B2B sales is a fast-paced industry that is competitive, modernizing, and always trying to find its next edge. Innovation is key to success, and many companies have intelligently adopted the strategy of inbound marketing, that is, creating compelling content to attract customers, rather than reaching out through ad campaigns.
As with many other evolutions in sales philosophy, discussions of inbound marketing has divided the industry into two opposing camps, with many positioning inbound sales as the mortal enemy of outbound strategies such as ads, email and call campaigns. But as Inside Sales CEO Ken Krogue recently stated, relying purely on inbound leads may not always be enough to score big name accounts. In where then lies this magical middle ground? The answer can be found in refining and evolving outreach, rather than eliminating it altogether.
As Ken Krogue explained it, inbound works for some prospects because many of today’s small business buyers don't need to talk with a sales reps until they have done the research on their own and are ready to make a purchase. Inbound allows these companies the opportunity to engage with your content, and gives sales teams the trigger to go and reach this contact through nurture emails or calls. But when you're dealing with mid-size to enterprise companies, inbound is not enough.
“What we’ve found is that if you look at a typical bell curve, 70% of all the leads that come in are small. For example, we’re moving up to enterprise class companies and we have to forget about the Web bringing us those leads and have to reach out to initialize the conversation (usually through calling)”.- Ken Krogue
So how can you refine your outreach and not overly focus on one of the two strategies? The answer lies in developing strong inbound and outbound strategies that will support and complement each other, to amplify the returns of your efforts in both channels. Your inbound focus should be on creating relevant content with powerful conversion messages for all the different stages of the buyer's journey. Whereas your outbound efforts are the proactive actions taken to initialize a conversation with your potential buyers and get them to see and discuss about that content. It’s necessary to generate targeted lists of potential customers (e.g. website traffic, LinkedIn accounts, social media, or contact lists) and design personalized email and branded call campaigns to prime your prospects, drive traffic to your content, and stimulate conversations and interest.
Unfortunately, as stated above, things really aren’t as black and white as “inbound or outbound”, and you simply can't afford to sit back with only passive inbound content, hoping big accounts will just stumble onto your website. Luckily much of the outbound process is now easily automated and/or outsourced and doesn't need to be time consuming. Regardless of how the tasks get delegated, finding a balance between inbound and outbound is the best way to ensure you are reaching the widest audience possible and maximizing your company's visibility.
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