Inbound vs. outbound sales – what’s the difference, and which approach is better?
This is one of the most common questions businesses ask when trying to attract more customers.
Both inbound and outbound sales strategies are effective, and they both come with their pros and cons. Before investing in your sales plan, it’s important to understand the differences between these two tactics and to determine which one is most effective.
In this guide, we’ll break down the difference between inbound and outbound sales to help you know when and how to use each approach.
What is Inbound Sales?
Inbound sales is a process that focuses on getting potential customers to reach out to your business and enquire about a product or service. With inbound sales, prospects discover your business organically, and they make the first move.
Inbound sales focuses on attracting and nurturing leads through content marketing, SEO, and social media.
To achieve successful inbound sales results, you need to publish marketing content that attracts your target buyers and gets them to take an action.
What is Outbound Sales?
Outbound sales is a process where the seller initiates contact with the buyer. Instead of prospects reaching out to your business, you reach out to them first.
Outbound sales focuses on direct outreach through channels like cold calling, cold emailing, and targeted advertising. To be successful with outbound sales, you need to identify the right people to reach out to and contact them with a compelling pitch.
Inbound sales require a strong understanding of your target audience and their pain points. Outbound sales require a strong understanding of your ideal customer profile and effective targeting.
Pros and Cons of Inbound Sales
When comparing inbound vs. outbound sales, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each approach.
First, let’s break down inbound sales.
Pros of Inbound Sales
- The most obvious advantage of inbound sales is that prospects come to you. You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing sales outreach, and you can pull off successful inbound strategies with smaller teams. This is what helps inbound sales achieve a lower cost per lead compared to outbound sales.
- Inbound sales typically has a higher close rate compared to outbound sales. According to HubSpot, inbound SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate.
- Inbound sales are more aligned with the modern buyer’s journey, which is often self-directed and research-driven.
- Inbound sales is less pushy and puts the customer in control.
- Inbound sales is largely focused on publishing valuable content around your business. This doesn’t only help to attract leads, but it helps to establish expertise around your business.
- Inbound sales is focused on organic content. This means that once your content is performing well, it can continue to deliver results for a long period of time. This also means you can generate an excellent ROI from successful inbound marketing content.
Cons of Inbound Sales
- Inbound sales can take longer to see results compared to outbound sales. In fact, inbound sales strategies can be a really long game. It could take months to warm up a prospect and get them on a sales call.
- Inbound sales is less predictable. You never know how many prospects you will attract each month, but you can measure this more accurately with outbound sales based on your output.
- Inbound sales is a less mechanical process than outbound. You can’t always be sure about the quality of leads you’re generating, and you aren’t targeting your ideal buyer as precisely as you do in outbound sales.
- Inbound sales relies on outperforming your competitors. If your competitors produce better inbound marketing content than you do, you’ll soon fall behind them.
- Inbound sales isn’t applicable to every business. Depending on who you sell to, an inbound strategy alone won’t always yield results.
- It can be difficult to measure the ROI of inbound sales efforts, as the sales process is less concrete than outbound.
Pros and Cons of Outbound Sales
When comparing the pros and cons to inbound and outbound sales, it becomes clear that neither strategy is better – they’re just unique.
Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using outbound sales.
Pros of Outbound Sales
- Outbound sales provides much faster results. You contact your buyer directly and can narrow down qualified leads more easily. With outbound strategies, sales cycles are shorter. This means seeing results from your outbound sales strategy takes a lot less time.
- Outbound sales is a lot more predictable than inbound sales. You have more control over how many prospects you reach out to, which means you can establish more predictable sales estimates.
- Outbound sales gives you more room to be competitive. You can actively control how many prospects you reach out to. If your business operates in a landscape with a lot of strong inbound competition, using outbound sales is a fast and efficient way to get ahead of your competitors.
- You can easily automate a large portion of your outbound sales efforts to help you reach the right people a lot more efficiently. This saves time and helps you achieve better outbound sales results. You’ll need to use the right sales engagement platform to do this.
- With outbound sales, you have more control over who you reach out to. This means you can create detailed target buyer personas and contact these people directly.
Cons of Outbound Sales
- Outbound sales can provide faster results but may be more expensive, with the cost per lead being greater than inbound sales.
- Outbound sales can feel interruptive and pushy if not executed properly. Many people don’t enjoy being subjected to outbound sales tactics, so it could affect your brand reputation if you’re not careful with your outbound sales strategy.
- Outbound sales requires a lot more outreach. Sales prospecting can be time-consuming and may require a larger sales team for better results.
Which Sales Strategy is Right for Your Business?
When comparing inbound vs. outbound sales, it’s clear that each approach comes with its clear advantages and disadvantages.
So, how do you know which one is best to apply to your business?
Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer here. In fact, both inbound and outbound sales can work well together for any type of business.
Generally speaking, outbound sales is best for fast revenue, while inbound sales is best for establishing a more organic sales process that helps you achieve long-term results.
Inbound and outbound sales can complement each other and be used together in a sales strategy. For example, outbound sales can be used to target high-value accounts, while inbound sales can be used to nurture leads and build long-term relationships with customers.
Inbound sales can help build brand awareness and authority, while outbound sales can provide more direct and immediate revenue.
So clearly, the benefits between inbound and outbound sales should be used together to create a powerful sales engine that helps you achieve more. And if you use both strategies, you can access a more stable and reliable sales engine for your business.
Tips for Success in Inbound and Outbound Sales
Comparing inbound vs. outbound sales may reveal many differences. Yet, a few tips and best practices can help you achieve better results with each strategy.
Here are some important tips and tactics to follow for your inbound and outbound sales processes.
Know Your Customers
The most essential piece of advice for improving inbound and outbound sales processes is to have a deep understanding of your customer. The better you know your target audience, the easier it will be to reach them and sell to them.
This should include understanding their interests, pain points, and online habits. It’s also important to understand who the person is who makes the buying decision and what role they might hold in an organization (important for B2B).
Understanding this will help you develop marketing content and sales pitches that speak to your buyer personas more effectively.
It’s also important that you clearly understand your different target buyer segments. You might have many different potential customers that fall within your target audience. By understanding these different segments, you can create a wider range of sale statics and use multi-channel sales outreach to effectively reach these different segments.
Monitor the Right Metrics
To run any successful sales strategy, you need to stay on top of the right metrics.
Inbound and outbound sales may have slightly different metrics and KPIs to monitor. It’s important that you establish what these are from the beginning to help guide your sales strategy. You also need to align the metrics you follow with relevant inbound and outbound sales goals.
This is necessary for keeping your sales strategy on target and being able to identify where you can adjust and optimize your sales strategies for better results.
Perfect Your Sales Script
Your sales script is what guides your sales pitches and calls. It’s important that you have a well-planned and practiced sales script in place for whatever sales strategy you take.
This helps your sales process stay targeted and cover the right points. It also ensures you’re prepared for any common objections and questions prospects might have.
An essential element in developing your sales script is focusing on value. Instead of trying to sell the features of your product, focus on the benefits and value that these features offer. This will help make your sales interactions more compelling and more engaging for your customers.
Personalize the Selling Experience
Even if you’re targeting a clearly defined niche, all your customers will be slightly different. This means you’ll want to tell each person a slightly different sales approach to help you generate better engagement from your inbound and outbound sales tactics.
To do this, you’ll need to understand the different stages of the sales funnel and how they relate to each buyer. You’ll want to use CRM software to help you better manage and understand your contacts.
With the right sales tools, you can automate your customer interactions while still keeping things highly personalized. This is key to increasing engagement and boosting sales.
When comparing inbound vs. outbound sales, it’s important to note that neither approach is necessarily better. They’re different and can be used together to create a highly effective sales strategy.
If you’re developing an outbound sales program, then you’ll need to use the right tools. PersistIQ is a powerful outbound sales solution that helps you find the right customers, engage with them, automate your sales efforts, and close more deals. Start today to see how it can help you grow your business.