Inbound & outbound sales
Inbound sales is the technique where companies “pull” interested prospects and qualify them to see if they’re a fit for their product. In other words, inbound sales focuses on the customer’s needs and the salesperson adapts to the buyer’s journey, acting as a trusted advisor.
The inbound sales process has four stages.
1 – Identify potential customers: Here’s where you engage with the strangers that stop by the showroom and convert them into leads. Let’s say, for instance, that you get their contact details and permission to send them information through content downloads, webinars or live chat.
2 – Connect with leads: Now you help the leads become aware of their needs and decide whether you can help them or not. Here they are considering your solutions as part of their goals.
3 – Explore deeper: At this stage, you begin a conversation with the leads to gain trust and explore their challenges in a deeper way to find if your products fit their needs and identify sales opportunities.
4 – Advise on a solution: When you’re sure that your offering fits the needs of your leads and you have their trust, you provide advice (this is your sales pitch) on how your product is the best solution for their needs. Then the leads become customers.
The inbound sales methodology can be very cost effective, since you are targeting and engaging only with people who have shown interest in your company.
However, initially it can be time consuming to create content, build up and generate good quality leads.
Outbound sales is the technique where companies push their message or pitch to their prospects, through cold calling, social selling, email marketing and the like. In outbound sales, the sales reps are contacting leads, instead of waiting for the leads to come to them as in inbound sales.
Outbound sales is often dismissed because of its intrusive methods, such as cold calling, and some people even say outbound is dead.
However, outbound sales is still valuable in many situations.
Steli Efti, author of ‘’The Ultimate Guide to Outbound Sales: How to turn cold leads into hot customers’’ says that outbound can be effective because it provides the things inbound (usually) doesn’t:
- Highly-targeted outreach
- Immediate feedback and results
- Personal contact with prospects
- Control over the pace of marketing and selling
The outbound sales process has five stages.
1 – Identify potential customers: Define your target market and market segments, and prepare your team to reach out to them.
2 – Generate leads: Now that you know who you want to reach, you must obtain their contact information – either with an in-house lead generation team, purchasing a database or outsourcing sales lead generation to a third party.
3 – Contact and qualify leads: The outbound sales team now reaches out to the list of contacts by email or phone to find out whether they’re really a fit for your product or service. If they are, they move on to the next step; if not, they remove them from the list.
4 – Show off your solution: Here the sales team schedules a meeting or a demo to show the leads all the benefits of your product or service.
5 – Close the deal: If all goes well, the contract is signed with the customer.
A common misunderstanding is to equate outbound sales with cold calling, but while cold calling may be an attempt to capture leads with random calls, outbound sales is actually the result of data-driven research.