Treating inbound and outbound sales as different campaigns is virtually guaranteed to leave money on the table. However, combining the two and utilising the information your outbound team generates on a daily basis is a simple way to be quids in.
Outbound sales are dynamic, responding to every person and their needs as the sale happens. Traditional inbound sales are more passive, where you create a website or marketing material and hope people reach out to you. Both are useful, and both should be dynamic because sales inherently change with each customer.
Has it been a while since you updated your website, emails, or the way you respond to inquiries? If so, you’ve landed on the right place to turn that around and pick up a few more inbound wins. Move away from the impersonal façade that is likely harming, or even failing, you.
In this article you will learn three important how’s:
- How you’ll benefit from treating inbound and outbound sales as siblings
- How data makes the world go ‘round and improve your sales
- How your target is like a goldfish and what that means for time spent on your site
There’s no need to wait or waste time anymore, so let’s dive in right now.
Outbound and Inbound, Not Versus
First, we should set a clear distinction between inbound and outbound sales. The lines between the two may start to blur as we go on, so this is your refresher.
Inbound sales are the ones where customers come to you. They find you on social or in search, including ads, and then pop on by your digital or brick-and-mortar store. The customer is doing the heavy lifting in terms of research and outreach.
Outbound sales are the ones that engage your inner hunter. You reached out and did the work to show how you solve a problem or make life better. Many outbound sales start as cold calls or emails, and these can take many touches over weeks or months.
You want a mix of these sales. Inbound can provide a nice boost when your team is struggling to land those outbound deals.
The important note here is that inbound and outbound sales often have the same educational needs. So, we want to build content and strategy that focus on this connection. This will leave you with a website and other materials that answer the questions your team gets during outbound interactions. For inbound, you’re making it easier for the customer to learn about you and decide to buy from you.
Doing Your Homework
Great outbound sales teams research their targets before a call or email goes out. They’ll look up the company and even the individual’s LinkedIn or other social accounts. They get to know the person before ever making contact to make their pitch relevant.
Bring that level of research to your inbound efforts too.
Inbound marketing should leverage as much customer data and personas as possible to reach your audience. Drive down into details around:
- Average customer company profile
- Average buyer profile
- Activities your buyers do in their day jobs
- Chief frustrations your customers experience
- The questions customers want you to answer most
What’s important to remember is that these answers and data points can change from page to page. Your research-heavy pages might target direct managers while cost-savings pages speak to leadership. Study, ask questions, use outbound data to build profiles, and gather every bit of information you can.
Doing your homework on buyers keeps your messaging relevant, which is an absolute must for inbound and outbound sales.
Your focus: prove to visitors (just like you do to prospects) that their business is valuable to you and that your solution is valuable to them.
Target People That Fit Your Business
One of the best days for any outbound sales rep is when they talk to a customer who is a quality lead. Even better if they already know who your company is. Narrowing your lead list to these customers can boost your success rates. You also avoid nasty conversations with someone who views your sales techniques as hostile.
Your sales team capitalises on these calls by discussing your biggest benefits and how they fit the customer. When you start the conversation knowing about their business and needs that you can address, the whole thing goes smoother.
On the inbound side, you want to treat the people who are coming to your website like they already know a little bit about you – because they most likely do. Your SEO efforts should target service or product keywords, as should your social, ads, and other messaging.
When people find you, they enter with a general understanding of you and your market. Capitalise on them by highlighting what’s unique about your business. Adapt your message to this by showing how you have addressed the concerns they’re most likely to have.
Learning who is your best customer can help you identify why they’re seeking you out and what search terms led them to you. Building your website and landing pages around this information helps them get right to the meat where they see you as a helping hand.
Inbound is passive during the sales process. However, taking an active role in your messaging is key to having the right content ready for the people who need your offer and are looking for it right now.
Data, Data, and More Data
The success of leads and visitor targeting is all about how much you know about these groups. Data is your lifeblood. Look for industry information you can leverage. Keep track of your existing customers and new opportunities. You may even consider buying industry research to learn more about your best target.
Outbound sales can directly ask questions of any lead, making the call easy to adapt. Inbound is a little harder to get data on a specific target. Your best bet is to offer a little something to secure an email address and a first name — whether it’s a discount, newsletter, white paper, or something else.
The inbound trick is not to get greedy. Match your offer to your ask. So, if the content is independent of their industry, don’t ask for it.
In many cases, you don’t need a last name as long as you get an email address, because we like to be greeted by just our first names. Small asks are more likely to be successful, giving you a larger data set to work with for targeting your visitors. Plus, you can always follow-up via email to flesh out these personas.
As you learn more about people and see what appeals to them, you can adapt your content and your ads.
Get to the Point
A hallmark of any good sale, whether it is inbound or outbound, is prompt service. This is especially true when customers have a question or need to make a major claim.
Get to the point. Drop the fluff and filler. Cut the confusing graphics and 12-minute explainer videos on the landing page. Say what you can do, show it if possible, and then ask the customer to take the next step on your inbound channel.
The faster you can get your point across, the easier it is for the customer to understand and the less time they have to navigate away. The modern online window shopper has the attention span of a goldfish.
You need the right lure with a sharp hook to get them interested, taking the bait and the next step. Here are a few thoughts on how to optimise your chances for that.
Follow Your Scripts
Canned scripts that are full of fluff and fail to address the customer as an individual fall flat. Customers hate them, but companies love them. The big reasons outbound sales teams use scripts include:
- Decreases training time to learn a business or offer
- Limits mistakes while speeding up calls
- Keep offers and answers consistent
- Makes it easier for agents and your system to retain the right information about a customer
When the script is made to be flexible and allow an agent to adapt to customer needs, they perform better. Your website can operate in much the same way.
Build a script, get your answers to frequent questions ready, and then translate this into the journey a buyer should take on your site. We think of it like this:
- Introduce your company and its product/service
- Demonstrate how you address the visitor’s most likely issue
- Provide specifics for a few industries or job titles
- Have links or hover text that addresses common concerns
- Make a promise about how well you’ll address those concerns
- Push the next step, whether that’s more info, contact, or a direct sale
The outbound sales call follows the sales process. Your inbound sales content should too. Stick to script best practices as well. They include making content easy to skim, training teams on how to respond to customers, customise areas where you can, make changes when things aren’t effective, and trust your sales team to help customers who need it.
Above all else, you want customers to see you as valuable while also respecting their time. This means days’ worth of text are going to cause people to flee your site. Keep it short, simple, and honest.
Treat Everything as a Sale Opportunity
If you want to buy something from a website, but it takes 13 pages and 2 phone calls, are you going to end up getting what you want from them or go elsewhere?
Every outbound call is approached with the goal of a sale. For some reason, this is a chief difference between outbound and inbound. Few inbound efforts always keep the sale in mind. Instead, many inbound visits and calls are treated like slow fact-finding missions.
Visitors coming to your site want more than a brochure. When someone calls you, it isn’t just about answering that one question they ask. They’re looking for a reason to say “yes,” and you need to be ready to provide it. Work to be the solution they want.
Your first step is creating a system that addresses every inbound lead, especially ones that ask a question or make a call. Always follow up. A Drift survey found that 55% of companies don’t even respond to inbound leads.
That’s a whole lot of missed opportunities. Your competitors can be in that 55%, but you never should be.
Don’t Get in Their Way
Outbound sales calls and emails are all about helping customers and answering questions before the pitch. You likely work on scripts and answers for hours or days to determine the best information to give that isn’t too complex or complicated. You hone a message that makes it easy for the customer to agree, instead of being overloaded.
It is relatively simple to do for outbound, but inbound faces a big challenge: your website.
The aim here is to give customers what they want by making it easy to find. Just like SEO makes your website discoverable through search, your content layout and page titles should make it easy for customers to find answers to their questions. Limit buttons and options so that they take the next step you envision.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t spam them with pop-ups and takeover ads asking for an email address within the first 15 seconds on your site. Don’t disrupt the visual you worked so hard to create.
Keep things simple enough that your mum could find it before the morning cuppa.
Listen as Much as You Talk
Our final outbound consideration is something that speaks more to the nature of sales philosophy.
Likely the best lesson we ever learned about outbound sales is to pause. Close the mouth and open the ears. Ditch the long-winded pitches and hear what the customer has to say. Give them the opportunity to interact with you, instead of being bombarded with information.
It’s the best way to deliver true value to your customers and prospects.
Inbound can accomplish this with “Contact” pages as well as chatbots that have programmed information. If you tie these to support agents who can answer more complicated questions, you’re in better shape than much of your competition. On your site, white space can give this feeling too.
Outbound best practices tell us that we should approach everyone as a unique sale opportunity. Realising that requires we listen to the customer as an individual. For inbound, we have to do the same thing with different tools.
Listen and be responsive, just like you’d want someone to be when you’re ready to buy.
Keep Pricing Transparent
The final piece of advice for applying outbound to inbound involves your pricing. Be open and honest with people whenever you discuss prices.
Whenever possible, publish your prices and all the associated fees. If you provide custom pricing or require a conversation to build out your price, state that specifically. Tell us why you’re not providing details at a glance, and we’ll be forgiving.
Having no pricing or explanation just looks like you’re hiding, and it makes us as the audience do a lot more work to see if you’re even worth it. In many cases, we won’t take those extra steps. Many people who are researching companies or services are looking at dozens of providers. At that volume, no price can easily mean no interest, and thus no outreach.
Plus, you miss out on a customer being flexible if there’s a big delay from an information request to when your sales rep sends over pricing information.
Also, for pricing, you don’t want hidden fees either. In the digital age, customers share that “surprise” and aren’t happy about it. Honesty in price for your inbound — just like your outbound sales reps provide information when they call a lead — will also create more trust for you when it comes to the customer’s decision-making process.
Final Thoughts on Marrying Inbound and Outbound Strategies
While we often keep the worlds of inbound and outbound sales separate, they’re actually like Venn diagram with 90% overlap. The person making an effort differs, but preparation, actions, and the end-goal for you are all the same.
This article reviewed some of the more successful outbound sales techniques that you can implement for inbound efforts, from chatbots and websites to handling the calls and emails your team receives. Start with the same homework your teams take to identify targets and individuals, ensure that people fit your business needs, respect their time, and let customers guide the sales process so that they’re excited and trust you.
Your team knows how to sell. Bring their expertise to your static and passive content when you can to maximise the knowledge they’ve gained from each won and lost lead. It could be your most valuable asset and the best way to keep that bottom line growing.
With all that said, are there any inbound secrets or tactics that you think should be brought to outbound sales campaigns?