Outbound and inbound sales play separate roles in a business. Inbound is closer to account management, except these are new leads who’ve found you and want to know more.
Outbound is a completely different skillset. Often, inbound is referred to farming, whereas outbound is hunting. It is rare to have a salesperson who’s good at both. Someone will either have an account manager mindset, in which case making them ideal for inbound. Or they will be more aggressive, and so better suited to outbound activities.
Sometimes luck seems to play a role in sales. But luck isn’t something anyone should rely on for revenue. Yes, there are times when a CEO or sales leader might happen to meet the right person, or someone introduces you to a big client. However, most of the time, luck is only a happy accident of consistent effort.
Only with consistent effort will you drive your business forward and keep growing. Without a process, that consistency won’t exist, and the process needs to be separate for outbound and inbound sales teams or team members. In this article, we look at what a sales process is and how you set one up for inbound and outbound sales teams.
Why you need a sales process
When you have a process, you can measure activity.
Until you measure activity, you can’t make smart, data-backed predictions, and strategic decisions.. Without smart predictions, you will always struggle with having a clear understanding of the pipeline and therefore revenue assessments. As a result, your growth is always going to be sporadic.
Processes are also invaluable when you’ve got a significant influx of new clients. Each one will be at a different point in the sales cycle. How can you keep track of them without a process and systems? Hence the value of connecting a CRM to sales efforts. At minimum, this should include records of calls and emails, whether you’ve had a meeting or sent a pitch, thereby giving the whole team a 360 view of every prospect and where they are in the pipeline.
Something else to remember: Clients always leave, eventually. Every year, on average, e.g. 15% of clients go elsewhere, or go under, or a decision maker goes to another company. Which would mean approximately every seven years you are going to be working with completely new clients. In B2B sales, you always need to be looking for new prospects in a repeatable process to maintain a strong sales pipeline, and therefore, generate healthy revenue and profits.
Here are the essentials you need for an outbound and inbound sales process.
How to establish an outbound sales process
#1: Know your target prospect
Make sure you can answer the following questions (as a minimum):
- What sector(s) are your clients in?
- What type of company?
- Who is your buyer/budget holder? (could be more than one person in the same company)
- Where are your ideal target clients?
What sort of budget do they have?
Know who to target, and who aren’t ideal clients. Personas and target profiles, or buying in the right data is mission-critical for outbound teams. With this knowledge, you should get a clear idea how to approach them.
#2: Approach them the right way
This comes down to picking the right method, or mix of methods to approach potential clients:
- Online demo (follow-up, or straight away);
- Social media;
How you approach potential clients depends on them (preferred communication method, industry practices, and what you are comfortable with. Because getting through to a decision maker takes multiple attempts, it’s important not to give up too soon, and if you’ve got a prospect interested, stay persistent.
#3: Keep track of activities
And track potential prospects in the sales pipeline. Most companies prefer to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, whereas others stick with Excel. Either way, have something that records potential clients, the size of the deals in the pipeline, when you were in contact and action points.
#4: Repeat, consistently
Don’t wait until your pipeline has gone a little quiet.
A repeatable, consistent effort, on the part of an outbound team is what every company requires to maintain growth. Even and especially if you’ve got inbound leads too, ensure the outbound team stays busy.
How to establish an inbound process?
Inbound is a little tricker, because it depends on the size of a business and the number of inbound leads that are coming in. If you already have an outbound team and at least one account manager, then often the salesperson doing AM work can also handle inbound.
All of this is working on the assumption that leads do come in, one way or another. Or that you’ve got a proactive marketing team generating inbound leads. As the number of leads coming in increases, it might be time to create a role to specifically handle these, separating that from account management work.
An effective inbound process needs to be supported by the right tools and materials:
- A smooth and timely handover, or inflow of leads, from marketing. Leads that fall between the cracks quickly lose value. Taking longer than 24 hours to respond greatly reduces whether or not a salesperson will get any response;
- Sales enablement materials to support the sales process, from case studies to testimonials and proposal documents;
- An inbound team should have pitch and presentation documents, to ensure a demo can be done straight away - with the right tools in place, such as CrankWheel - if a prospect is interested.
- A CRM to track everything, so that the whole team has a 360 view of the deals in the pipeline.
Depending on the types of clients you deal with, every inbound function will have a slightly different process. It is unique to every company. However, a process is something that should be developed to ensure that leads are handled with the same efficiency and each is given the same chance of converting into a sale.
Whether you are managing inbound, outbound or both, sales should have a process. Sales should be data-driven when it comes to making strategic decisions, which is why having a process in place for outbound and inbound makes a team more effective.