There are two main paths to take when it comes time for your startup. Inbound sales is about the customer coming to you with a need, while outbound sales involve finding customers and convincing them. Let’s know more about inbound vs outbound sales. 

It’s hard to build traction in the B2B software world because there are so many startups now. It can be difficult with only one or two founders, and they need a clear strategy.

I had to make a choice between an inbound sales channels or outbound sales model, and I chose the wrong one.

My decision to switch from inbound sales channels to outbound, and the lessons I learned throughout this process. Here are some inputs about inbound vs outbound sales that might help you.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀

Best Strategy Isn’t Always Quick Growth

Quote Roller was started by two engineers, and has been designed to be helpful for small web development companies.

We wanted to build an intuitive product that clients could find on the Internet without any help from salespeople. So we chose inbound marketing as our strategy.

We started marketing our product in 2011. We used all kinds of online marketing, including software marketplaces, content campaigns and advertising.

During mid-2012, we got thousands of signups on a monthly basis. It was all self-service because I didn’t want to be proactively doing anything and some customers converted themselves. Eventually revenue began building up in early 2013 when I raised money for growth.

We had thousands of paying customers by the middle of 2013, but we were still discouraged because our sales weren’t going up.

Here is why:

1. Maxed Out Inbound Sales Channels

When we started to max out our inbound sales channels, it wasn’t just because the channels were at capacity. It was also due to a lack of searches or interest for certain keywords like “proposal software,” so we weren’t able to buy more traffic through AdWords.

2. High Churn Rate

We had a lot of high churn rates because we were attracting the wrong type of customer. We weren’t targeting customers who needed our product and would pay more for it, so most of them were freelancers or small agencies.

3. Broad Market

It became clear to us that we needed a sales and marketing strategy. We had too many different industries and vertical markets, so this was counterproductive.

4. Better Product/Market Fit is Needed

We faced the problem of not having a good productmarket fit. We were following feedback from all types of customers, but we needed to change our strategy so that it would work for larger companies too.

5. Non-Scalable Revenue Model

As a SaaS startup, we need to transition from growth hacking into sustainable and meaningful growth. In the early stages of our company, we learned how to attract visitors by any means necessary; now that’s not enough because you have to find customers who will stay on as paying subscribers for an extended period of time.

After two years of solely relying on inbound leads, we realized that our product was not selling well. We rebranded and launched PandaDoc which is based on everything Quote Roller taught us. 

Now, let’s keep going and see what next on our inbound vs outbound sales journey.

All In on Outbound Sales Channel

We decided to do things differently with this company and start selling the product before it was built. I became an outbound rep, showing clickable prototypes of our product for feedback from potential clients. During that time I even closed a few deals by promising them delivery in a month or two.

We used the same process for customer acquisition as we did in sales.

I ended up with this pay structure: Base Pay + Commission Structure

inbound vs outbound sales

We decided to combine both inbound vs outbound sales, which helped us filter our lead sources by asking qualifying questions. We did this through targeted calls, attending events more often, and creating educational material. This allowed us a broader range of prospects because we attracted people who needed what we had.

We saw results right away when we switched to an outbound strategy that was more targeted and meaningful.

inbound vs outbound sales

I think our revenue will be 200% of Quote Roller’s by the end of 2015, and that has become increasingly predictable.

We struggled because we were in unstable markets and the quick wins that would have helped us build a customer base just weren’t there. We didn’t realize this until 4 years ago.

This is just one of the many real life stories about inbound vs outbound sales. Hope you learn something and looking forward to make the right decision.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Contact us and let's discuss your ideas!

Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was written by Content at Scale, a solution that uses AI + a team of optimization specialists to publish hundreds of high quality, SEO optimized content straight to your blog. It’s the first and only solution that allows you to truly scale content marketing.