Content Marketing

What Is The Difference Between Inbound Vs Outbound Sales?

by Tom Buckland Updated On May 16, 2019


Inbound Vs Outbound Sales - Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Digital marketing is pretty much all about the balance. And that is pretty much all that we need to keep in mind while discussing the difference between inbound and outbound sales.

Inbound sales marketing is a common method businesses use to get new clients through the door.

The problem is not all businesses look beyond this technique. They see through ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ glasses.

To grow further, you need to be using outbound sales strategies.

But let me clear.  I’m not calling for outbound strategies to replace your existing inbound tactics.

If you don’t, you could potentially be missing out on loads of revenue that could take you, and your business, to the next level.

By the end of this post, you will see why you need to be using both inbound and outbound sales strategies in a perfect balance to get the most out of every marketing dollar.

A good place to start tackling the inbound vs outbound sales dilemma is understanding what each of those actually mean.

What Is Inbound Sales? (Inbound Sales Definition)

Look the definition of inbound sales up and you’ll end up with half a dozen really confusing answers.

Let me make things simpler for you:

Inbound sales is everything you do to take care of incoming customer queries. Inbound sales – unlike outbound sales – is extremely personalized, and more about addressing individual lead’s pain points, requirements and expectations. 

As you can see, the inbound and outbound marketing difference stems not from the end results but the way each phase of customer acquisition is handled. Inbound marketing places an enormous importance on the way your lead flow is optimized so that there are no missing links, no too-high-to-climb steps that can push a potential sale away.


Advantages Of Inbound Sales


1. Inbound Sales Are More Easily Pushed Through.

The main attraction to inbound sales is that your customers already know what they will be getting from your business.  Client referrals, visits to your website, blog posts or articles will have gotten your business noticed.

They will have done their research and will already know how you can help.

If you need further inbound lead acquisition strategies, we have done a complete article dedicated to exactly this.


2. Inbound Leads Are Pre-sold.

Every inbound lead has chosen you to solve their pain points. In other words, all inbound leads are inherently pre-sold, further reducing the amount of resources you need to invest in order to turn them into sales. I had briefly touched this point while discussing B2B internet marketing strategies.

When an inbound lead comes to you, they fill in forms that require them to tell you what they need before any other form of communication.

This is great because they will either qualify for what you are looking for with minimal effort, or they won’t.  There is no need for further phone calls, emails, etc to find out what they are after.  Converting these leads to sales is often a lot easier.

The best leads will even go that extra mile after they’ve filled in that initial enquiry form.  They will follow up on different platforms, letting you know how interested they really are.  These are clients you should be taking on before anyone else.

As a result, every inbound lead that you successfully convert adds nicely to your bottom line, making your ROI reports look prettier.

Needless to say, you need to put in a great deal of efforts to smoothen every twist and turn in the buyer’s journey – aka conversion rate optimisation. If you require further conversion rate optimisation recommendations, HQ SEO offer this as part of our SEO marketing campaigns.

But with these high quality leads come the low quality leads.  This is one of the major disadvantages of using an inbound strategy and one of the important points that add weight to the whole inbound sales vs outbound sales difference debate.


Disadvantages Of Inbound Sales

While chalking up any inbound marketing methodology, you need to weigh the disadvantages of inbound sales in perspective with the advantages we just discussed.

Inbound sales strategies do not give you control of what leads can contact you.

To avoid as many low quality leads as possible, ask them a series of questions that will filter out potential clients from the junk.  This isn’t being harsh, it’s being selective. Quite often, this can help you bring your inbound sales strategy to a level from which the inbound vs outbound sales discussion can move to the inbound AND outbound symbiosis that we keep advocating.

Ask for as much information as you need to filter the good from the poor.  If that means you include a question about their budget, or how they heard about you, then so be it. (This has another analytics advantage as it lets you minimize direct traffic).

They need to fit the profile of clients you want.  One lead that doesn’t fit your portfolio may be perfect for someone else.

And for the smaller businesses, you may have a smaller marketing team.  This may eat up a lot of time producing the content that will attract visitors to your business.

Plus, keeping track of how your inbound sales campaigns are doing without a budget for an analytics tool will be particularly difficult.

So as you can see, while inbound sales methods can be effective, they can also be limiting business growth.

This is where outbound sales methods come in.

I will briefly describe what they are and then explain their advantages.


What Is Outbound Sales? (Outbound Sales Definition)


The key inbound vs outbound sales difference lies right here.

Where inbound sales require coming to you, outbound sales require you reaching out to them.

Not all inbound and outbound sales channels are made equal – as you’ll find out once your strategies ‘age’. One of the most common outbound sales strategies is cold calling.


Yes, when you get cold called, it can be extremely frustrating.  But the reason it’s done is because when you contact the right people, it is very effective.

At this point, the difference between inbound and outbound sales calls should be fairly obvious – inbound sales calls are all about addressing the pain points, while outbound sales calls are all about prospecting.


Advantages Of Outbound Sales

1.  YOU Decide on your Clients.

Most of what we said about the disadvantages of inbound sales was around not being able decide who can contact you.  This is obviously a big problem. In the inbound vs outbound sales context, this becomes an automatic positive for outbound sales.

With outbound sales, you have complete control over your client base.  You are able to personalise your outreach to the client in question.

This approach means you don’t have to spend time scrolling through your emails, get excited you’ve got a new lead and end up deleting it.  You won’t have to deal with the disappointment of attracting another bad lead.


2.  Get a feel for new products hassle free.

Where inbound requires takes long time to produce good content, outbound sales does not get affected by this problem: you send the communique (emails, articles or cold calls) whenever you see fit.

After enough replies, you will be able to get a sense of how this service or product will do if it becomes available to the wider market.

If the general consensus it that it’s good, then you go ahead and launch.  If not, it’s back to the drawing board with no harm done.

And best of all. you haven’t blown your budget!  All it’s cost you is time to get valuable information and feedback. Having the luxury of doing so is a great attribute that marks prominently the inbound and outbound marketing difference range.


3.  It can be scaled easily.

When you have found a working method, outbound sales can be scaled up with relative ease.

If you know that you are able to get clients to sign on the dotted line by yourself, imagine the growth if you brought in an employee or two?

You will be able to contact even more leads which means more potential replies which results in more potential sales.

You can free up your time to focus on meeting your business goals while your sales and marketing teams continue to expand your client base.

The ability to control how your business grows lies with you.


Digital PR As An Effective Outbound Marketing Strategy

Digital PR is one of the most power outbound marketing strategies present today. In some ways, it lets you transcend the whole inbound vs outbound sales narrative by clubbing the best of both worlds: you get to send out a mass-communication to a highly targeted demographic while also boosting your inbound marketing strategy with SEO benefits. Here’s more about what it really takes to build an effective digital PR strategy.

In terms of ROIs and speed/ease of outreach, digital PR is much more effective than traditional PR. At HQ SEO, our digital PR services are designed to help you benefit from our seasoned and curated network of media houses and publications to help you put the word out there.

To know more, feel free to get in touch.

Encourage Conversations, Create Trends, Break Paths, Be Known, Be Followed - For All the Right Reasons.

Think, Plan, Execute & Track - We Do It All for You.

How Do You Like the Sound of Dozens of Backlinks from Multiple Popular Media Websites?

Collect More Leads. Generate Deeper Engagement. Drive More Sales.

Benefit from Our Phenomenal Industry Contacts & Outreach Connections.

Deliver Your Key Messages to Audiences of Your Choice - Broad & Short.

PR Hits & Features That Make A Difference.

Find Out How Your Business Can Run Affordable, Well-Optimised Digital PR Campaigns That Pay for Themselves.

Get In Touch


4. Outbound sales create marketing qualified leads.

When you send a cold email out to a prospect, they may not respond initially.

This does not mean they are not interested.  What is likely to happen is they will check your website out to see you are who you say you are.

Without them realising, they have done an organic search on your company.  The more organic traffic, the more that Google will recognise your relevance so you will rank better.


With all pros come cons.  While outbound strategies are extremely effective in increasing your number of sales, there are few drawbacks that further reshape the inbound vs outbound sales debate.


Disadvantages Of Outbound Sales

1. It can be annoying.

Like we said earlier, people generally don’t like to be interrupted by someone trying to sell them something.  Even if you have the perfect pitch, a cold call can sometimes be enough to put them off.

This is probably why you haven’t used an outbound strategy – you don’t want to gain a bad reputation.

Outbound sales have evolved to the use of emails.  They prove more effective in getting leads but can be just as annoying.  It’s not difficult for them to just hit the delete button if you catch them at a bad time.

The inbound outbound sales difference plays itself out only as far as your marketing strategies allow it to. In other words, inbound vs outbound sales are always limited by the effectiveness of your campaigns. In this context, running an extensive yet highly targeted email marketing campaign is what really unlock the benefits of outbound marketing without entering the ‘intrusive’ territory.

To request an email marketing proposal, write to us here, or scroll down to the bottom of this page.


2. It requires a lot of time

The last thing a prospect wants to see is a generic sales email.  They will take one look and send it straight to the recycle bin.

These emails must be tailored to each client.   A lot of time is needed to personalize an email, even with a template.

If you don’t get a response from the first outreach, even more time is lost in creating a follow up second/third email.


Inbound vs Outbound Sales: Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Sales

Here’s a quick visual overview of inbound sales vs outbound sales.

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing - Inbound Sales Vs Outbound Sales Difference - Comparison Inbound Vs Outbound Sales

So now that you know the ins and outs of inbound and outbound strategies, how does using both methods increase conversions?


Inbound And Outbound Sales Channels Make Your Content Assets Work.

Inbound vs outbound sales is all about the relative benefits and drawbacks, as we’ve discussed so far. But there are more things in common in both these marketing strategies than you think.

For example, inbound and outbound sales channels let you create, distribute and put to great use content assets that are A) required (searcher intent), B) useful (utility factor).

When the prospect inevitably questions you, you can put their fears at rest by relying on your content.

As part of their thought process, quick and knowledgeable responses turn you into an authoritative figure.

If they take a further interest in what you’re saying, point them in the direction of your content so they can see it for themselves.


Improved Conversions: The Heart of Inbound vs Outbound Sales and Marketing

Having both strategies as part of your marketing campaign means outbound conversions will increase.  Content you have produced as part of your inbound sales methods will likely convince a potential client.

If you include these content pieces as part of your outreach strategy, you don’t fall into the trap of sending empty promises.

By identifying what clients will benefit from your services, you can target those needs specifically.

Including a relevant content piece will show:

  1.  You know what they need and how to solve it,
  2.  You have expertise and authority in the field.

Offer your value up front and the sales process will complete in a much quicker fashion.


Inbound And Outbound Marketing Strategies For Your Business

Decide on who you want as clients

There’s no point weighing the inbound vs outbound sales differences if you don’t know what your ideal customer looks like.

You need to be able to identify characteristics of a prospect that will serve you as a good client.  Be selective and take your time.  You shouldn’t be rushing to take anyone on board.

As part of this process, come up with how you are going to approach each client.  The more familiar you are with your sales process, the easier it becomes to get clients.

Have a clear idea of who you want to be associated with and stick to it.


Indirectly solve their problems

I really don’t mind reiterating this: at the end of the day, you wouldn’t care about inbound vs outbound sales, as long as you get sales.

The more effectively you handle the leads generated by inbound marketing, the better it is for outbound marketing, and vice versa.

Create content that shows off your expertise and also provides solutions to problems businesses face in your field.


Great Content Boosts Conversions!

Relevant, shareable and valuable content assets keep giving you returns in the long run. Your customers don’t just want to read/hear you brag – they want to know that you understand their pain points AND you have the expertise to provide a solution. Here’s how our 360-degree content marketing services help you do just that.


Optimise your sales pitch (Beyond the Obvious Narrative).

Blend together both inbound and outbound sales strategies into the perfect sales pitch.

Keep your initial outreach email short and to the point.  The person reading won’t have time to read paragraph after paragraph.

Request that they read an article or watch a video that you have produced that solves their problem.  Link it back to your website to give you the best chance of turning that visitor into a lead.



Your email may be disregarded or not get noticed.  Not to worry.

Retargeting is one of the most powerful advertising methods out there.  In a nutshell, retargeting is when adverts are shown to prospects that have visited your website but did not convert to a lead or sale.

The content that you used in your outreach email should also be used as part of the retargeting campaign.

Keep your campaigns as specific as possible to the relevant audience.


A Wild, Rudderless Marketing Campaign = Failure

Points to consider while creating buyer personas in inbound and outbound marketing strategies:

  1. Demographic details – age, location, gender.
  2. Personality traits – buying patterns, interests, dislikes.
  3. Cross-over identifiers – if they like this, they may like that.


Moving Forward

If you’re not using both inbound and outbound sales strategies, you won’t make as many sales as those who do.

Now that you understand the benefits, take action now.  Get started on creating the best sales process that combines both techniques to create an edge over competitors and increase your revenue.

If you have any further questions, feel free to get in touch with us at HQ SEO.


About Tom

Hi, I'm Tom, Founder & Director of HQ SEO. I live and breathe SEO. I hope you enjoy my findings. Interested in SEO?
Let's Connect.

Get More Clicks & Higher Rankings

Get in touch to see how we've helped rank over 100+ clients worldwide, generating tens of thousands of leads and millions in additional revenue using smart inbound marketing strategies.

Get my free proposal

We Help Our Clients Make More Money

Get my free proposal