Over the past few months, many of the social-only, inbound-only, the-only-school-is-new-school chattering class have revised their talk tracks. As it turns out, outbound is back in fashion (even though many of us refused to buy the hype, instead speaking what we knew to be true, namely that outbound is still necessary and faster). Much of what the social-chattering class has written lately has pertained to cold calling still being necessary.
Outbound prospecting efforts are back in fashion because inbound itself could never live up to the promise at scale. What an individual can do is different from what an enterprise can do. The promise was “never cold call again,” and “stop selling and just be helpful,” even though this brave new sales world made salespeople even more conflict averse, afraid to interrupt their dream client, and be “helpful” meaning providing more information (this, from the same people who suggested that the internet provides all the information necessary and that clients know as much as the salespeople who call on them). Empty and shallow pipelines moved things back towards outbound.
Speed to results matter. Inbound, like all the other ways one might prospect for new business, is a nice addition to the existing methods, if it isn’t nearly as fast. Because it is passive, it doesn’t produce meetings and the new opportunities that come from them nearly as quickly as more traditional methods. Opportunities now are better than opportunities a year from now. Helping client with the results they need now is better than helping them twenty-two months from now. Inbound provides tremendous support for outbound efforts by helping capture mind-share and nurturing relationships, both of which are critical. But the math on what it takes to produce results makes an inbound-only, social-only a poor choice.
Sales enablement, sales training, and sales improvement are fashion businesses. When something catches fire, regardless of the real value, people who work in the sales training space work to capitalize on the trend by creating an offering which, at the time of this writing, is Account Based Sales and Marketing. But a better view is to be aware of what is new, and the potential value but always with an eye towards what has endured. As the future arrives at an ever faster clip, the things that have been true for hundreds of thousands of years are going to produce outsized results. The longer something has been useful, the longer it is likely to be so.