The Problem With Inbound


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We rely too much on Inbound leads to achieve our goals! Our prospecting strategies are dominated by creating Inbound demand that sellers respond to. Whether it’s emails, social visibility, SEO, or anything else, the focus is on getting buyers to take the initiative to reach us.

Inevitably, inbound is never sufficient. We ramp up our outreach to drive more inbound activity–more of all of the above…… Then, reluctantly, we put in place some outbound activities. We create volumes of dials, scripts, sequences focused on, “buy my product.”

Let’s set aside, for a moment the challenges we face with generating sufficient volume, focusing on what I believe to be the greater challenge with our reliance on inbound.

Selling strategies that focus, primarily, on inbound minimize both our opportunity to create real value with our customers, as well as to maximize our performance/growth.

Relying on inbound, we leave all the heavy lifting of managing their buying process to the buyers. We know that buyers struggle in their buying process. The smallest/easiest part of buying is “solution selection.”

Recognizing the need to change and committing to that change. Assembling the buying group, aligning diverse agendas and priorities. Learning about the issues, challenges, risks they face with their project. Trying to figure out what they don’t know but need to know. Getting organizational and management support for the change initiative. Most of this precedes the search for solutions.

And we know the majority of these efforts fail–and they fail before they even get to looking at potential solutions. We know, buyers are pushing vendor involvement later in the buying process.

For those buyers that manage to overcome all these challenges, for the 40% or less that started and finally get to the point of considering solutions, they still defer their outreach to sellers.

When buyers finally get to considering solutions, we know they are overwhelmed with high quality information–from vendors and other sources. They struggle to make sense of this information, somehow getting to a point where they narrow the alternatives to a few key vendors. And then they reach out. They need information to make their final selection–when any of the alternatives could solve their problems.

Relying on inbound, relegates our involvement to this very last part of their buying process. And it’s the least difficult part of the buying process–again, any vendor that makes their short list will solve their problem.

Of course, we like this. We don’t have to invest the time in understanding the customers’ businesses, challenges, and problems. We don’t have to help them build their confidence that they are doing the right thing. We don’t have to help them make sense of all the information overwhelming them.

By the time they reach out to us, by the time we get those “inbound” leads, all we need to talk about is our products…..

We have a much greater opportunity. We can create much greater value, driving better relationships by engaging customers earlier and differently. We have the opportunity to incite them to change. We have the opportunity to increase their success in managing their buying journey. We have the opportunity to differentiate ourselves through how we help them buy, not just our products. We have the opportunity to sell more, as a result of this.

Inbound is OK, but there is so much more that we can do by reaching out to our customers in meaningful ways.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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