Which is Better Inbound vs Outbound Leads ?

Our best insights and know-hows for sales, marketing, and customer success teams.


Any business owner knows the importance of creating a healthy sales pipeline. Besides allowing you to accurately determine how many deals will be closed, it will also enable you to monitor your team’s progress. Allocating resources and nurturing leads would become easier, as well.

Establishing a healthy sales pipeline may be important; however, a lot of business owners tend to underestimate the value it brings. Here are a few statistics that show its effect on your company’s profits:

  • Companies that create an easy buying process are 62% more likely to win a high-quality sale (Harvard Business Review>)
  • Nurtured leads often make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group )
  • On average, 70% to 95% of the revenue of businesses comes from upsells and renewals (Forbes Magazine)
  • 95% of buyers choose vendors that provide them with sufficient content (Demand Gen Report)

Given these statistics, it’s clear that establishing a healthy sales pipeline should be a priority for your business.

The Sales Pipeline: Outbound Opportunities

“Outbound sales is the technique where companies push their message or pitch to their prospects through cold-calling, social selling, email marketing, and the like. In it, the sales representatives are contacting leads instead of waiting for the leads to come to them.” – Diego Garzon, CloudTask

To close deals with new clients, an outbound sales strategy usually makes use of the following techniques:

  • B2B Lead Generation: Creating customer interest in the product or service
  • Outbound Prospecting: Using phone calls, email, and social media platforms to reach potential leads
  • Company Mapping: Evaluating the organizational structure to identify and reach decision-makers
  • Live Demos: Conducting presentations to help prospects understand how the product or service will benefit their business

It may seem difficult to wrap your head around these techniques but basically, an outbound sales strategy will consist of the following activities:

  • Cold-Calling: A sales representative will reach out to a prospect via a phone call, during which an in-person meeting is arranged
  • Outbound Email: A sales representative will reach out to a prospect using compelling and personalized email sequences
  • Social Selling: A sales representative will reach out to a prospect via social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
  • Sales Cadences: A sales representative will reach out to a prospect through a combination of phone calls, email sequences, and social media platforms

Needless to say, there are several advantages and disadvantages to using this strategy. You might want to consider these before instructing your team to focus on outbound opportunities.


  • The Return-on-Investment (ROI) is quick, making it ideal for start-ups and businesses with limited resources
  • Fairly simple to automate, track, and measure
  • Allows representatives to foster a deep connection with prospects
  • Scaling it isn’t hard
  • Provides an efficient way to determine whether a lead will be the “right fit”


  • Unsolicited outreach may be regarded as too aggressive, which will lead to a negative relationship with the prospect
  • Advertising materials are expensive and time-consuming to make
  • Representatives must not feel demotivated by constant rejections

The Sales Pipeline: Inbound Opportunities

“Inbound sales is the technique where companies ‘pull’ interested prospects and qualify them to see if they’re a fit for their product or service. In other words, it focuses on the customer’s needs and the salesperson adapts to the buyer’s journey, acting as a trusted advisor.” – Diego Garzon, CloudTask

An inbound sales strategy takes advantage of the buyer’s journey, which consists of the following stages:

  • Awareness: The prospect is experiencing a problem and is actively doing research to understand it better
  • Consideration: The prospect is now fully aware of his problem and is committed to understanding the available approaches that can help solve it
  • Decision: The prospect has finally decided on what they want to do to solve their problem and is now compiling a list of vendors that can deliver their desired approach

Before becoming an actual paying customer, a lead will move through all three of these stages. They become aware of your product or service through social media platforms, then learn more about it through touchpoints, such as videos and how-to guides on your website. Finally, they’ll make their purchase decision after a representative gives them a guided demo or a follow-up phone call.

This strategy focuses on nurturing the lead, which is a stark contrast to outbound sales, wherein traditional methods, like cold-calling and bulk email sequences, are used, in the hopes that a prospect will bite. A representative taking advantage of inbound opportunities will strive to foster a strong relationship between him and the potential customer, making rejection less likely to happen.

To close deals with new clients, an inbound sales strategy usually makes use of the following techniques:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Improving the website’s content to increase visibility on search engines
  • Content Marketing: Creating online content, like YouTube videos and blog posts, to generate awareness and interest in the brand
  • Affiliate Marketing: Giving someone a commission for advertising the brand’s product or service

Much like outbound sales, focusing only on inbound opportunities has several advantages and disadvantages too.


  • Aims to foster strong long-term relationships with potential customers, which means that they’ll be more likely to come back for more
  • Cost-effective since building a website and social media channels are free
  • Some potential leads might appreciate being nurtured and gently nudged, rather than being “sold to”
  • Focuses on creating compelling and unforgettable content that could possibly go viral, increasing consumer awareness of the brand


  • Rather intimidating to establish, especially if the team isn’t well-versed in modern marketing techniques, such as social media and content creation
  • Creating marketing materials is time-consuming and could be expensive if the business doesn’t have the expertise for it
  • The Return-on-Investment (ROI) is oftentimes slow and hard to track, which could mean investing in special software
  • Requires a team with diverse skills – for instance, there should be social media managers, copywriters, SEO experts, and more

Outbound Leads vs. Inbound Leads: Which is Better?

There are pros and cons to both outbound leads and inbound leads; however, your long-term strategy should be to focus on the latter.

But if you still lack the volume and quality of customers to support your business, then going after outbound opportunities is recommended.

Consider this:

“...these are two separate approaches that can be used effectively on their own or even together. Each one has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Outbound is a better short-term solution with higher long-term costs, while inbound tends to be the better long-term solution with its own set of associated investment costs.” – Liz Moorehead, Impact Plus

So, to answer your question – there isn’t a strategy that’s better than the other. Rather, their effectiveness is hinged on where your business is.

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