Inbound vs Outbound Sales. What's the Difference?

The two types of approaches to SaaS sales.
inbound vs outbound sales cover photo
There's a never-ending battle going on right now in the sales world.

Inbound and outbound sales strategies are both crucial to a healthy, thriving business.

Since leads are the lifeblood of most sales teams, getting them in several forms enables your business to be adaptable and dynamic, easily adjusting to the most recent marketing trends and ready for conversions.

We have put together this article to give you a clear understanding of both sales processes.

What is Inbound Sales?

Inbound sales occur when a potential client or prospect contacts your company to learn about a product or a service. It allows the buyer to approach the seller first.

This does not mean it is unorganized or unexpected.

Inbound sales is a strategized process where sales and marketing draw in prospects and keep them interested with relevant information about their product or service.

Leads are pulled towards a brand through its online appearance with a website, a post on social media, or even a direct recommendation from a current client.

What Does the Inbound Sales Process Look Like?

inbound sales process

1- Awareness Stage

In the Awareness stage of the inbound sales process, buyers begin to search for solutions to their pain points.

They usually use a variety of sources like blogs, reviews, and social media accounts in order to get an idea of what kind of solutions are available and how they can address their specific problem. The buyer then looks into more detail on the solutions they have found, researching aspects such as pricing and features that could potentially help them better understand how it will address their needs.

More importantly, buyers in this stage are also likely to compare similar solutions against each other and analyze which one would best fit their situation. They'll look at customer feedback,
demos, or trial versions of products, as well as any literature (eBooks and whitepapers) about the respective solution in order to get a better grip on how these solutions could work for them.

This process helps buyers gain more confidence that the chosen solution is indeed just what they need to solve their pain point – leading them closer to making a purchase decision eventually.

2- Consideration Stage

After looking at various opportunities or deals that could be a solution, the buyer starts to engage with content, for example, on social media or on companies websites.

When a buyer is in the consideration stage, a salesperson must know the potential solutions they may be considering and the benefits and disadvantages they will weigh.

As an SDR, you should also know how your offer distinguishes you from competitors.

When you connect with buyers, having this knowledge makes it simpler for you to deliver a value proposition, which is part of the last stage.

Magnificent for the consideration stage is inbound lead generation.

Inbound lead generation turns strangers into leads and is important for the inbound sales team later.

Usually, the marketing department is responsible for inbound lead generation. However, the sales and marketing teams should work together closely to create tailored content for the ideal customer.

The generated leads can be divided into three different categories:
Sales Qualified Leads
Sales-Qualified Leads are the ones who are most likely to convert into paying customers.

They may have already done some research on the product or service, and have an idea of what they are looking for. To generate these types of leads, businesses should look to use comprehensive marketing strategies that include content creation, social media engagement, and email campaigns.

Additionally, businesses can create type-forms that prospective customers can fill out in order to provide additional details about their needs and interests. This information can then be used to create tailored offers that will be more likely to interest them.

Ultimately, by taking the time and effort to identify and engage with potential leads through a variety of channels, businesses can dramatically increase their chances of converting those leads into paying customers.
Marketing Qualified Leads
Marketing-Qualified Leads are showing a keen interest in your brand, wanting to learn more about what you have to offer.

They have taken the initiative to visit your website, and provide their contact information in exchange for an online resource. This is a great start to building a relationship with potential customers, as it shows they are looking to engage further with the brand.

By taking this step, you will get more data on who these leads are which will help you better tailor their experience with your products or services. You may be able to determine their region, age range, and other relevant demographic information that will make it easier to target them with marketing campaigns. For instance, if you find that a certain age range is more interested in the resource you're offering, then you can focus on providing content tailored specifically for them.

If you want to know more about how sales-qualified and marketing-qualified leads differ, head up to this blog post.
Product Qualified Leads
In this case, leads are interested in the main product or service after using smaller free products or free trials.

After leads can be generated and categorized, inbound salespeople can take over with follow up emails and actions.

They connect and communicate with leads to explore if their current pain point could be fixed with the SDR's offer.

As a sales rep, you must know through which channels your lead would like to communicate. Email, LinkedIn, or phone are common sales channels for this way of communication.

If a lead shows interest in learning more, it turns from a lead into a qualified lead.

3- Decision Stage

The decision stage is the last one since the decision-maker has picked what they feel is the best alternative to address their needs and pain points.

If they decide to buy from you, it's because you were able to establish a connection with them, communicate your value proposition, and convince them that your product is the best fit for their needs.

A sales rep has to have a clear and detailed understanding of the lead's situation to propose and present the value proposition.

The last step is to convey that the solution is the best for the lead to solve their pain point by closing the deal.

Best Inbound Sales Tools

1- Hubspot CRM

HubSpot's platform is designed to provide a comprehensive customer view, enabling companies to track their customers across all stages of the sales and marketing funnel.

From initial contact to purchase, HubSpot offers insights into prospects' behavior, preferences, and key drivers.

With easy-to-use analytics and reporting tools, users can view conversions from leads to customers, run campaigns that are tailored to their needs, and gain actionable insights through segmentation.

In addition to providing valuable information about customers' needs and wants through its CRM platform, HubSpot also offers effective lead generation tools such as dynamic forms and auto-population lists.

2- Intercom

Intercom has a comprehensive set of features, making it the go-to choice for many startups.

From live chat, automated messaging, and customer data storage, to in-app help desk and product tours, Intercom provides a comprehensive suite of tools to engage customers.

In addition, Intercom's sophisticated analytics and reporting capabilities make it easy to track customer engagement, allowing businesses to understand their customers' needs better. With machine learning algorithms and analytics tools, Intercom can help identify potential leads as well as high-value customers.

Furthermore, the platform can be tailored to suit individual companies' needs with custom bots, workflows, tags, and segments. This level of customization gives businesses flexibility and control over how they communicate with their customers.

3- Slack

Slack is a powerful communications platform for companies, teams, and professionals of all sizes.

It is designed to make collaboration simpler and more efficient, allowing users to quickly connect with their colleagues, clients, and partners in real-time.

With Slack's intuitive user interface and range of features, teams can easily set up custom workflows and take advantage of shared documents, files, channels, notifications, and more.

Equip teams to be as effective and efficient as possible to save time, boost ROI, and provide various opportunities.

4- Google Analytics

When it comes to clicks, page views, bounce rates, session lengths, traffic sources, and general website performance, Google Analytics provides you with information about what your leads and customers are doing online. Such tools let you know who is seeing your material and how, as well as how effectively your inbound marketing efforts are performing.

It is possible to measure the ROI of each piece of content by looking at conversions and user behavior across channels. This helps create a comprehensive picture of how effective various pieces are when it comes to driving leads through the funnel.

Additionally, being able to see where users drop off during their journey enables companies to identify any bottlenecks that might exist in their sales process.

Overall, Google Analytics provides valuable insight into an organization's digital marketing campaigns that can help improve performance and boost customer relationships at every stage.

What Is Outbound Sales?

Outbound sales refers to seeking out potential customers and building relationships with them from scracth via a variety of methods.

This involves sales development representatives (SDRs) making cold calls, cold emails, using social media to connect with prospects, and sending cold emails. Instead of waiting for potential customers to come to them, the sales team actively seeks out new leads.

Outbound sales happen when SDRs contact prospects that fit their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) but haven't expressed interest in the company's product or service.

It's not just about making more sales - it's about building relationships, understanding customer needs, and delivering high-quality products and services that make a real impact.

What Does the Outbound Sales Process Look Like?

outbound sales infographic

Identify ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)

Who are you going to sell to? Who is your targeted sector?

Customizing your sales strategy also involves subdividing your market into smaller groups. This is necessary if you offer several products or have customers from various industry sectors.

Once you have identified your target sector, it is important to create a buyer persona or ideal customer profile. Your sales team won't be able to approach enough qualified leads without this information to generate a meaningful amount of sales.

Analyze the needs of each potential customer segment, such as pricing, features, and delivery options. This will avoid wasting time and resources targeting customers that won't be interested in buying or don't fit your offer.

Additionally, consider how different generations use different platforms for research and communication when deciding how to reach them.

Produce Leads

Though lead generation is complex, the goal is to have a full pipeline. Making a list of the prospects you want to reach out to and extracting their contact details is how you generate leads.

You might occasionally have a lead generation team on staff. Other times, a lead database will cost money. You might even hire sales outsourcing companies to generate leads for you.

Salespeople may also take care of lead generation.

You'll have a list of individuals at the end that your sales team can pursue.

Outreach and Qualification

Your sales team has started to move at this point. Salespeople get in touch with your prospects, whether it be by phone, email, or another channel. Prospecting by phone and email takes up a significant portion of this process.

Sales qualification is the process through which salespeople decide whether or not a lead will likely become a customer for your company during their initial interactions with them. If not, their information is removed from the CRM.

The qualified prospect will proceed to the following phase.

Sales Calls & Demos

Your team can now focus on what they do best: selling.

This could entail a product demo over Zoom or Google Meets to discuss your product's features and advantages with the prospect, which usually brings to the meeting another team member and sometimes upper management.

This process could take some time, depending on your target audience. Longer sales cycles and more decision-makers are typical in B2B and enterprise sales. A single call may be sufficient to close smaller deals.

Close the Deal

The contract must be signed if the sales calls and demos turn out for the best. Your sales team has successfully closed a sale.

Negotiating is an important process when it comes to closing a deal, and both parties need to come to an agreement that is beneficial for both of them.

It's important to be prepared ahead of time and know what you want out of the deal before negotiations even start.

Establishing clear guidelines and expectations can help streamline the process and ensure that there are no misunderstandings when it comes time to making the final decision.

Additionally, be sure to think through any risks associated with the deal as well as any potential opportunities that could arise from the agreement. Building relationships with potential partners before negotiating can also aid in getting the best possible outcome for all sides involved.

Best Outbound Sales Tools


Calendly is a tool for scheduling events and appointments.

It does away with the customary back-and-forth emails and texts used to set a time. As a recruiting officer, you might share your calendar with candidates to let them know when you're available.

These applicants will see your open time slots even if they don't use Calendly, assisting them in selecting a mutually convenient time to meet.

Since you will be given time slots in your time zone, this scheduling software eliminates any potential time zone confusion.

Additionally, it syncs your calendars to validate your availability. Then, you'll get automatic notifications and reminders for changed or canceled appointments.


Prospector makes it easier than ever to create custom lead lists. With the Chrome browser extension, you can search for potential contacts based on their title, location, industry, or interests in various social media networks. And Prospector will automatically sync that data with your CRM so you can start working with new leads right away.

Plus, Prospector allows you to further refine your list by adding specific criteria like keywords and phrases that match the job roles or products/services each contact interacts with. This gives you the ability to target prospects who are most likely interested in your offering and increases your chances of closing more deals.

Finally, Prospector integrates seamlessly with many popular CRMs such as Salesforce and HubSpot so you can easily keep track of all of your leads and add them to the right pipelines. This way you'll always have accurate information about each contact so you can nurture relationships in an effective way.


Close offers a single workflow with no manual data entry, automatically tracks emails sent and received, and allows users to make and take calls with a single click. The lead activity appears when the phone rings so that you can access the information you need.

You can view every deal in your pipeline by user and status using the dashboard provided by the pipeline overview.

Leads are broken down week by week, track total and estimated value, and provide the expected close date and the salesperson's level of assurance that the deal will complete.

The fact that Close was developed by salespeople for salespeople makes it exceptional since it allows for a "deep-rooted understanding of the workflows and tools which make salespeople efficient."

LinkedIn SalesNavigator

With the help of insights from LinkedIn's Sales Navigator, you can concentrate on the relevant prospect's, maintain knowledge, and develop dependable connections.

Utilize the tool to locate the ideal prospects quickly and obtain customized lead recommendations. You may turn cold calls into warm discussions by saving these leads and keeping up with updates on your prospects.

With the help of SalesNav it's possible to:

  • Receive personalized lead suggestions based on your choices.
  • Utilize Lead Builder's Advanced Search function to find the relevant leads.
  • One-click will import your Salesforce data.
  • Leads outside of your network can have their entire profiles unlocked.
  • Obtain current sales information on both prospects and clients.
  • Utilize TeamLink to connect to teammates' networks.
  • Send up to 30 InMail messages per month to any LinkedIn member.

Hubspot CRM

This is one of the best customer relationship management tools on the market. We have already explained its functions in the best inbound sales tools section above.

Hubspot sales hub is helpful for both inbound and outbound sales, as it can also help you with marketing and sales functions, creating websites, email campaigns, contact lists, and more!


Ultimately, both inbound and outbound sales strategies rely on an understanding of customer needs as well as effective communication skills in order to turn leads into buying customers.

By understanding target audiences' pain points, preferred channels of communication, and more; SDRs can build customized strategies for each buyer persona that will help them achieve desired outcomes across all channels.

If you've got an in-depth understanding of both inbound and outbound and are looking for a challenge, consider joining SalesPipe's SDR team.