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Inbound vs. Outbound Sales & Marketing: What's the Real Difference?

Taylor Rowe - Apr 26, 2017 9:30:00 AM

There has been a lot said recently about Inbound vs. Outbound sales and marketing, especially when it comes to B2B marketing. SEO is dead, cold calling is dead, account-based sales is the way to go, and account-based sales is the answer. It can become difficult to cut through the noise and decipher the fads from the truth.

The truth is, there’s no golden arrow that will solve all of your B2B marketing and sales problems. In order to truly formulate a unique plan for your business, you must take a look at all of the variables and make an informed decision based on facts, not the most recent blog you read about sales in 2017.

If you’re a sales or marketing executive responsible for growing your business, you are definitely familiar with these two terms, and are most likely leaning toward one side of the fence when it comes to your business strategy. Let’s dive into the differences between the two, and gain a better understanding of which method is best for your growth.

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What is inbound marketing?


To put it simply, inbound marketing is all about getting in front of your audience at the right time and bringing them to your website, rather than reaching out to prospective clients with “outbound methods.”

Inbound Marketing Magnet
While inbound marketing is the overall strategy, there are a lot of moving parts to be executed in a successful inbound marketing campaign. Some of those moving parts, or tactics, include SEO, PPC, content marketing, CTA’s, and even emails.

Pros:

The most obvious “pro” of putting together an inbound marketing campaign is that the prospective client is coming to you, all you have to do is kick back and watch the money flow in, right? Well, not exactly.

Let’s walk through an example of how this might work. I’ll use our own company, OneIMS, as an example:

Manufacturing Company A is looking to ramp up their lead generation efforts. The marketing director at Company A does a Google search for “B2B inbound marketing firms in Chicago,” comes to our website, and fills out the form for a free consultation.

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Cons:

In my role, I am working with business owners and marketing executives on a daily basis, so I’ve heard just about every concern regarding inbound marketing in the book. Especially when it comes to time.

Do you remember those JG Wentworth commercials?

“It’s my money, and I need it now!”

This has come up in just about every initial strategy conversation with clients that I have ever had. Not the awful commercial, but the idea. Everyone wants a system to generate high quality leads month after month, and they want it done yesterday. The harsh reality is that building a successful inbound marketing system is not an overnight process. SEO in particular, is a long term play. It takes time to build a brand and become an authority in the space. Any company that tells you otherwise is lying, plain and simple.

How do you get faster results with inbound marketing?

To put this simply, pay for the traffic! Weekly blogging and social media posts will not be the solution if you are looking for traffic and leads tomorrow.

My advice to you is to clearly define your campaign goals and strategically target your audience through Google search ads, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The advantage of using paid media to help drive your inbound strategy is that you can become incredibly targeted with your approach.

Paid Ads - Max Bid, Quality Score, Rank, and Position

The downside of course, is that it is going to cost you. Who ever said the best things in life are free? If you are looking to invest into any paid media channels to boost your traffic while you wait for your SEO strategies to kick in, make sure that you find someone that knows exactly what they are doing. Google does not care how bad your strategy is, they will gladly take your money.

Outbound sales or marketing efforts are the exact opposite of inbound (go figure). With outbound campaigns, your marketing messages or your sales team is reaching out to potential prospects in order to gain their business. Typical outbound methods include print ads, radio, TV commercials, billboards, trade shows, and of course, cold calling.

Is Cold Calling Dead?

Yes. But hold on, hear me out.

I believe that cold calling is dead, but sales outreach is very much alive. Cold calling is dead because there should never be a situation in which a sales person picks up the phone and dials through a list of numbers until they get someone to listen to their pitch and then attempts to qualify them over the phone. There are too many tools and too much information at our disposal for a salesperson to function this way. You should never be randomly calling or calling to qualify a prospect. The prospect should be qualified as a good fit for your product or service before you ever pick up the phone.

If, there is proper strategy in place, outbound sales can be the most effective way of growing your business. In fact, it is nearly impossible for your sales organization to survive relying solely on inbound leads, if you aren’t willing to pick up the phones, you will starve.

Sales Phones - Wolf of Wall Street

Pros

I love the shift in the sales community to account-based sales. The advantage of outbound methods is that your sales organization can do what they are designed to do: go out and hunt.

By targeting specific companies within your ICP and reaching out with a unique message that you know will resonate with them, you’ll have a much better chance of winning their business.

Cons

The grind. Outbound sales efforts are great, but they take a team of salespeople, and a lot of time to build from the ground up. Not to mention the fact that it is becoming harder and harder to grasp people’s attention. After spending hours researching, calling, emailing, getting hung up on and swatted away by an endless number of gatekeepers, when you finally get the prospect on the phone, you have about 10 seconds to peak their interest and convince them that they should listen to what you have to say.

So who wins? Inbound or Outbound?

Both! Sorry, but it’s the truth.

In order for a company to truly attain growth, a solid combination of inbound and outbound efforts are imperative. But it’s not that simple.

Alignment is the real key to success.

Today’s buyers have more information at their disposal than ever before, and the buyers of tomorrow will have even more. Marketers and salespeople need to align their strategies and work together. Because the buyer is more informed than ever, marketing needs to capitalize on the new buying process and be sure to provide the right information during the right time of their search.

The buyer is more informed, embrace it!

Let your marketing team dictate what that information is and equip your sales team with information about the buyer before they ever connect.

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When the prospect does finally raise their hand and the sales person is on the phone, embrace the fact that the buyer knows what they are looking for. You can still take them through your sales process simply by facilitating the sale, not by forcing them to adapt to your rules. The sales process has changed, and so must the salesperson.

Topics: Sales

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