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Winning Inbound and Outbound Sales

Improving win rate

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richardsonsalestrainingOctober 8, 2018Article

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Inbound vs Outbound Sales

The primary difference between inbound sales and outbound sales is the origination of the lead. Inbound sales begin when a lead comes from a potential customer reaching out to your organization to inquire about a product or service. Outbound sales are the result of a prospecting effort to a potential customer who has not yet expressed interest in a product or service offered by the organization.

The marketing team is responsible for generating inbound sales.  They should work on providing timely information, thought leadership, and visibility in target markets.

Outbound sales prospecting is usually the responsibility of the inside sales or business development team and the individual sales professional, with some demand generation responsibilities like building target lists of contact information being shared with the marketing and sales leadership team.

Inbound sales leads are often referred to as "warm leads" because the prospect has actively expressed an interest in the product or service offered by the organization.  Sales professionals have more information and context about the customer's need and are therefore better able to prepare for the inbound sales conversation.

However; sales professionals should not assume that every inbound sales lead is ready to convert. Many inquiries are exploratory in nature, without real intent to move forward in the buying process, others might be uninformed queries where the customer's challenge does not align with the solution offered by the company.

Outbound sales leads are often harder won, but they should not be undervalued.  They help sales professionals expand their network and their market.  Since the target is internally identified the qualification process is often simplified.

Building Strong Inbound & Outbound Sales Strategies

Every sales organization should have a unique strategy and process for how they qualify, engage, and convert both inbound sales and outbound sales opportunities. The classic elements of a good strategy should be applied to both your team's inbound sales strategy and its outbound sales strategy.  These elements include:

  • Strategic Goals: Specify the organizational goals tied to your inbound and outbound sales strategy.  The strategic goals may differ and overlap for each effort but be specific in order to ensure your entire team understands the greater importance of their efforts for the organization as a whole as well as the sales organization.
  • Formal, meaningful, and reasonable KPIs: Define the performance expectations that will guide the team's efforts these KPIs should support the achievement of the established strategic goals.
  • Role Assignment: Determine who is responsible for managing performance against the established KPIs and who will be supporting those efforts.  At times a role assignment might require collaboration across departments.  Communicate the needs of the project to external stakeholders.
  • Tools: Identify the tools that you will need to support the inbound sales process and outbound sales process within your organization.  In some cases, you might be able to use existing tools, in others, you might need to purchase or build new tools to support specific efforts.  Think through all of the tools you will need in order to set your sales professionals up for success.
  • Process: Establish a formal process and outline the steps each sales professional will follow in pursuit of an inbound or outbound sales
  • Reporting: Determine how your team will report out on performance against KPIs and how often you will report.  The reporting cadence is likely to differ across KPIs so be sure to solidify a complete reporting plan ensuring that the reports provide timely and actionable insights to improve performance.
  • Methodology: Define the methodology and skills your team will employ to pursue inbound and outbound sales Ensure that the methodology supports the defined process and the team has the right tools in place to practice the prescribed methodology effectively.
As your team works through each element of the strategy a path towards success in both inbound sales and outbound sales will become clearer.

Inbound & Outbound Sales Best Practices

The attention of customers and prospects is frequently fragmented across internal priorities and competitive pressures. Competition has led to a marketplace characterized by pricing pressures, short schedules, and aggressive procurement practices. To be successful sales professionals don't need to be louder; they need to change their pitch.

Effective sales professionals research the prospect to make their message resonate. This preparation is especially important for having meaningful conversations, not just more conversations. To better execute sales conversations during inbound sales calls or outbound sales calls keep these key concepts in mind:

Uncomplicate the Conversation

Simple messaging sells.  Inbound and outbound sales professionals need to learn how to keep their positioning succinct. This helps their buyers move the sale forward.

Sales professionals can uncomplicate the conversation by:

  • Encouraging the customer to develop a positive “gut feeling” about you by crafting your message around positivity.
  • Leveraging a point of connection to help ignite a conversation that broadens the customer’s thinking.
  • Underscoring how others in the same industry have adopted the solution with successful results.

Articulate Your Place in the Customer’s World

Customizing messaging to ensure that it resonates with the buyer's specific needs is a powerful way to position a differentiated value statement. To customize the value of a solution to address the buyer's specific needs a sales professional should:

  • Develop a message articulated clearly and briefly that doesn’t rely on jargon or lofty vocabulary
  • Cite previous successes within the same industry demonstrating transferable results
  • Include implementation in the discussion to demonstrate that you represent a partnership, not just a product
  • Consider the customer’s words when deciding what outcomes to underscore in your discussions

Coalesce Support Among Decision Makers

Groups make buying decisions today; therefore, sales professionals need to coalesce support among multiple stakeholders and ensure that they are communicating with the entirety of the buying team.  To build support among multiple stakeholders inside and outside sales professionals should ensure that they:

  • Uptier in a manner that is respectful of the primary contact
  • Handle resistance not with defensiveness, but with insights that prompt the customer’s thinking
  • Respect the customer’s need for autonomy by helping them make decisions
  • Compound success with a referral strategy that leverages previous wins
If you would like to enable your sales professionals with the inbound and outbound sales tips and skills to successfully pursue new business opportunities with existing or new customers, please contact us today.
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