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Types of Sales Strategies: Inbound Strategy vs. Outbound Strategy

Updated 1/8/2023.
inbound vs outbound sales

A sales strategy is a documented plan that will enable your company or organization to sell its product and services. People tend to categorize sales strategies based on their preferred set of criteria.

One way to categorize sales strategies is by determining the method by which you will reach out to customers. In that regard, there are two types of sales strategies:

  • Inbound sales strategy
  • Outbound sales strategy

Let’s take a more in-depth look into these two main types of sales strategies.

Inbound Sales Strategy

An inbound sales strategy is a sales strategy that involves selling to a potential customer that reaches out to your company to ask about your product or service. It also consists of marketing to prospects that have shown an interest in the products or services your company offers. 

Did you know that 75% of customers are not interested in meeting salespeople face-to-face? Luckily, the inbound sales strategy accommodates virtual selling. It is mostly reliant on social media behavior and the efforts of your company’s marketing department, customer representatives, or referrals.

That’s because the inbound sales strategy involves tailoring your product or service to the specific needs of the potential customers who reach out to you. Your sales reps must know everything they can about their customer’s pain points to sell successfully. The way they sell must be adapted to the prospect’s buyer journey rather than what the salesperson thinks is the best way to go.

The inbound sales strategy is all about creating personalized experiences for the buyer.

Inbound sales strategy tips

Salespeople who sell through the inbound sales strategy must know what they are doing. The method of converting prospects into customers is not the same as that of field salespeople. Here are tips that your sales team can use to implement the inbound sales strategy:

  • The sales process that your sales team uses must be mapped based on the buyer’s journey. By the time a potential customer has reached out to your company about your product or service, they have already begun on the buying journey. But at what stage do they depend on the prospect in question? The order of selling may be disrupted. And sales reps must be ready for that.
  • Different prospects that reach out to your company will have different needs. It’s your sales rep’s job to determine what pain points your potential customers are dealing with. This knowledge determines their sales success rate. What is it that gives them sleepless nights? What are their passions? What motivates them? You may have two prospects interested in the same product, but they may have different perspectives on how it would help them. Unfortunately, many salespeople do not have enough information about their prospects. And they end up losing potential customers who are already partly receptive to your company's products or services due to unpreparedness.
  • If your company chooses to use the inbound sales strategy, you must find a way to tailor your presentations to suit the prospect’s unique needs. The products and services that your sales team could be the same, but that doesn’t matter. Your sales reps must meet your prospects at their point of need, which requires them to adapt your company’s generic sales script for each prospect.
  • For salespeople to sell successfully in this day and age, they must invest time in social selling through social media platforms.
  • Salespeople who intend to work according to an inbound sales strategy should be willing to establish long-term relationships with customers because those customers will refer others to the company if they are happy with the product they buy or service. Additionally, your sales team must be ready to communicate with the marketing and customer care departments. That’s because some of their leads will be coming through these departments. Tools such as the HubSpot Sales Hub, which also incorporates a free CRM, can help you manage your warm leads. We can help you get optimize your HubSpot Sales Hub whether you're just getting started or need a fresh set of eyes on an existing portal. Click the link below to get a custom quote

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Outbound Sales Strategy

The outbound sales strategy is a sales strategy that involves your salespeople actively reaching out to prospects. The sales reps are responsible for helping those prospects move from one stage of the buying process to another until they decide to buy your company's products and services.

Most traditional forms of marketing that include trade shows, TV, radio ads, and print ads such as brochures and flyers tend to fall under the outbound sales strategy umbrella. It sometimes involves cold emails and calls. But it also involves door-to-door sales.

Outbound sales strategy enables sales teams to go out there and discover prospects rather than wait for those potential customers to discover your brand. This selling method is about sales reps finding the kind of customers they want, rather than waiting for potential customers to come to them. 

Outbound sales strategy tips

Salespeople who use the outbound sales strategy must also know what they are doing. The rules that often apply to inbound sales may not work for them. Here are a few tips to help your sales team get started in this regard:

  • Since your sales reps cannot afford to wait for potential customers to show interest, they must know what their ideal customer looks like. Therefore, outward-bound salespeople need to have criteria for who their target audience is. Who are they? Where do they work? What kind of neighborhood do they live in? Knowing what they are looking for will reduce the time they spend pursuing people who are not interested in what they have to sell.
  • Your sales team must have a plan of action that outlines how they will reach out to cold leads and how often they should do so before giving up. Should they reach out by phone or email? How many phone calls or emails should they send? Or is it preferable for them to go door-to-door and ask for the opportunity to sell? At what point should they offer to demonstrate how a product or service works?
  • Any salesperson who is looking to sell through the outbound sales strategy must be social and assertive. It takes more guts to sell to someone who has not shown any interest in your company's products than it does to those who have expressed interest. Thus, as a sales team manager, ensure that those you assign outbound sales tasks are up to the task. Otherwise, any efforts they make in this regard would be ineffective.
  •  Any company that chooses to sell through the outbound sales strategy must have money set aside for this purpose. For example, did you know that an outside sales call costs $308 compared to $50 for an inside sales call? The reality is that it requires more resources to sell in this manner than it does to sell through the inbound sales strategy. So, set aside a budget that can accommodate your sales team’s financial needs as they go out to the right prospects.
  • Sales reps who engage in outbound sales strategies must have the contacts of the relevant decision-makers. Research shows that a firm of 100-500 employees will usually have at least seven decision-makers. It’s much harder to sell to people if you -have no idea who gets the final say. Contacting decision-makers the first time around will help your salespeople reduce the sales process cycle.

Inbound Sales Strategy Vs. Outbound Sales Strategy: Which Is Better?

Both the inbound sales strategy and the outbound sales strategy have their strengths and weaknesses.

The inbound sales strategy enables sales teams to sell to people who have already shown interest in solutions that a company offers. That makes them a little bit more likely to buy in the end. However, companies are forced to rely on the customers who come to them, which means they have some idea of what they want. That forces salespeople to adapt their sales methods to the buyer’s needs. It can be challenging for salespeople who don’t know how to adjust to such challenges.

On the other hand, the outbound sales strategy enables salespeople to select their ideal customers. Additionally, it allows salespeople to reach a wider audience. And they can control the sales process somewhat. However, this strategy also has its fair share of challenges. First, it is much harder to sell to people who have shown no interest in what a company offers in solutions. Also, it’s more expensive to find the right buyers when sales reps have no idea whether people are interested in their offerings. 

So, whether your company chooses the inbound or outbound sales strategy will depend on your goals. But it would be wise to incorporate both sales methodologies to some degree for the best results.

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