While there are benefits for using inbound marketing to nurture prospects until they self-qualify as sales-ready buyers, make sure you include outbound calling for prospect development in situations where inbound is less likely to be effective.
The right outbound/inbound balance depends heavily on variables like company size (larger solution providers continue to spend more on outbound initiatives) and, more importantly, a combination of factors that include complex decision making processes, long sales cycles and high solution investments. This is where it remains critical to ground core strategies in outbound marketing.
Executive work styles and late adopters: Many C-level decision makers have not yet embraced—and may never—the role of self-education via social media. In an earlier blog, I talked about the chief executive of a large utility who finally responded positively on the 42nd touch and later signed off on a $1 billion deal for one of our customers. His was not a self-educating work style, and there was no way he was going to search blogs or websites to download white papers. He responded to a proven outbound methodology driven by an experienced prospect development professional.
Timely market coverage: Because inbound marketing generates contacts and supports self-education over a period of time, it’s easy to miss qualified sales opportunities that could be deep in the current pipeline. We consistently find 5% of the market in an active buying stage and narrowing the list of competitive solutions. Many times, we’ve interrupted these scenarios to secure wins for our clients. And betting too heavily on inbound marketing providing 100% market coverage is a risk not worth taking.
Complex internal buying landscapes: Outbound marketing and its emphasis on personal, direct and regular contact with prospects assures correct assessment of decision maker roles and influence early on. Evaluation and buying dynamics are constantly in flux, and a personal relationship generated and maintained with outbound efforts provides immediate response to shifting prospect landscapes. Selling tactics can be immediately tailored to reinforce the laser-like relevance of a solution.
The return on complex sales is too high to place the care and feeding of potential high-value opportunities anywhere but in the hands of a skilled professional employing a proven outbound regimen of multiple touches using multiple media across multiple buying cycles.