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The popularity of online marketing and inbound programs has left some sales and marketing professionals unsure where traditional marketing practices fit into the new digital landscape. Sellers and marketers have subscribed to the concept that “if you build it, they will come,” and as a result have left a lot of opportunity on the table.

According to the Corporate Executive Board, B2B buyers are almost two-thirds through a purchase decision before ever engaging with a sales rep. That means that your prospects are researching and evaluating solutions -- just like yours -- and may be developing a set of preconceived notions and deselecting companies before ever connecting with a vendor.

It’s stats like these that have made marketers go mad for inbound marketing. Vendors panic and begin to invest heavily in content marketing, SEO and inbound-focused initiatives so that customers find them when they are searching for a solution. The fundamental flaw with this strategy is that there is an entire subset of potential buyers that haven’t even identified that they have a problem in the first place.

If marketing and sales teams rely solely on inbound, they’re missing this large pool of customers. Outbound marketing, when done correctly, can alert people to something they haven’t realized and then let them “own” the conversation around it.

Control the Sale

With so much of the purchase decision taking place before engaging with a sales rep, vendors have lost some control over the sales process. By the time a prospect reaches out to a seller, it believes it already knows the value of the solution. It just wants to walk through pricing and be done.

Through outbound marketing, the vendor can get ahead of the buyer’s needs, frame that company’s problem and outline its own product as the solution from the beginning of the process -- not the end. Reaching out before a prospect starts evaluating solutions, whether that be for a current need, future need or one that they don’t even know exists yet, allows the seller to tailor the message and highlight the specific benefits for that particular buyer.

Identify prospects to target for potential sales opportunities by analyzing your key audience. Use your most successful customers as the benchmark for similar companies you should reach out to. Identify buying signals -- such as changes in leadership, a round of funding or new initiatives -- to determine the right time to engage. Give yourself the advantage of being ahead of the competition as well as the prospect’s search. Outlining the solution and controlling the sales process is the perfect way to tee up a prime opportunity.

Hit Your Target, Every Time

Inbound marketing can result in a lot of leads, but it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be the right ones. They may or may not be a good fit for your solution or have any purchasing power. The seller is essentially limited to whoever visits its website and fills out its form. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, allows vendors to target only those prospects that are an ideal fit and likely to be key stakeholders in the decision process.

Rather than sorting through a database full of dubious leads in search of the few valuable ones, go straight to the decision makers. Use outbound strategies to focus prospecting efforts on targeted buyers. Waiting for leads to come to you wastes valuable time and leaves a lot of potential opportunities on the table.

Immediate Impact

Inbound marketing is essential, especially as potential clients continue to research solutions online. But it’s important that vendors don’t replace their outbound marketing efforts with inbound. Both need to be in play in order to maximize the potential opportunities in any target market.

Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy that requires time to grow and develop. Meanwhile, an outbound program could be launched tomorrow and have leads flowing in the pipeline the same day. Such immediate impact is why all of the companies in the Fortune 400 have outbound sales teams.

My advice to companies considering an outbound marketing strategy: Don’t over complicate it. You don’t need to have the perfect program with a robust automation platform in place on day one. There are several companies that specialize in helping automate the outbound workflow. Don’t sit on the sidelines because you haven’t smoothed out all the wrinkles yet. Just start. There are buyers out there actively looking at solutions like yours or experiencing the pain points that your offering solves -- and unaware that you exist. Reach out. Your process and messaging will need to evolve, but in the meantime your business will experience exponential growth and success.

There’s no question that outbound marketing is effective and efficient. Don’t miss out on the immediate results that this strategy provides.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  MarioMancuso