Day: May 11, 2019

Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Approach is Best for Your Global Go-To-Market Organization?

Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Approach is Best for Your Global Go-To-Market Organization?

My long-time friend, Craig Witt, recently posted the following article on Medium. He gave me permission to put it here on my site.

Most sales leaders agree that the goal of a Go-To-Market organization is to use predictable and precise approaches to engage the right decision makers in the companies they’re trying to convert.

But what is the most reliable way to find, engage and prove value to those decision makers? In debates among sales execs, two sales strategies usually wind up in the boxing ring to duke it out. In one corner: Inbound. In the other: Outbound.

These days, many sales leaders champion inbound sales strategies. The approach has its advantages, especially for offerings that appeal to wide audiences, have short sales cycles and low price points. When you need only a few touchpoints to illustrate your value and persuade a prospect to buy, inbound really shines.

But for organizations with longer sales cycles that offer high-value solutions — where the right prospect is more important than just any prospect — an outbound GTM strategy is the way to go. Here’s why.

The Shortcomings of Inbound

Outbound sales strategies deliver a level of control to the sales process that inbound can’t provide. At its simplest, an effective outbound strategy:

  • Leverages data-driven insights
  • Serves personalized outreach and content to specific personas at specific companies
  • These target companies match the sales organization’s Ideal Customer Profile
  • Rigorous processes ensure personas receive engagement and world-class content that addresses their unique concerns

While inbound enables brands to become practically omnipresent throughout a prospect’s online experience — thanks to their marketing departments’ retargeting ads, social posts and keyword-rich blog posts — their sales teams basically tread water until the prospect fills out a contact form.

The week-to-week quantity of inbound leads can fluctuate wildly, too. There’s very little predictability to when (or how many) prospects respond to an inbound organization’s content. This quickly clouds a leader’s visibility to accurately forecast the status of deals. Ultimately, a GTM team throws a lot of branded content into the wild and hopes that someone, anyone, responds.

Lead quality usually suffers as a result. When you’re casting a wide net for prospects across many channels, you can’t guarantee the quality of the fish that are dragged into your boat. Inbound leads may be from industries or markets you have no intention of serving.

Other inbound leads may simply not be a good fit for your business. Your solution may not fit their actual needs, or they may be unwilling to pay for your offering because they don’t understand its value.

And even if you do convert these disparate prospects into customers, you’ll likely face another challenge down the road. If you seek to improve your solution by soliciting their feedback, you may find yourself making changes that are informed by customers who probably don’t fit your ICP. Trying to serve customers whose needs are different from your ICP’s can dilute your solution’s value to the prospects you actually want to convert. This can sabotage your ability to scale the business.

Predictable Results Require Precise Control

With outbound, you fully control the list of prospects and personas your reps will target. You build an effective way to engage them. Once that’s in place, you can start providing them value immediately.

When properly implemented, this process is far more nuanced, direct and efficient than inbound. But closing the right deals for your organization requires research, vision and precision. Remember, you want to:

  • Sell to certain companies, not all of them
  • Engage specific personas, not everyone
  • Craft messaging that addresses a prospect’s precise concerns, not vague challenges
  • Provide valuable content that’s personalized for them

Outbound empowers you to individualize your content and outreach in granular ways: by role, company, industry and more. This personalization throughout the buyer’s journey culminates into much higher close rates.

You’ll also have much more visibility and confidence in your pipeline. Unlike the continuous uncertainty surrounding inbound’s lead quantity and quality, outbound helps you better predict the deals you’ll close in a given month or quarter.

This transparency also helps with staffing. If your outbound approach is refined, accurate and effective, you’ll always know when to hire more reps to scale your GTM organization.

Tips for Taking your Outbound Efforts Global

If your global GTM organization is considering a pivot to an outbound sales strategy, here are some next-step best practices to keep in mind:

Don’t Be Everything to Everybody: Develop your ICP and target your outreach only to companies and contacts that fit that criteria. Stay focused. Remember, when you try sell to everyone, you often don’t sell well to anyone.

Hold Your Nerve: Be willing to invest in your outbound efforts, and be patient. Successfully making the switch to outbound can take time — both to demonstrate financial return, and for your GTM team to acquire the right mindset, skills and resources.

Talk the Talk: If your GTM organization is targeting prospects in international markets, make sure your website and other key content is localized for their preferred languages. This ensures your digital channels can be highly tailored, authentic and relevant for global audiences.

Consider Localizing Your Business Approach: Also tailor your approach for the unique expectations of international buyers. Business customs vary from market to market. British marketers may be more technically savvy than their American counterparts, for instance. European B2B CMOs may have wildly different concerns than Asian CMOs. Confidently navigating these waters demands research and cultural fluency.

Conclusion

Outbound sales strategies empower you to exercise more control and creativity over the sales process. You’ll be able to proactively engage the right prospects, and deliver ongoing value with relevant, world-class content.

While the approach requires resources and a longer time to operationalize, the results are worth it. Remember, the ultimate goal of a GTM organization is to use predictable and precise approaches to engage the right decision-makers.

For low-velocity sales organizations, outbound is the best way to build credibility among prospects, and help you get, keep and grow your customer base and market share.