Inbound vs outbound sales: which is right for your business?

18 September 2019

Well-versed sales reps will be all too familiar with the terms inbound and outbound sales – the two distinct approaches they take to engage leads and close deals. But if you’re a small business owner without the support of an experienced and dedicated sales team, then you’ll probably be a bit confused by what the two entail and just how they differ.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences as well as the pros and cons of each to see which one is the appropriate match for you and your business.

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Inbound sales: a definition

Put simply, the inbound approach is a methodology in which the needs, challenges, goals and interests of individual buyers are prioritised above all else – including the sale itself. Rather than closing the sale as soon as possible, inbound salespeople glean information from customers to steer – as opposed to push – them through the decision-making process.

This approach places a lot of importance on the way a lead flow is optimised; analysing the buyer’s digital behaviour means that salespeople are better able to craft a personalised sales approach for each individual as a result.

The more time you spend on these prospects, the better your chances of converting them into long-term customers.


What are the pros of inbound sales?

  • They’re more easily pushed through. Your customers already know what they’ll be getting from your business. Things such as client referrals, visits to your website, blog posts or articles will have gotten your business noticed, which means these prospects will have done their research and already know how you can help.
  • They’re pre-sold. When inbound leads approach you, they will likely have provided information to tell you what they need even before you’ve communicated with them.


This means you can immediately identify if they’re a potential customer without further need to contact them - you already know what they’re after, which makes converting them from leads to sales a lot easier.

  • They build long-term relationships. Since you’re making the buyer’s needs your main priority, you’ll likely be rewarded with customer loyalty and an increase in sales – the hard work that you’ve put into understanding them goes a long way to fostering long-term relationships as a result.
  • They increase brand/product awareness. The content you create, and the digital technology used to increase its visibility should align with the buying journey. Strong, credible content is more likely to be shared by consumers on their social media pages or through word of mouth, thereby increasing the amount of potential leads viewing the brand.

What are the cons of inbound sales?

  • It takes time to work. Inbound sales are not a quick fix; there’s a learning curve that you’ll have to deal with in order to find what works for you.
  • It’s a long-term commitment. As the months progress, your inbound sales should become more and more effective. However, any stoppage in this momentum means a loss in visibility, links and credibility – inbound sales must be fostered and cultivated continually for them to work.
  • They require a lot of tinkering. Adjusting your methods to find what works is all part of the inbound process; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach and so require you to adapt and adjust based on the market, your own needs customer activity changes.  


Outbound sales: a definition

The main difference between the two is that outbound sales involve you reaching out to leads via more traditional methods. Instead of addressing pain points, outbound calls are focused on prospecting. Simply put, it’s any tactic in which a sales rep reaches out to a cold lead to make first contact.

What are the pros of outbound sales?

  • You pick your clients. Where inbound sales falter, the outbound approach flourishes in that you have total control over your client base in a way that lets you personalise your outreach to the client in question. This means you won’t have to filter out the bad leads.
  • A quicker understanding of new products. Inbound sales require time and attention to produce good content. With outbound sales, you can approach leads whenever you want. After enough replies, you’ll be able to get a sense of how this service or product will perform when it goes to market.

If the general consensus has been positive, then you can go forward with the launch. If not, then no worries, you can reconfigure things and do it again; it hasn’t cost you anything except the time it’s taken you to gather info and feedback.

  • It’s easily scalable. Once you’ve found the right methods, the outbound sales can be scaled up in a straightforward manner. When you bring in more employees, you theoretically can bring in more leads and more sales, which frees you up to focus on other aspects of the business.

What are the cons of outbound sales?

  • They can be intrusive. Nobody likes to be cold-called, so your response isn’t always guaranteed to be a positive one.
  • It’s time-intensive. Going through a list of potential leads and contacting them can drain your time. Likewise, tailoring each email to a client in a personalised way, even with a template, can sink the hours in the day at an alarming rate.
  • They can produce high-pressure sales methods. Because the focus is on the sale, aggressive tactics are commonplace. It’s important not to fall into these poor sales habits as a result.

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Which is the right approach for you?

Hopefully, you’ve seen that both methods undoubtedly have their positives, but there isn’t really one single approach that fits most businesses. If you favour one, then it’s a good idea to bolster it by peppering in a few methods from the other, especially since there’ll be periods where no one is engaging with you.

By mixing the two, you can measure the results of each through CRM reporting. From here, you can see which tactics are working well and those which aren’t producing the desired results, providing you with insights into the proper combination of the two.

Experiment with multiple balances, and you’ll be able to fine-tune and discover what produces the optimal results.

Gazprom Energy is a leading and award-winning business energy supplier, helping thousands of small businesses manage their gas and electricity contracts. To find out more about what we can offer your business, visit the homepage or call us today on 0161 837 3395.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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