I’m an inbound marketer at heart. The common thread of my online business career has been using content marketing and wider inbound marketing strategies to grow the business that I am involved with. The businesses have changed over the years, but the central philosophy of how I market has changed surprisingly little since I started doing it in the mid nineties: Be where your customers are and be useful to them.

I find it interesting though, that when I help other businesses to do the same the loudest objections will often come from outbound sales teams. It’s interesting, because those are the teams who stand to benefit the most when inbound strategies are adopted.

A recap: Inbound vs Outbound marketing

The idea of inbound and outbound marketing will be familiar to readers even if the terminology isn’t. In outbound marketing we (the business) identify potential customers and approach them. A simple example is cold calling. With inbound marketing the potential customers come to us – usually online. A good example is customers searching on Google for what they want and landing on a page of our website.


When I discuss Inbound Marketing with sales teams present, some familiar body language is often displayed: Arms get crossed, jaws get set and eyes will frequently roll. I suspect that the reluctance isn’t specifically directed at Inbound, but stems from the underlying friction that is common between sales and marketing departments. I have frequently been left with the impression that Inbound marketing is just seen by some as a marketing fad that detracts from the real business of selling.

When I have heard specific objections, they don’t generally stand up to much scrutiny and include reasoning like:

“Our customers don’t search online” – Really, who are these people that don’t use the internet?

“It’s a complex sell” – Great. Inbound marketing can simplify that.

“Inbound isn’t targeted. We’ll just get junk leads” – Only if you do it badly.

And my favourite: “It doesn’t scale” – I don’t know who these sales people are who can reach more people than a website can, but if this is true we need to talk.

Inbound + Outbound, not Inbound vs Outbound

The truth is that Outbound sales teams are exactly the people who stand to benefit the most from a well executed inbound marketing strategy. It should serve them with a constant stream of quality leads, help prioritise the hotter prospects, give sales teams more information about their prospects, and ensure that they are more ready to buy when they speak with the sales team.

Whilst Inbound strategies can perform well on their own, they have the most impact when they are a tool for a sales team, helping them use their time more effectively: Spending more time closing deals and less time developing their pipeline.

So you are still not convinced?

In that case, let me give some specific examples of how well executed inbound improves the life of sales teams (and makes it easier for them to land more sales).

No, (or at the very least, less) prospecting

The central idea of Inbound is that the customers come to you. Rather than identifying potential customers and building lead lists, they find you and make themselves known. This means your content works around the clock to bring a steady stream of leads into your funnel.

You learn more about your prospects

As those prospects interact with your contact, you learn more about them. By planning content to serve customers at different stages of the sales journey, and knowing who has seen what, you know where in the decision making process they are and can sort prospects from leads. Knowing what content they are interested in also means understanding their concerns – before you have even spoken to them.

Your leads already know & trust you

By the time you make direct contact with those leads, they already know and trust you. Good content builds trust at every stage. It also answers customers’ concerns, leaving sales teams to spend more time closing deals and less building trust and answering common questions.

What’s not to love?

This all adds up to sales teams doing more of what they enjoy and are rewarded for (closing deals) and spending less time grinding away at their pipeline and doing prep work. Sales teams that embrace inbound as a tool to supercharge their efforts, rather than seeing it as a distraction or chore, stand to be the biggest benefactors of Inbound Marketing.