Leads are the lifeblood of any sales operations. It is the fuel that keeps the machine running.
But if you always rely on your potential customers to find your product, it is going to be hard for you to build a dependable process for lead generation and consistently predict your sales every month.
For you to build a sales process that can generate predictable revenue, you will need to go after your leads rather than waiting for them to approach you.
That is the reason why you need outbound sales.
And this post can help you understand what outbound sales is, what are its benefits, what best practices to follow, which metrics to measure and what tools do you need to invest in to have a successful outbound sales strategy.
What is Outbound Sales?
Outbound sales refers to a process where salespeople directly initiate contact with prospective buyers with the intent of making a sale using outbound sales techniques like cold calling, cold emailing, social selling, etc.
Buyers are sought out and sold to in an outbound sales model – hence, the outreach is often cold – with the salesperson having no previous contact with the buyer.
A successful outbound sales strategy is highly targeted and personal and directly provides solutions to the specific pain points of the prospects.
Benefits of Implementing Outbound Sales
1. Builds Predictable Revenue
Outbound sales helps you grow business on a formulaic process – does not leave it to chance.
Once you have a well-oiled machine in place, all you need to do is add more prospects into your outreach campaigns and you’ll land a predictable number of qualified leads.
This way, you have complete control over your business – you’re only limited by the number of people you reach out to and have a consistent framework to generate leads predictably.
2. Takes Lesser Time to Generate Leads
If executed thoughtfully, outbound sales can help you generate revenue from day one. You can begin hunting for potential leads right away, consistently engage with them and make your way to closing more deals.
3. Helps you Dominate your Niche
Compared with other channels where you have no control over the type of leads coming in – outbound allows you to choose your own customers.
Having complete control over the prospects you go after, you can build a focused customer base.
This makes it easier for you to center your product/service around this particular segment of customers and nail your niche.
4. Allows you to go After Large Accounts
Outbound sales actively allows you to move upmarket, hunt after big accounts, sell to enterprise customers.
Most large companies need to be sold to and may involve multiple stakeholders.
For companies moving upmarket from one segment to the higher one, outbound sales is often a required channel.
5. Can be Largely Automated
One strong benefit of outbound sales is that it can be largely automated.
There are multiple tools available today to automate every step of B2B outbound sales – sourcing leads, validating their contact information, sending cold emails, following-up with prospects, tracking metrics, etc.
Depending on the size of your budget and the level of automation and volume you desire, you will be able to put together a stack that can allow your sales reps to focus only on talking to interested prospects.
6. Best Way to Source Leads for New Category Products
Sometimes you’re a new player in a large and existing category such as Marketing Automation or CRM. Here prospects are aware of your category and solutions. Channels such as inbound are good options to consider here.
On the other hand, sometimes you create a new category of product/service and there is no sufficient market awareness around this. In such cases, outbound might be the best and at times, the only channel to reach out to your prospects.
By running targeted outbound campaigns, you can find prospects and educate them that a solution exists to their pain points.
7. Assists Account-Based Prospecting Strategy
The account-based strategy involves going after large, named accounts, engaging different personas, and having multiple touch-points with prospects.
Outbound sales as a channel is extremely amenable to executing account-based prospecting.
You can build a target list of accounts, map relevant people in each account and run specific campaigns with appropriate messaging.
Best Practices for a Successful Outbound Sales Strategy
Getting outbounding strategy right is a tricky proposition – even for experienced sales professionals.
The emergence of automation tools have allowed a number of companies to engage in spray and pray tactics – and lowering the effectiveness of the channel overall.
It is more important than ever to be thoughtful about your outbound strategy for it to be effective and generate results.
Simply put, outbound sales is only as powerful as its planning and implementation.
Here are a few best practices that can help you implement a successful outbound strategy that can get results.
1. Identify your Ideal Customers
The key to success in outbound sales funnel is identifying your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
This is basically understanding which niche are you in a position to nail at this stage of your product and focusing on that segment.
It is finding that small pond which you can completely dominate and be a big fish in.
The small pond is your Ideal Customer Profile.
Ideal Customer Profile is getting clarity about the type of companies you should target.
Begin by learning more about your ideal customers and understand what the underlying common patterns are.
Classify based on quantitative, company-specific information such as:
- Number of employees
- Years since founding
- Location etc.
These will help you find the common parameters across your successful customers and help define your ICP.
2. Target the Right Prospects Using Market Segmentation
Market Segmentation is a fairly simple yet important concept that will help you build your outreach strategy around your target segment.
The idea is to divide a broad target market into groups/subsets based on common interests or needs in order to reach out to them with the most suitable messaging.
Implementing this early on in your outbound sales strategy will help you target your niche customers, craft relevant messages for each segment and eventually find the right set of customers.
3. Approach the Decision Makers
Finding the right person to approach is important in outbound sales.
Tools like Linkedin today make it possible to identify the exact decision makers, who can be served with your product, with great precision.
Directly approaching the right decision makers cuts down the hassle of several back-forth conversations involved to reach the right person and improves your chances of success with outbound.
4. Send Personalized Emails and Time them Well
Launching targeted drip campaigns is an effective way of scaling the outbound sales efforts that’ll help you reach out to a large number of prospects at scale.
Getting someone to respond to a cold email can be difficult – that is why it’s important to craft a message that resonates with your prospects and send it at a time when they’re most receptive.
a) Personalize your emails
Personalization tells your prospects that you have put some effort into understanding who they are, what they want and their pain-points. It immensely increases your chances of hearing back from them.
Ideally, try to personalize beyond just the first name like location, job title, an upcoming event in their city or company, etc.
Conduct proper research and segment your prospect list by breaking them up into smaller lists based on personal details, content, product, persona, lifecycle age, etc.
b) Craft a killer email copy
Your email copy is the single most powerful weapon in your arsenal that actually communicates your intentions to your prospects.
If done well, your cold emails have the potential to produce a consistent number of leads and convert them into customers.
Here are a few tips to craft a compelling email copy:
Make it about the prospect: The focus of your email copy should be your prospect. Explain that you understand what they need and how your product is a good fit for them.
You’ll immensely help yourself by showing that you think about your prospect.
Sell the benefits: No prospect is going to care about the laundry list of all your features. Your email copy should give a meta description of the benefits that make the most sense for your prospect.
Tell them what they can achieve with your product.
Keep it short and simple: Keep your email sharp and to-the-point. Explain everything you want in the first 2-3 sentences. Nobody likes a large wall of text.
Preferably start off by addressing the prospect’s pain-point. Introduce how your offering can help. End with a specific call-to-action.
This is the easiest way to keep the recipient engaged and get him to read the mail.
c) Delivery time of every email matters
When you’re sending cold emails, timing is important.
If you’re addressing prospects living in different time-zones, emailing them all at the same time could severely impact your results. You might end up catching them at the wrong time and lower your chances of hearing back.
5. Use the Right Tools to Scale your Process
Particularly when you’re reaching out to prospects at scale, it’s practically not possible to follow-up on a one-on-one basis.
This calls for automating the entire process of reaching out to prospects, following-up with them, keeping a record of customer data and lead nurturing resources, etc.
All of this requires a sophisticated set of tools that can help your sales reps by cutting down tedious tasks, improving efficiency and saving time.
Tools like CRM, Sales Engagement platform, prospecting tools, etc are no longer an option today – they’re an imperative.
6. Optimize your Results with Experimentation
Building an outbound sales strategy that works is a continuous process that requires constant testing and refinement.
Using techniques like A/B testing, you can bring a habit of experimentation in your outbound sales, try different variables to understand what’s working and tweak them to improve your campaigns’ performance.
How To Do Outbound Sales in the GDPR Era
The General Data Protection Act (GDPR) is a law introduced by the European Union in 2018 to regulate how personal data is stored and processed. It is intended to give European citizens complete control over their personal data.
Any information that helps in identifying an individual such as name, age, address phone number as well as indirect identifications such as physical, mental, cultural, social etc come under personal data.
To legally process personal data under the effect of GDPR, you’ll have to abide by several principles.
Particularly, when doing outbound sales, some amount of personal data is processed – so, it’s important to keep few things in mind to stay GDPR compliant.
1. Collect Only the Data You Need
Prospecting leads requires you to source personal data to get in touch with prospects.
Contrary to the popular belief, GDPR doesn’t restrict you from collecting data – it only demands a greater level of care while handling the data. The first of which being only collecting the data you need.
The easiest way to ensure this is not asking for the data you don’t plan to use. Strictly limit yourself to the data that is necessary.
2. Maintain a Complete Record
Always keep (or ask for) a record how you’ve collected and processed the data.
This will help you give an accurate response to questions like “Where did you get my data from?” or provide some context in the emails when you’re approaching cold prospects.
3. Explain your Legitimate interest in the Email
Store data and contact prospects only if you have a legitimate interest in them.
If you’re targeting the right prospects, then your reason for contacting them should be evident, but always make sure to provide some context on how you’ve sourced their data.
Explain why you are reaching out to them and how your offering can benefit them. Provide information on how you’ve processed their data to initiate contact.
Finally, always offer them the authority to change the data you possess or entirely remove it from your database to stop contacting them.
4. Keep your Database Up-to-date
Apart from removing the database of prospects who have opted out of your emails, GDPR also insists on regularly cleansing your database of inactive or unresponsive leads.
Make sure that your database consists of accurate contact information, segregate and label it appropriately to record when you’ve collected and processed the data.
Remove all the obsolete data to keep your database fresh and accurate.
5. Make It Easy To Opt-out
Under GDPR, prospects can restrict the way you use their data.
Make it extremely simple for your prospects to opt-out of your emails. Give an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of all your emails or ask the recipients to reply you with “No thanks”.
Either way, once someone asks you to remove their data, you’ll have to strictly do that. Make a list of all the prospects who have asked to be removed and ensure you don’t contact them again.
Tools You Need To Implement Outbound Sales
One key challenge of outbound sales is dealing with a large number of prospects at scale while being personal and bespoke at the same time.
Automating a large part of the top-of-the-funnel activities like running outreach campaigns, following-up, etc will free-up your sales teams and give them more time on meaningful activities like building relationships with prospects who are likely to buy.
Here are a few outbound automation tools you can use to simplify your sales processes:
- Sales Prospecting Tools
- Customer Relationship Management Tools
- Sales Engagement Platform
- Meetings Scheduling Tools
1. Sales Prospecting Tools
Outbound begins with list-building and can get heavily labor-intensive process if done manually.
But luckily today, there are multiple tools that help sales teams automate the entire process of collecting the contact information of prospects and qualifying them.
2. Customer Relationship Management Tools
CRM is the one-stop database of all your customer, prospect and lead data. It’s the place where all the data comes together and helps you maintain clean records.
CRM forms a vital component of your tech stack if you want a centralized repository of all your outbound sales data.
3. Sales Engagement Platform
When reaching out to your prospects at scale, you need to have multiple touch-points, often ranging from 8–12 follow-ups, to get them to respond.
Trying to get this done manually by keeping a track of replies, bounces etc is extremely difficult – often not possible.
A Sales Engagement platform like Klenty sets up an intelligent follow-up sequence and automates this entire process of keeping up with your leads. It also helps you set up a standardized sales process across the entire organization.
For sales teams that easily contact more than 20–30 people a day, Sales Engagement platform is no more an option today – it is imperative.
4. Meetings Scheduling Tools
Sales meetings form an important part of any sales organization’s routine – but scheduling a meeting involves a lot of back and forth.
That’s exactly what meeting scheduler tools help you with.
Tools such as Calendly, Assistant.to, etc, natively integrate with your calendar to automatically check your availability and display it your invitees in their time-zone.
Overall, these outbound sales tools remove the hassle involved in connecting with others so that you have a streamlined workflow and can accomplish more.
Outbound Sales Metrics You Need to Measure
Anything that gets measured gets done.
Same goes with outbound sales. It is crucial to evaluate your campaign performance to get an overall idea of your outbound sales success.
Different companies have different ways to measure their outbound sales metrics. But primarily, there are two types of metrics to help you assess your sales strategy:
1. Performance metrics: These are the metrics that help you measure the performance of your outbound sales strategy.
2. Optimization metrics: These metrics help you effectively structure your email campaigns for maximum results.
a) Lead Conversion Rate
Lead Conversion Rate represents the percentage of leads that have been converted into clients.
This metric gives you a high level of overview of the quality of leads generated from outbound sales.
b) Pipeline Generated from outbound
One important metric of outbound sales strategy is to measure the dollar value of total pipeline generated.
This metric gives an idea about the total number of sales qualified leads in the pipeline that can generate revenue for the company.
c) Average Deal Size
Average Deal Size is calculated by dividing the total number of deals by the total dollar amount of those deals.
Analyzing this metric on a monthly/quarterly basis helps you estimate if your contacts are getting larger, smaller or remaining the same.
For example, when you’re trying to move up-market, you may want to increase the average deal size. On the other hand, if you’re trying to land more SMB customers, you might want this number to go down.
d) Call-to-close Rate
Call-to-close rate gives you the percentage of sales calls that resulted in closed deals.
This metric is a good indicator of the sales-readiness of the prospects being passed on.
a) Delivery Rate
This metric represents the number of emails that actually reached the prospects’ inbox out of the total number of emails sent.
This metric is a reference point that later decides the performance of your email campaigns.
b) Bounce Rate
Bounce rate represents the total number of emails that have been rejected in reference to the total number of emails sent.
It’s important to keep this metric as low as possible as it affects your reputation as a sender as well as your domain reputation.
c) Open Rate
This metric tells you the number of emails that were opened out of the total number of emails delivered.
A very low open rate suggests that you should either work on a better email copy or are facing issues with email deliverability.
d) Positive Reply Rate
This metric tells you the number of people who have actually replied to your email upon receiving it.
This metric is the success indicator of your email campaigns. It tells you how far have you been able to achieve your intended objectives.
e) Click Through Rate
This metric tells you the number of people who clicked any link in the email copy as against the number of people who opened the mail.
This metric indicates the potential interest of your prospects for your offering.
If lead gen is the fuel for any sales operation then predictable lead generation is the holy grail that you wish to attain.
And outbound sales is a great channel to make this happen.
But that can be achieved only when you have a well-defined outbound sales strategy in place.
Invest the time to get it right and you will be able to transform your sales team into a scalable and predictable revenue generating machine!
Outbound sales vs inbound sales
In outbound sales, the company initiates contact with prospects using techniques like cold calling and cold emailing whereas in inbound sales, the prospects initiate contact with the company first through ways like submitting their email for a free ebook in the website. The difference between inbound and outbound sales lies in where leads originate from.
What is an outbound sales process?
In B2B sales, outbound sales is a process involving salespeople directly initiating contact with prospects with the intent of making a sale using techniques like cold calling, cold emailing and social selling. As the outreach here is often cold, the outbound sales process must be personalized for the prospects and provide solutions to their pain points.