This is an excerpt from our 17 Top Sales Trends for 2017.

Inbound marketing has become an accepted industry term that companies — especially startups and software companies — eagerly embraced. And as the concept of inbound marketing gained popularity, “outbound selling” emerged as well, created to justify the continued interruption of prospects and to oppose the new inbound crowd.

“Proponents argued that inbound lead generation couldn’t produce enough quality leads to satisfy the growth requirements of companies,” said Peter Caputa, vice president of sales at HubSpot. “Their experience told them that if they wanted to spend their time with enough of the best prospects, they couldn’t wait for them to find you.”

In reality, however, most companies do some form of outbound and inbound marketing. “But they usually do one or the other half-assed,” said Caputa, “and they have separate groups of salespeople doing one or the other.”

headshot “Successful companies of the future must learn from both camps and combine the best approaches from inbound and outbound marketing throughout their whole sales organization.”
Peter Caputa | Vice President of Sales at HubSpot

Salespeople must embrace the proactive nature of outbound selling, but prioritize prospects based fit and interest level.

What next?

To achieve this, sales teams must improve at customizing initial outreach based on the buyer’s interest and awareness. “Salespeople have to stop sending the same cold email to every prospect, pitching the value of their offering and asking for a 15 minute call,” said Caputa. Instead, the goal should be getting buyers to engage with them or their company. Next, measure and monitor how all of their buyers engage, whether it’s via social, a company website, email, product usage for freemium SaaS, or phone. Salespeople should then contact buyers based on who has expressed the most interest and who is most likely to buy.

Companies must adapt their strategies to encourage their salespeople to behave this way. This means instead of measuring sales development reps based solely on their ability to book appointments, they should be judged on their ability to engage buyers in multiple ways. “Perhaps we should introduce a sales role focused on interacting with individuals on social sites, on the website, getting good fit buyers to take surveys or contribute to content. Perhaps, we shouldn’t be relegating the role of prospecting to junior salespeople at all. Perhaps companies should put more effort into helping their salespeople become known experts in their field, so that buyers want to talk to them earlier in their buying process.

“I can’t continue to wake up to an inbox filled with selfish, unsolicited emails from salespeople who seem to only be interested in pitching me,” Caputa said. “I, like many others I know, have begun to click the spam button on these messages. I don’t think it’s going to work for much longer.”

Want more? Get our guide to all the 17 top sales trends for 2017 here.