Inbound or Outbound Sales? Both are Important for Revenue Growth

Ed Marsh | May 4, 2022

Consistent Revenue Growth Requires Both Inbound and Outbound Sales for Industrials and Machinery Builders

Introduction to SignalsFromTheOP

Guide to episode

  1. There is no either/or - industrial manufacturers need integrated inbound and outbound efforts
  2. Less than half of the market may even be open to change on their own at any given time
  3. That requires management engagement and vision
  4. As markets become tougher, this 360 degree revenue growth approach becomes more critical

Transcript follows:

Hi, I’m Ed Marsh. Welcome to this episode of Signals from the OP. Signals is designed to put new ideas and perspectives in front of busy industrial company executives, in brief, easily digestible videos.

I’ve noticed that many industrial companies still view marketing and sales as distinct functions. This reflects the traditional organizational structure. But it’s sharply at odds with the way buyers expect to engage with a company.

This is why I’ve created the concept of Overall Revenue Effectiveness™ that’s modeled after the industrial process engineering concept of OEE or overall equipment effectiveness. The core idea is that the revenue process, just like a production line is an aggregation of steps. In production, they’re often linear. In revenue they’re chaotic. In both cases, the net result is the product of all steps. So if one of your ten production steps has high downtime and defects, it may only run at 70% efficiency. If the other nine steps are each 97% efficient, the whole line runs at a disappointing – you might say unacceptable! 53% efficiency.

The same is true in ORE™. If you only get clicked on 2% of the google searches for which you rank, only convert 2% of visitors on your site, only reach 30% of them, schedule meetings with 50% of those, create deals with 50% of those, and close 30% of deals, you’re only generating revenue from .000009% of those that your SEO put you in front of.

So we have to think of manufacturing revenue as an integrated marketing and sales function – a system. That’s why I recently talked about sales enablement, for instance.

And we also have to overcome the binary bias that pervades most industrial companies. It’s not manufacturing marketing or industrial sales. It’s not current customers or new logos, it’s not cold calls or trade shows. And it’s definitely not inbound (people who come to your site) or outbound (prospects your team identifies and creates.)

Success today requires all of it. That’s scary. And it’s a lot of work. If you’re not up for it, that’s OK. Kind of like if you don’t feel like going to work, that’s OK. It’s your choice to sit at home on the couch and eat Cheetos and twinkies. Bt if you’re going to choose success, then you have to be effective at both inbound and outbound.

What is Inbound Marketing and Sales?

So what do I mean by this distinction? Inbound sales (and marketing) refers to the people who you attract to your site via SEO based on effective content marketing, inbound links and referrals, PR, and some advertising. These people hit your site and if you’ve got a good UX, easy engagement, simple conversion (including chat), and effective automation, you’ll create some leads among groups of people who think they may need something like what you do and are trying to learn more.

We know statistically that only 3% of the prospects for any given product or service are in the market at any given time. Another 40% might not be actively thinking about it, but are open to it if their awareness can be increased. So content should speak to broad topics including industry trends, common problems, business outcomes, and, of course, the product or service you sell. But regardless of how perfect your content, SEO, and site experience are, you’re only reaching about half the market at best.

What is Outbound Sales?

Outbound sales refers to B2B Sales reps doing basic sales stuff – prospecting. Picking up the phone – yes, the phone, today in 2022, in a digital age, for your complex high ticket product, and making prospecting calls. It means networking, social selling, email, speaking at events, creating partnerships, and more. And the complexities of today’s markets mean that you need sales operations and marketing operations to support this work.

Your sales force must be trained and coached to high levels of proficiency in outbound sales process and techniques, and they must be held accountable to activity metrics in many cases. For those who are disciplined, at least accountable to pipeline attributable to outbound sales.

Here’s where ORE kicks in. That outbound effort must rely on marketing for solid market research, competitive marketing, data sources, technology, copywriting, sales enablement content, and automation to work efficiently.

On the inbound side, marketing needs to connect visitors to sales quickly to turn conversions into meetings rather than orphan leads. And sales need tools and training to help them sell a very different sort of lead than those they identify with outbound prospecting or meet at trade shows.

This places demands on management. You must lead this effort, socialize and reinforce the requirement for comprehensive omnichannel approaches, and hold people accountable. You’ve got to ensure that you have the right sales talent, management, training, and coaching. And you must model the accountability that you expect others to manifest.

And of course, you have to provide adequate resources and build a culture that celebrates marketing and sales integration and mutual successes, in addition to individual achievement and embrace of the integrated effort. Great companies work inbound AND outbound in parallel, rigorously and consistently.

Now here’s a final caveat. As I record this in May of 2022 I’m hearing from most companies that they’re selling as much as they can make. So it may not be a compelling message today. But we both know that a time will come when things turn, and I hope that you’ll hear an echo of this discussion when that time arrives. Success in challenging markets will require strong performance in every aspect of your revenue growth system. That means inbound marketing and sales, along with outbound sales in concert.

I’m Ed Marsh. Thank you for joining me for this episode of Signals from the OP. If you enjoyed it, please share it and subscribe – either to my YouTube channel EdMarshSpeaks.TV or at the related blog