Outbound vs. Inbound Lead Generation & The Importance of Funnel Activity

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This blog post aligns with the themes of our Growth Evaluation; an intuitive tool which allows you to quickly uncover the areas of strength and weakness in your sales & marketing organizations. Click Here to learn more or take the Growth Evaluation. 


Contributed by: Rafael Matusiewicz, Analyst

The process of effectively generating leads, prospecting clients and closing sales requires the alignment and integration of:

  • Lead qualification and target market strategies
  • Outbound and inbound sales and marketing efforts
  • Consistent lead management from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel

Qualifying Leads and Target Market

Lead management enables sales reps to produce consistent results while hitting monthly metrics. But, if the same sales team does not effectively qualify their leads and identify their target market, the opposite will hold true. An ineffective lead management strategy leads to a shotgun, or ‘spray and pray’ approach. Therefore, sales managers should ensure that their team is completely aligned with the lead generation strategy, lead qualification criteria and the target market and buyer persona of the business.

A simple, yet effective way of performing this is by providing the team with a document that indicates the:

  • Target Market
  • Buyer Persona(s)
  • Demographics
  • Company Size by either Revenue or Employee Count (or both)
  • Individual Income (if B2C)
  • Size of Market
  • Outbound and Inbound Strategies and Tactics
  • Results from Qualified Leads vs. Unqualified Leads

This document will then serve to layout a clear understanding of the lead qualification process, which in turn will drive efficiency into the lead management process, creating of a healthy funnel.

After the leads are qualified, the sales team is ready to reach out and begin filling the top level of the sales funnel. The top level of the sales funnel represents successful lead generation activities. A great sales team will combine, integrate and harmonize both outbound and inbound lead generation efforts to fill and move prospects through the funnel.

Outbound Lead Generation

The process of outbound, or push sales, refers to going out, finding, pitching, and closing the client/customer. Though effective, this method of lead generation is difficult and often requires sales reps to step outside of their comfort zone. Outbound lead generation methods include:

  • Direct Messages
  • Email
  • Networking Events
  • Cold Calls
  • Door-to-Door

Effective sales managers ease this learning process by providing scripts for calls, messages and emails, while continually coaching, setting goals, and implementing a compensation plan that aligns all parties with the organizational wide growth strategy. To learn more about aligning incentive compensation to corporate strategy click here.

Inbound Lead Generation

Buyers are more educated than ever before. Buyers have access to customer and market insights, social media, product reviews, and instant access to competitor prices. Therefore, organizations today require a combination of outbound and inbound lead generation strategies to draw attention to their products or services. Inbound lead generation is referred to as a pull strategy, and encourages interested parties to make their purchase intentions known to the organization.  

“B2B customers today progress more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before ever engaging a sales representative.” Erskine, Forbes Magazine (2017)

With the majority of the buying process occurring online, it is critical that the marketing team establish the following for a successful inbound lead generation and marketing funnel:

  • Website: integrated with a robust SEO strategy, and includes calls to actions and lead capture devices (such as “Contact Us” forms).
  • Engaging Content – blogs, social media posts, videos and infographics
  • Exclusive Content – webinars, e-books, presentations, and demos – often “hidden” behind lead capture devices

When creating an inbound strategy, the marketing leader should indicate measurable KPI’s that will provide an accurate ROI to the inbound efforts. When lead generation activities are harmonized between inbound and outbound efforts, the sales team and marketing team are empowered to work hand-in-hand. In turn, this aligns both departments for maximum impact. 

Importance of Funnel Activity

The sales funnel requires maintenance, nurture, and upkeep. A healthy sales funnel directly correlates to organizational growth. 

Building the Sales Funnel

The sales funnel flows from top to bottom, from prospects through to satisfied clients. As mentioned above, the top of the funnel represents the coldest leads (prospects), while the bottom represents the hottest (clients/finalists). Each stage in the progression through the funnel represents leads that are progressively more likely to purchase. Inevitably, leads fall out of the sales funnel at every stage. 

Implementing Sales Leads into CRM

Once a lead is generated and qualified, the sales rep should immedietly input the lead into the CRM system. The lead should be clearly defined, providing all the required information, notes from the conversation, and source of the lead.

Tip: to maintain a healthy funnel and sales process, employees should work their way down from the hottest leads to the coldest, before then qualifying leads once again. This not only creates a higher probability of closing sales, but also keeps a natural flow in the sales pipeline. It also provides the rep more confidence in their ability, as the hottest leads are the most likely to close.

Consistent Upkeep/Refinement

Maintaining a sales funnel is not a one-time only activity. The funnel needs to be active and consistently up-kept. Up-keeping refers to the continual qualification and disqualification of leads throughout the stages of the sales funnel.

Finally, the team should concentrate on their efficiency and effectiveness by working to get to “yes or no” as quickly as possible. This further ensures that the prospects in the funnel are of the highest quality, and of higher likelihood to purchase. 


 Rafael Matusiewicz, Analyst

Rafael implements GrowthPoint’s marketing and business development strategies, including the creation of content and promotional material, completing brand analyses, and driving client acquisition & management. Rafael’s marketing and financial background allows him to understand the necessary marketing research and implementation plans to improve our clients’ business development, brand and overall marketing strategies. He specializes in the Tech, Manufacturing and Professional Service industries.

This blog post aligns with the themes of our Growth Evaluation; an intuitive tool which allows you to quickly uncover the areas of strength and weakness in your sales & marketing organizations. Click Here to learn more or take the Growth Evaluation. 

 

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