Back to the Future: Why Outbound B2B Marketing Is Back in Style

The funeral for outbound marketing took place several years ago. Friends and relatives celebrated its life and moved on, letting inbound marketing fill the void. But now, what was old is new again. Outbound marketing is coming back to life. This begs the big question, “Why?”

    • Lead Scoring Doesn’t Qualify Leads

Don’t get me wrong, I like lead scoring. It’s highly effective in increasing the efficiency of generating qualified leads. There is, however, a caveat. It does not do the whole job.

What does lead scoring do? You score leads based on their engagement level with your content as well as on the strength of demographic criteria that qualifies them. When you do so, you’re able to spot the hottest prospects, narrowing down the list, so you know who to call. In this way, it increases productivity.

Effective digital marketing and automation make outbound marketing more efficient. They do not eliminate the need for it. That’s because you need a two-way conversation to answer all the qualifying questions.

Some of your leads, for example, could be opening your emails, reading blog posts and downloading white papers. But how do you know if they can afford the product, service or solution you’re offering? You may have captured your leads’ titles, but every organization is different, so how do you know if they have the authority to buy? You can’t even start to guess who else is involved in the buying decision.

That’s why you have to make a phone call.

Who should make the call? You’re better off having your inside sales people or telemarketers pick up the phone than shunting your high scoring leads off to your field sales reps. If outside salespeople discover the leads they receive are not ready to buy, they are likely to lose their faith in all marketing leads. The result? They’ll stop following up on them and qualified leads mixed in with unqualified ones will go to waste.

    • Following the Crowd Puts You Behind

You’ve heard the stats. 57% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they contact a vendor. (Source: CEB.) Should you sit back and wait? That’s exactly what many other companies are doing today.

However, do you really want to wait until an executive has done all his or her research or do you want the advantage of being the first mover? I’m not suggesting that you go in early with a hard sale. Instead, get in touch with an executive-level decision maker to see if you can help them successfully solve their problem. By doing this, you will be way ahead of your competitors who sit back and score the leads that interact with the company online.

Why is that? Because, according to Forrester Research, buyers don’t always know what they need. The early-bird salesperson can frame the solution to the problem around his or her company’s offering. As he helps the executive sort through a tangled web of issues, he gains credibility, builds a relationship and is much more likely to reach the finish line than those who show up for the request for proposal (RFP).

That said, your field salespeople should not make the initial contact. It goes back to ensuring process efficiencies. You can use telemarketing or inside sales to put yourself ahead of the crowd. Make sure that your business development specialists who man the phones know how to help decision-makers in the early phases of problem-solving. They will need to take a consultative approach, look at the big picture, and pull together integrated solutions rather than focusing on individual products.

    • Inbound Marketing Adds Muscle to Outbound Marketing

Because inbound marketing relies heavily on educational content, savvy marketers have built libraries of information designed to attract and inform the audience. While they created these content assets for inbound marketing, they can be used to bolster outbound techniques. For example, when calling an executive, you may learn they are struggling with some issues. To address them, a business development representative can offer an e-book, white paper or even a blog post on the subject. Content has a synergistic effect on outbound sales, making it stronger than ever before.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to choose between inbound and outbound marketing. You simply need to assess how best to marry the two together to optimize your overall marketing approach.