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Inbound vs outbound: what’s better for B2B lead generation?

October 16, 2020

Inbound vs outbound - what’s the difference? That depends - how much time do you have? ⏰

Think of inbound marketing as leaving a treat out for a dog - they’ll find the treat and come to thank you afterwards! 🐶

Outbound sales, however, is much like trying to get affection from a cat. YOU must make the first move, and maybe they’ll come for a rub, maybe they’ll ignore you completely - either way, extra effort is required on your part! 🐱

So, cats or dogs? Here it is:

In B2B sales and marketing, we all want more leads, more clients, and more revenue! But which is better for B2B lead generation? Inbound or outbound? We dive right in below 👇

What's inbound? 🐕

So, what exactly is inbound marketing? Well, as the name suggests, it’s a B2B lead generation technique where your prospects come to you - and if they stay engaged with your content, hopefully, convert into customers.

Usually, the leads are drawn in by the content you’ve published or the marketing campaigns you’ve run. The main inbound channels for attracting leads are content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing.

Because inbound aims to draw people in, it’s essential to ensure that…

  • Your content is valuable and engaging.
  • Your brand is easily discoverable online.

What's the bottom line? 📈

The focus of inbound marketing for lead generation is to help clients, rather than sell to them. You must help your prospects to define, research and solve a problem. You must ensure you reach these clients in the early decision-making phase, in order to positively influence their decision.

How does inbound work? 

Inbound B2B marketing is about opening up a conversation/creating a dialogue - essentially, it’s an exchange of information between your company and a lead.

How do you open up a dialogue? 🎤

  • Publish quality content based on prospect pain points and offer solutions - not a bad knee that hurts when the weather is bad, but pain points like productivity, business growth, efficiency and support.
  • Make your content discoverable - it must be easily found online with SEO. Tie your content to keywords and search terms that your leads are searching for (you’d be surprised at what people type into Google when they’re looking for your product/service, so do your homework).
  • Share your content on the platforms that matter to your leads - in B2B marketing, LinkedIn is the place to be!

What are the benefits of inbound? 🤔

Basically, inbound is ‘reverse’ prospecting, as it’s the lead who initiates contact. There are many benefits for marketers in inbound marketing; however, the aim is to make it beneficial to your customer!

In B2B marketing, the benefits of inbound include:

  • Lower expenses (as both paid and organic marketing are used here).
  • Higher trust and more credibility between your leads and your company.
  • Increased website traffic and higher-quality leads.
  • The opportunity to nurture leads if they’re not yet ready to convert.

Inbound marketing examples 📥

So, what does inbound marketing look like in practice? Well, it’s all that brilliant content you’ve created! Here are some examples:

  • Blog posts - make them engaging, easy to read and based around keywords that your prospects will be searching for.
  • Organic social media posts - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. But as we said earlier, the big one for B2B is LinkedIn!
  • Paid search.
  • eBooks - longer-form content that answers the burning questions your leads are asking.
  • Video - create a YouTube channel for your business and develop fun and informative videos. Repurpose content from your best-performing blogs and eBooks. If you’re lucky, some of them will go viral!
  • Webinars and podcasts - invite thought leaders and influencers in your industry to participate. Build up that all-important trust and authority around your brand.

What's outbound? 🐈

Puur-haps the more traditional form of sales, outbound sales is a more proactive activity. It’s where a sales rep initiates engagement with a prospect and delivers a sales pitch to them.

Outbound is particularly important for growing SaaS sales teams. If you’re a growth-stage SaaS company, then chances are most people won’t have heard of your brand. Getting an outbound sales strategy up and running is your quickest route to generating new revenue.

How does outbound work? ❓

Outbound sales is a way of going direct to your market and pitching your product. It’s the best choice for businesses who want to generate some quick wins and grow their customer base fast.

The number one goal of outbound? To generate revenue and scale your business quickly.

What are the benefits of outbound? 🤔 

The main benefit is - it’s fast!

Outbound sales yields immediate results, allows for strategic messaging to be created, and if done correctly, results in qualified leads. Outbound enables highly-targeted outreach to your ideal customers.

Another big advantage is that your sales team will be contacting people who will be interested in your product or service, but aren’t yet aware of it. It helps you build a pipeline of sales leads in the same amount of time it takes to pick up a phone!

Outbound sales examples 📥

Outbound sales are typically more costly than inbound marketing, as the majority of the tactics involved require paid delivery systems.

So, what are they? Outbound tactics include:

  • Cold calling - an unsolicited phone call to prospects in an attempt to make a sale - ensure your scripts are topnotch to avoid being hung up on!
  • Outbound email - like cold calling, outbound email is an email sent without prior permission, with the end goal of connecting and booking a meeting. It’s considered less invasive than cold calling. If you use this method, automation is a must.
  • Social selling - researching and engaging with prospects on social media.

Which method is right for your business? 🆚

By now, you’re probably wondering “what’s best for me?” The answer is not so simple!

Determining whether inbound or outbound is best for you largely depends on your customers, business model, and your budget/ability to invest.

So, rather than pondering whether to use inbound marketing or outbound sales, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How much time do I have to execute?
  2. Who am I talking to (targeting)?
  3. Is it the right time for me to invest?
  4. Which customers do I want to target?
  5. Which is most likely to have a higher ROI?
  6. Which method aligns with the trust and credibility I’m trying to create?

However - and this is the final word…

You don’t even have to choose!

Inbound marketing and outbound sales are two separate approaches that each offer their own advantages. Using a combination of inbound and outbound allows you to merge your entire sales and marketing funnel into a single, efficient machine - working to accomplish your lead generation goals.

87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables business growth - so what are you waiting for?

If you’re an inbound marketer and you’re not seeing the results you want, invest in outbound to generate some quick wins.

If you’re an outbound salesperson and you’re not seeing quality leads coming in at the top of the funnel, invest in inbound to attract your ideal audience.

Inbound vs. outbound? The truth is...neither’s better for B2B lead generation.

You need both!

Insights for inbound and outbound 🚀

We hope you enjoyed this article - even the animal puns! Hopefully, it’s helped you reach some decisions about using inbound and outbound for your business.

If you’re after more B2B sales and marketing knowledge, then you should check out our recent eBook - B2B Prospecting: The Untapped Gold Mine.

It’s a complete manual for running both inbound and outbound at your company! Including:

  • An overview of outbound prospecting and how you can get started.
  • Top tips for cold calling, outbound email and social selling.
  • An introduction to inbound marketing - how to attract, engage and convert prospects.
  • Step-by-step guides to the main inbound channels - PPC, content and email.

No B2B SaaS leader should be without it!

Click 👇 to get your copy today.

B2B Prospecting Ultimate Guide