Inbound v Outbound Sales: Corona Virus has won the argument

Now is not the time for selling they say. Now is the time for compassion and empathy. For caring about your customers and potential customers alike. If you are a proponent of Inbound v Outbound Sales its likely that was always the case. But now, even the most hardcore of outbound business are having to work this way too.

 Inbound versus Outbound Sales

First off, what’s the difference between the two? You might not even realise there is a difference, no matter which ‘side’ you stand. It’s more a philosophy really. And here is a simple way to look at it.

Outbound sales is about reaching out and at a fundamental level, interrupting a potential prospect in going about their day and demanding they pay attention to you and your sales message. Advertising, direct mail and what became spam email are good examples.

There is a lot of good to ‘outbound’ selling too, but in the main its picked up a pretty bad reputation. They are those calls you get at home you don’t see to get off, and the ‘chuggers’ you see on the street with a clipboard. And of course, those emails. All the emails….

Inbound v Outbound Sales on the other hand works with ‘incoming’ leads more so, and works to create more of these same ‘inbound’ types of leads. This is leads that are from people already interested in your product, and probably having done some research, are closer to the point at which they will be looking to buy.

Why is it still an argument?

Inbound selling makes sense doesn’t it? So much so, you might ask why anyone practices anything other than Inbound sales anyway! There are a number of reasons for this.

  • Businesses slow to adapt to the ‘new’ ways people buy online
  • Business that don’t track their effective closing ratios and so are unaware of the increasing benefits of an Inbound approach
  • Salespeople stuck doing things the only way they know how.
  • Businesses that think people don’t buy their products online

And so on. It’s mostly driven by a lack of a catalyst for change in their organisation.  The other day I spoke to a client (a massive business) who genuinely believed their customers didn’t use the internet…

Like people, most businesses won’t change unless there is a great deal of pain involved. Or put another way, until it becomes impossible to not change because of circumstance or the environment in which they trade.

Enter Corona Virus stage left…

As well as many horrible things we won’t go into here, Corona Virus, or specifically the Covid 19 strain that seems to have stopped the world in a mere three months is a massive catalyst.

It has brought with it, unimaginable changes to the way we live, love, work, consume content, and especially shop. Some feel some of these changes are not going to reverse when we come back out of the other side (pray that’s as soon as possible)

People are finding the benefits of digital technology in numbers like never before. Internet traffic is up, Video conferencing traffic is up, News sites have higher audiences etc. And everyone, business or person is having to invent new ways to cope and do things we have all previously taken for granted.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Can’t meet with friend for a Friday evening drink? Get on ‘House Party’ and have a virtual evening out without leaving the sofa. Got an important meeting with a client that can’t be put off? Jump on a ‘Zoom’ call. We are online and using on demand tools like never before.

And that’s the key word. On demand – Or Inbound.

No wants to be sold too right now. Hell, not many of us are comfortable selling! But its true to say people are still buying. Buying what Mark Schaefer calls ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ products for sure, but still buying. Things like food, and the basics to get us through are more important than ever.

We feel a bit uncomfortable with companies that are trying to sell right now, without paying attention to tone and context. And woe betide anyone we feel is trying to ‘cash in’. Cue massive brand damage for those guys.

The Antidote to Outbound Selling

The antidote to this ‘outbound’ focus is the Inbound methodology. Look to serve your customers, especially in terms of helping them understand what you have to offer and how it works. But on their terms. Offer video Q and A, eBooks, White Papers, interviews etc to deliver rich experiences for your customer to help them find their way through the funnel.

Convert interest into leads you can nurture over the period of your sales process and having had people ‘opt in’ to that process, be sure your communications are going to be well received.

And vitally right now, create advocates of your current customers, they are the best marketing you’ll ever get. Online reviews, positive social media coverage and great customer service case studies all count towards that inbound experience.

If you’d like to find out more about Inbound Selling and how to move to a more customer focussed approach, get in touch with us now!


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Tony Dowling

FCIM | HubSpot Platinum Partner | Revenue Consultant | HubSpot Certified Trainer | South Wales HUG Leader | | 07812 582213

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