The Inbound vs. Outbound Process for Lead Response – What You Need to Know

There’s been a lot of emphasis lately on the inbound vs outbound process lately, and it has to do with the staggering growth of inside sales in the last years. Data shows that time spent selling remotely by field sales reps increased 89% from 2014 to 2017. 

But responding to inside sales leads (or marketing generated leads) and if necessary following up with prospects is both an art and a science. Inbound leads are closer to a sale in the buyer’s journey, thus are very valuable to a company.

Inbound Selling

Inbound sellers is when a rep reaches out to someone who knows your company with a certain sequence of sales activities.

Outbound Selling

An outbound cadence, is when a rep reaches out to someone who doesn’t know your company via email, phone or other methods of communication.

Both inbound and outbound reps will have to follow a certain lead response process which is specific to their position and to the business model they are in. We call this sequence of activities a ‘sales cadence.’

When sales cadences are executed correctly, they can nearly double contact rates for sales professionals. But what is the correct sequence for inbound and outbound reps?

XANT has the data to show the right way to respond to inbound leads. We’ve studied over 14,000+ cadences, made up of 144,000+ total activities, across nearly 9,000 companies, to show the best sales activity sequences that work with both sales models.

How Many Times Should You Call?

Sales reps are naturally optimistic– and so they should be, as their profession entails dealing with rejection on a daily basis. But when it comes to self-reporting activities, this can backfire. When asked how many times they attempt to contact a lead, sales reps say they do about 15.04 contact attempts (TOPO research).

Looking at XANT data, the reality paints a different picture– this number is  only 4.05. There is clearly a disconnect between what people say they do, versus what they actually do.

So, what is the optimal amount of touches?

Data shows that for inbound cadences you can do up to ten total attempts with the sweet spot at six attempts and for an outbound cadence you should do up to six total attempts with the sweet spot being at three attempts. Going past these numbers is not necessary bad, it’s is just less effective.

sales follow-up guide infographic

Sales Communication Media

Should you call, or should you email? Sales communication media is the channel you are choosing for contacting your prospect. There are certain media patterns that you can use, by combining communication channels, which yield amazing results.

You can get very creative with media, as there are six communication channels you can use: email, phone calls, voicemail, texting, social media and direct mail.

Most sales professionals these days are in love with email, because it’s more convenient. But the truth is, while picking up the phone is awkward, it’s also more productive.

When we looked at most optimal cadences, for inbound the most successful cadence was Call – Voicemail – Email repeated between 6-10 touches. Unfortunately this combination was only used 4.7% of the time.

Also, using multiple communication methods is always more effective than using just one.

How Long Should You Persist?

There’s something to be said about sales reps that know when to quit– and when to do so gracefully. This reminds me of a quip I heard about salespeople recently, where a young door-to-door salesman was selling, off all things– burial plots. Upon the prospect responding that he already has a plot in another cemetery, the salesman decides to cut his losses and responds: “I hope you’ll be very happy there…”

And while there is no one-size fits all for every industry and product, research shows there is a certain number of attempts which is ideal to maximize chances of contacting a prospect– without annoying them to death.

For inbound leads, reps should have cadences that last up to ten days while outbound target accounts should last up to twelve days. Like attempts, it is not necessarily bad to go past these date ranges, it is just less effective.

the ultimate guide to sales cadence - download pdf

Should I Give Prospects a Breather Between Attempts?

And while research shows you need to make at least six attempts to make sure you get a chance to talk to a prospect, you can’t call them every single day. That’s a sure-fire way to get on somebody’s ignore list.

Reps should space their contact attempts up to two days, to make sure their prospects get to breathe in between conversations– but don’t forget who they are talking to.

Content – What Do I Say In My Sales Messages?

Content is the messaging used with your sales activities– for the purpose of our research, we considered only emails, voicemails, texts, videos, and direct mailers to initiate contact or educate the buyer.

The typical prospecting email is 362 words and nearly half of voicemails were over 30 seconds.

This is really interesting, because when analyzing best practices across both inbound and outbound, emails with less than 300 words did perform better than emails with over 300 words and voicemails under 30 seconds is more optimal than over 30 seconds.

never miss your number again - how to respond to inbound leads

If you’re looking for more tips on how to perfect your strategy on responding to inbound leads, we’ve got you covered. Watch the webinar “10 Secrets For Responding to Inbound Leads”– it’s free and you can register online!

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