So is Outbound the new Inbound? Or Inbound the new Outbound? Or should we call them Rebound or better, yet, Unbound? It appears that the people who named this inbound thing only looked at the first step in the b2b sales lead process — too narrow a view from our perspective.

As a company providing lead qualification services, we have processed hundreds of thousands of inbound and outbound prospect touches. Therefore, we want to pass along (without the hype) some of the real world lessons from up and down the entire funnel.

But as confusing as the nomenclature may be, the inbound lead-to-sales process can work! The problem we have observed the most, is that many firms are struggling with actually getting their fair share of the subset of “qualified sales-ready leads” because of the confusion surrounding “inbound leads”. These firms have either struggled with using the right sequence of marketing automation filters and human touch or they grossly underestimate the efforts which it takes to develop these inbound initial responders into sales ready condition. So let us say it: there is significant outbound effort involved with inbound marketing.

The top of the funnel is often dedicated to email and digital endeavors. The lists generally have very high numbers because the subset of contacts that fit the actual sweet spot is whittled down significantly as they get processed. IF done properly, this is a good thing – because the remaining prospects are not as ice cold and time, money and effort are saved. In the b2b world, automated processes work for the initial marketing and branding/education, but generally not for advanced levels of lead qualification worthy of the sales force. Leading firms transform the inbound responses to personalized outbound warm calling and emailing (by non-sales quota people) and here is where the human touch is at its best. Analyst firms with whom we have spoken agree: this is a missing link for many firms. These are real conversations by trained people who can engage in a pre-sales dialog, probe, uncover pain points, discern a sense of urgency, respond promptly to objections and close on appointments with the right prospects. Get this right and the marketer will be ahead of much of the competition. Get it wrong and things only get tougher.

The beauty of this process is that it efficiently unclogs the mid-funnel and generates a much higher level of lead qualification. In essence, the telemarketing process has been expedited as most cold calling has been eliminated. This does not totally eradicate the need for cold calling, by the way, but it reduces the quantity where possible.

So is it Inbound or Outbound? Any readers care to help out here?