When a company is first getting off the ground, a lot of their clients come from referrals. And even years later that’s still the case.
For those companies, adding outbound sales could lead to huge growth — but we’ve found that a lot of companies haven’t explored these channels fully, and would rather only focus on selling to inbound leads.
Here’s why focusing solely on inbound is a huge mistake costing your company millions of dollars in revenue..
Inbound vs. Outbound
I like to think of inbound leads like fishing — you throw a rod into the ocean and see which fish come to you.
Outbound is more direct — you use different tactics to pick the exact fish you want, but at the same time it can be frustrating.
Let’s jump into some pros and cons:
The Pros of Inbound Leads
When it comes to inbound leads, the customer already knows your business. They saw your website, ads, content, etc and submitted a form.
Most of the time these inbound leads are faster to close because they’ve already done research on your offer.
These people have already heard you on podcasts, seen your quora posts, or might be coming in as a referral. They know what you do and what they need.
That means inbound leads are usually the best quality when it comes to generating revenue.
Another great thing is that inbound leads qualify themselves. For us at GrowthOK, leads fill out a bunch of info on the form, and then sometimes will also ping us on multiple channels, so we know they’re going to be high value.
Recently we had a client submit a form on the site. 10 minutes later he added me on LinkedIn, and used a paid InMail to send a message.
After that he pinged me on twitter, followed me and sent another message.
This is a scenario that only happens with inbound leads.
Mixed in with these high quality leads, you’ll also see a lot of low quality leads that your sales team will need to sift through, but it’s worth it for the high quality inbound that come in.
On that note, let’s jump into…
The Cons of Inbound Leads
The main downside of having a lot of inbound leads is that you can’t pick the people that find you, and you get a lot of joke leads.
One of the ways you can fight against that is to ask qualifying questions before the call.
Rather than meeting with everyone who puts a name and email into your site, it makes more sense to send them a list of questions to get a better idea of the type of service they’re looking for — and to further qualify that they won’t waste your team’s time.
Especially in the B2B space, it’s smart to do research on each lead that comes through to find out if they’re a good fit for your offer — before you ever hop on the phone.
When it comes to SaaS apps that have a free trial, they try to make the UX as simple as possible by removing all the fields from the contact form. We don’t recommend that for the B2B space.
Rather, have more questions in the contact form — comments about the problem, asking where they heard about you, and even asking for budget are valuable fields to include in a contact form.
What we’ve found is the higher you charge per month for your product, the more information a customer is willing to give you in a contact form.
We tested this at GrowthOK— we started with first name last name only and gradually kept adding fields. Now our contact form is huge — way longer than we thought it could be, and our quality of leads is even higher.
Now that we’ve covered the glory that is inbound leads, let’s get into outbound..
Pros of Outbound Sales
We live and die by outbound at GrowthOK— we provide highly targeted qualified custom lead data for our customers, and eat our own dog food sending over 150 cold emails a day.
We love outbound for a lot of reasons, the first is that:
Outbound is predictable and scalable
Once you have an outbound system that you know works, your company will be able to predict your sales for as long as the process hold.
For example if you know that you can close a certain amount of deals in a week with X amount of staff, you know that you can always double down on that with new hires.
At that point it becomes a numbers game of trading up your growth:
“I have more leads coming in from the new SDRs, now I need to get more AEs to close the deals and upgrade clients”
Having this kind of control on your growth is amazing, especially if you’re looking to raise another round of funding — you can confidently tell investors how much growth each dollar is worth.
Inbound isn’t nearly as predictable: one week you might get 60 leads and another week you might get one. Especially during holidays and special events.
Another great thing about outbound is –
Use Outbound to test new products and services
Unlike inbound which takes weeks of content creation and social media posts before it starts working, outbound is just sending emails.
That means you can spend a few hours, build a list yourself, and send a few emails just to test if this would be a good channel for your business.
You don’t even have to use it for selling your product — use outbound to test whether or not there’s even interest in what you’re doing.
If you take a couple hours to build a list of 100 prospects and send an email to them about your product, if you get a certain amount of responses, you’ll know that your product is valid.
It’s a great way to start in the beginning because it’s free — all it takes is your time, or you can outsource the lead generation and data filtering process to us.
The other thing worth noting is that cold email tests can be valuable anytime you want to enter a new vertical or launch a new side project.
Another thing to note….
You have full control with Outbound
With outbound you can determine exactly who you’re reaching out to, the exact messaging and and the time of day they see the message.
Everything is in your control.
You can do the research on them first and make each contact and engagement fully personalized, and more direct.
This is a huge difference from inbound — rather than having to talk to any goofball who comes through the form, you’ll be able to pick your exact targets.
For example, if you’re trying to target the CEO of bank of america with inbound.. good luck.
He’ll have to find your blog post, or the whitepaper has to get passed up the chain through dozens of people just to make it to his desk.
With outbound, you can find his email and pitch him directly. You might not get a response, but at least you’re starting somewhere and building toward finding the right gatekeeper.
You could even send him the blog post directly.
Outbound forces clients to take action
If a company has seen your retargeting ads, read your blog a few times, and engaged with your twitter but still hasn’t filled out a contact form, a quick outbound email can be the perfect way to finally get them on a sales call.
Outbound is a great way to remind companies that they have seen you around and get quick results — if a person is interested, they schedule a call right away and you get demos right away.
Sending cold emails using outbound seems like the ultimate choice, but we want to quickly go over some cons as well:
Cons of Outbound
The first bad thing about outbound is that people don’t like to be interrupted. Folks don’t like taking cold calls — even if the pitch is good.
Because of that, outbound has a bad reputation in a lot of companies.
Traditionally salespeople pick up the phone and hound down on customers using the yellow pages or yelp.
Now we have cold emails, social prospecting tools, linkedin and other channels that make outbound a more unique way to create points of engagement, but the majority of people are still turned off of the concept of outbound.
Cold emails also takes a psychological toll on the people sending them out: you get personally involved with every lead. Since it isn’t like inbound where everyone is semi-interested — you might reach out to 100 people and five get back, but you still took time to craft a personal email to all 100.
Outbound is also extremely time consuming. You have to do your research, craft each email, do follow up, go back and forth, hop on the phone, etc.
There’s a lot of interaction and resources needed to do it correctly.
When you spend all that time and still don’t get responses it can be frustrating and stressful.
Is outbound right for my company?
Outbound works for a lot of industries, but not all of them.
Anything in the business to consumer space is a bad fit for sending these emails. Free mobile apps are also poor fits, because the return on investment is too low.
Make sure that you are charging a decent amount for your product, at least a few hundred dollars a month before your invest in outbound.
Outbound works incredibly well if you’re a SaaS company, services agencies, insurance, solar panels, and any other company that sells directly to other businesses.
As long as you’re able to create an account out of one of your clients that can give you a strong return over the years, then you should invest in outbound.
Of course if you’re looking to save time and focus on closing more deals, you can outsource your lead generation and data gathering process to GrowthOK