During outbound’s period of greatness, the sales department at pretty much every company outnumbered the marketing department by far. As inbound grew stronger, marketing departments did the same and some companies came to only trust inbound activities to drive business to the company.

Today, the fastest growing companies in the world are doing both outbound and inbound, the frontrunners combining these two processes with a strong data-driven approach.

The combination of inbound and outbound sales and marketing efforts is what we at Vainu have chosen to call Smartbound. Hubspot, Zenefits, Zendesk, Salesforce, Box and Vainu are all examples of companies leveraging this strategy. By only doing outbound or inbound, you are missing out on growth opportunities.

We want to help you supercharge your Smartbound work. In this article, we'll walk you through how your organization can become a more effective sales machine by combining inbound and outbound sales. We'll also go through why a strong data-driven approach is necessary for you to maximize your results.

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This article makes up the tenth and last chapter in our 60-page eBook The Ultimate Guide to Sales Prospecting. You can read the other chapters and download the ebook as a whole here.

What’s the difference between outbound and inbound sales prospecting?

Outbound Sales Prospecting

Traditionally outbound isn’t a very data-driven method. Here, sales department’s lists of target companies are often based on basic criteria such as company size, location and industry. Outbound is about direct sales, where you initiate the contact with prospects, often cold ones at that.

Inbound Sales Prospecting

Inbound marketing is all about content marketing, SEO and conversion optimization. Here, content marketing efforts are made with the intention of making potential customers interested in your product or service so much that they reach out to you when ready to buy. Inbound focuses on behavioral data, and is thus data-driven to some extent.

By only doing outbound or inbound, you are missing out on growth opportunities

Simply put, outbound sales prospecting is about reaching out to mostly cold prospects based on their basic characteristics. Inbound sales prospecting is more about scrolling through leads that marketing automation workflow provides.

In outbound sales prospecting, salespeople focus on (basic) characteristics. Companies becomes listed as solid prospects simply by possessing a set of characteristics. Inbound sales prospecting, on the other hand, focuses on behaviors. Here, marketing labels a company as a solid prospect or marketing qualified lead when one or many individuals from that company have shown interest in its content marketing.

Why you should combine outbound and inbound sales prospecting

Pure outbound is tough on resources. Only working with inbound, on the other hand, means missing all potential customers who have not expressed an interest in your content marketing efforts.

Successful organizations work with a combination of outbound and inbound to make sure to process all potential customers on your company’s short-list. Aligning your outbound and inbound efforts allows your sales and marketing team to create shared short-lists of companies they want to engage with. Once these companies are identified, both sales and marketing teams can work proactively to connect with them, online or offline.

Why data should be a part of the equation

Today’s technology and the ever increasing amount of open and public data allows sales and marketing departments to access more information on all the world's companies than ever before.

A data-driven combination of inbound and outbound sales allows sales teams to create more defined target groups thanks to more company data available and smarter lead qualification.

A smart data-driven approach provides access to more information about your prospects.

With more carefully defined target groups, ideal customer profile, your sales team will benefit from higher meeting conversion rates.

Insights from open and public data also enable sales teams to improve proactive sales efforts thanks to systematic tracking of companies’ lifecycle events, buying signals. In this article, we explain how buying signals help salespeople improve the timing in their sales and increase their hit rate throughout the sales process.

For sales, a smart data-driven approach provides access to more information about the prospects listed in the CRM system. With more detailed information about the not-so-obvious factors that define a company, the sales team can tailor their message for every company they interact with.

Moving from a predictive to a perspective model

Even though most companies are still figuring out how to get their predictive lead scoring models in place, the frontrunners are already moving from predictive to prescriptive models. At the end of the day, salespeople are not that interested in all those positive and negative attributes in the predictive models. They just want to know what to do next to move their cases along the funnel toward a sale.

Technology brings a lot more insights to salespeople's fingertips, and these insights can be used to formulate relevant suggested actions that are, based on data, most likely to lead to the best possible outcome. And this can be scaled when machine learning models are automatically collecting feedback and adjusting these suggestions accordingly.

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Topics: Sales Prospecting Smartbound

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