Outbound vs Inbound Calls - Everything You Need to Know

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Call center workers, rise up!

It’s time for another day of calling a customer and praying that it goes to voicemail or putting a customer on hold for a long time, just hoping they’ll give up and hang up

Stay on the line

via GIPHY

Ok wait, that’s not actually what a call center rep is supposed to do.

Jokes aside, working in a call center might not be the most forgiving job out there, but call center workers are still super important for effective sales and customer service.

That’s right, there’s still a reason to have dedicated people available to accept customer calls even in today's day and age. Even with a plethora of other communication options available, like web chat and email, the phone isn’t going away anytime soon as a valuable tool for customers to reach companies and vice versa.

And it’s not just call center reps that are beholden to the phone.

Depending on how long it takes them to conduct pre-call research (e.g., checking previous customer conversations, investigating the status of an ongoing sale or support issue) and how long it takes the customer to answer the call, a typical sales rep could be dedicating several hours a day chatting with customers as well.

And that’s definitely not a bad thing. Making sure that existing customers are happy and nurturing prospects is important, and a lot of that can be done over the phone. In fact, a recent survey found that the majority of Americans prefer to talk to an actual, live agent over the phone over other email or live chat (although the latter two were the next preferred methods aside from phone).

But with so many different types of calls flying around your business each day, it’s important to understand which calls your employees are receiving and ensure that they have the right tools and support to handle each one effectively.

What Are Inbound Calls & Outbound Calls

Inbound calls

Outbound calls

When a customer calls your business directly to talk to a sales rep or receive support

When an employee calls a customer, e.g., to nurture a potential sale or to follow up on a support ticket

With the above table in mind, an inbound call center would have employees responsible for receiving incoming calls from customers, and either dealing with those customers directly or routing them to the appropriate person? In other words, inbound call center reps can handle sales, customer service, or both.

On the other hand, an outbound call center makes external calls to prospects and existing customers as necessary. Those who work in an outbound call center typically make cold calls to a list of leads using cold calling software. Outbound call center reps are typically exclusively responsible for making sales.

Outsourcing Inbound and Outbound Calls

Outsourcing inbound and outbound calls

It’s not always possible cost-wise for every business to have a dedicated team to handle inbound and outbound calls. Like with other aspects of business, call center operations can be outsourced to a third party to handle.

Aside from the cost, there could be several reasons why outsourcing is a potential option for your company:

  1. You need to scale up the number of employees you have answering service calls, but you want to explore all your options to make the most cost-effective decision
  2. You want customers to be able to receive support 24/7, but that would mean adding evening and night shifts to your schedules and likely paying a premium wage to entice employees to work during these times
  3. You want to be able to offer customer support and sales in multiple languages

But before you decide on whether outsourcing is right for your business, it helps to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether you want to outsource both your inbound and outbound calls or just one or the other.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Inbound and Outbound Calls

Pros

Cons

Often less expensive compared to managing an an inbound or outbound call center

Outsourced reps may not be as well versed in your business compared to in-house reps

Allows you to potentially offer customer service and sales to your customers 24/7

More difficult to ensure that in-house teams and outsourced teams are on the same page in terms of policies, and procedures, and providing consistent customer service

Allows you to potentially offer sales and support in different languages

Language barriers could potentially be an issue if outsourced reps speak multiple languages (or their native language is different from the majority of your customers)

Scaling up or down depending on business need is often easier

More external sources accessing your cloud call center software means more potential security breaches

Outsourcing your call center efforts results in a reduced workload for your internal employees, so you can redistribute efforts elsewhere

Less control over operations when compared to an in-house call center

More flexibility to quickly scale up if there’s a period where call spikes typically happen (e.g. a sale or special event)

There may be a lack of devotion from outsourced call center reps, especially if they are doing call center work for multiple businesses at a time

Inbound vs Outbound Calls - Profitability

Aside from whether to outsource your call center efforts or keep them in house, you also need to consider how much time and effort your employees should be spending on inbound vs outbound calls. Neither inbound nor outbound calls are inherently better than the other, but managing your strategies around both is the key to success.

To be clear, every business should have an inbound and outbound calling strategy. When we say “inbound calls vs outbound calls,” we’re not trying to pit one against the other to decide which is better, we’re trying to get you to think about how you should divide your investment in one versus the other.

That’s right - although both are necessary for your business, your strategy for handling inbound vs outbound calls can affect your overall profitability.

It helps to take a step back and consider how each type of call affects your business's bottom line.

  • Outbound calls are aimed at sales
  • Inbound calls are aimed at building customer relationships

Think about your overall sales strategy and the different factors that affect how prospects find you and become customers. These factors will include things like the type of business you run, which industry or industries you serve, brand awareness, the types of products or services you offer, the length of your sales cycle, and whether you’re a B2B or B2C company.

For instance, a SaaS company will likely do a lot more inbound marketing, which consists of search engine and social media advertising, online content, and more that attracts customers to you. These inbound prospects are already aware and engaged, your marketing efforts are just bringing them to your sales team. If this strategy of harnessing engaged prospects and getting them in front of your salespeople works for your business, then you’ll want to invest more heavily in inbound calling.

On the flip side, a business with the little conversation online or that’s newer to a market and wants to get sales quickly might want to put more of an investment into outbound calls. This is usually done by getting a list of prospects through a lead vendor and getting your sales team to conduct cold calls and cold emails to get new customers.

Outbound Calls vs Inbound Calls - ROI

Outbound calls vs Inbound calls ROI

Determining the ROI of your outbound vs inbound calls requires you to take a closer look at the sales and marketing side of your business.

Inbound calls are directly affected by your inbound marketing strategy. This makes sense because the purpose of your inbound marketing efforts, including online content creation, advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO), is to attract customers to call your salespeople. If you have a strong inbound marketing strategy directing customers to contact you, you’ll want more reps available to answer those inbound calls.

On the other hand, outbound calls are more direct — marketing still plays a role, but salespeople are actively getting in front of customers regardless of whether or not they have heard of your business before.

If you search around online, you’ll quickly see that the general consensus is that inbound marketing has a higher ROI because you’re targeting customers that are already engaged and interested in finding a solution for their problem.

But if your business's average deal size is high, even if an outbound sales rep is making 40-50 calls a day and is only selling to one or two customers, the ROI for outbound calls might be higher for your business.

So to summarize, determining the ROI on outbound calls vs. inbound calls requires you to consider two main factors:

  1. Your business’s typical deal size
  2. How long your inbound marketing strategy has been running, and if it’s successfully bringing in leads

Inbound Calls vs Outbound - Long Term Strategy

To see success with your call center strategies over time, you’ll need to regularly and consistently analyze data points against predetermined metrics that you’ve set to figure out where adjustments need to be made.

For inbound calls, pay careful attention to how inbound marketing strategies are working:

  • Are your inbound marketing efforts bringing in a good number of high-quality leads?
  • Do your salespeople have enough time to reach out to leads effectively?
  • Are these leads becoming customers?

Ringy can help you manage your incoming leads from your marketing efforts by allowing you to organize your incoming leads into categories or “buckets” that determine priority. From there, specific salespeople can be assigned to handle sets of leads. You can also look at history and see how long it takes for a lead to be engaged by a sales rep. If salespeople are having trouble keeping up, CRM marketing automation can help by automatically sending an email to a lead to keep them engaged, for instance.

Sales and marketing should be very closely entwined within your company to be successful. If your inbound marketing campaigns are successful, then your salespeople should have no shortage of qualified leads to turn into customers.

For outbound calls, optimizing your outreach strategies to make them more efficient is the way to go. One of the ways you can do this is by implementing a sales CRM with robust calling features. With Ringy, you can easily manage outbound calls for each agent by assigning lead lists to call and increasing call success with local caller ID, click-to-call dialing, and much more.

Conclusion

Inbound calls

When it comes to outbound vs inbound calls, it’s not so much a question of which is better but rather which is better for your specific business. Over time as your business scales and grows, you might see the focus of your outbound vs inbound calls strategy change to match the current state of your company and sales.

To summarize the difference between outbound vs inbound calls:

  • Outbound calls refer to calls that your employees are making to those outside of your organization and are typically aimed at sales
  • Inbound calls refer to calls that customers make to your organization and can be either sales related or customer service related

Businesses of all sizes deal with both inbound and outbound calls, and should develop strategies to manage both types of calls to be successful effectively. However, which type of call will receive more attention and effort, once again, depends on your specific business and your sales and customer service goals.

To manage your calling strategies, whether primarily focused on inbound calls vs outbound or vice versa, you’ll need a sales CRM with calling features to support your sales and customer support staff.

For a robust solution, look no further than Ringy. Request a demo today, and we’ll show you what our software can do for your business.