What is Inbound Sales?

Aug 12, 2022 | Blog

What Is Inbound Sales
We’re on a mission to demystify business jargon, starting with the fundamentals.

Inbound vs. Outbound Sales

The biggest difference between inbound and outbound sales is who initiates the purchase.

Inbound sales occur when the customer reaches out and engages the company, whereas outbound sales occur when sales representatives from the company reach out and engage potential customers. It all boils down to who approaches who.

There is no superior sales strategy between the two—both outbound and inbound sales are growth channels with their own benefits. Most companies employ a mix of both strategies, and factors like company size, product price point, or investment capital will influence a business’ approach to sales.

Let’s break down an example from the B2C world that you might have come across in your own life.

Say you want to start working out. You do a search for gyms in your area and pick out a few options nearby, then check their websites, read some reviews and browse their social media channels to get a better idea of what each offers. One really stands out as a good fit for your needs, so you go in to check it out and talk to someone about membership options. The staff at the gym is more than happy to answer your questions and help you sign up for a membership. You become a member of the gym because you sought out the business and engaged the membership sales team.

This is inbound sales in action. You, the customer, initiated the dialogue and the sales staff responded. You were able to research and select the gym because of the business’ inbound marketing efforts—including the gym’s website, blog, social media content, and member testimonials.

Now, let’s shift perspective a bit and think about the owner of the gym. They have a goal to scale the business and open multiple gyms locations across the city. Additional locations will require more members, so the business owner hires a sales staff that specializes in outbound sales, specifically targeting corporate partnerships for employee wellness programs, group membership discounts, and membership trials in the area. The business owner also buys ads on the local radio stations and billboards to promote the new gym locations, further amplifying the message to prospective customers.

This is outbound sales in action. The sales team is reaching out to prospective customers, pitching the gym’s services to larger organizations, and inviting them into the funnel. The business owner is focused on building awareness and acquiring customers through outbound marketing in order to jumpstart growth and acquire market share. Cold email outreach, direct mail, and TV ad buys are all examples of outbound sales marketing.

An organization’s sales approach is unique to their enterprise and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. A startup in its infancy may rely on outbound sales, but with enough brand recognition and YoY growth, it might shift a significant percentage of sales efforts to inbound sales. In the gym example above, the entrepreneur understands the importance of inbound sales for interested customers. They also understand the importance of outbound sales in order to scale and grow the gym business in the future. They end up employing a hybrid sales approach for this expansion phase of their business.

What are the Five Inbound Sales Principles?

Because inbound sales are initiated by customers, buyers are more likely to be knowledgeable about your products and services. So how do you create brand awareness and utility for new customers to grow inbound sales? Start with premium content that attracts your prospective customers and serves existing ones. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but these guiding principles provide a framework for any enterprise looking to optimize its inbound sales.

  1. Standardize: Communications with your customers should be straightforward and standardized. Developing a style guide and messaging architecture ensures consistency across platforms and customer touchpoints. Consistency builds trust with your customers, and trust is a cornerstone of inbound marketing.
  2. Contextualize: Your message should address the customer where they are in the sales process—whether they are just beginning their research or they are a longtime customer.
  3. Optimize: One of the benefits of inbound marketing is that content is published through owned and operated channels, allowing businesses insight into their content performance and analytics. As a rule of thumb, let your audience tell you what they want. A/B testing creative campaigns and calls to action by digging into audience engagement metrics.
  4. Personalize: You know the old saying: “If you’re trying to talk to everyone, you end up talking to no one.” Generalized messages don’t build connections like personalized communications do. Use data capture or information the customer has opted to share to create a personalized experience for them. These communication details build that connection and strengthen the relationship between the business and the customer.
  5. Empathize: Be human. Create space for customer feedback, optimize the customer experience, and employ solutions to any obstacles in the sales journey.

How to Win at Inbound Sales in 2022

Now that you’ve created stellar content, you want to ensure your follow-up strategy is equally as effective. Rapport building and customer engagement is essential to move prospective customers down the funnel, which in today’s digital economy, requires communication at scale and around the clock. Today’s prospects and customers expect a response to an inquiry within minutes, not hours. The good news is that conversational AI solutions can scale productivity for revenue teams without adding headcount costs.

For your follow-up strategy to be successful, think about how to apply The 4Ps of sales effectiveness. Performing well across the 4Ps helps engage leads and develop them into opportunities. The 4Ps are:

  • Promptness: How quickly does your Sales team follow up with a lead or inquiry?
  • Persistence: How many follow up attempts does your Sales team make before moving on?
  • Personalization: To what extent was your response personalized? Did the response attempt to move the conversation forward? Research shows that 80% of customers are more likely to buy when brands offer personalized experiences.
  • Performance: Did the email successfully reach the lead’s Primary inbox? Or did it land in Promotions, Social, or Spam?

Automating elements of the sales funnel gives precious time back to the humans building the business and ensures a positive customer experience. We define that as a win-win.

To learn how Conversica is driving an industry-leading 8x engagement rate with prospective customers over traditional methods, request a demo today!