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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Jun 27, 2017 5 min read

The Differences between Inbound and Outbound Sales Calls

{}It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear outbound sales call have fallen out of favour. Much as companies are doing away with other outbound sales techniques and adopting inbound selling methods, so too have many shifted their calling strategies.

You might wonder what the differences are between inbound and outbound sales calls. There are numerous—and important—distinctions that can help or hinder your sales and marketing.

Outbound Sales Calls

Most of your sales team is likely familiar with outbound sales calls. They typically go by another name: cold calling. In this case, team members pick up the phone and dial up potential customers. They may have done some research about the leads, but this is generally the first time either of them have been in contact.

Cold calling has a particularly bad rap; even the sales reps who do it don’t want to receive a cold call themselves. This technique has been around forever, but it’s become less and less effective over time. It’s gradually being replaced by inbound sales calling. And you, too, should say goodbye to cold calling.

Inbound Sales Calls

There are two kinds of inbound sales calls of particular interest to firms today, and both of them offer a sharp contrast to the cold call.

The first is “warm” calling. This technique is like the bridge between cold calling and inbound. The call itself is still technically outbound, but your reps have already had contact with the leads, often through social media or your website. They might be following up on an email request for an appointment or an online quote request.

A “hot” call is truly inbound: The customer calls you. Most of the time, this is a direct result of visiting your website or interacting with your social media. The customer is interested and takes the initiative to pick up the phone and talk to one of your reps.

The Key Difference

Perhaps the biggest difference between inbound and outbound sales calls is the customer’s level of interest. With inbound sales calls, both the warm and hot varieties, the customer has already expressed interest. With a hot call, the customer is clearly very motivated and interested! A warm call might end in a deal, but the customer is typically less decided.

Both are better prospects for your sales team than a cold call, however. With a cold call, your sales reps are essentially guessing; they’ve had no contact with the customers, and the customers haven’t expressed any interest. In fact, they might even be annoyed by receiving these cold calls!

The Inbound Advantage

It’s clear that inbound and outbound sales calls are entirely different tactics; inbound has distinct advantages. With inbound calls, you’ve established a connection with the customers before calling them. Most people are more receptive to a phone call when they know it’s coming, and they’re especially receptive if they’ve asked you to give them a ring.

Nobody asks for a cold call, which is why your reps get the cold shoulder more often than not with outbound sales calls.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Another key difference between inbound and outbound sales calling is their effectiveness. Inbound is the more effective of the two, since the customer’s already interested and motivated to discuss services and products with you. You’re less likely to get that kind of reception with a cold call.

The other aspect of this is efficiency. Outbound sales calling results in a lot of dead ends; your sales reps can spend a lot of time researching and cold calling prospects, but their conversion rates are going to be low. Inbound sales calling, on the other hand, allows your reps to interact with parties who are already interested, resulting in a higher conversion rate—meaning it’s much more efficient for them to practise inbound sales calling.


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.