Managing Inbound Marketing & Outbound Sales: Top 8 Tips


Aurelien Mottier

Managing Inbound Marketing & Outbound Sales: Top 8 Tips


Reading Time: 7 minutes

Managing Inbound Marketing & Outbound Sales: Top 8 Tips

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

Following on from our recent article breaking down the true cost of outsourced sales activities, we’d like to offer some tips for businesses managing an internal sales team. To clarify this as simply as possible, we’ve broken it down into the two main functions of your business and sales development representatives: inbound marketing and outbound sales activities.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is the practice of generating website traffic and enticing leads to get in touch with your company rather than your sales representatives reaching out to them. This is typically done via social media campaigns and building a hub of targeted content designed specifically to engage your audience.

Utilizing inbound marketing can not only increase the number of quality leads you get but also build brand awareness and solidify your place as a market leader.

Managing inbound marketing leads

You’ll only reap the rewards of inbound marketing if you implement it correctly – which involves a lot more than you may think.

1. Ensure that you have a clear and concise key performance indicator to measure success with.

Your KPI for inbound marketing management should be based on an agreed number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that a salesperson will ‘disposition’ on a daily and monthly basis. This is vital for measuring your sales team’s level of performance and activity.

An MQL is a prospect inquiry that derives from a marketing channel (events, web forms, chats, email campaigns etc). The inquiry must come from a company that clearly has the ability to buy your solutions — so students, resellers and competitors should be removed from the equation. By ‘dispositioning’, we’re referring to having a meaningful conversation with the prospect, and being able to classify them as either a qualified lead, a non-qualified lead, or a nurturing lead.

The KPI that we mention here is dependent on the source of the lead, the marketing channel by which it was generated, and the complexity of your offering. Here at Operatix, we would advise clients offering high-value solutions with complex sales cycles to be dispositioning five to eight net new MQLs per day. For our more transactional clients, we would advise that they aim to disposition 10 to 15 net new MQLs per day.

2. The conversion rate from a marketing qualified lead to a sales accepted lead (SAL) or sales qualified lead (SQL) should be measured, using the sources of the leads.

A knowledge of this conversion rate doesn’t just help you understand which of your marketing campaigns are bearing the most fruit, but also in managing your sales resources, as you can more accurately tell them what you expect from their inbound activity.

Whether it’s through LinkedIn campaigns, email campaigns or conferences, you may often find that some sources will be more productive than others. Benchmark statistics gathered from the pipelines of hundreds of companies show that website-based leads are the most productive, averaging a 31.3% conversion rate, with referral leads in second place at 24.7%. It will be very tempting for your sales representatives to focus on these most productive sources. The key, however, is to maintain a mixed-marketing approach — a balance between proactive and reactive activities.

Do your utmost to make sure your sales team doesn’t get complacent with inbound marketing activity. This can be done by setting the right level of expectations, incentivizing them accordingly to broaden their approach, and ensuring they work harder on MQLs that aren’t as qualified as they could be. For further, more detailed information on this particular topic, click here.

3. A service level agreement must be put in place between the marketing, sales and BDR teams.

The SLA should ask the right questions about the relationship between marketing and BDR, as well as between BDR and sales. Should the BDR function sit with sales or marketing? Who does BDR report to? How will BDR go about escalating an issue if, for example, the sales team are failing to convert opportunities?

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What are outbound sales?

Outbound sales activities are where a sales development representative initiates contact with a prospective client, typically via cold calling, email marketing and social media. The sales representative must first identify and qualify the lead rather than wait for the prospect to engage first.

Outbound sales tips

The main difference between outbound and inbound marketing is who engages first. With inbound marketing, the goal is to get the prospect to engage first, while outbound sales are the exact opposite – the sales representative will engage first. Use our outbound sales tips and considerations below to get the best out of this method.

1. Almost nobody likes to perform this aspect of their role.

Only a very select few sales representatives are good at outbound sales, and enjoy doing it. If you’re lucky enough to have access to one of these select few, they’re worth their weight in gold. In most cases, you’ll have to recruit and enable your own team, which can take time and be very challenging if you do not have the required level of management experience. This is why outsourcing your outbound sales may not only be a cost effective option, but one that can accelerate sales and generate quality leads.

2. We believe that the outbound aspect of a sales representative’s role should not be based on project identification.

That is unless you’re selling highly commoditized products and solutions. The outbound sales aspect should revolve around demand creation, and setting up sales engagements with decision-makers at prospective client companies. The role should be to find the right level or persona in the right prospective companies, having the right kind of pain point that your solution can fix.

3. Measure the conversion rate between meaningful conversation and a sales accepted engagement.

If you’re focusing on demand creation, we would expect around a 20% to 30% conversion rate from meaningful conversation to sales accepted engagement. For project identification, this figure drops to between 5% and 8%. Focusing on project identification is not wise; you should be conversing with clients, challenging their current way of operating, and creating projects, rather than relying on them being ready to simply buy your solution in the short term.

If you find that your conversion rate is below our suggested figure, one or a combination of three things may have gone wrong: you aren’t speaking to the right profile of prospective companies, you aren’t speaking to the right level of persona in the organizations, or you don’t have a compelling enough message that resonates with your target prospects.

4. Maximize your conversion rate between a meeting being arranged and a meeting actually occurring with a client.

If a prospect has agreed to meet with one of your sales resources but cancels at the last minute, it can point to two signs: you are not a priority to them, or the client doesn’t understand the value of the meeting.

The first action to take is to agree on a proper time and date with the prospect, rather than an ambiguous slot such as “some time before lunch on Wednesday”. You should also ensure that the objective of the meeting is clearly articulated in advance. Ask yourself this: what is the value of spending one hour with your organization? Do you have an understanding of issues that similar organizations may be facing? What solutions can you offer to their issues? The answers to these questions should be organized into an agenda.

5. Monitor the conversion rate between a meeting occurring and a sales qualified opportunity.

A prospect in the right profile of a company at a decision-maker level that you’ve met with, showing solid interest in the solution that you offer, is what we would call a sales qualified opportunity. The prospect should also have agreed to the next step within the sales cycle. We would expect a minimum of a 50% conversion rate between a meeting occurring and a sales qualified opportunity.

If your figure is lower than this, there are three problems that might be hindering you: the level of seniority that the person you’ve met with commands, your salesperson’s unwillingness to declare pipeline, or your salesperson’s manner of approach within the meeting. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of simply spewing as much information as you can to the client in a one-way manner.

The key is to remember that a conversation with the prospect is much more effective; get them to open up about their issues so you can offer solutions. If you know exactly where the issue is, you can zero in and ask the right questions regarding the prospect.

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Inbound marketing and outbound sales: a closing note

A lot of what we’ve said regarding inbound marketing and outbound sales has derived from the tremendous amount of experience that Operatix has accrued over the years. Working with just one kind of business cannot provide a rounded level of experience that we offer. This is especially relevant if you’re a startup, an organization trying to achieve quick growth, or an organization having to do a mix of inbound and outbound sales activities.

We’ve seen businesses hugely successful in outsourcing their sales activities, and we’ve also seen businesses very successful in building their own sales teams. Whichever path you choose to take, it’s important to remember that you need a clear SLA defining what success is, as well as having the right KPIs in place to monitor performance — so that if something goes wrong, you can zero in on the issue and solve it efficiently. Regardless of whether your BDR function is in-house or outsourced, the team should be treated as an extension of your own business. An outsourced salesperson must be considered, scrutinized and supported just as much as an in-house counterpart would be.

Getting it wrong when you set up your own team might lose you between six months to a year of full productivity if the resources you’ve recruited are not the best fit for your organization, or even if the right kinds of people are making mistakes and learning from them within this bedding-in period. Outsourcing this function to a professional, external body saves this time, but be wary of these bodies overselling what they do, or promoting a ‘pay-per-performance’ model.

Many of these organizations build their teams with under-qualified or non-experienced sales staff such as students and offshore or temporary workers. They also have a tendency to push the fault of any issues that may arise back towards the client, or simply not deliver any results.

As we mentioned in the first of this two-part series on outsourcing vs. building your own BDR function, the true cost of insourcing can be somewhat veiled on the face of things. Regardless of which path you decide to take, effectiveness, time to results, productivity, scalability and experience should be the skills you are prioritizing for a successful BDR function.

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.


Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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