensure you are setting up your brand value properly. Consider creating a differentiable persona of your brand in the mind of your prospects. However, this method can take some time for smaller businesses with limited finances. 


Sales and Marketing team are needed

While your sales team is the one getting the deals closed, inbound sales require a content marketing team to support the sales team by making the brand reach the target audience. It also involves a sizable cost for the business as they require more resources to manage them. 


Content marketing competition

With the number of competitors within the market, there is going to be an overflow of content making its way into the industry. To achieve the best inbound sales strategy for your business, you need to create the best content out there. The content should reach the correct audience at the right time. If the audience is not receiving your distributed content at the right time, it is going to impact your inbound sales. 


What's the difference?

The primary difference between outbound and inbound sales is who initiates the sales. For inbound, it is the prospect who starts the sales process, while in the case of outbound, it is a salesperson who contacts the prospect first. Instead of the prospect approaching the company, the salesperson comes to the client. 


For inbound, the prospect does the searching, reads the content provided by your company, attends a webinar, or schedules a free consultation call. The customer is the one to initiate the contact, and that could be anything from submitting an email for a free ebook, and then, later on, someone from your sales team may email or call them. 


In the case of Outbound, it is the sales representing cold calling, cold emailing, or even cold texting the prospect and the company setting up advertisements or posting on social media.


The difference between the two all comes down to the direction of the first point of contact. It may seem like a minor difference, but in fact, it represents a shift in the type of customers that an organization is dealing with. Inbound prospects are usually aware and engaged from the beginning of the process, whereas outbound leads are ordinarily less aware and less engaged during the beginning of the process. 


However, it should be noted that neither of these approaches is better than the other. Both of these methods are entirely capable tools for growing a business. The sales strategy you should use all depends on a variety of factors, including the type of business you are running, average deal size, and how aware your customers are about the solution you are offering.


Inbound and outbound sales tools

To handle both of these methods, you are going to need some tools to ensure your productivity remains at its best. Here are some tools you can use to help manage your sales activity. 


Intro.so

Intro.so is Zoom extension that provides you with everything you need ins a single spot. No longer will you need to switch between different tabs to check your notes or look up information about your client. Everything will be available in a single post.


The extension also offers you the chance to start your meetings one minute ahead of time. That way, you can impress your clients by being on time.


Conclusion

Inbound and outbound sales are methods that are effective in their own ways. Both of them will offer the results you need for your business. Take the time to consider both of these techniques and choose the one that suits your business needs.