Welcome to the world of outbound sales, where proactivity is the name of the game and sales reps are the ones making the first move.
In this article, we're going to take you on a journey through the outbound sales landscape. Exploring its unique advantages, strategies that make it tick, and how to assemble a top-notch outbound sales team.
We'll also shine a light on the must-have tools for outbound sales reps to supercharge your outbound sales efforts.
So, sit back, grab a cuppa, and let's dive into the world of outbound sales.
What is outbound sales?
Outbound sales, ever wondered what it's all about?
Outbound sales is the proactive process of reaching out to potential customers to spark interest, build connections, and persuade them to consider buying a product or service. As opposed to inbound sales where customers initiate contact with a company.
Outbound sales are the most common type of sales. As a matter of fact, as much as 61% of salespeople admit that their business still relies on outbound sales.
Outbound sales is by no means an easy process. It requires strategy, an understanding of the target audience, and a knack for personalisation. It's about guiding potential customers from initial contact to closing a deal.
Outbound vs. inbound sales? Main differences explained
Outbound sales vs. inbound sales, inbound sales vs. outbound sales… you've probably heard these terms thrown around. But what do they mean, and how do they differ? Let's break it down…
Outbound sales are like being the life of the party. You're out there, initiating contact, making the first move. You're not waiting for customers to find you; you're finding them. It's all about cold calls, personalised emails, email campaigns, and targeted outreach on social media.
On the flip side, inbound sales are more like being the party's host. You've set everything up, and now you're waiting for the guests, in this case, customers, to come to you. Your marketing efforts have piqued their interest, and now they're reaching out for more information.
The main difference is all about who makes the first move.
In outbound sales, you're the one reaching out.
In inbound sales, the customers come to you.
Each approach differs and comes with its own set of challenges and advantages…
Sales reps initiate contact with potential customers (cold calling, email campaigns, etc.)
Prospects initiate contact through enquiries, website visits, social media interactions, etc.
Targeted outreach to specific individuals or companies
Addressing inquiries and needs of prospects/ customers
Sales reps control the timing of interactions
Prospects contact the company when they are ready to engage
Typically less personalised as reps may not have prior knowledge about prospects
Can be highly personalised to cater to specific prospect needs preferences
Lower response rate as prospects may not be actively looking for the product/ service
Higher response rate as prospects are already interested or in need the product/ service
Generally lower conversion rate compared to inbound sales
Generally higher conversion rate compared to outbound sales as lead is already interested in your services
Longer sales cycle as it involves prospecting and relationship building before closing a deal
Shorter sales cycle as prospects are already interested and closer to making a purchase decision
May require more resources and time due to the outbound approach
Generally more cost-effective as leads are more qualified and further along in the buying process
Cold calling, cold emailing, cold outreach on social media
Website leads, social media leads, inquiries from content marketing, etc.
So, outbound sales vs. inbound sales, which one is better?
Neither, really. The best approach depends on your business, your resources, and your goals.
But here's a tip: you don't have to choose. Many successful businesses use a mix of both. Many tools, such as NetHunt CRM, make managing outbound and inbound sales together a breeze.
Why use outbound sales? Advantages of outbound sales
So, we've talked about what outbound sales are and how it compares to inbound sales. Let's dive into its advantages...
Fast and bulk prospecting
Outbound sales allow you to connect with potential customers quickly and in bulk with the help of your CRM software. Especially when your company implements omni-channel communication.
Cold calls, emails, social media, messenger chat communication… you name it, you can contact prospects through it. The result?
A higher number of prospects reached through a more dynamic outreach strategy.
Higher control over outreach
With outbound sales, you're the captain of your ship. You oversee every sales funnel stage, from lead generation to closing the deal. And if you need to adjust course? No problem. You're in control.
You know the number of leads you generate monthly and the number of conversions you get, hence you can calculate how many leads you need to generate over a certain period of time to reach your revenue targets. Outbound sales and sales automation tools also go together like peanut butter and jelly.
With the help of software like NetHunt CRM, you can easily set up and track outbound sales progress. It can automate tasks like lead generation, lead nurturing, following up, and more. It's like having your own personal assistant for outbound sales.
Once you’ve hammered out every dent in your customer journey, such as the ICP and personalised messages, you’ll soon start to notice that your pipeline activity becomes predictable.
With the help of knowing and having in-depth information about every process's conversion rates, you’re able to forecast how much revenue you’re able to generate much more accurately.
Increased brand awareness
Outbound sales efforts, especially when combined with effective marketing, can boost brand awareness. Even if a prospect doesn't immediately convert, they may remember the brand for future consideration. It’s called the halo effect.
Challenges of outbound sales
In spite of it all, outbound sales present a whole new suite of challenges that you might have to deal with. These include…
- Identifying and reaching out to qualified leads can be challenging. This process requires solid research and a well-defined target market. A potential solution to this problem is a highly-developed ICP and buyer persona.
- Low response rates. Salespeople initiate contact with prospects, who may not expect communication. Breaking through the noise and getting a prospect's attention can be difficult. Coming up with a creative outreach strategy and standing out from your competitors is key in outbound sales.
- Time-consuming. Unlike inbound sales where potential customers come to the business, outbound salespeople must build relationships from scratch. This can take time and patience. The salespeople that perform best in the outbound sales scenario belong to the “challenger” type under the challenger sales model.
- Rejection and objections. Outbounding sales representatives may face rejection and objections from prospects who are not interested or who already use a competitor’s products or services. Handling rejection and overcoming objections requires skill and resilience.
- Regulatory compliance. Depending on the jurisdiction, there can be laws and regulations around unsolicited contact, such as GDPR in the European Union or CAN-SPAM Act in the US. It’s important to ensure that you are compliant to avoid penalties.
7 steps of an outbound sales process
Knowing all the benefits and challenges of outbound sales for your business, it’s the right time to move to setting up outbound sales processes.
Step 1: Identify your ideal buyers
The first step in the outbound sales process is identifying your ideal target audience — the people or businesses who are most likely to buy from you. It's all about understanding who needs your solution.
A great way to identify who your ideal leads are is with a buyer persona. A buyer persona, also known as a sales persona, is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, based on market research and data about existing customers. It includes customer demographics, behaviour patterns, buyer motives, and goals.
If you are targeting various geographies, job titles, or industries, it is essential to segment your database from the outset. This allows you to send messages that are personalised to a degree higher than ever before, speaking directly to the specific needs of each group. As a result, you increase your chances of a positive response.
Step 2: Generate leads
Once you have your buyer personas in place, the next step is to generate leads.
You need to find companies and contacts that fall under your criteria of potential buyers. You can generate leads through various methods, including…
- LinkedIn or other relevant for your business social media platforms
- Business directories and industry-specific databases
- Company websites to find contact information for key decision-makers or relevant departments
- Industry events meetups, and conferences to connect with potential prospects and gather their contact details
- Webinars or workshops with the topics targeted at your buyer personas
Always ensure that your lead generation efforts comply with relevant data protection laws and regulations. Respect privacy and avoid spammy practices to maintain a positive reputation and build trust with potential customers.
Step 3: Your first contact and qualification
Generating leads is only half the battle. The next step? Making contact.
This is your chance to make a first impression; to grab their attention and pique their interest. In the world of outbound sales, this usually means personalised emails or cold calls.
The goal at this stage is to qualify leads and identify potential opportunities.
Qualification involves assessing whether the prospect meets certain criteria, such as budget, authority to make a purchase decision, need for the product/ service, and product-fit with your solution.
Qualification can be done through email, but a discovery call is the best. A discovery call is essentially a fact-finding exercise that both the salesperson and the prospect go through in order to better understand propositions and negotiations that ensue.
Some common questions to ask during a discovery call are…
- How are you currently addressing [challenge]?
- Why are you seeking a new solution?
- What don’t you like about your current solution?
- Who else is involved in the process of making this decision?
- What are your expectations from a great solution to [challenge]?
- What’s your budget for the solutions of [challenge]?
The qualification part of the outbound process helps your sales representatives understand what leads they should dedicate more resources towards, and which leads might not be the right fit going forward.
Step 4: Sales pitch and meetings
Once a lead is qualified, the next critical step is to conduct sales calls or meetings. This is the pivotal moment when your team shines, showcasing how your product effectively addresses the challenges faced by potential clients.
At this stage, it's essential for your sales team to be well-prepared with a tailored presentation or a product demo that caters to the specific needs of each company. The presentation should highlight a clear and compelling value proposition supported by relevant visuals and data.
Additionally, your team should be equipped to answer any questions that may arise during the presentation.
Patience and maintaining regular contact is vital during this process. Typically, closing a deal requires more interactions or touches with the prospective client. This is especially true for B2B and enterprise businesses where the decision process is longer.
Step 5: Closing the deal
Closing the deal is the critical stage where a sales representative convinces the prospect to make a purchase. Your goal here is to get a signature for the contract or receive the first payment, if you are a self-service SaaS.
This step involves negotiating the terms, addressing any final concerns and handling objections, and demonstrating the value of your product or service. The salesperson needs to be proactive and persuasive to successfully close the deal.
Step 6: Assessment calls, upselling and cross-selling
After closing the deal, the outbound sales process isn't necessarily complete.
It's essential to continue building a relationship with the customer and assess their satisfaction with the product or service. This involves seeking feedback, addressing any issues that may arise, and ensuring customer success.
Additionally, this is an opportunity to identify upsell or cross-sell opportunities. If there are other products or services that complement what the customer has already purchased, the sales team can explore these options to increase revenue and provide more value to the customer.
Outbound sales tools for reps
In outbound sales, the right tools aren't just a nice-to-have; they're a must-have. They're the secret ingredient that can turn a good sales strategy into a great one. And while there are many tools out there, a few are simply indispensable.
Outbound sales Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
At the heart of any successful outbound sales strategy you'll find a robust CRM system.
It's the command centre; a place where all your customer data, sales activities, and tasks come together. While we might be a little biassed, we believe NetHunt CRM fits the bill perfectly for outbound sales processes.
NetHunt CRM isn't just a CRM, it's a powerhouse that lives within your inbox. It's like your personal assistant, keeping everything organised and running smoothly.
With NetHunt CRM, you can…
- Generate leads from various sources: LinkedIn through its direct integration, email campaigns, calls, messengers, etc.
- Organise and segment your audience for targeted outreach and personalised messages.
- Launch email sequences with follow-ups for automatic lead nurturing.
- Automate the entire outreach process.
- Keep the history of communication in one place: contact data, omni-channel communication, call recording, and more.
NetHunt CRM is a perfect solution if you don’t want to pay for various tools like email marketing software or sales automation software. It has all the necessary functionality for the outbound sales process.
Sales intelligence tools to create lead lists
These platforms gather data from various sources to provide insights about prospects, including their online behaviour and company information. Tools like ZoomInfo, Leadfeeder, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator fall under this category.
Tools to find lead contact information
These are your treasure maps, guiding you to the gold mines of potential leads. You can’t call or email without phone numbers or email addresses, right?
Tools like Hunter, Reply, RocketReach may help with finding relevant contact information.
Sales automation tools for lead nurturing and follow-ups
Sales automation software accelerates the entire outbound sales process, allowing sales teams to efficiently manage a large volume of potential prospects.
By automating tasks such as email outreach, following up, and lead nurturing, the software ensures consistent communication and personalised interactions at scale.
It saves time, enhances productivity, and enables sales representatives to focus on building relationships and closing deals. This ultimately leads to higher success rates and increased revenue opportunities.
You may opt for a separate sales automation tool or purchase a CRM system that has a powerful sales automation module.
Social media tools for multi-channel outreach
Rather than relying solely on a single communication channel, leveraging social media allows you to engage with leads across different platforms. By adopting this approach, you can effectively diversify outreach efforts and maximise your chances of connecting with and converting potential customers.
However, managing a large number of leads manually can be overwhelming. To streamline your efforts and maintain efficiency, automation tools for social media become indispensable.
These tools can handle tasks like sending invitation requests to potential customers and sending messages and follow-ups on LinkedIn.
Outbound sales team structure
Assembling a well-structured team with individuals possessing complementary skills and expertise is key to achieving success in outbound sales.
From sales representatives who engage with prospects directly to lead generation specialists who identify potential customers, each role plays a vital part in the overall sales process.
Here are some key roles that are typically needed in an outbound sales team:
Lead generation specialist focuses on generating and qualifying leads. They use various methods of research to build the list of leads, find their contact information, segment and pass them on to sales development representatives (SDR).
Sales development representatives (SDR) are typically the first point of contact for prospects. They qualify leads, conduct initial outreach, and determine whether a lead is ready to be handed over to the sales representative. They work closely with the lead generation specialist to provide feedback on lead quality.
Account Executives (AE) take over from where the SDRs leave off. They are relationship builders who work closely with qualified leads who express interest in your product or service. They demonstrate how the product or service meets a prospect’s needs and negotiate the deal to closure. AEs must be persuasive, excellent communicators, and adept at building and maintaining relationships.
Full-cycle sales representatives are a blend of SDR and AE roles. They handle the entire sales process, from prospecting to closing the deal. This role is instrumental in scenarios where the sales life-cycle is short or just beginning. Full-cycle reps need to be resilient, empathetic, skilled in time management, with excellent communication skills.
Sales operations specialist supports the sales team by managing sales tools, CRM systems, and other technology platforms. They ensure the sales team has the necessary resources and data to be effective in their roles.
Sales manager oversees the entire outbound sales team and is responsible for setting sales targets, developing strategies, providing guidance, and monitoring performance. They also play a crucial role in coaching and motivating the sales representatives.
Sales analyst gathers and analyses data related to the team's performance, sales metrics, and market trends. They provide insights and recommendations to help the team improve its performance.
The specific roles and the size of the outbound sales team may vary depending on the organisation's size, industry, and sales goals.
Read more: How to build a successful sales team
Outbound sales metrics to track
It's equally important to understand the KPIs that can help measure the success of your outbound sales efforts. Let's delve into the metrics that can provide insights into your sales performance.
Volume of outreach
Outbound sales are often a numbers game; tracking the volume of your outreach efforts, such as phone calls and emails, is crucial. This operational KPI helps you understand the scale of your efforts and identify if there’s a need to increase the volume of outreach.
Quality of conversations
While the volume of outreach is essential, the quality of those conversations is more so. Fostering an open, two-way dialogue with prospects can lead to more quality leads that are likely to convert.
Outbound conversion rate
The outbound conversion rate tracks the percentage of outbound leads that convert to qualified appointments and paid customers. This tactical KPI measures the effectiveness of your lead generation and pipeline activities, providing insights into what works and what doesn’t. A healthy conversion rate falls between 1-3%.
New business revenue
This top-level KPI tracks how much income your outbound sales team is generating from first-time buyers. It’s a solid barometer of how well your outbound sales machine is functioning.
Projected pipeline sales value
This KPI measures how much the projected deals in your sales funnel are worth. It represents the expected revenue that could be generated from these sales efforts based on the value of the deals in the pipeline.
Outbound sales growth
This metric is directly tied to revenue and profitability, so it’s a fantastic way to check the pulse of your current processes. Outbound sales growth quantifies your outbound sales representatives’ ability to increase revenue over a specified period.
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Running an outbound sales team costs money, and acquiring new customers can be expensive. Tracking CAC helps you track outbound sales ROI and identify areas of your sales process that need adjustment.
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
CLV predicts the total profit a customer will produce during the entire time they do business with your company. Tracking CLV alongside CAC can help keep costs in check.
Outbound sales best practices and tips
Having recently implemented outbound sales at NetHunt CRM, we are excited to share valuable tips and practices that are still fresh in our minds.
We strongly believe in the power of knowledge sharing, as it benefits the entire community.
The implementation of outbound sales marked a significant milestone for us, and we are enthusiastic about providing a comprehensive overview of the strategies that have proven effective.
Personalise your outreach
Personalising your outreach is a critical aspect of outbound sales. It's not just about blasting out generic messages in bulk; it's about targeted selling. By researching your prospects, developing buyer personas, and tailoring your outreach based on discovery calls, you can make a significant impact.
While outbound sales often rely on automated campaigns, personalisation should not be overlooked. Even a simple personalised email body can boost response rates by up to a significant 32.7%.
Here’s what you can try for pitch personalisation…
- Look through your lead's LinkedIn profile and identify any challenges they encountered or milestones they hit.
- Tie your new discoveries to ways your product or service can help your prospect resolve their challenges or multiply their success. Additionally, collect social proof from your existing clients that had the same problem.
- Refer to the information you have gathered when reaching out to your prospect. Provide them with adequate social proof, potential solutions to their problem, as well as an explanation of how your product could help them overcome those challenges.
NetHunt CRM can be an invaluable ally in this process. It allows you to store detailed information about each prospect, enabling you to create messages that truly resonate with them. You can even add macros with necessary information from the CRM record, streamlining your outreach and making it more efficient. Add name, company name, job title or any other information from the CRM record to the email body.
Remember, personalisation shows that you genuinely care about your prospects and their needs. It sets you apart from generic mass emails and establishes a foundation for building strong, meaningful relationships with potential customers.
Implement an omnichannel approach
An effective outreach strategy grabs your prospects' attention right where they're most active and comfortable engaging with salespeople.
The challenge? We often don't know which channel that is. This is where an omnichannel outreach approach comes in.
It's like having a personalised key that unlocks the door to their hearts. Whether they prefer emails, LinkedIn, or phone calls, we'll be right there, ready to make a connection.
Your prospect's inbox might be overflowing with countless emails, and yours might get lost in the shuffle. But if you catch their attention on LinkedIn, where they're more engaged, your chances of getting a reply skyrocket.
Being in the right channel at the right time with the right offer is the key to success.
When you don't receive a response initially, it's essential not to give up too soon. Instead, view it as an opportunity to continue nurturing the relationship and showcasing your dedication to providing value.
Sending a well-crafted follow-up message after a reasonable interval is a strategic move that can significantly increase your chances of conversions. Many potential customers may need more time to consider your offering.
By following up, you stay on their radar and remind them of the value you can bring to their business. The follow-up message should be respectful and tailored to address any specific concerns or questions they may have.
Being persistent doesn't mean being pushy or intrusive. Striking the right balance is crucial.
Respect your prospect's time and preferences, and avoid bombarding them with continuous messages. Instead, maintain a steady but considerate cadence of follow-ups, adjusting the frequency based on your prospect's engagement level.
Running massive outreach campaigns manually can be challenging.
It involves keeping track of every interaction, promptly responding to engagements, and using different communication channels in the right sequence. Sales automation can be a game-changer in this regard, as it saves a significant amount of time and allows your team to focus on selling rather than administrative tasks.
Incorporating email sequence tools, CRM software, auto-dialling, and automated voicemail tools can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your outreach efforts. Your team can work more efficiently, avoid repetitive tasks, and focus on what matters most — engaging prospects and closing deals.
Be authentic and human
People appreciate genuine interactions. Be yourself in your outreach messages, and avoid using overly salesy language. Show that you care about their needs and want to establish a meaningful connection.
Test and optimise
Launching a successful outbound sales campaign on your first attempt can be quite challenging.
You must be prepared for the journey of continuous improvement. Iteration becomes your ally as you navigate through different stages of your campaign. A crucial aspect of this process is A/B testing, where you experiment with different variables to identify the most effective combinations. This can include testing various email subject lines, call-to-action phrases, content formats, and even different channels of communication.
Learning from both successes and failures is vital for the growth of your outbound sales campaign. Celebrate and replicate successful strategies, while also learning lessons from efforts that may not have yielded the desired results. Each setback provides an opportunity to gain insights into what doesn't resonate with your audience, helping you fine-tune your messaging and tactics.
Set clear goals and track your progress
Setting clear goals and diligently tracking progress are essential aspects of successful outbound sales. Without a well-defined roadmap and measurable objectives, your efforts may lack direction, and it becomes challenging to evaluate your performance.
Consistently tracking sales data and team activity is not only crucial during the initial launch of outbound sales but also remains essential throughout your sales journey.
By analysing trends and patterns, you can identify areas of improvement and capitalise on successful tactics to optimise your outbound sales process continuously.
Moreover, tracking data helps you stay agile in a dynamic market environment. As customer preferences and market conditions evolve, your outbound sales approach may need to adapt as well.
By closely monitoring sales data, you can quickly spot shifts in customer behaviour and respond proactively to stay ahead of the competition.
And there you have it, a deep dive into the world of outbound sales. From understanding what outbound sales is, to the steps involved in the process, building an effective team, and the essential tools to help you along the way, and metrics to look at, we've covered it all.
Outbound sales is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires strategy, understanding, and the right tools. But with the tips and insights provided in this guide, you're well on your way to mastering outbound sales.
So, why wait? Start implementing these strategies today and watch your sales soar.
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