Generating Inbound Leads With Outbound Sales Messaging


For most sales leaders, inbound leads are the dream–the hand-raisers, demo requesters, and tell me more types who make selling a breeze. But what if there was a way to turn outbound prospects into inbound leads?

As a growth marketer, Eric Nowoslawski has worked with over 120 startups. He teaches founders the systems, processes, and strategies that make outbound a dependable pipeline of growth. Eric joined the Predictable Revenue podcast to discuss how to create inbound leads using outbound sales messaging. 

The value of inbound leads to outbound sales

With new advancements in outbound sales technology, it’s easier than ever to send mass volumes of cold emails. But not all offers perform well in a written format. 

Consumers are distrustful of bold claims, and sending an email about how your product saved one company millions of dollars can come across as spammy. Other offers may be based on a concept that’s hard to convey over a single email. These types of offers perform better with inbound leads, who have raised their hand to signal interest in the product.

Most salespeople associate inbound leads with content marketing–free resources, blogs, and podcasts–but there are other ways to get prospects into your funnel. Eric breaks down three strategies outbound sales reps can use to turn prospects into qualified inbound leads.

Using Trojan horse content to generate inbound leads

What Eric calls the “Trojan horse” is the most effective way to generate inbound leads with outbound sales prospecting. 

The first step is to build a useful piece of content, like a checklist, calculator, or no-code utility. Then use that free resource in your prospecting. Instead of sending a cold email that asks for a meeting, send a simple message that says something like, “I saw you’re in this industry, would this be interesting to you?”.

Instead of pushing the sale, focus on giving value. If the content in your resource is truly valuable, those prospects will be interested in learning more and eventually, convert into inbound leads.

If you choose to use this method, make sure you don’t pull a bait and switch where you give something away for free and then immediately turn around and ask for a meeting. The resource should be helpful regardless of whether the prospect chooses to engage. Those that do respond, however, will be raising their hands as inbound leads.

Building a community for outbound sales

The second way to turn outbound prospects into inbound leads is to build a community for your ideal clients, and then invite prospects to join that community. Like the Trojan horse example, this creates real value without a hard sell.

Which of these emails would you rather receive:

  1. Here’s what I’m selling, are you interested in buying? 
  2. I’ve built a community of people just like you, would you be interested in joining?

Although the latter may also be used in a cold email, it’s infinitely more appealing than the first option. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you’re building a community of quality leads.



Choose the right platform

The first step to building a group of outbound sales prospects is to decide where that community will live. Eric recommends creating a small community within a larger platform; a private Facebook group, for example. 

Choose a platform that your prospects already use regularly. For service-based businesses that likely means Facebook, while for B2B you’d probably be better with Slack. 

Create stellar content

The content you share within this community needs to be stronger than anything you post outside of it. Because this is part of your outbound sales process, think about what your prospects would find most valuable, and then give that content away constantly (with free training, PDF guides, etc.). 

Once you’ve built a community, it’s tempting to start selling to the people inside your group. But if you want to turn those prospects into inbound leads, then stay focused on providing free value. This will help you build authority and trust, and over time, turn those prospects into inbound leads.

Qualify everyone who joins

Make your community more exclusive by asking prospects to answer a few questions before they join. This will help them see it’s a high-quality group, but it’s also an opportunity to generate inbound leads. 

Try adding a qualifying question like: “We help businesses scale their cold email outreach without ending up in the spam folder. Are you interested in learning more?” If they say yes, you can add them to your list of prospects.

How to run a challenge that generates qualified inbound leads

The third way to turn outbound prospects into inbound leads is to host a challenge. This is a popular marketing tactic to generate interest, but it can also serve an outbound sales function.

Everyone who signs up for the challenge has effectively raised their hand to say they’re interested in what you’re selling. This is why it’s important to be particular with who you let join. Like the community example, you want to pre-qualify these people as much as possible. One way to do this is to ask participants to pay a fee, then refund it at the end of the challenge. 

You’ll also want to be upfront about the amount of effort required to get the result. If you’re promising they’re going to walk away with a complete online course, that’s going to require a fair amount of work on their end. For some, that will be a deterrent–but your most qualified inbound leads will still sign up.

Eric recommends a challenge lasting somewhere between seven days and six weeks. Most B2B services will require longer challenges to achieve any meaningful outcome, while product-based businesses can get by with a shorter length of time. 

Bonus tip for generating inbound leads

The same concept of hosting a challenge can be applied to running a LinkedIn event. Turn a recent webinar into an event, and invite up to a thousand people from your network. Those that show interest can be added to your list of outbound sales prospects. 

Turning outbound sales prospects into inbound leads requires a shift in mindset

Instead of emailing someone to ask for a meeting, think of that initial outreach as the beginning of a conversation. Approach prospects with something valuable to offer, get them to raise their hand, then qualify them into inbound leads. 

If you need help coaching your outbound sales team on the best approach and mentality for prospecting, book a free assessment call with us! We’ve helped thousands of companies build successful outbound sales functions that perform month after month.


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The tips in this book will help you navigate a better outbound process, one that focuses on human connection over quotas. Because ironically, focusing on your prospect instead of the sale will make you a more successful sales rep.

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