Those who were old enough in the 1950s can remember the ‘Fuller Bush man’ in the United States. The company’s salesman would knock at your door, fully dressed in a suit and tie, and in their hands was a leather attache case filled with products to pitch your mom. Those are the nostalgic days of door-to-door sales.
Over the years, we have seen fewer salespeople at our doorsteps trying to sell out products we probably don’t even need. At the turn of the new century, with the rise of the internet, salespeople have adapted to outbound sales.
As we will cover in the article, outbound salespeople are integrating more complex tools like an omnichannel contact center to target and convert prospects in the shorts time possible. We also share practical outbound sales tactics for both beginners and experienced sales teams.
Table of Contents
What is Outbound Sales?
Outbound sales is a technique where representatives or companies reach out to potential customers through social selling, cold calling, cold emailing, or referrals and try to convert them into paying customers.
Instead of businesses waiting for prospects who have shown interest in their products or services, they make first contact with them and try to take them through the sales process.
Why do outbound sales get a bad rap?
Nobody smiles at a random spam call from a salesperson asking if you have two minutes for a quick sales pitch. Outbound sales like cold emailing strangers irrelevant messages for products they don’t need give this sales process a bad reputation.
However, in this age of predictive sales tools, you can execute a reliable outbound sale strategy backed by data. You can now personalize your outreach messages to address a prospect’s pain point wherever they are in the stages of awareness.
Benefits of outbound sales
- A proactive sales approach
With outbound, you don’t need to wait with your fingers crossed; a sales lead will strike a conversation whenever they are ready. Instead, you reach out at whatever awareness stage they are and try to close the deal.
This reduces the sales cycle, and sales teams receive instant feedback they can act on. For example, sales reps can make relevant adjustments to onboarding a ready-to-buy customer in the solution stage.
- You can personalize every sales touchpoint.
Sales reps can connect personally with their prospects using an outbound sales process. This builds customer retention when they convert because the company has built a strong relationship focused on helping them succeed.
- Ability to scale sales operations.
Sales reps control the outbound sales funnel. With tools like email automation or power dialer, they control call recipients and volume, enabling them to deliver the best sales pitch to potential customers.
Pros and cons of outbound sales
Even though we now have personalization and multichannel approaches to outbound sales, there are better times to contact a prospect. The other disadvantage to targeting unaware customers is the long education cycle. This challenge gets worse for newer sales reps. Here is a comparison of the pros and cons of outbound sales.
Note; [ Make a visual template for this ] – Aloware branding
|You may irritate prospects
|Easy to execute with automation tools
|Difficult to educate unaware prospects
|You personalize the messages
|May have a longer sales cycle
Inbound vs. Outbound Sales
The difference between inbound and outbound sales is who initiated the first contact. For outbound sales, the company reaches out to prospects to convert them into customers.
For inbound sales, the clients approach businesses for solutions to their problems. Some inbound sales tactics involve SEO, content marketing, and website visits, while outbound sales involve cold calling, cold emailing, and cold texting.
With almost 87% of shoppers beginning product search online, inbound sales give businesses a competitive edge when they produce quality content with commercial & transactional intent.
Note; [ Template for outbound vs. inbound ] – Example visual below
Stage of awareness
Eugene Schwartz, copywriting legend, published Breakthrough Advertising in 19966. In the book, he covers five steps of awareness that sales reps can use to meet potential customers in their current frame of mind. Here is the breakdown of each stage;
Stage 1; Unaware
Prospects have yet to learn if they have a problem. Eugene adds that some won’t honestly admit that their activities have a pain point. For instance, call center agents using traditional telephone systems may lose prospects’ conversations if not recorded or notes taken during the sales pitch.
In the age of cloud call centers, some may consider this cranky old way of cold-calling clients the norm. However, they are unaware of a cloud phone system that automatically records, transcribes, and analyzes prospect calls for better conversion.
Stage 2; Problem Aware
Here, the prospects realize they have a problem but are unaware of the solution. Eugene points out in the book that the prospects have no desire but a need for a solution before things get out of hand.
For example, using our cloud call center example, the sales agent can now see the problems with using traditional telephony systems. One, much time is wasted repeatedly listening to clients’ conversations to get the critical information for the next call. However, they are unaware of the solution that solves their problem.
Stage 3; Solution Aware
The prospect is searching for the best solution. In the book, Eugene highlights that the prospects recognize the issues and immediately search for answers. However, they may not know your solution is all they need.
Inbound sales work best at this stage by providing resources that educate this audience on why they should choose you. For instance, a cloud call center can pitch a unique solution like instant phone numbers tailored to empower sales agents to personalize conversations and close more deals.
Stage 4; Product Aware
The prospect is aware of your product features, pricing, and support. They are now comparing you with the competition. Also, they are not convinced that your products will solve their hiccups.
A free product demonstration from your sales representative would close the sale here. Also, creating a self-serve onboarding process is a great way to let prospects test-drive your product.
Stage 5; Most Aware
The prospects need a little push to get all key decision makers about choosing your product onboard. The sales team representative can hop on a quick call with C-suite to polish some objections. Also, offering customized solutions for enterprise prospects can push them over the edge into long-term customers.
What is better inbound or outbound sales?
Both inbound and outbound sales influence each other in closing sales deals. As for costs, inbound sales is cost-effective in the long term compared to outbound sales.
However, for outbound sales using the awareness stage, sales teams can target unaware prospects doing things the old way to offer new efficient solutions. Traditional call centers vs. cloud call centers are a great example.
Investing in inbound sales like CRO (conversion rate optimization) for the company website can increase the conversion rate of prospects who are product aware.
Tools for Implementing Outbound Sales
Outbound sales tools for prospecting come in all types and specifications. Depending on the outbound sales technique you want to execute, you will need specific tools to convert prospects into customers.
For instance, if you choose social selling to reach potential clients, you may consider LinkedIn and Twitter for your B2B business. Direct-to-consumer brands have a higher success rate if they go with TikTok and Instagram.
Since it’s not a one shoe fits all scenario, here are tools for outbound sales prospecting every sales representative can use.
- Cloud contact center software
The old way; Sales agents use traditional telephone systems to cold call prospects while taking notes to help improve their sales pitch in the next conversation.
Sales reps using this old method of cold calling experience unproductivity and too much redundancy in getting clients through the sales process.
The new way. Sales agents use contact center software to help track, predict and analyze prospects’ conversations to personalize their sales pitch for a high conversion rate.
Furthermore, a contact center solution integrated seamlessly into top CRMs in the market like Hubspot to improve customer relationships resulting in higher retention rates. Sales reps can manage out-route calls, voicemails, and business texting from one dashboard.
Examples of cloud-based contact center solutions include; Aloware, Talkdesk, and Aircall.
- Social tools
According to Statista, in 2021, there were over 4.26 billion social media users across all major networks. The number is projected to hit six billion by 2027.
Social selling is becoming an essential outbound sales technique for businesses to acquire, convert and retain customers. B2B sales agents can’t ignore LinkedIn any longer. The social media platform is projected to hit 1.03456 billion users by 2025.
Businesses can use social tools for lead generation, content scheduling, and brand awareness to build trust for easier outbound selling. As I mentioned above, the social platform you choose to invest in depends on the type of business you operate.
Examples of social tools for sales teams include;
- Social media channels; LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.
- Social media scheduling; Hootsuite, Sproutsocial, Buffer
- Lead generation tools; Social media ads platforms
- CRM Software
Sales teams that succeed use CRM software to centralize all their outbound and sales channels for intelligent decision-making and closing deals. Be it email, text, calls, or direct messages from social media, the CRM unifies these sales touchpoints for sales reps to execute better sales pitches.
For instance, you make a cold call to a potential client your recent customer referred you to; using a call center CRM; you can track, transcript conversations, and even close the deal via text from the same dashboard.
Examples of CRM for implementing outbound sales include; Hubspot, Pipedrive, Zoho, Salesforce, and more
- Email automation tools
Email is not dead. Cold emailing works like a charm for sales teams that use the outbound channel effectively. 82% of marketers use email marketing worldwide.
Since half ( 4.14 billion) of the world use email, automating some email marketing processes makes sense. Setting up email sequences automatically saves you time and reduces errors. Moreso, sending a cold email with errors signals a terrible experience to prospects.
Example email automation tools for sales reps include; Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Hubspot, etc.
How Do I Create a Successful Outbound Sales Strategy?
A practical outbound sales strategy for sales development representatives (SDRs) cannot be a ‘copy&paste’ template for all. You will need an outbound prospecting process tailored to your sales teams.
Here are the steps to creating a successful outbound sales process;
Step 1; Build your ICPs
Use market segmentation to build your ideal customer profiles. Some questions you ask during market research include;
- Who are we selling to?
- What is their job title or company employee position?
- Who are the C-suite decision makers surrounding your ICP?
- What pain points are they trying to solve?
- Which alternative tools are they currently using?
The answers to these questions will give you an idea of who needs your solution. Also, insights on how to tailor your sales pitch when reaching out.
Step 2; Get contact information.
The question to ask in this step is; What is the best way to contact the ideal customer? – Here are several ways to get their contact information;
- Connect with them on social channels they mostly hang out on.
- Get their email address using tools like Hunterio or Lusha
- Mine contact details from web directories like the About section, Google Business profiles, or Crunchbase
Step 3; Make first outreach
After verifying the contact information, make your first outreach by sending a message. It can be a direct message on social media, a phone call, or a cold email.
The response rate to such outreaches depends on how personalized the pitch is. Expert sales reps understand first outreach message need must be short, tailored, and relevant to the lead’s pain points.
Step 4; Book a call/ demo.
This is the most crucial part of the outbound sales process. The sales rep has one foot in the door, and it’s time to present a demo. Ensure the sales team presenting the product is fully equipped with the sales skills to close the deal.
For a longer sales cycle, have resources available to keep the conversations going even after doing a demo.
Step 5; Close the sale.
After a successful sales presentation, the lead converts, and the whole sales team can toast to the conversion.
However, the sales lead becoming a customer is not the end, be it. The marketing and customer success teams take the mantle to retain the acquired client through superior customer experience.
[ Outbound sales funnel ] – Infographic covering the steps above
Here is an example;
Title: Sales funnel vs Outbound sales funnel
9 Practical Outbound Sales Tactics
- Social selling
The old way of making outbound sales was spamming prospects with calls or emails. The new method is a mix of the old ways with social media.
Social selling uses channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to generate sales leads by sending direct messages ( DMs) to ideal prospects. The steps to doing outbound sales using social media involve;
- Social connection [ follow or connect ]
- Engage with prospect’s content
- Educate prospects via content
- Reach out to potential prospects
According to a LinkedIn report, 89% of top-performing salespeople say social channels like LinkedIn are essential in closing deals. Social selling as an outbound sales strategy help businesses build both customer retention and relationships are a personal level.
Webinars provide an extended market reach when making outbound sales that other sales channels don’t. Also, instead of hopping on an introduction call every time you generate leads, a webinar will pre-qualify them for you.
A webinar is a video presentation, sales demo, or workshop delivered over the internet. In a benchmark report by On24, 76% of marketers say webinars help them reach more sales leads. Also, 49% say the outbound sales channel helps them reach more target accounts.
3. Guest podcasting
In this age of audio content, everyone and their grandma probably has a podcast, as the saying goes. However, all is not gloom for sales teams. You can do guest podcasting to generate high-quality leads.
SDRs can appear on relevant podcasts, tap into existing audiences, and capture their upside. MIDAS Survey of Summer 2022 shows that 68% of podcast listeners listen to whole episodes.
Use guest podcasting to tap into an audience immersed in conversations about your products or services.
4. Cold calling
Cold calling is alive and well. It has evolved into the cloud. Sales teams can now integrate other sales tools with cold calling to personalize prospect experience, build trust, and close deals fast.
For instance, using instant phone numbers, the team can set up virtual phone systems that are compliant with local and international. A feature like Local Presence builds trust with prospects, making it easier for them to hear your sales pitch.
If you are starting cold calling in B2B, use this cold calling technique to sharpen your outbound sales skills.
5. Live chat
A prospect checks your website out; instead of you waiting for them to find what they are looking for, use live chat to qualify the lead.
Live chat is an online customer service feature that allows your businesses to interact with customers or potential customers on a website in real time. Sales reps can reach out to website visitors with a ready-to-convert sales pitch using live chats.
With over 79% of businesses claiming live chat implementation on their website increased customer loyalty and sales, Sales teams can proactively engage with potential customers and take them through the outbound sales process.
6. Business texting.
Companies are missing out on business text messaging, with only 39% of businesses using text messaging to communicate with their customers.
Business texting software uses SMS and MMS to power businesses that want to get ahead of the competition. Sales teams can tap into these relatively new sales channels and close deals faster.
However, the only catch is that you will need prospects’ consent to send them SMS. For the outbound sales funnel, business texting is applicable in the nurturing stage of the sales process.
According to SmallBizTrends, 54% want marketing text messages, but only 11% of businesses use this marketing channel. The sales team can integrate text business messaging with calling to keep the conversation going after calls, hence improving the conversion rate.
People trust referrals. Total strangers will hear you if you mention a relatable referral. It can be a friend, business partner/associate, or family member.
With 84% of B2B decision-makers beginning their sales process with a referral, SDRs can’t ignore this outbound sales channel.
If you are getting started, use this guide to referral program to build a robust program that incentives customers to refer their associates.
8. Influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing, when done right, can rip any business huge outbound sales. The Achille’s heel is getting relevant influencers to showcase your product to their audience.
However, 86% of B2B brands are finding success with influencer marketing. To increase your odds of success as well, partner with industry experts and internal executives as per the TopRank Marketing blog report.
9. Cold emailing
Colding emailing is harder to pull off but the most rewarding outbound sales tactic. Harvard Business Review gave two reasons as to why it’s difficult to convert prospects with cold emails;
- You have no prior relationship with the prospect.
- You can’t modify your sales pitch in real-time since it has no non-verbal queues.
Here are tips for nailing your first cold email campaign;
- Personalize your message to the prospect.
- Introduce yourself and give a reason they should continue reading.
- Offer something your prospect wants; a solution to their pain point.
- Keep the email short and sweet. [ 3-5 lines maximum ]
- Have a clear call to action if they decide to respond.
Use These Outbound Sales Strategies
Outbound sales tactics keep evolving to meet customer preferences. For instance, you can send a business text to millennials but not a baby boomer offering the same sales pitch.
Tapping into sales channels that meet your prospects wherever they are increases your conversion rates. Also, with AI and automation, sales teams can operate multichannel sales funnels.
For example, cold calling, email, and business texting can work seamlessly to nurture sales leads through the funnel into paying customers. At Aloware, we make integration and automation easy for you. Book a demo today.