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Response Management

What is the difference between a sales process and an inbound sales strategy?

December 29, 2022

Are you an outbound or an inbound sales organization? Which is better, and does it matter? 

The main difference between an outbound sales process and an inbound sales strategy revolves around who is taking steps to close a sale. 

A sales process is focused on the steps a sales rep takes to sell to a potential customer. The goal of an inbound sales strategy is to find and identify the people who are already searching for a product like yours. Or, as HubSpot puts it: a sales process describes the steps a seller takes during a sales cycle, while an inbound sales strategy describes the steps a buyer takes.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

What is a sales process?

A sales process is a map of your sales cycle. It outlines exactly the actions your sales team needs to take at each stage of the sale in order to successfully close a sale. No two sales processes are quite the same. Some processes have three steps, while others can get complicated. Every team has their own version of the sales process. 

There is one similarity between all sales processes: they take a salesperson through the initial contact with a prospect, qualification, engagement, and asking for a sale. 

Typically the steps of a sales process go something like this: 

  1. Prospecting
  2. Connecting
  3. Research or lead qualification
  4. Proposal or demo
  5. Closing

The classic sales process is an outbound process, meaning that your team is expected to go out and find buyers in one way or another. This means reaching out via cold calling, cold emails or other methods. It can also involve trying to sell a product even if you know the product isn’t a great fit for your prospect. 

This is not to vilify the sales process. It’s important to have a roadmap of your sales funnel. In general, however, the sales process describes the steps reps take to convert prospects into buyers. 

What is an inbound sales strategy? 

An inbound sales strategy is a personalized and customer-central approach to sales. Inbound sales focuses on attracting the customers who are already interested in your product and working with them to determine whether your product is a good fit. This approach sees salespeople as trusted advisors, there to answer questions, make recommendations, and personalize the sales experience.. 

The steps in inbound sales focus on the buyers’ journey rather than the seller’s actions: 

  1. Awareness: The buyer is aware of their problem and decides to find a solution.
  2. Consideration: The buyer does their research, looking at various options.
  3. Decision: The buyer chooses a product and makes a purchase.

The sales representative is there as a guide to help the buyer through each stage of the process. 

Rather than using cold calls and cold emails to find prospects, inbound sales attracts prospects through inbound marketing — creating resources that answer questions potential buyers have. These resources might include articles, white papers, blog posts, videos, or social media posts designed to educate customers about their options when they’re in the Awareness and Consideration phases. 

Once contact is made, presales works to qualify each lead, asking questions to ensure the product is right for the customer’s business needs. 

Which is better, outbound or inbound sales? 

Both inbound and outbound sales have their strengths. While inbound sales is helpful in attracting qualified leads, sometimes there aren’t enough leads to meet revenue targets. When that happens, outbound sales is an excellent tool to drum up more leads that may be interested in your product. 

Whatever you choose, it’s important to have your best sales knowledge available when your team is selling so that you can customize your approach to the buyer. Ombud’s platform puts the best, most up-to-date sales content at your teams’ fingertips, giving them everything they need to help clients effectively. 

Interested in learning more? Request your demo here.

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