Which should you choose? Outbound sales or inbound? Learn in the article.

In the ever-changing world of sales, it's important to stay ahead of the curve. Inbound sales and outbound sales are different beats, but each has its own unique advantages. Each can be highly effective if you use it correctly.

In this article, we'll explore the differences between outbound and inbound sales, the best channels to utilize for each, and how to measure their individual success.

What is inbound sales?

Inbound sales is a sales strategy where leads come to you of their own volition. It’s all about drawing customers in by providing them with valuable information and resources.

One way to do inbound sales is to create quality content that resonates with your target audience; think blog posts, videos, and ebooks. By establishing yourself as an industry expert, you attract potential customers who are actively seeking solutions to their problems.

Once an inbound prospect engages with your content, it's crucial to continue nurturing the relationship. You can do this through:

  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Personalized communication
  • One-on-one consultations and product demos
  • Webinars

… And more!

The goal is to guide the prospect through their buying journey, ensuring they have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

To this end, understanding the buyer's journey is crucial. The journey typically consists of three stages:

  • Awareness — The buyer identifies a problem or need
  • Consideration — The buyer evaluates different solutions available to them
  • Decision — The buyer selects a product or service that best meets their requirements

As a salesperson utilizing inbound sales techniques, it's essential to tailor your approach to each stage of the buyer's journey. By providing relevant content and support at the right time, you can effectively move prospects through the sales funnel and ultimately convert them into satisfied customers.

Best channels for inbound sales in 2024

Consumer behavior, like technology, is always evolving.—it's important to stay up-to-date with the best channels for inbound sales.

In 2024, some of the most effective channels include:

  • Blog: Producing valuable content that addresses your target audience's pain points and positions your brand as a trusted authority.
  • SEO: Optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search engine results, making it easier for potential customers to find you.
  • SMM: Building a strong presence on social media platforms and engaging with your target audience to foster relationships and amplify your brand message.
  • Newsletters: Creating personalized email campaigns to nurture leads and guide them through the sales funnel.

Inbound marketing channels currently on the rise are through social media content, webinars, and YouTube videos.

Metrics to measure the success of inbound sales

Do the following to measure the success of your inbound sales strategy:

  • Website traffic: Monitor the number of website visitors to gauge the effectiveness of your content and optimization efforts.
  • Conversion rate: Measure the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase.
  • Lead scoring: Evaluate the quality of leads generated through inbound sales activities to ensure they align with your ideal customer profile.
  • Customer acquisition cost: Calculate how much it costs your business to acquire a new customer through inbound sales efforts.

Inbound sales positives:

  • Attract leads who are already interested in the product or service
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Generally less costly than outbound techniques
  • Leads come with a certain level of trust and knowledge about the product, enabling a smoother sales process
  • Digital and content-driven strategies can reach a wide audience without increasing costs
  • Inbound strategies provide a wealth of data for optimizing sales tactics and improving customer engagement.

Inbound sales negatives:

  • Building an effective inbound sales funnel can take time and might not generate immediate sales
  • Depends on the quality and relevance of content
  • High competition for keywords and changes in search engine algorithms can affect visibility
  • Needs a range of skills from content creation to SEO and analytics, requiring more specialized staff
  • Since customers initiate contact, businesses have less control over when a lead enters the sales funnel

What is outbound sales?

Outbound sales involves taking a more proactive approach by reaching out to potential customers directly such as via cold calls. It can also involve sending direct mail or email campaigns or it can involve attending industry events to connect with prospects. The key is to initiate contact and present your product or service to potential buyers, even though they might not be actively seeking a solution.

To that end, outbound sales need thorough research to find the right prospects and match your message to their needs. Successful outbound sales professionals understand the importance of building rapport, addressing objections, and demonstrating the value of their offering.

A key aspect of outbound sales is using several channels to engage customers, such as social media platforms like LinkedIn. Personalized emails capture the attention of prospects. By using several strategies, outbound sales experts can reach and convert more leads.

Persistence is often the name of the game—sales professionals must follow up consistently with leads. They should nurture relationships over time and stay top of mind with potential customers. Outbound sales teams show dedication by being proactive and persistent. They must solve customer problems and provide viable solutions.

Best channels for outbound sales in 2024

While inbound sales have gained popularity in recent years, outbound sales still hold their own. In 2024, some of the most effective channels for outbound sales include:

  1. Cold calls: Although it may seem old-fashioned, targeted cold calling still yields positive results when done strategically.
  2. Email campaigns: Craft personalized email campaigns to capture the attention of potential customers.
  3. Direct mail: Stand out from the digital noise by sending physical mail to grab the attention of your target audience.
  4. Industry events: Networking at industry conferences and trade shows provides an opportunity to connect with potential customers face-to-face.

Which metrics measure the success of outbound sales

Just like inbound sales, tracking the success of outbound sales activities is essential. Here are some metrics to consider:

  • Call-to-conversion ratio: Measure the percentage of outbound calls that result in a successful conversion.
  • Email open and response rates: Monitor how often your outbound email campaigns are opened and how many recipients respond to your message.
  • Meeting conversion rate: Track the percentage of initial meetings or demos that lead to a sale.
  • Customer lifetime value: Determine the average value a customer brings to your business over their lifetime to assess the effectiveness of your outbound sales efforts.

Outbound sales positives:

  • Allows businesses to actively reach out to potential customers, offering more control over the sales process.
  • Direct contact with prospects can lead to immediate feedback and quicker sales cycles.
  • Sales teams can specifically target demographics that fit their ideal customer profile.
  • With proactive outreach, companies can potentially contact a larger number of prospects.
  • Outbound efforts areeasily measured (calls made, emails sent, response rates), aiding strategy refinement.

Outbound sales negatives:

  • Higher costs due to significant investment in sales teams, tools, and databases for prospecting.
  • Cold outreach often leads to lower conversion rates since the leads haven't expressed prior interest.
  • Aggressive outbound tactics can sometimes negatively impact how potential customers perceive a brand.
  • Outbound sales activities, especially cold calling and emailing, are subject to strict regulations.
  • The cost and effort to scale outbound sales efforts can be substantial, as it often involves linear increases in resources.

Key differences between inbound and outbound sales

While both approaches can be successful, there are key differences between inbound and outbound sales:

  • Outbound sales require a more proactive approach, reaching out to potential customers directly. In contrast, inbound sales attract potential customers who are actively seeking a solution.
  • Inbound sales typically have a lower cost per lead as you're attracting potential customers who are already interested. Outbound sales may have a higher cost per lead due to the resources required for outreach.
  • Inbound sales focus on building relationships through valuable content and personalized nurturing. Outbound sales require building rapport quickly during initial contact.

Outbound sales vs. inbound sales


Inbound Sales

Outbound Sales


Focused on attracting customers through content creation, SEO, and providing value.

Involves proactively reaching out to potential customers through calls, emails, and direct mail.

Lead generation

The company generates leads through content, attracting already interested customers.

The sales team identifies and contacts leads directly.


Generally lower due to the organic nature of lead generation.

Higher due to the need for tools, resources, and manpower for direct outreach.

Lead quality

Higher, as leads are often more interested and educated in the product or service.

Varies, as leads may not have prior interest or knowledge of the product or service.

Sales cycle

Can be longer as it relies on nurturing leads through the funnel.

Potentially shorter, as it involves direct contact and quicker qualification processes.

Customer relationship

Builds a relationship through trust and providing value over time.

Focuses on establishing a connection and addressing needs directly.


It is easier to scale as it leverages digital channels that can reach a wider audience.

More challenging to scale due to the linear increase in efficiency and resources required.

Skills required

Content creation, blogging, social media skills, basic design skills.

Sales techniques, prospecting, cold calling, and follow-up strategies.


Content marketing, SEO, social media, and email marketing.

Cold calling, email campaigns, direct mail, industry events.

Success metrics

Website visitors, conversion rates, lead quality, CAC.

Call-to-conversion ratio, email open/response rates, meeting conversion rate, CLTV.

Do I have to choose between inbound sales and outbound?

The short answer to whether you have to choose between inbound and outbound sales is “no”. The long answer is also “no”, but with more explanation. Strap in.

Most businesses end up using a mix of inbound and outbound sales to maximize their sales potential. There’s no rule that says a business can’t reach out to clients while also developing a robust content strategy to bring new clients into the business. In fact, identifying the best sales tools for your specific approach, whether inbound or outbound, can significantly enhance your sales efforts.

Just look at NetHunt for an example:

  • We have a great blog filled with heaps of valuable sales content (which you’re reading right now).
  • However, we also reach out to prospects via LinkedIn as an important channel in our sales process.

So no, you don’t have to choose one. As a matter of fact, any business looking to thrive in the modern sales environment has to have both.

How to choose which approach to adopt first?

Yes, you should implement both, inbound and outbound sales into your processes. Oftentimes businesses just don’t have the financial resources to start working on both at the same time. Naturally, the question of which to pick first arises.

Here are five key factors that will help you decide which approach you should adopt first:

1. Your budget

Budgeting is a crucial factor. Inbound marketing, like creating content and SEO, needs regular time and resource investments.

Outbound sales methods, like cold calling, direct mail campaigns, and paid advertisements, can also be costly— they probablycost more upfront.

However, it's important to consider the potential return on investment (ROI) for each approach. Inbound sales techniques often have a longer-term payoff. They focus on building brand awareness and generating leads over time. Outbound sales strategies yield quick results. But, they need a big initial investment for new leads.

Budget considerations go beyond the cost of a sales strategy. Other factors to consider include how scalable the approach is.

Also, consider the level of personalization possible and the impact on customer relationships. For instance, outbound sales may produce quick results but they can make customers feel you're too intrusive. This hurts the brand.

2. The learning curve

Consider the education level needed for your product or service. This choice impacts your sales method, whether inbound or outbound. If your offering is complex or unfamiliar to a target audience, inbound sales techniques can be more effective. Inbound strategies allow you to create and share educational content—blog posts, videos, and ebooks. These help educate your potential customers and build trust.

Alternatively, your product or service is simple and easy to understand. In this case, outbound sales techniques may be better. Outbound sales allow you to reach out to potential customers, provide information and address their immediate concerns or questions.

Consider the education aspect of your product or service. It's key to study the market and know what your audience knows. Thorough market research can reveal the educational needs of your customers. It can also help you adjust your sales approach.

3. Your revenue per sale

The average revenue per sale and per customer plays a significant role in the decision-making process. If your product or service commands a higher price point, inbound sales strategies can be more effective in nurturing leads and converting them into customers. Inbound techniques give you the opportunity to build relationships, showcase the value of your offering, and address any objections or barriers to purchase.

If your average revenue per sale is relatively low, outbound sales strategies may be more suitable. Outbound sales can allow you to reach a larger audience in a shorter time period, quickly generate sales, and increase overall revenue. By leveraging targeted advertising campaigns and proactive outreach, you can engage potential customers who are more likely to convert.

4. Your niche

The size of your target audience is another crucial factor to consider when deciding between inbound and outbound sales. Inbound strategies excel at attracting a broader audience and building long-term relationships. By creating valuable content and optimizing it for search engines, you can attract a large volume of potential customers.

Alternatively, if your target audience is smaller and more specific, outbound sales strategies may be more efficient. Outbound sales allow you to directly target potential customers who meet your specific criteria.

5. Your time-to-convert metric

The speed at which your customers make purchasing decisions is a critical aspect that can significantly impact your sales strategy. Understanding customers' buying behavior is key to tailoring your approach effectively.

Inbound sales techniques, characterized by a focus on relationship-building and lead nurturing, are ideal for customers who prefer a more consultative and gradual decision-making process.

On the other hand, if your target audience tends to make swift purchasing decisions, outbound sales strategies can be a game-changer. With this approach, you have the opportunity to take a proactive stance by directly engaging potential customers and initiating immediate sales discussions.

What CRM should you choose for inbound vs. outbound sales?

When looking for a CRM system for digital marketing agency that can support your sales needs, you might find yourself confronted with a variety of options. Here’s a short table summarizing a couple of great options for each sales approach:

Best pick overall

The up-and-comer

Outbound CRM

NetHunt CRM

Introduced in 2015, NetHunt CRM rapidly gained favor among users, earning accolades, recognition, and a plethora of positive online feedback.

The secret to NetHunt CRM's success lies in its flexibility. You can customize the system however you want and it offers unmatched integrations. NetHunt CRM streamlines your business processes, allowing automation and expansion without constant tab switching.


Pipedrive primarily serves as a sales management tool. It’s useful for companies with an intricate sales process. It shines in mapping out the sales journey, offering clear visibility from the first interaction to deal closure.

Though Pipedrive may not directly offer some standard features like email marketing, it compensates with extensive integration options. This helps connect seamlessly with marketing, customer support, or project management applications. All in all, you’ll have a customized solution that aligns with the specific demands of your business.

Inbound CRM

HubSpot Marketing Hub

With HubSpot Marketing Hub, your marketing team can grow traffic, convert leads, and track your sales funnel in one spot. It’s an all-in-one inbound marketing software for your entire team.


Don't be surprised if you’ve seen Monday CRM pop up recently. This CRM suite has been making waves in the industry these past few months, and there’s good reason for that.

It features an efficient system for managing leads, detailed tracking of customer interactions, and the ability to monitor team activities closely. Additionally, it offers comprehensive analytics and reporting tools.

Inbound sales vs. outbound sales FAQ

Closing words

Understanding and using both inbound and outbound sales strategies is important. They are key to business success. Inbound sales focuses on attracting and nurturing leads. It does this through valuable content and engagement. This aligns with the modern buyer's preference for research and self-discovery.

Outbound sales involve proactive outreach to potential customers. They offer direct and personal pitches. Each approach has its own strengths and challenges, but when combined, they make a strong sales strategy.

Inbound sales excels in building long-term relationships and establishing trust, while outbound sales are effective at quickly generating leads and directly engaging potential customers.

For businesses looking to harness the full potential of both inbound and outbound sales, choosing the right CRM is pivotal. NetHunt CRM is versatile and powerful. It seamlessly integrates with your existing tools and workflows, supporting both inbound and outbound sales strategies well. NetHunt CRM has strong features for lead management, automation, and analytics. It lets sales teams track and nurture leads from first contact to conversion. It works for any sales approach! Try it now, for free, here.

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