How Inbound Sales Blew Outbound Sales Into Last Century

by          8 min read

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...and 4 Key Differences between Inbound and Outbound Sales Strategies

Sales people have had a place in our society since the 1800’s when “snake oil to heal your pain” was pushed on the First Continental Railroad. Since then, we have found ways to alter and manipulate the theory or process of sales strategy based on the type of product or time in our country. For example, during the Depression, door-to-door mood selling was a strategy that preyed on the emotions of the poor and desperate to sell bibles.

All these modes of selling are essentially encompassed under one overarching theme: outbound sales strategies, otherwise known as seeking potential customers in a sea of people.

Even with all the pre-call prep you do when creating your target list (industry, employee count, company revenue, location), you are still interrupting their day, praying you get the right person on the phone and fighting past gatekeepers until you find the right contact. THEN, you have to explain who you are, what you do and why they need your service but never knew it! Yikes.

Inbound-Sales-Help

As time passed and the internet grew to be an essential part of our daily lives, consumers became overly educated. Buyers now know exactly what they want and how much they are prepared to spend on it. That takes a lot of old school sales strategies right out of the competition, especially those that tell consumers what they should want.

I don’t know about you, but if you tried to tell my 21-year-old sister what shoes she SHOULD be wearing, she would tell you exactly where you can go, then she’d be damn sure to right a negative review on Yelp, your Facebook page, her Facebook page and anywhere else she can make an impact. Consumers do not want to be TOLD to do anything anymore, they want guidance and reassurance.

Inbound sales methods take a completely different approach to selling.  

We wait. We wait for them to come to us. (I know, can you even believe it?!)  

What’s even better is that when consumers do raise their hand to talk with you, they already have a pretty good idea of what they want. They just need your help and a little human contact to ensure they’re making the right decision.   

Now for the reason what you came…

The 4 Key Differences of Inbound versus Outbound Sales:

(And how you can begin walking and talking inbound sales with your organization)


Warm vs Cold Calls

A prospect is still a prospect no matter what sales strategy you use, but a warm prospect call is so much cuddlier. From an inbound standpoint, you, the sales person, are making a phone call to someone who:

  1. Is nosing around on your website
  2. Downloaded your content (like an ebook or whitepaper)
  3. Actually filled out a form that said they wanted to talk to a sales person!
  4. Already called you (yeah, if you are doing inbound sales right, that actually happens!)

Compare the above to a typical outbound sales strategy, which includes going through a book of lists, Googling businesses, dusting off an old list in your CRM tool or old fashioned networking. With all of these, you are literally disrupting everyone’s day by calling or emailing them to tell them why they need your services (even if they don’t know it yet.)

I would much rather talk to someone who already knows my brand’s name, what I do and what kind of help they need.

Buyer’s Journey

With a typical inbound strategy, there’s an entire marketing team and process based on your buyer personas, their journey and what content they are getting at what time. So, what exactly does that mean for the sales team? Your marketing team is so well educated about where the buyer is in their decision to make a purchase, that the conversation becomes elevated and specific.  


Its not selling anymore. It’s helping.  

Oubound sales is still worlds away from this level of efficiency! You have NO idea if the prospect has an issue, let alone one that can to be solved by you. You have to break through so many barriers before you even discover who you should be talking to, that your message can get lost in translation. And forget sending an informational packet. That’s just a fancy coaster on the wrong person’s desk until it gets thrown out. (Save a tree, don’t send a packet.)

Disruptive vs Educated

“Hi, Ms. So-and-So, the reason for my call today that many of my clients in x industry have found significant value in blah blah blah” (they stopped listening minutes ago.) If you’re making these horrible calls and actually got transferred to the right person, you would still only get access to their voicemails.  

Sound familiar? This outdated outbound sales strategy used to be how I functioned as well. It was all I knew, and I did it every day for a decade!

Thankfully, I now work at a top-notch, award-winning, inbound agency that sees the value in practicing what we preach, allowing our leads to come to us. Now, every person I talk to knows what they need and is educated about it. They understand what we do, even if it is at a very minimal level. But the BEST PART is that they see me as a guide, helping them make the best decision for their business. I’m not a pushy salesperson, I’m their trusted advisor.

Pain and Fit

Traditionally, all you really had to consider with an outbound strategy was fit. Does this prospect check the boxes on my list like revenue, industry, location, etc.? You couldn’t gauge whether they were actually experiencing pain or a problem until you took the lengthy trip down gatekeeper way and finally got to your final destination contact. It’s as tricky as waking up in the middle of the night in a dark hotel room and knocking your shin on a chair you didn’t know was there! It's tough to navigate and always ends in pain.

Part of the beauty of an inbound strategy is you can lead with pain! You can discover where your prospect has been on your site. What articles are they reading? What emails did they open? Where are they spending time on your website? These answers, along with your knowledge of the customers point in the buyers journey, arms you with all the tools you need to help diagnosis their pain and see if they truly are a good fit for you! Then, your sales team gets to spend more time helping people who need it instead of looking for that needle in a haystack.

Wrapping it Up

If you couldn’t tell, I am saying that outbound is dead! It’s a headache and a shit storm to navigate. And tt has your sales team running in circles just to get a first meeting.

So don’t do it!

Pause and take a moment to evaluate how you’re currently doing things and if it is effective. And then really look, because yes, if you make 100 phone calls, you will eventually close a deal. But what if you only have to make 15 calls to close one deal? The odds will be much more in your sales team’s favor if you implement an inbound marketing and sales strategy, then focus on getting greater conversions for your sales team.

Not sure where to get started? This article we wrote is a great place to start.  

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