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The Allbound Podcast #43: Outbound vs. Inbound: Which is Best for Your Channel Program?
September 21, 2017

Outbound vs. Inbound: Which is Best for Your Channel Program?


Aaron Ross, Author and Co-Founder of Predictable Revenue, joins me, Greg Reffner, to discuss outbound and the channel, empathy and business, balancing inbound and outbound and more on the 43rd episode of The Allbound Podcast.

With inbound you have to have a combination of blog posts, videos, case studies, white papers. If you are doing your outbound prospecting into your key targeted accounts, getting your organization out there, then they’re likely coming back to the website and engaging in that content. So it comes full circle, but it starts with the content. Would you agree or disagree with that?

It starts really, in both cases, with knowing who your best customers are and what they care about and then, of course, writing content for that. And if you have that knowledge, who your best customers are, who need you the most, and what they care about, that’s a huge advantage towards making outbound work. So I think they’re two halves of the whole. If outbound is a good fit for your business, and for B2B business, it’s almost everyone. They are great a great compliment, two halves of the whole. So it’s not inbound or outbound. It’s yes.

Tweet: Build relationships early, because that's how sales are made. It's that relationship that you're establishing @motoceo on #AllboundPodcast  Build relationships early, because that’s “how sales are made. It’s that relationship that you’re establishing” @motoceo on #AllboundPodcast

And it’s usually not at the same time when you’re building a program, because either one can take six plus months to get off the ground and really make it produce.


At Allbound, we’ve traditionally been an inbound-focused organization. Knowing our ideal customer profile has made the outbound component so much more productive and efficient as opposed to a spray-and-pray approach when you’re doing your outbound prospecting.  

There’s a marketing lie that you see out there, which is something along the lines of “It’s usually done by content marketing.” People are different. You know, 80% of the buyer’s journey is already completed by the time that you talk to someone. There’s some version of that, that you understand the buyer’s journey is completed by the time that [they contact you] And that’s true for inbound leads, all right, and yes. But what they don’t say is, if you’re doing outbound prospecting, most of the time you’re catching people before they’re doing that research, they may not even have a project. So it’s more often a chance for you to establish a vision and show them, “Hey, there’s a better way to do business,” and so you’re catching them early, which, again, it’s not a better or worse, it’s just different. So it’s like, if you love vanilla ice cream, which is your inbound, then maybe you love chocolate ice cream, which is your outbound, and they’re complementary. They’re great. But you have to really be able to discern the differences between the two. This is where a lot of companies go wrong. Inbound leads, there are different metrics, different sales cycle speeds, different deal size averages, different steps. Outbound should be bigger deal size, that take longer to close.

Tweet: Knowing who your best customers are, who needs you most and what they care about, is a huge advantage to making #outbound work. - @motoceo  Knowing who your best customers are, who needs you most and what they care about, is a huge advantage to making #outbound work. – @motoceo

Sometimes at the beginning, the steps can be a bit different. So it’s understanding the leads of both those types of lead opportunities, that they have often different kinds of characteristics that maybe they relate in different ways. You could be outbound prospecting to companies, and sometimes they respond back to you, the prospector, and sometimes they come back to your website, which, that’s not that big a deal except, if you’re the CEO or executive, you’re trying to decide, “What do I spend money on?” Right? Inbound or outbound? Or what’s my ratio? As soon as you have a successful outbound program or inbound and outbound, attribution becomes something kinda tricky to figure out, because you’re trying to get clarity on what’s outbound producing and versus what’s inbound producing. The more successful you are, the more complicated it gets.


Can you talk to us about how you see outbound and channel sales working together, particularly in the B2B SaaS industry?

Channel sales, it’s a little more complicated, because there are a lot more variables. If you have channel partners, they can do prospecting. Of course, it’s part of the way they generate leads for maybe you or themselves. So, they’re doing their marketing, and they’re doing their prospecting. Most partners, they’re usually not that good at it. So what I find, most companies who have channel partners who are supposed to generate leads versus, maybe just service partners who are executing stuff you’d wanna do, but when you have channel partners who are supposed to generate business for you, the exception are the ones that are really good at it, and more of them need help. So, that’s one example.

Tweet: Partner success is as, or more important than customer success. But it's harder, because you're working through a 3rd party. - @motoceo  Partner success is as, or more important than customer success. But it’s harder, because you’re working through a 3rd party. – @motoceo

In “Predictable Revenue,” the book, there’s a section on the different types of leads. There are seeds, nets, and spears. And, basically, seeds are word-of-mouth or relationship-generated, but they have their own funnel characteristics. There’s nets, which are marketing-generated, or mass-generated with the content marketing. And spears are the one-to-one, prospecting or business development. There’s a person, there’s a list, there’s a phone, there’s an email. So they’re all different, but they’re complementary in acquiring customers, and you can use word of mouth. There’s word of mouth. There’s marketing. There’s prospecting.

You can go out and build your partner program, whether you’re getting referrals from partners, whether you’re marketing for partners, or whether you’re prospecting for key partners, right? And, if you’re trying to get into Accenture or some other key partner – I know this kind of partner can be successful with me for these reasons. I’m gonna go find them. I’m gonna go prospect for them. So, again, there’s a couple ways that outbound can help a partner program takeoff, either for you to add more or to help your partners generate more.


To learn more about outbound and the channel, empathy and business, balancing inbound and outbound and more tune in to episode 43 of The Allbound Podcast.

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About Our Podcast

Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes. Also available through Google Play. The Allbound Podcast explores the evolving fundamentals of partner-based selling in the SaaS and subscription economy. Featuring some of the industry’s brightest minds in channel sales and marketing, episodes of The Allbound Podcast delve into how and why indirect sales and marketing has long been, and continues to be, a proven medium for accelerating growth and success. And how traditional “channel” models are being transformed into efficient, connected ecosystems to supercharge sales and drive customer success while keeping costs low. Subscribe on iTunes