Who to call? It’s this question that bonds the freshly bachelor degreed sales rep on his first day and the sales pro on his nth day of keeping his pipeline full and moving. The implications of this question are anxiety, trepidation, and, understandably, low productivity and fear.

After years of calls ending in disappointment, emails going unanswered, direct mailers missing ROI dreams, and awkward in person visits, companies across industries of all sizes began believing the “no’s” and began searching for an answer. “What if we didn’t need to cold call, reignite warm leads ourselves, and prospect inside and outside of our database,” they asked. The promise of technology and automation seemed to be the answer.

Finally, companies were given the answer: inbound marketing. In theory, inbound methodologies were a dream come true: prospects knocking down the virtual doors, filling out forms, telling companies exactly who they were and what they were interested in. No more wondering, no more “annoying” decision makers, and possibly no more spending money on paid advertising, instead there was to be a transfer of reliance to the silver bullets called social media and organic search.

Unfortunately, we were severely misguided. Social media companies realized organic reach was bad for business and search algorithms changed with mind-boggling frequency. If inbound is like growing a garden, the reality of the methodology is not a fruitful, vibrant palace garden: its a cramped public co-op built on quicksand.

It’s time to get real: cold outreach is not dead, it’s never been more alive. I’ll take a handful of email templates, a couple of call scripts, some targeted content and a tight CRM workflow over my competitors 100 pretty blog articles and hope.  All day.

What the inbound experiment has taught us is content does matter, intelligence on prospects is valuable, and giving prospects the ability to raise their hand in a unique, solution-oriented manner makes a huge difference. That said, a marketers hope should not replace the endeavor to reach out to the right prospects, at the right time, with only the right content. Sales and marketing are in this together, and that means less cute blog brainstorming sessions and more outreach. 

The vestiges of the misguided methodology called inbound has led us here at Union to dive in and endeavor to perfect the real promising lead generation methodology: Intent Marketing. Content matters, conversion paths matter, but sales is no place for hope.  Hope is not a strategy.

In other words, stop growing gardens and start building houses.

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