Inbound and outbound sales are both effective sales strategies, but which one is more effective? Let’s start with understanding what the differences are.
Also known as traditional sales and sometimes called interrupt sales because the technique interrupts the prospect to try to sell them something. Outbound sales techniques include: Cold calling, Paid email lists, Website popups, Flyers, Forum and search spam, Banner and display ads, TV, Radio, Print Ads, and Billboards.
In outbound sales, one uses a spray and pray model, where they hope someone who has a problem which their product or service solves will resonate with the interruption. It’s a little bit like standing in a field shooting a shotgun in the air, hoping a duck will fly by. Does it work? Yes, it does.
Now let’s look at inbound sales. Inbound sales bring leads in through content that the prospect finds valuable. Examples of inbound sales are: Blogging, SEO and SEM, eBooks and whitepapers, Podcasts, Thought leadership, Video, Nurture or drip marketing, and Social media
Inbound sales produces warm leads because the prospect has already shown interest and is trying to solve a problem. Does it work? Yes, it does.
So which one is more effective? Let’s dive into the statistics.
Did you ever buy something because a sales person called you? I haven’t and I doubt you have.
According to OpenView:
- The average sales rep makes 52 calls daily
- It takes an average of 18 dials just to connect with a single buyer
- Less than 1% of those contacted are likely to call back
- Less than 24% of sales emails are opened
What this shows is that in outbound sales, sales spend a lot of time doing things other than selling. It’s very rare to find a salesperson who likes cold calling. According to Docurated, salespeople only spend ⅓ of their time selling. Yikes!
Using Inbound sales, marketing provides sales with a steady stream of leads, so sales can spend most of their time selling.
Because outbound sales prospects don’t anticipate being sold to, outbound sales has a much longer sales cycle. Inbound sales prospects have already expressed interest in finding a solution, so they have much shorter sales cycles.
Think about it, when you are trying to solve a business problem, do you call a salesperson or do you turn to Google? According to GEB, the average buyer is 57% through the purchase decision before they contact a sales rep. And the Earnest Agency reports that:
- 9 out of 10 business buyers say when they are ready to buy, they will find you
- 81% of them start the process with a web search
This is where inbound really shines by providing engaging content for the prospects to find when they are searching. Sales cycles are greatly reduced when content is mapped to the buyer’s journey.
Take a look at the image below from Emmi. If a prospect downloaded the eBook, it is highly likely that they are looking for a patient engagement solution.
One of the problems with outbound sales is that when the cold calls and list emailing stop, the leads stop. Inbound sales are enduring.
Four years ago, I ran a medical device software company. I recently spoke to a colleague of mine who told me they are still getting leads from content we published while I was there. How many times have you done a search and in the top results there is content that is over 10 years old?
According to HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing and sales software, 54 percent more leads are created through inbound marketing versus outbound methods for a cost of 62 percent less per lead. Each year, Hubspot publishes a very interesting report on inbound sales and marketing. Here are some useful statistics from the Hubspot State of Inbound 2017:
- Inbound marketers believe in their efforts more than outbound marketers. 68% of inbound marketers and only 48% of outbound marketers classify their marketing efforts as “effective.” What’s more is that 52% of outbound marketers say their marketing efforts are “ineffective” (only 32% of inbound marketers report that).
- Inbound gives higher ROI. 46% of marketers reported that inbound marketing gave a higher ROI, while only 12% reported outbound did. However, 41% of respondents could not answer or did not know — making a case for better measurement in marketing.
- Inbound produces higher quality leads for sales. When asked which marketing tactic provides higher quality leads for the sales team, 59% of marketers responded inbound, and 16% reported outbound. (Self-sourced leads account for 26%.)
- Inbound lead generation has improved over the past year. When asked which marketing tactic provides higher quality leads for the sales team in 2015, 52% said inbound marketing. In 2016, that number grew to 59%, showing an increase in the success of inbound marketing. In terms of outbound, in both 2015 and 2015, 16% of respondents said outbound marketing tactics produced those leads, showing outbound marketing is not growing.
- Companies that published over 16 blog posts per month received roughly 3.5x more traffic than companies that published 0-4 blogs per month.
- B2B companies that blogged over 11 times per month received 3X more traffic than B2B companies that blogged 0-1 time per month.
- 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of the company’s content before talking with a sales representative.
- 96% of B2B buyers want content that has input from industry thought leaders.
- 80% of companies not meeting their revenue goals receive 10,000 monthly website visitors or less.
Does this mean that we advocate companies stop using outbound sales? Absolutely not. Outbound sales still get results. But, we do recommend using inbound sales as soon as you can and if you get good at it, your sales reps will be too busy responding to inbound leads to do outbound sales.
For more insights download our eBook.