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Inbound vs Outbound Sales: What's the difference?

By John B. Elmer

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a transformation in the sales process. Customers have gone from depending upon sales teams to approach them through traditional sales strategies, such as print advertising, radio, or catalogs, and instead have begun to take control over the early part of the buying process. These consumers have begun to go online and research various brands and potential solutions to their pain points.

When these customers go online, they also tend to be open-minded regarding the brands and products they will use. An estimated 90 percent of searchers report that they haven’t made up their mind about a brand before they begin their search. This means the potential remains for brands to entice these customers to try their organization.

These new trends have resulted in the rise of two main types of marketing strategies, inbound and outbound marketing. Outbound largely consists of the traditional marketing practices of print, radio, and TV advertising. The brand reaches out to the customer who may or may not be interested in what the organization has to offer. Inbound marketing, however refers to the creation of content and sales funnels that encourages potential customers to engage and learn more about the brand. These customers are actively invested in the buying process and likely have some interest in making a purchase in the industry.

The brands that understand how to use these strategies together set themselves up for the greatest success. Let’s dive into some changes we have witnessed and what this means for your organization.

Buyers are changing

Customers have become increasingly interested in buying and researching products online. As many as 96 percent of Americans report doing at least some online shopping. Additionally, 88 percent of Americans will research products online before they make a purchase, either online or in a brick and mortar store.

In other words, these online shifts mean that customers now come to the sales table more informed. They are armed with information about potential solutions to their pain points, including competitor products. In the past, typically the sales professional held the information regarding the industry and product, but now that has shifted.

Your sales team and your brand need to understand where these customers come from and what they want to see from organizations. You need to create content and a sales strategy that allow you to engage with these customers where they are in the sales process. This requires the creation of inbound sales content.

How inbound sales tools and tactics differ from outbound sales tools and tactics

Your sales team should arm themselves with inbound sales tools. A solid sales stack will include tools such as a CRM, which allows you to track prospective customers as they get close to making a purchase. You might also want to invest in tools that make it easy for you to create and optimize outbound content so that you can get important information in front of prospective customers.

The sales teams that take advantage of these capabilities will find it significantly easier to understand their leads and prospective buyers. They will have the ability to follow these people as they move through the sales funnel and know how they engage with the brand throughout the process. This, in turn, will help them create material that customers appreciate and improve their ability to entice new people.

Brands that carefully track how customers move through the sales funnel also find that they gain more insight into what this precise customer wants to see. They learn about the types of content that this lead seems to be the most interested in. This helps them determine the exact pain point of the customer before they even begin sales conversations. The sales team member can then approach the conversation armed with this information and create a more tailored delivery.

Since these tools make it significantly easier for sales teams to understand prospective customers and what they need, it also makes the sales team more effective. Forty-seven percent of buyers will view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. When that rep knows what the customer read, it will make the conversation that much more effective. That explains why brands who take the time to nurture leads will see 50 percent more sales, and those sales will cost 33 percent less than non-nurtured leads.

How a combined effort of inbound and outbound sales strategies wins

Brands need to keep in mind that both the inbound and outbound efforts play a vital role in the nurturing of sales. By working to understand how your offering helps customers solve their problem, you can craft content that overcomes objections. This content then helps to bring in more qualified leads that the sales team can then effectively nurture with a more personalized approach.

You want to focus on building a single mechanism not only with your sales, but also with the marketing teams, to make content and awareness a united effort. This will bring in more prospective customers and allow the sales team to do their jobs more effectively.

If your organization wants to get started optimizing your sales success, get started with exploring the tools that help sales teams to thrive and earn more. Look at the tools that allow the organization to create more tailored content so that you can begin to use the combined inbound and outbound sales approach. For more information, consider downloading HubSpot’s sales tools deployment ebook.

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Tags: HubSpot CRM, Sales Hub