Outside Sales vs. Inside Sales. Inbound Sales vs. Outbound Sales: Has Digitalization Transformed Sales?

Digitalization has changed the way we all live today. We all now rely on smartphones as external memory sources and extension of ourselves. Talking about sales though, it would be more relevant to mention digital transformation that refers to the role technology has played in the remarkable improvement of how we are now doing our business. We all now have access to amazing tools that transmit messages faster, engage with audiences on a deeper level, and offer wider choices, ultimately generating more leads and making more sales. However, has digital transformation brought some new types of sales? Are digital sales any different from face-to-face sales? Do they need different approaches to B2B lead generation?

Whether online or offline, sales remain the same:

  • inbound sales
  • outbound sales
  • inside sales
  • outside sales

There are certain differences though. Whereas inbound and outbound sales are marketing methodologies, inside and emails rather refer to the mode of selling. 

Marketing Methodology: Inbound vs. Outbound

Outbound marketing is this type of active sales where salespeople literally come to your door and suggest you buy something from them. In the past, door-to-door salesmen used to do so. A gendered approach was discarded a long time ago and now, equipped with digital tools and methods, sales reps of any gender politely and enticingly reach out to prospects through cold emails, cold calls, display advertising, and telemarketing. Outbound sales can be present in any media, granting the ability to attract attention.

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The major features of outbound sales include (1) lack of permission (prospects are not looking for your products and services); (2) higher prices (advertising is costly); (3) an engaging nature (sometimes outbound marketing methods could even be misleading or in the very least they intentionally do not reveal all the information right away prompting the prospects to explore their landing pages and lead magnets).

Inbound marketing, in contrast, is more client-oriented. Inbound sales use content marketing to attract audiences by showcasing products and services that respond to their needs and pains. Instead of aggressive advertising, inbound marketing creates the visibility of a business’s product and values through content and SEO.

Thus, inbound sales can be characterized as (1) permission-based (prospects come across products and services they have a need in and they permit the brand to sell them their product by enrolling in a webinar or following a social media page); (2) personalized (content makers closely follow a business’s buyer personas); (3) nurturing (working through content increased brand awareness and engagement and gradually leads prospects to a purchase).

Mode of Selling: Inside vs. Outside

The difference between inside and outside sales basically lies in the distance a sales rep travels from the office. Inside sales are done right at the office when sales reps sit at their desks and reach out to prospects and follow up with clients mostly through calls and emails. Inside sales representatives do sales remotely. In contrast, outside sales happen face-to-face when sales reps set appointments and go close deals outside of the office.

Are All Types of Sales Still Valid?

Economic recessions and the latest pandemic suggest that a shift to more consumer-centric practices manifested in inbound marketing and inside sales will get with time only more pronounced. But does it mean that outbound sales are on the wane? We can now observe how customers get more independent and do not encourage businesses to spoon-feed them with advertisements and aggressive marketing. Many Internet users pay for streaming services and purchase premium accounts to shield themselves from endless ads. People massively develop banner blindness and are no longer susceptible to blinking ads. Years of Internet surfing and FB and Twitter battles taught users to quickly block and ban those who they find too tiresome or even too loud. Do outbound sales methods still work then in this context?

It is true that a new type of customer has emerged – more independent, confident, aware of their needs and desires, and in love with personalized approaches – and businesses cannot but revise their sales strategies. However, it does not necessarily imply the annihilation of outbound and inbound marketing and inside and outside sales. Now we can see each business making the most of those methodologies and strategies that work out for them. Whereas inbound and inside are closely linked, many companies have inside outbound teams.

B2B Lead Generation in Inbound and Outbound Sales

Whether you are a marketer in front of a computer crafting a blog post or you are a sales rep at a B2B call center following a cold call script, you will anyway need to generate leads first. From buying email addresses to building SEO-friendly landing pages, inbound and outbound sales methods are intrinsically opposite but they can enhance each other and even be used together.

Reading about the differences between outbound and inbound, you may think that customer-centric values of inbound marketing will displace outbound sales completely. However, outbound outreach can also inform about values. Outbound campaigns no longer use too generic templates, aiming to customize their propositions to align with buyer personas. Therefore, it is wiser not to make a choice between inbound and outbound but to leverage the benefits of both in crafting a custom-made sales strategy for your unique business.

How to Generate More Business Leads with Inbound and Outbound

It is quite obvious that both inbound and outbound marketing need (1) data and (2) technology. You can’t sell if you have no information to feed your analytical instruments. Research and hard data are at the core of your business decisions rather than only theoretical underpinnings. Multiple tools and platforms are at your service to make your informed decisions. Even business neophytes can make the most of affordable CRM options. For example, Hubspot Enterprise has a selection of free tools.

You can’t generate the best sales leads if you have no solid foundation. In terms of sales, inbound is the foundation for outbound while outbound provides traffic and engagement for inbound. With one sales method enabling the other, there is yet one factor that is equally essential for all types of sales. That’s target audience research. In times when prospects convert into clients only when they get a proposal aligned with their needs and pain points, creating target audience profiles and buyer personas is a top priority. Understanding prospects’ and clients’ motivation and desires will help you create the most personalized messages in social media as much as in email outreach.


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Should You Make a Choice?

The good news is that you shouldn’t make a choice. Only your unique set of circumstances and available options can prompt you to gather your customized set of tactics and tools. The recent changes in B2B prospects’ behavior did not signal a complete eradication of any sales method. Use inbound marketing as a foundation and outbound marketing as a method to flesh out your traffic-gathering efforts. Any change in company size, market size, priorities, and new elements will require you to fine-tune and re-adjust your inbound/outbound pattern. If you need more detailed recommendations on how to build your inbound/outbound balance, consult a professional B2B lead generation agency skilled not only in how to generate high-quality business leads but also how to build relationships with customers in person.

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