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Let’s do a quick thought experiment.
You own a house. There are two different scenarios: in one scenario, you decide it’s time to sell and start looking for options; in the second scenario, someone approaches you and asks if you would be open to selling your house. W
What’s the difference between the two?
Scenario 1 In the scenario where you decide, you probably start reaching out to friends and family for realtor recommendations, maybe you look into Redfin or other options, and you learn about the process of selling with no agent. But in this scenario, you know you’re going to sell.
Scenario 2 In the scenario where someone approaches you, you haven’t decided to sell your house. So they make the case about what a great deal it would be, what you could do with the money, other housing options in your price range, and uses of the equity you extract from the house. Assuming you buy into all of that, you’ll then start reaching out to friends and family for realtor recommendations, maybe you look into Redfin….basically all the same steps you take in Scenario 1.
The difference between inbound and outbound is a lot like that.
If you have an inbound lead come to you, they’re already decided they have a problem and they know the solutions available to them in the market. Maybe they’ve decided the type of solution you provide is best for them. Maybe they’ve even decided that you’re the one and only solution for them. The only thing you need to do in this scenario is validate that you’re trustworthy and as good as they’ve heard, and teach your client how to buy from you. You may have to help them secure buy-in and decide on the right timing, but that’s it.
If you’re going after outbound leads, it’s likely they haven’t decided they have a problem at all. You’re starting from square one, my friend. The contrast between the two is immense.
Said another way, your marketing and/or referral network has done the heavy lifting on inbound leads. They already have some knowledge about you, and trust in what you’re doing.
Contrast that to outbound leads. They may not know who you are at all, they certainly don’t trust you, and they may not be looking for help with a problem you solve right now.
Your sales process for inbound and outbound leads should be different. They start at different points, and your process should reflect that. Inbound leads are much more “buying ready” than “outbound leads” on average, so your process needs to account for the difference.
If you’re used to getting a significant amount of referral business and you begin to look for alternative sources of business, you’ve run into this problem like a brick wall. It’s still true that referrals are the best source of business, but it’s also true that you have little control over the speed and quality of those referrals.
As you begin to build out marketing and selling disciplines within your firm, just know that your sales process needs to reflect the source(s) of business you’re attracting.