If you listen to the buzz across the web, you may come to the conclusion that outbound marketing is passé.  According to much of the online chatter, outbound marketing techniques (such as direct mail, telemarketing, and advertising), are dead.  It’s fashionable to talk about their demise as marketers swarm towards bright, shiny new inbound-marketing tactics.  

And while inbound marketing is highly effective and it makes sense that marketers are investing more and more of their budgets into it, don’t start planning a funeral for outbound marketing. This is especially true if you’re selling a complex, business-to-business product or service with a high price tag.  It likely has a long sales cycle that involves a lot of moving parts and a multitude of decision makers. 

The key is to understand that inbound and outbound marketing tactics are not exclusive of each other--it’s not an either-or question.  The real issue is how to marry inbound and outbound marketing techniques to create synergies for driving a remarkably effective multifaceted sales process.

First, look at your sales cycle

At the beginning, if your target prospect is like most buyers today, they want to educate themselves via the internet.  They discover and consume all kinds of juicy inbound-marketing content in the process--blogs, white papers, webinars and more.  It builds their trust and positions your company as a thought leader. But it can’t do all the heavy lifting. At some point, a personal touch is required to guide leads along the path from prospect to new client.

How do you know when it’s the right time in the buying cycle to add outbound marketing into the mix? You need to score your leads.  The more a lead interacts with your online content, the higher their score should be because they are more likely to be a hot prospect.  However, the critical word is ‘likely.’  Some companies miss that and hand high-scoring leads directly over to their sales force with the expectation that they’ll magically convert them into clients. 

There’s a problem. 

All you know about these leads is they are extremely interested in your content.  You don’t know whether they can afford your product or service, if they have the authority to buy it, who else is involved in the buying decision, and when they might be ready to buy.  Salespeople are born to sell now. They expect sales-ready leads.  Give them anything less and you may as well throw those leads in the trash right now.

And that’s where outbound marketing is essential to bridge the gap between inbound marketing and in-person sales

You need to pick up the phone and have a personal, professional conversation.  Ask questions to qualify the lead, start building a relationship, and get to know the person, their needs and concerns. 

You’ll probably discover that approximately 50% of your leads fall into the ‘interested but not ready yet’ bucket (Gleanster Research). What do you do with them?  Keep them under your marketing department’s care. Nurture them. Realize it takes an average of 7-12 touches to convert a lead to a sale and customize your outbound nurturing program according to your prospect’s timeline. Design a well-thought-out campaign of phone calls, emails that point to more relevant, informative content, and direct mail.

When you integrate the best of inbound and outbound marketing techniques, you accelerate ahead of those who think they are at the crossroads, choosing one direction or the other. How are you integrating inbound and out bound techniques? Or are you finding success using one without the other?

To learn more sign up for 3D2B’s free white paper, How B2B Marketing Increases Leads and Boost Sales.


Jeff Kalter is CEO of 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. He leads customer acquisition programs for Fortune 500 companies, and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.