WOW Blog

You are here: Home » Blog » 

By Jan Willis

Inbound Sales vs Traditional Sales: What Are The Key Differences?

Inbound marketing is a highly effective way to generate targeted, warm leads. But there’s just one problem: most sales organisations haven’t caught up. That’s where inbound sales comes into play.

The simple fact is, inbound leads are different to outbound leads. They think, act and behave differently. And they need to be closed differently. All of which means that you need to transform the way you sell. If your sales team don’t know how to work effectively with inbound leads the result is going to be wasted leads, low sales productivity and a disappointing close rate. Not to mention friction between marketing and sales. And that’s not a good place to be.

So what are the key differences between inbound sales and traditional sales?

Inbound is buyer-centric, not seller-centric

With traditional sales the focus is on finding prospects who would be a good fit and then pushing your solutions. It's a seller-centric model in which the sales reps keep information close to their chests and relies heavily on outbound tactics such as cold calling and cold email, culminating in the delivery of a static pitch.

Inbound flips this model on its head by finding pain points that your buyer personas typically have, then crafting a personalised, multi-channel sales process that guides each prospect along their unique buyer’s journey towards the point of sales engagement, all the time building trust and goodwill by offering helpful, targeted content and qualifying for fit. It's essentially a buyer centric model in which information is freely shared and the solutions offered are tailored to the individual prospect.

Sales reps are seen as trusted advisers not an unwelcome interruption

When was the last time you were excited to receive an unsolicited email, direct mail piece or cold call from a company trying to sell you their products or services? The fact is, todays buyers have become adept at blocking and tuning out unwelcome marketing and sales messages. They're self-educating and in control of the buying process with a "don't call us, we'll call you" mentality. Which is why the sales tactics companies have been using for the past 50 years no longer work as well as they used to.

Inbound changes the dynamic from the outset. Because your prospects have sought you out, your sales reps can position themselves as a wanted and trusted adviser from the very first interaction, rather than an annoying and unwanted interruption. And because they have context about the prospect's pain points the reps can offer immediate value, building instant trust and goodwill.

Inbound sales is about helping, not selling

On a typical outbound sales process, your prospect is listening to a rehearsed pitch or reading an email or brochure they didn't ask for and they're probably not interested in. With inbound it's a totally different dynamic. They know and are well disposed towards your brand because they've already visited your website and downloaded some of your helpful content so the conversation can be about them, not you. 

Instead of pitching your sales reps can focus on helping and educating, answering your prospects' questions and showing how your company can meet their specific needs rather than simply telling them about all the great products and services you offer.

Of course you're still qualifying for fit, budget, authority, need and timescale just as you would in a traditional sales process but this is taking place in the context of a warm conversation and a developing relationship where resistance to probing questions is naturally going to be lower.

It's a people game, not a numbers game

The bottom line is that unlike traditional sales, inbound sales isn't a numbers game, it's a people game. It's not about how many people you call or using high pressure tactics. It's about finding the right people in the right situations that are a perfect fit for your brand and then guiding them to an informed purchase decision. Once your sales team know how to do that they won't need to sell, just close.

Learn how to sell better and faster the inbound way

Want to know more about how to sell the inbound way? Start by downloading our free guide and discover:

  • How to increase prospect responses using an inbound approach 
  • How empower your salespeople with content and context
  • How to minimize manual data entry by using an integrated sales & marketing platform

Just click on the image below to download your copy.

the definitive guide to selling better and faster














Jan Willis
Jan is a seasoned local government executive and HubSpot certified inbound marketer with a wealth of consultancy experience. She's passionate about all things digital and West Ham United.

Recent Blog Posts

Struggling to get ROI from your website?

Web traffic at an all time low? 

Solve these problems and many more by downloading our Ultimate Guide To Increasing Website Traffic By 30% In The Blink Of An Eye


Click Here To Download


Recent Tweets