Getting early traction for your B2B startup isn’t easy – but it’s essential if you want to survive. Startups selling to enterprises have a number of unique challenges, and opportunities, when it comes to getting their first handful of paying customers.

To get off the ground, the sales team must first decide where to put the majority of their efforts: into outbound activities or inbound. And while some anecdotal evidence may suggest that outbound delivers faster results, that is not necessarily always the case.

Outbound selling

Outbound tactics are the tried, tested and true tactics of the sales world, and they work well when selling to enterprise businesses.

A sales team simply identifies prospect accounts, finds and reaches out to key decision-makers, sets up calls and demos, and closes deals. Outbound selling is the cornerstone of many fast-growth B2B startups, and it’s no wonder why: the faster you can close sales, the faster you can grow, iterate, pivot and remain competitive.

Inbound selling

Typically, inbound selling involves understanding the buyer’s journey and creating compelling content at every stage to attract new customers. Leveraging inbound can (and should) also mean using data from social networks to develop a precise understanding of your target prospects.

Selling to enterprises using inbound methods would consist of creating valuable content like an industry-leading whitepaper and using it to show decision-makers why your company is the best at what it does.

Outbound + inbound: The powerhouse team

The best plan for most early stage B2B startups is a healthy dose of both inbound and outbound tactics.

Outbound is great at quickly generating ROI. But inbound efforts tend to snowball – a blog post you wrote two months ago could still be bringing in leads today. Together, these two methods can accelerate growth as well as maintain steady growth over time.

Using tactics pulled from the inbound playbook, you can significantly augment your outbound team’s efforts. Consider how incorporating LeadSift’s contextual content intelligence into your program would work, for example:

Before, your team was being fed unqualified leads from marketing, or from purchased lists. Conversion rates were low, because it was difficult to identify prospects that were a good fit for your service. This resulted in wasted time and effort, and low overall ROI.

But after leveraging insights from LeadSift, you’re seeing almost overnight improvements. LeadSift delivers leads that have expressed an interest in content related to your industry or your competitors – you’re no longer working with cold leads, but relevant, warm ones. Using these insights, plus the buyer personas you’ve developed as part of your inbound program, you can filter your leads to focus energy on the ones most likely to convert.

If you want to see early success, your best bet is to incorporate inbound tactics into your outbound program. From there, you can shift focus onto more or less inbound (writing more ebooks, scaling back social efforts) depending on where you are seeing your ROI come from. But the data and insights you can glean from inbound should always be part of your outbound efforts.