Sales prospecting experts have been debating whether or not outbound sales is dead for quite some time now. The truth is that it’s very much alive. But in order to keep pace with industry advancements brought on by inbound tools and strategies, sales professionals will need to revamp their outbound approach in order to take full advantage of its benefits. Here are 4 key ways to do exactly that.
Outbound is alive and well and these effective sales prospecting ideas are here to prove it.
1. Do Your Research Before Reaching Out
Yes, there are lots of ways to automate and streamline lead generation with software. But it’s still important to actually do it. These days we see that cutting corners might seem efficient in the short term. But without a mix of manual and automated research, you could hurt your sales strategy in the long haul. If all your competitors have access to the same tools and lists, you’re still all fishing in the same pond. What’s your plan for when that finally dries up?
And with the vast amount of data available to us in 2019, it’s time to reconsider what that research really looks like now.
Although inbound leads often come pre-qualified (thanks to strategies like filtered messaging and targeted social media ads), outbound leads requires additional, manual digging. The good news is, doing this work ahead of time can lead to a higher ROI (around 34 times better, in some cases). Outbound lead research can also help push leads through the funnel faster than most inbound tactics.
And it doesn’t even have to take that long! Consider this helpful speed run chart that you can use a cheat sheet when you’re in a hurry but need more info on a lead:
With or without your automation tools, there are new data resources to pull from thanks to the advancements we’ve seen in recent years. Clearly, manual research is far more lucrative now in 2019 that it was back in the day before automation. While you can (and should) still use your trusted sales tools, templates like the one in this image help flesh out each lead and make them feel like a person and not just another name on a list. Not only does it help you relate to them better (i.e. build genuine, long term relationships), it’s also great for tailoring your pitch to their unique needs and wants.
Now, the ways in which your SDRs choose to qualify those outbound leads will largely depend on your ICP (a plus for overall win rates and better ACVs). But there are some universal factors to consider. Here’s a quick list of what your outbound lead research should include, at a minimum:
- Key Industry Pain. Because these leads did not stumble across your brand looking for answers in the first place, they might not even be aware that they have a problem to solve. Which is why bringing attention to industry specific or niche issues that directly affect your leads is crucial.
- Solutions Outside Your Own. After the pain or pains are identified, you should create a list of vetted answers. While your product or service will be included, being able to showcase solutions outside of your brand offerings is quite persuasive. Not only does it set your company up as an authority in the space it also builds trust by providing immediate value to consumers.
When reaching out to prospects, it’s also useful to understand which solutions are overdone, which ones are proven to be successful, and which ones are fading trends. Knowing details like these can help shape your argument for why your solution is the best possible option given what else is currently available in their industry.
- Decision Makers. If the previous points make up the why and the what, this sales prospecting research category is the who. Decision makers in this case are the professionals who are affected by the key industry pain and, ultimately, have the buying power. Which often means that most of these sales prospects will be middle management or higher. Also, any information on these personas can be used to improve or create better ICPs tailored to your outbound goals.
As far as how you should conduct your lead research, it’s important to note that automation tools can only get you so far. Manual research, on the other hand, is the best possible lead quality control a team can have.
In general, experts note that sales prospecting done manually is more focused, detailed, and accurate. If you keep this in mind moving forward, you’ll be able to maximize your sales team’s productivity (through process automation tools) as well as their results (through more strategic, manual lead qualifying).
That being said, there are certain tools you can – and should – use to customize your outbound sales prospecting.
2. Automate Personalization and Personalize Automation
Once your outbound efforts spark a new influx of high quality leads, you’ll need to develop a strategy for keeping the momentum up. Sales data points (like calls and emails out as well as success ratios) can be used to measure individual outreach tactics. Then, once the cream rises to the top, your team will identify sales trigger events and use them to further tweak your process.
Here are some tools to help you do exactly that:
- Prospector by SalesLoft. This Google Chrome extension automates LinkedIn contact exports to spreadsheets. To keep things user-friendly, they let you manage search results on a separate tab.
- Hull.io. Data collection, cleansing, and syncing are all features offered by this sales prospecting tool. In terms of automation, users can count on its ability to trigger personalized communications at various funnel stages.
- Sales Navigator. Created by LinkedIn, Sales Navigator works as both a search engine and a personalization tool with features like customized suggestions.
- WittyParrot. Scale personalize communications with this outbound sales prospecting platform.
- Lusha.com. Our extension automatically gathers important lead information that is both up to date and compliant. Using a LinkedIn plug-in, you can easily auto populate contact and company firmographic data into your chosen CRM. And if you use Salesforce, our product will auto-enrich your existing contacts with better, more accurate and up to date information.
You’ve done your research and you have your tools in place. Now it’s time to put it all into action.
3. Customize Every Cold Call
As you probably already know, the best cold call scripts always make sure to be selective with prospects, include names (with perfected pronunciations), and establish a personal connection between the caller and the lead. But a great script alone won’t cut it. You’ll also need to have background information available to help improvise when needed. Details like job descriptions next to titles or a reference to something interesting about them can help flesh out an otherwise formal conversation.
Now here’s something you may not know – a practical and strategic propsecting method for customizing a prospect call in real time.
- Call the customer by their first name and introduce yourself using your own. Studies show that when infants as young as 6 months old hear their own names being said, their brain fires off a series of neural patterns. These patterns instantly focus attention on the speaker and create an anchor for social interactions, making first names a powerful relationship building tool.
- Have a set of tailored options on hand to discuss with the lead. Automation is great but it lacks nuance when compared to having an actual conversation where you can quickly feel out what a customer is or is not excited about. Use any information you have about the prospect’s buying history, previous service provider, and current goals when creating your options list. Then, when you’re speaking to them, offer them alternatives to anything in your call script that they sound lukewarm about.
Also, if you don’t have that much detailed information on the lead, pull the options that best suit the buyer persona you associate with them. Bonus points if you can jot down a few words that describe the inherent benefits of each option from the buyer’s perspective before you dial those numbers.
- Review past calls to find dialogue patterns for each lead type. For example, you may find that leads will ask the same set of follow up questions after every pitch. Or you start to hear how the second option you present them is usually the one they’re most interested in. Use this data to help pre-plan short and effective answers. Focus on keeping your dialogue to 2-3 sentences that get straight to the point, offer value, and are supported with studies, statistics, or relevant consumer data.
- Build a flexible call map that accounts for your most sales scenarios. Think of this as your conversation outline. What would be your thesis, intro, main ideas, and conclusion? Even if the conversation strays from these points, you can quickly refer to the map and get you both back on track. Again, this is another instance where fully fleshed out CRM contacts and manual lead research really come in hand. Use what you know about each lead to tweak the various sections of your call map.
Start with your elevator pitch – who you are, what you do, and why you’re calling. Then, ask them 1-2 qualifying questions. From there you can determine if it’s better to end the conversation or, if they’re a good fit, which offer you’d like to present them with first. And, as always, have a few different, pre-meditated CTAs to end your call with.
To further engage customers, make sure your call map is simple and that you keep track of your own experience notes after every conversation. Over time, your call map will grow more effective if you take care to regularly assess its performance.
In other words, information is the key to customization. The more you can learn about someone and the quicker you can learn it play a large part in the success of any outbound sales strategy. Which is why tools like Lusha can really come in handy for cold calling. Automatically enriching firmographic and contact data allows your sales team to prepare qualified leads and fill in the gaps faster and more efficiently.
4. Create a Base for Every Type of Outreach
This outbound sales tactic is simple: a great outreach campaign starts with a great foundation. For most businesses, that means working with what works best for you and your current structure. Focused efforts lead to focused results, which is why a strategy that involves account-based marketing often succeeds. As you can see from this image, ABM helps to “flip the funnel”.
Here, the emphasis is on finding fewer, better quality leads that eventually lead to lifelong customers and high ROI referrals. It might feel like a lot of work for fewer sales. But when you consider the fact that referrals have helped 86% of B2B businesses grow their revenue in 2 years or less, it’s well worth the investment.
Now, let’s say you’re a company with an ABM strategy in place but you want to start making outbound sales a larger part of your efforts. Here’s how to blend them to get the most out of both methodologies:
- Use outbound efforts to gather firsthand data from targeted leads. Try sending out short surveys, polls, and multiple choice forms to your chosen accounts. Make sure to provide some sort of participation incentive like a free upgrade or raffle entry to encourage more responders. Once you have the data, use it to edit or validate your ideal customer profiles and further enhance marketing efforts based on what you learned.
For example, the Headspace team wanted to learn more about current users and their opinion on their referral program.
Notice how their message is concise. First, it addresses general unease about surveys with a natural joke. Then they explain why the survey is important. After that they provide incentive. And then they finish with a CTA button that reinforces how painless the experience will be.
This same formula can be easily duplicated to ask leads about their interest in a new product, service, or experimental feature. Once the results are in, you can tailor your pitch to their feedback or choose an entirely different offer to pitch them if the first no longer seems like a great fit.
- Focus on authentic, one-on-one communication. Both outbound and ABM marketing require a human touch. Even if you are using automation tools or sales software to plan, record, and assess interactions, there’s no substitute for genuine connection.
Which is why the social media example below, brought to us by Influitive, is so effective. Not only did the brand create a congratulations video to celebrate the client’s recent achievement, they also followed up from a regular, unbranded account with a request to connect.
The main takeaway here is that sales reps should confidently reach out to their chosen accounts through more casual avenues (like Twitter) using their own face and name as a way to build rapport as acquaintances, not seller and buyer.
- Maximize your market research to fuel outsourcing efforts. If you’re working with ICPs, keep these details on hand when doing outreach to ensure you’re sharing the best per-persona resources and not just generic content. It’s simple but highly effective.
So it makes sense why their process for using outbound marketing at the conference looked like this:
First, they created a potential event attendee list. Because this information is typically kept private by the host organization, they had to do a little manual research. You can find a lot of this information by searching for last year’s event hashtag across all social media platforms to find out who posted about it.
You can also scan public lists of event award recipients, speakers, sponsors, branded workshops, and any after party or happy hour celebrations on the event website. Once they ran out of sources, CIENCE made some educated guesses about who would be attending.
Then, they filtered their personal anticipated attendee list through the key identifiers in their ideal customer profiles. Whoever fit the description of their ICPs was highlighted and the rest were crossed out. Those were the accounts they researched and gathered detailed contact information for.
After that, the CIENCE team created a marketing campaign that coincided with the event branding and personalized each message to fit their recipient from the list. The sales team took the pieces, personally sent them to prospects (via email) then followed up by phone after each message was opened. For the contacts who didn’t open the marketing email or hadn’t attended the conference, the team followed up again after the event to see if they had any interest in connecting.
Put your sales prospecting strategy into motion!
As you move forward with these great outbound tactics, keep the following key takeaways in mind:
- Your strategy is only as good as the information you have access to. Which is exactly why conducting research and having the right tools are so important.
- Manual search and automation go hand in hand. You’ll need both to flesh out your strategy. Opt for tools that focus on data enrichment as well as customizable scraping.
- Personalization is the root of all outbound success. Create your sales prospecting game plan based on your current strategy and go the extra mile to tailor lead communications.