While getting your first 10 inbound customers is challenging, it’s not as hard as the leap from nearbound to true inbound. This typically happens between 10-50 inbound customers.
In this article, we’ll walk through how to make that leap, avoid common mistakes, and set up your inbound engine for fast growth and scale.
How to mess up the nearbound-to-inbound leap
After closing your first 10 inbound (really nearbound) customers, you should have enough information to start transitioning to true inbound. However, there are lots of ways to bungle this transition. Here are some of the most common mistakes companies make.
Many companies don’t take full advantage of the 0-10 inbound customer stage. Rather than learn as much as possible about their customers, they operate with insufficient data. While you can get to 10 customers this way, it’s much harder to scale beyond that.
Unless you know with confidence who your customers are and why they buy, you need to double back. Talk to your early customers to understand why they bought from you. Dive deep into their pain points and how your product benefits them.
When you try to scale with bad insights, you’ll pour money into an inbound engine that doesn’t work. This, in turn, will implode your operation.
Tech stack sprawl
Expanding your inbound efforts requires (as we’ll see below) more assets, tools, and systems:
- Landing pages
- Lead capture forms
- Email automation
- Scheduling links
- Lead routing software
- Lead qualification filters
As a cost-saving measure, many early-stage companies adopt point solutions and duct-tape them together to achieve this functionality. While this works with 0-10 leads, past that the whole thing starts to break.
Instead, you need a centralized inbound platform that’s built to scale. That way, you can leverage its simplicity in the early stages, and expand your functionality as you grow.
Adding more people to the process, whether they be in the sales or marketing organization, is an inevitable part of growth. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult to manage them. Poor management leads to decreased productivity, which slows, rather than accelerates, your efforts.
When you have a single source of truth for your increasingly complex inbound operations, it becomes easier and less time-consuming to manage your team.
4 components necessary to make the nearbound to inbound leap
So how do you overcome these challenges? The solution, as we’ve alluded to above, is to have a unified system that enables you to handle these complexities simply and effectively. Here are the four pillars you need in place at this stage.
1. Data-driven GTM strategy & ideal customer profiles (ICPs)
Success in inbound requires content that attracts active buyers to your website. However, too often companies focus on building their content without answering a far more basic question: will our messaging and positioning speak to the right audience?
So before you start building out content, funnels, and automations, you need a GTM strategy & ideal customer profiles (ICPs) built on real-world customer data. This is where all that data-gathering in the 0-10 inbound customer stage will be helpful—because you’ll have enough information to answer the following questions:
- Why are people buying from you?
- What benefit do you offer that convinced them to work with you?
- Which channels brought in the most engagement?
- What topics have engaged them the most (so you can start building your website content)?
In most cases, your initial GTM strategy and ICPs won’t be 100% off the mark. But once you start attracting customers, you’ll have a clearer idea of which hypotheses are working and which ones you need to adjust or discard.
Because of this, you’ll also start to place a greater priority on lead qualification, simply because you know what a qualified lead looks like. This strategic decision is a key first step toward an automated, seamless inbound engine.
2. Inbound engine & flywheel
The nearbound-to-inbound leap involves first steps toward generating a consistent, moving pipeline. As you learn more about your customers, you’ll have the insights necessary to expand past a simple scheduling tool into a more sophisticated inbound engine:
- Content on your website to attract and provide value to visitors
- Easily accessible conversion forms for those who want to learn more
- Nurture emails to continue engaging and educating these leads
- Lead qualification systems to determine whether they’re ready to buy
- Automated routing and scheduling to connect them with the right internal contact
While this system will operate slowly at first, as you move from 10-50 inbound customers you’ll notice more leads coming in and through. Over time, prospects will find your website on their own, and you’ll start building a distinct, reputable brand.
3. Sales support
No matter how many inbound leads you generate, without consistent support from your sales team, they’ll never convert into customers. As more inbound leads come in, a one-person sales team can’t handle that influx (especially if that single person is the founder).
While you’re likely still primarily a founder-led sales organization at this stage, you’ll need additional salespeople—perhaps even a dedicated inbound sales rep. Otherwise, sales will bottleneck their own pipeline, and marketing results will decelerate.
Additionally, developing a stricter qualification flow can help limit sales interactions to only those prospects most likely to convert. If expanding your sales team is not an option, direct your sales efforts toward the conversations with the highest value.
4. Basic automations
Although you probably won’t have a robust, automated inbound engine at this stage, you’ll start making first steps toward automation:
- Lead data is automatically funneled into your CRM—and enriched with third-party insights
- Leads are automatically qualified and routed to the right point of contact based on
- Leads schedule meetings through built-in calendar tools—no going back and forth to find the time
As you start becoming more sophisticated, you’ll probably start experiencing the challenges of integrating various point solutions and getting them to work in tandem without breaking. This is where choosing an integrated solution—like Default—is helpful, because you have all your inbound capabilities there in one centralized system.
Final thoughts on making the leap from nearbound to true inbound
As you move from 10-50 inbound leads, you need a platform that gives you a clear idea of what’s working. That’s when you know it’s time to pour more gas on the fire.
Our most successful customers treat the inbound process seriously from Day 1, giving them the foundation to achieve rapid growth and scale. They have proper tooling and data structure and a sophisticated, but focused, tech stack. Default is the perfect choice because while we’re built to scale, you only have to use the capabilities needed at your stage of growth.
Use Default to make the transition from nearbound to true inbound seamless and easy. Get started with a demo today.