In the world of sales, there's a lot of discussion surrounding inbound vs. outbound techniques. As a small-to-medium B2B trying to grow, you might wonder, what's the difference? Which should we invest in?
Outbound sales are those directly initiated by your sales team. Inbound sales are those initiated by the customer, often after interacting with a marketing product or receiving a word-of-mouth recommendation. For most companies, investing in both inbound and outbound sales is the way to go because these techniques positively impact each other.
1. Outbound Helps You Prioritize Content Marketing
Outbound sales succeed at reaching an audience that you've handpicked and know is likely to benefit from your product or service. Because outbound sales are so targeted, they tend to work more quickly.
Content marketing is a powerful inbound strategy in which you lure potential customers through free content online. Unlike outbound strategies, content marketing takes a long-game approach and doesn't see immediate results. For this reason, it's wise to use information and funds gained through quick-acting outbound methods to build inbound efforts such as content marketing.
For example, outbound sales conversations can help you identify content marketing pieces that would be "quick wins." Once you realize your potential customers all search using a common phrase, or are in need of a piece of content you could provide, you can start there.
2. Outbound Increases Organic Traffic to Your Website
Everyone knows outbound sales increase direct traffic. You send your prospect a link, then they click on it. But, outbound also increases organic traffic.
The oft-repeated "rule of seven" states that customers interact with a brand an average of seven times before making a purchase. If you're engaged in outbound sales efforts, it's likely that a sizable percentage of your "organic" inbound conversions actually had contact with outbound reps at some point.
The average customer doesn't think from the perspective of your sales team. If they decide to make a purchase weeks, months, or even years after an outbound contact, they'll probably just Google you (your company name has been inked in their memory after all because of your outbound efforts) rather than search for a sales rep's phone number or email.
3. Outbound Helps Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
With outbound prospecting, you have the benefit of speaking directly with the potential customer. You can use that opportunity to learn about the businesses most interested in your product or service.
This information will help you define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). An ICP outlines details of your target company, such as:
· Number of employees
· Amount of revenue
· Years in business
Once you've outlined your ICP, you can use that information to guide your inbound strategy.
4. Outbound Helps Define Your Customer Buyer's Journey
You can use your outbound interactions to learn more about your buyer's persona and journey, too. Your Ideal Customer Profile specifies the types of companies you want to sell to, while your buyer's persona describes the people within each company doing the buying. Sometimes, they aren't who you'd expect!
Outbound sales reps can ask questions to determine who in a company does the decision-making, and what process they go through before deciding. Your inbound sales team will benefit from knowing the following details about the buyer's journey:
· What terms did they search when trying to make their decision?
· Where did they look for more information?
· What did they want to know before making a decision?
5. Outbound Helps Identify Inbound Strategy Problems
Sometimes companies identify their Ideal Customer Profile and understand the buyer's journey, yet still have trouble with inbound lead generation. The outbound sales team can help. Asking current and potential customers specific questions can show what part of the inbound funnel isn't working.
With inbound, you know little about the potential customers who never convert. Since you aren't in direct two-way contact with them, you can't be sure what causes them not to buy. Outbound provides an opportunity to fill in information gaps and identify problems.
6. Outbound Contacts Can Be Used for Ad Retargeting
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) online advertising is now largely considered an inbound marketing strategy. One useful PPC option is retargeting, or intentionally showing ads to people who have already interacted with your brand.
Retargeted ads are 10% more successful at garnering clicks compared to regular PPC ads. When your outbound and inbound teams work together, outbound can share their unconverted client info with the inbound team. Inbound can then set those potential customers up to see retargeted ads, increasing the odds that they'll convert.
Inbound and Outbound - Let’s Work Together
It's time for the old outbound vs. inbound sales argument to be laid to rest. These sales strategies are synergistic, not antagonistic. With a big picture mindset, you can see that outbound sales can be used to fuel inbound lead generation, and vice-versa.