In past blogs, Marge has described the relationship between inbound and outbound with a marriage metaphor. We know these two can, and indeed must, co-exist. But do they always get along? And even more importantly, do they function effectively together?
As you may have experienced, there can certainly be areas of disconnect between inbound and outbound. Each team is working to create new business opportunities, but from different perspectives. The gap can actually be worsened unless rules of engagement are put in place to manage the process and the pipeline. In some ways, what improves the working relationship between inbound and outbound teams is what professional counselors often recommend for their clients’ interpersonal relationships: mutual communication, listening, and appreciation.
Editor's note: this blog was originally published in December 2014 and has been revised and updated in May 2020 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
I work mainly in the sales and outbound environment and I can attest to the value of the feedback received from inbound marketing colleagues. I am not simply talking about receiving warm or hot leads on which to follow up. The marketing team provides valuable business intelligence and analysis gleaned from inbound efforts and marketing automation analytics. Because the information is shared between our two realms, I am able to modify my outbound messaging, honing it to a sharper focus.
Conversely, outbound teams have an obligation to make the inbound team aware of what they are hearing and learning while interacting directly with prospects. It allows the inbound team to develop content around specific pain points and questions prospects actually ask during sales calls. This in turn improves engagement with content, such as click through rates, downloads, and email opens. Information sales shares can also help inbound and marketing to develop more accurate segmentation and personas to target.
Communication builds a working relationship when both sides discuss their goals, find common ground, and identify ways to help each other achieve them. For example, if sales needs high quality leads, marketing can use sales call feedback to better qualify each prospect. Sharing the bigger picture of each other’s processes and reasoning builds mutual respect and consideration.
Along with communicating, both parties should also be listening thoughtfully to what’s being shared. If one party is trying to dictate how a situation is handled, the other is more likely to ignore the message. And, when both try to talk at the same time, the message gets lost. Holding regular meetings between inbound and outbound teams gives them a chance to catch up on each other’s struggles or process changes. It’s also a forum for exchanging tricks of the trade and tips for better outcomes.
For example, many companies generate significant inbound traffic from product inquiries or CTA’s through their website. The inside sales team responds to the questions, but are they truly listening and going to the next step with each inquiry? If not, they miss out on an opportunity for an open-ended discussion regarding the application, use, or need. Outside sales reps can alert inside reps to listen for certain questions or phrases that may indicate the need to ask more discovery questions. Inside sales reps can take the outcomes of these calls and share what they learned, trends, and common questions with marketing for content development and website improvements. It’s not just sharing these ideas that helps, it’s listening and acting on what’s learned, that results in greater opportunity for the company.
Everyone enjoys a compliment or a gift. I am not saying that you need to order flowers for the entire department but showing appreciation goes a long way toward building a working relationship. True teamwork stems from assisting and not excluding each other, so make efforts to tear down boundaries and eliminate silos. During cross-department meetings, share your successes, discuss your challenges, and trade information.
When both parties understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, they begin to see how one department impacts the other. That in turn leads to creating efficient workflows and hand offs from one team to the next and trusting that everyone is working toward the same goal of business development.