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Inbound vs. Outbound Prospects

My rules for high converting messaging

Chris Ritson

1 Sept 2023

3 mins

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Most salespeople understand the difference between inbound and outbound prospects. 

The problem is they don’t know how to translate that into their day-to-day. 

This means not being able to meet prospects at their level. This will impact your targeting, your messaging, and ultimately your performance. 

In this newsletter, I will be sharing the differences between inbound and outbound prospects and how to think about messaging and sequences accordingly. 

Let’s get stuck in. 

Phase 1: Understanding OB v IB Prospects: 

Firstly, let me show you what I mean by ‘The Buyer Journey’. 

The diagram below shows the 4 stages of the journey. The problem is it doesn’t account for 'Outbound’:

Outbound prospects are in the stage before ‘awareness’. Why? Because the prospect doesn’t have a bloody clue they are on your list, who you even are, or the name of your company. 

So when we are building sequences and messaging we need to account for that. 

Simply put - your prospect does not know you, so why would they trust you enough to spend 30 minutes on a discovery call? 

What we need to be focused on is building that trust over the course of our outbound sequence. 

Making someone ‘aware’ of you (to the point of them knowing who you are and what you do) typically takes 6-8 repetitions. So I’m afraid to break the news to you that one email or call is unlikely to be enough. 

Inbound prospects however will be found in the ‘awareness’ stage of the buyer journey. 

These prospects know you, have likely researched you, and trust you enough to take some form of action. 

That action could be a demo request, a content download, attending an event etc. Whatever it is, they have shown some form of buying intent and that’s incredibly powerful. 

Therefore, your focus here should not be building initial trust, but to qualify them and build deeper trust in the fact you can solve their problem. 

To get their attention once they’ve taken action will require a different approach. 

That’s where your messaging and sequences come in. 

Phase 2: Building your Sequences: 

Now you know where your prospects are in their journey with you it should actually be pretty straightforward to build a sequence to suit. 

But a lot of people still get this part very wrong. 

Here are the rules I follow:


  • 15 steps minimum 

  • 20 days minimum 

  • Omnichannel 

  • 20% automation max 

  • All steps are important (can’t stress this enough) 

  • ‘Low friction’ CTAs in first 5 steps. Eg. ‘Can I send you a 1-minute video explaining more’ 

  • Optimise for patience and building trust (include social proof) 

  • Problem-to-persona oriented 

Here’s a link to my Outbound Sequence right now:


10 steps minimum 

  • 10 days minimum 

  • Omnichannel 

  • 20% automation max 

  • All steps are important (again, can’t stress this enough) 

  • ‘High friction CTAs in all steps’ Eg. Would you like more info or is a call more appropriate at this stage’? 

  • Optimise for speed and qualify for interest 

Here’s a post outlining my Inbound Sequence (for demo requests) right now: 

BONUS: My TOP TIP for ALL sequences: 

No matter if your sequences are inbound or outbound use a PS. in ALL of your steps (voicemails, LinkedIn, Emails, Videos) to push people to your other steps. 

For example, if I email someone I also say: 

PS. I also connected on LinkedIn with you. 

Or if I message them on LinkedIn I might say: 

PS. I also emailed you. The subject line is ‘XYZ’. 

Redirecting people to your content is a sure-fire way of building more trust (as long as what you’re directing them to is useful).

Quick Summary: 

Inbound and Outbound prospects are at dramatically different stages in their buying journey with you. 

Acting accordingly is mission-critical to your sequences and success in sales development. 

This week’s action step: 

Review your inbound and outbound sequences. Note down whether you think they are appropriate for where your buyer is. Are you building enough trust with outbound? Are you optimizing for speed with inbound? 

If this is helpful please share with your team. 

Good luck!!

Leader Spotlight:

Good luck!! Delighted to introduce you to Tristan Jones, Senior SDR Manager @Cognism.

His Journey into SDR Leadership: 

Tristan started out as a sales manager at Currys PC World for 5 years but he wanted more. 3 interviews later he landed a job at Cognism. Fast forward a few months and he as consistently crushing quota and got promoted to Enterprise SDR where he was assigned mentees. After figuring out he loved helping others be successful he chose leadership over IC and is now a senior manager in the SDR Leadership team. Not a bad journey. 

3 tips for outbound sequences: 
  • Double down on A-B testing - the goal is simple, consistently improve your messaging. The hard bit is patience as small improvements take time to compound. Keep your variables to a minimum and review them often. 

  • ‘Kill the automation’ - yes it has a place and can be used successfully for bottom-up prospecting but that’s because it’s ‘low jeopardy’. When targeting decision-makers, context, and relevance are key. Use templates, snippets, and cues to help you scale non-automated emails. 

  • Use Context Sequences - Have sequences for different scenarios or use cases created with different templates, cues, and snippets. For example, if you get lots of referrals have a referral sequence. Or maybe they asked for a follow-up email, create a follow-up sequence. 

3 messaging tactics that are working for his team:
  • Understand your prospects - you need a combination of what challenges your prospects face in combination with research on the context of their situation. It’s not one or the other, it’s both that breaks through the noise. 

  • Prospect Centricity - there is no point in knowing things about your prospects if your messaging is all about yourself, your features, and your tool. No prospect wants to be pitch-slapped when they’ve JUST received an email from you for the first time. The ‘how you can help’ and ‘what you do’ comes later. 

  • Experiment religiously - Don’t stick to the same channels and the same messaging and expect to grow your numbers, you have to be brave and try new things out. A couple of examples; implementing a new channel like voice notes or a different tactic in messaging like humour. Sometimes it’s the things you haven’t tried that are your biggest weapons. 

Thanks, Tristan, you legend! 

PS. You can connect with Tristan here

Weekly Send-Off:

Naturally, I hope you all have an incredible weekend. I’m back in France at Lake Annecy celebrating Isaac’s 1st birthday 🙂 

Until next Friday at 1.05pm, au revoir from me, Bridge and Isaac 🙂  

PS. My number is +447814904622. If you need me, Whatsapp me.

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© 2024 Chris Ritson. All right reserved.

© 2024 Chris Ritson. All right reserved.