Should the same inside sales representative perform both outbound prospecting and inbound marketing functions?

Last month we visited the topic of inside sales: when it is used, and what models are typical.

A very typical inside sales position is one that generates leads for the organization.  Then, either the inside or outside sales representatives handle, manage and close these leads. The field reps focus on selling larger, more expensive products or services, while inside sales representatives selling smaller, lower cost or ancillary products or services.

Inside Sales Is Often Expected to Perform Two Roles

There are more nuances to inside sales than meet the eye.  An inside sales representative generating leads is usually referred to as a lead generator, lead developer or sales developer (among many other names). Their role is usually twofold: 1) to do outbound prospecting and 2) to do inbound marketing. But what does that mean and how do they do it?

To outbound prospect means to proactively perform an outreach activity to key contacts within target accounts. To do inbound marketing means to reactively respond to inbound inquiries from customers or prospects.

We believe the skill set to perform outbound prospecting is different than the skill set needed to do inbound marketing. Asking for double duty spells trouble. Here’s why.

Outbound Prospecting and Inbound Marketing Require Different Skills

To outbound prospect, one must be a hunter — that is, someone who can navigate through an account and identify key contacts within target accounts. During contact, the representative must engage in conversation, to uncover pain points and prioritized plans to implement change. This is a qualifying dialog – to see if the contact is truly a sales lead. This person is comfortable in a proactive environment and with a research oriented function. He or she is able to make a large quantity of qualified outbound attempts to customers and prospects.

To inbound market, one must be able to accept a large volume of inbound inquiries from prospects and customers. These people must engage in conversations that quickly, and effectively qualify and uncover pain points and prioritized plans to implement change.  While they are not expected to be proactive navigators, these representatives are expected to be solid qualifiers. There are times when researching a prospect or customer is important, however, in this situation, it is less needed than in an outbound capacity.

Recommendation: Staff Outbound Prospecting and Inbound Marketing Individually

While some feel these can be similar enough skill sets, we disagree. We maintain that each skill set is varied enough to warrant staffing each role.  Inbound marketers follow up on inbound inquiries, and outbound prospecting staff proactively reach out to customers and prospects.

Do you prefer double-duty reps, or separate staffing? What are your thoughts? Enter your response in the comments.

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