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Sales talk: should you split inbound and outbound?

October 6, 2020

Welcome to Sales talk!

Over the last few weeks, we recorded a series of conversations with sales expert, Michael Hanson. We discussed a range of topics, including best sales practices, sales trends, and the future of B2B sales.

Michael Hanson has a wealth of experience in building and managing sales teams. He has since used this knowledge to found his own company - Growth Genie. They provide long-term, hands-on sales coaching, fuelled by Michael’s dedication to robust sales processes and predictable growth plans.

Michael provides his clients with a unique and invaluable experience. Through these sales talks, we hope to share some of Michael’s insights with you.

The first conversation we had was on the topic of splitting inbound and outbound.

Scroll down to read it! 👇

Should you split inbound and outbound?

Thank you for joining us, Michael. Let’s start with the obvious. Should you split inbound and outbound?

Inbound vs. outbound is an interesting topic. It divides a lot of people in sales and marketing. I think the entire SDR role has evolved to become a lot more account-based. Account-based marketing is a huge term now. In order to be account-based, you have to mix together inbound and outbound.

Let’s take the example of a large MQL (marketing qualified lead) coming in. There will be a huge number of players involved in a deal - a Director of Sales, VP of Sales, CRO, Revenue Operations, CMO etc. There’s a huge range of people to talk to, and in this instance an inbound/outbound split doesn’t work that well. You need a more generalised approach.

I’ve actually recently done some work with some inbound BDRs, and I’ve been encouraging them to do a bit more outbound work. If they’re only speaking to one inbound lead at a company, they’re not running an account-based approach (which is what I’d recommend).

I’m definitely an advocate now of mixing inbound and outbound and having a bit of a hybrid model.

Why do you encourage an account-based approach?

You have to do it nowadays. I have a friend from Terminus called Sangram, and the software he provides is dedicated to account-based marketing. He says ‘eventually we won’t be talking about ABM - it’ll just be how we do SaaS sales.’

This is especially the case with larger companies. You’re always going to be speaking to more than one person. I’ve worked with 10-person companies before, and have spoken to every person there.

Whatever business you’re in - it’s important that you look at the bigger picture and don’t just focus on one lead.

Does this mean we will see more inbound BDRs?

The best salespeople can still do a bit of everything. The more inbound leads you get, the better. But you still need to bring in your own business.

I don’t think we will necessarily see more inbound BDRs. I think we will see salespeople who cover inbound and outbound. The modern salesperson should combine traditional and modern sales. For example, people say cold calling is dead - I think that when combined with modern technology, it can still be very effective.

So inbound and outbound should be combined by individual salespeople who generalise their skills?

I think so. Modern sales technology makes the transition from inbound to outbound very easy. You can focus on people from both pools. I think we’ll see the lines between inbound and outbound blurring, in the same way as we’ve seen with sales and marketing.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t divide all responsibility in sales teams. There won’t be one sales role which looks over the entire sales process unless you’re a startup with limited resources! The SDR still needs to be there. It’s been around for longer than people think, it was just previously known as telemarketing or telesales. If you’re not filling your pipeline you can’t succeed. That won’t change.

If you’re expecting a blurring of lines between departments and responsibilities, do you worry that this could detract from specialisation in certain areas?

I think it definitely makes some roles more demanding. Years ago, salespeople would have a single repeated task; ‘I call people’, or ‘I go door-to-door’. Now a salesperson is multi-channel. They spend time on LinkedIn, they write email copy and content. This already means salespeople have to know a bit about marketing. It also works the other way around.

This doesn’t mean you’ll lose your specialists. In the new working from home culture, you’ll start to see more consultants working remotely. We’re already seeing this. These people will be able to manage the specialist tasks, while the permanent staff have a more generalised understanding of several areas.

That’s my prediction.

Listen to the sales talk in full!

Many thanks to Michael Hanson for giving us his insights. The key takeaway? We shouldn’t split inbound and outbound. For a seamless ABM approach, the two channels should support each other.

Click the link below to listen to the full sales talk with Michael Hanson.


Get more great sales insights

We hope you enjoyed this first edition of Sales talk. We will be releasing another conversation with Michael shortly, so stay tuned!

Until then, if you’re interested in hearing from more sales leaders, check out our Outbound Prospecting Playbook. It’s full of B2B prospecting tips, from cold calling to emailing, social selling and more.

Take a look and steal a few tricks for your own sales arsenal. Get your copy here 👇

Outbound Prospecting Playbook