One year after the Covid-19 breakout and now that we’re well into Q1, the question on salespeople’s lips remains, “is outbound sales dead?” The short answer, no. The long answer, like many things, it’s what you make of it.
The anti-outbound sales camp sees it as an outdated, interruptive method with very low conversion rates, while the pro-outbound sales camp sees outbound as the staple for drumming up sales quickly.
If you’re currently on the fence about whether outbound sales is right for you, here are our thoughts: outbound can either help you fatten your pipeline and scale your business, or deplete your resources and waste your time. It all boils down to your execution.
So, what’s your #1 weapon to make it work? Time. Beef up your knowledge with winning tips so you can reach your sales targets and revenue goals, fast.
What is outbound sales?
Outbound sales is when a sales rep takes the initiative to engage with and educate a potential customer. Rather than waiting for the lead to knock on the door, the sales rep reaches out proactively; whether it’s through cold calling, cold or warm emailing, webinars, or online events. The goal of outbound sales is to get your offer directly in front of your ideal customer as soon as possible.
The difference between outbound sales and inbound
In outbound sales, you contact the lead first without them knowing. Inbound sales is a slower process in which dynamic marketing collateral is used to drive leads to your website or social media profiles. The goal is to get leads to engage with your content and request more information, sign up for your emails, or download an ebook—all of which takes them to a lead capture form where they provide their contact details. Then, marketing passes the lead over to sales to have them qualified further and close the deal.
The key differences between inbound and outbound are which department handles what and how long the sales cycle is. With inbound, marketing is responsible for handing leads over to the sales team. Both departments ping pong back and forth until all the leads are properly qualified and nurtured. With outbound, sales reps hunt for their own leads and nurture them to close.
Inbound vs outbound: which saves more time when prospecting?
Outbound sales can drive leads to the sale sooner with direct offerings. The inbound sales cycle is much longer. The marketing efforts required to create content to attract, engage or delight relevant leads and nurture qualified ones are endless.
An outbound sales plan that’s built for speed
The outbound sales plan includes researching leads, strategizing an outreach method, and measuring results. Let’s walk you through the process:
1. Do your homework on your leads, first
How well do you really know your customers? Unless you know the demographics, average budget, motivations, and buying behaviors of each of your customers—by the numbers, off the top of your head—probably not as well as you think.
The first step in outbound sales is to do your homework on your leads. This research requires you to get your hands dirty and dig deep into the data. Reach out to marketing, BI, customer support, and any other team to gather the intel you need to piece the customer puzzle together.
Don’t leave room for assumptions: If you want to understand your customers’ pain points, your first point of contact should be customer support. Sales reps have a limited amount of time to spend with each customer, which leaves support to handle complaints and questions in-depth.
Short-circuit any biases: Each sales rep has their own communication style, meaning they’ll extract different challenges and values from their customers. Data from a variety of team and external sources short-circuits any biases you may have and gives you a more complete view of your leads.
To ensure cross-department collaboration, start with a meeting to create and refine your ideal customer profile. But before that, you’ll want to make sure the data in your CRM is updated and accurate. Sound like way too much work? Contacts API makes it a breeze by bulk-enriching multiple leads and company profiles in minutes. The contact data you get, including job title, company size, industry, and location will serve as a base for your ICP profile. Contacts API saves you the hassle of manual entry by streamlining your CRM so when any data about your lead or company changes, it’s automatically updated.
Now, when you meet up with other departments to create an ICP, you can walk straight in with the facts. That’s almost as good as walking in with donuts. Keeping your opinions in check and taking the time to build a clear ICP from the get-go will save you loads of time in the long run—otherwise, you’ll be prospecting with inaccurate information and constantly having to go back and make changes.
2. Stop procrastinating, become proactive
Outbound sales is all about jumping in front of your potential customers and asking, “Hey, do you want to hear more about what I have to sell you?” It’s no wonder that many sales reps find themselves avoiding outbound; it takes a lot of guts. A lot of the time, you’re speaking to seasoned decision-makers you’ve never met before, who have decades of experience. So trying to convince them you possess the answers to their biggest problems is quite the challenge.
To overcome this need to face your fears head-on. The biggest issues reps have, include poor communication skills, focusing too much on low-hanging fruit, and a lack of confidence when selling. We’ll look at winning approaches to tackle each of these issues.
Learn the 4 communication styles
Cold calling and speaking directly with decision-makers is less intimidating when you adapt your communication style to their personality. If you can master how to handle the four types of communication styles, you’ll never be caught off guard when handling objections, conveying your value, or just building rapport.
See if you recognize any of these styles from recent conversations:
- Passive: Your lead is often slow to express their emotions and follows your lead; getting their opinion is like pulling teeth.
- Aggressive: When your lead has an aggressive style, they like to take charge of the conversation and move quickly. You’ll probably notice them micromanaging many aspects of the relationship.
- Passive-aggressive: A passive-aggressive person has strong ideas and opinions but lacks the communication skills to express them, which often leads to conflict.
- Assertive: Assertive people are good at expressing themselves but also at considering the ideas, values, and opinions of others.
When you know the four basic communication styles as well as your buyer persona, you’ll find it easier to start and get the conversation going with decision-makers. Also, going through a list of diverse leads and accounts will become a breeze.
Avoid low hanging fruit
In outbound sales, every move should be made with intention. Focus your prospecting efforts and resources on quality leads. Plowing through list after list of poor leads will leave you with a broken spirit. When sales reps procrastinate, it’s usually to avoid dealing with rejection or contempt. But think about it – who’s most likely to reject you? Leads who aren’t even interested in your product or service. To make outbound sales more rewarding, cut out the unnecessary and focus on what matters – the leads that fit with your ICP.
Boost your sales skills in 60 seconds
To build confidence in outbound sales, get training from a seasoned expert in your team and ask them for brutally honest feedback. But don’t stop there; simulation and role-playing is a surefire way to help you be more confident when handling objections. Try out this exercise.
Objection role-play: All sales reps meet in a room. Call out a rep and give them an objection the team commonly hears; they then have 60 seconds to make a convincing argument. If the rep fails, they try other tactics until they have a solid argument. In just 60 seconds, you’ll be able to get a ton of feedback and tips from peers to perfect your delivery.
3. When generating leads, give it some gas
The next step in your outbound sales process is to decide how you’ll prospect. The top two methods are cold calling and cold emailing. If you want to nail generating leads, you need to accelerate while maintaining the quality of your performance.
Plug n’ connect to find your targets
Prospecting is often tedious. There’s nothing like inaccurate or outdated contact info to stop you in your tracks and make you lose entire days of work. Every time you cold call or cold mail, you need to ensure the contact information you have, like email address, phone number, and full name is verified. Not an easy task, right? Lusha Extension can help. Instead of switching between multiple contact data finders to get the right number, Lusha Extension provides you with accurate contact info so you can reach your prospect exactly where they are.
Hit targets consistently with your sales cadence
A sales cadence is like a tour guide—it helps you guide your lead through an amazing customer journey, delivering them the best information and experience with your product without getting them lost and wasting time. Outbound sales calls for an airtight sales cadence that outlines each step you take on the tour, consistently yields results, and leads you all the way to a close in no time. Read more about creating a sales cadence that gets a “yes” from prospects.
4. Don’t fall behind while prospecting
Two of the biggest time-wasters in outbound sales are contacting the wrong leads and using the wrong outreach approach. To fix that, you need to measure the average B2B lead conversion rate. This metric reveals how many leads you’ve contacted end up becoming a customer. We’ll see in a minute why this is invaluable information for any sales rep.
The formula is simple:
Lead conversion rate (LCR) = (total sales / total amount of leads) X 100
For example: To calculate the conversion rate of email leads who made a purchase through your email sequence, add in the numbers:
- (10 new customers / 200 emails) X100
The lead conversion rate lets you know if you’re targeting the right person, if you need to go back to the drawing board and work on your ICP more, or if you need to improve communication with leads so they open your email.
Once you have your lead conversion rate, measure it against industry standards. If the average lead conversion rate from email marketing is 15% and yours is 5%, you know it’s time to focus on subject lines, copy, or email segmentation to bring the numbers up.
5. Bite-sized tips to fire up your performance
Try account-based marketing
Account-based marketing targets a group of accounts and markets to them at once. When marketing and sales team up, they can easily produce hyper-personalized content and outreach messages, seeing more revenue than when prospecting and nurturing a single lead. Sirius Decisions found that when marketing and sales are aligned, they achieve three-year revenue growth 24% faster.
Make it a game, and play to win
Create more sales competitions with amazing incentives to light a fire in your team. SDRs have a tough job and get burnt out with games that last for weeks. When it resets daily it adds more of a buzz, giving everyone a fair chance to win and reach goals.
Get a mentor outside of work
Do you want to succeed at outbound sales? Well, on-the-job training and practice isn’t enough. A mentorship outside of work hours can help you fast-track your way to succeed and become better at sales. Reach out to your sales manager and ask for a referral or get your organization involved.
Use auto-dialer software
Auto-dialer software speeds up the cold calling process. It eliminates manual dialing, the chances of you dialing the wrong number, and reduces the waiting time for a lead to pick up the phone. Predictive dialers can call multiple leads at once, and whoever answers first gets to speak to you, guaranteeing you the maximum number of live calls in a single session.
Stop hustling, be more intentional
One reason SDRs reach burnout quickly is that they believe hustling is the way to get the job done. Missed meals, vacations, and irregular sleep will leave you tired and ready to quit. Be picky with the leads you pursue in outbound sales, but also with how you spend your time researching, planning, and executing.
- Time is your #1 weapon. The more time you save, the more you can focus on closing more sales and increasing revenue.
- Work on your sales skills: Many sales reps lose thousands or even millions in their pipeline due to procrastination, a lack of self-esteem and confidence, or going after bad leads because they fear the heavy hitters. Improve your sales skills with role-playing, peer feedback, and better communication.
- Get speedier tools: Whether you need to bulk-enrich your CRM with new data points for an ICP or find your contacts’ email address or phone number, Contacts API and Lusha Extension can do it all in seconds.
Getting started in outbound sales? Try out Lusha for free.