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While we are all aware that sales techniques have evolved over the years, it is still a fact that many of the basic principles remain unchanged. These very same foundations continue to influence the ways we interact with the intended audience and if enacted correctly, they can have a massive impact upon the overall return on investment (ROI). From a very general perspective, any type of sale can be broken down into two discrete categories:
Although each approach may appear to represent a standalone strategy, you might be interested to learn that they can also be used in synergy to produce even more impressive sales results. Before moving on to discuss this notion in greater detail, it is wise to first examine the fundamental principles associated with these methods.
As you may have already surmised, inbound sales are those strategies that require a prospect to “reach out” to the company in question before performing an action. Some would term this type of sales as a more passive form of engagement, as they rely upon action from a potential customer. Thus, marketing methods will be moulded around the attempt to elicit some type of response (such as contacting a customer service representative or signing up for an email newsletter). The main benefit of utilising an inbound approach is that customers are generally more respective from the beginning, resulting in a higher percentage of closed sales. This also helps to boost in-house productivity and motivation. Here are the typical stages of an inbound sales strategy:
Outbound sales are known for their proactive nature. Businesses will attempt to contact prospect via calls, texts, generalised advertising campaigns (such as social media posts), and automated emails. While this has sometimes been referred to as “cold calling” within the industry, targeted techniques will help to ensure that the right demographic is contacted at the appropriate time.
One major difference between outbound and inbound methods is that outbound leads tend to be less receptive to what is being offered, as they might not have heard of the product or service in the past. However, it is also possible to target a much wider demographic. Businesses will therefore utilise this approach if they are looking to expand their presence or tap into a new audience base. The stages of an outbound strategy are as follows:
As we can see, inbound and outbound techniques are quite different regarding the approaches and intended solutions. Therefore, some businesses feel that they are mutually exclusive. The good news is that both strategies can be made even more effective if used together. Let’s now take a look at how this is possible and why successful organisations are now relying heavily upon cutting-edge digital solutions.
The first point to mention involves the fact that both inbound and outbound selling share a common goal. Each is intended to target the right customers at the appropriate times. Similarly, the qualifying processes can also be similar once a prospect has first been contacted. The main difference involves how customers are obtained and this is when the power of the digital domain comes into play.
It has become increasingly common for businesses to use content marketing as an inbound selling tactic. This is an excellent way to capture potential leads, as most content marketing requires little capital to create. Now, let us assume that a handful of pre-qualified leads have expressed interest in a specific piece of content. Outbound strategies can thereafter be employed to further engage with the individuals and (hopefully) to close the deal. This information can also be collated within a centralised platform to be accessed at a later date if needed.
Furthermore, even leads who requested information but never responded can still be considered qualified to an extent (much more than randomly generated candidates at the very least). Sales professionals can thereafter follow up with these prospects to better appreciate their interests as well as to segment target demographics accordingly.
We can now begin to appreciate why a growing number of successful organisations have chosen to adopt the best of both worlds.
We are now witnessing yet another revolution within the world of sales thanks to the presence of modern technological solutions. Perhaps the most ubiquitous example can be seen in the rise of VoIP systems. These methods are excellent ways to connect with a massive target demographic. VoIP also provides much clearer communications when compared to traditional landlines. Still, this is only the beginning. Here are a handful of additional reasons why this method can work seamlessly with inbound and outbound strategies:
A final advantage of VoIP involves the fact that most third-party bundles provide a host of customisable options. Examples include (but are certainly not limited to) call forwarding, video conferencing, the ability to host webinars, and the fact that VoIP communications can support multiple users simultaneously. So, these methods are just as effective when hosting a sales seminar as they are when speaking with a potential client.
The traditional rules of sales have become blurred thanks to innovative methods and modern technological solutions. Embracing the principles associated with both is one of the best ways to maximise the efforts of any business. Thankfully, each approach is also quite flexible in terms of how it can be implemented. On-the-fly changes can be made and ultimately, this will contribute to a more balanced overall approach.
If your organisation has been struggling with its latest sales figures, the chances are high that the advice highlighted above will make a massive difference. When used in conjunction with modern VoIP solutions, the digital sky is the only limit. Please feel free to refer to this page for further inspiration when needed.
About the author
This article was written by Seamus Dunne of Conversation Piece. Seamus has over two decades working with sales professionals to improve results.