The success of your sales campaign hinges on finding the right sales strategy, a harmonious blend of outbound and inbound approaches.
In this post, we’ll focus on the outbound sales process, walking you through outbound sales meaning, benefits, strategies, steps, tools, and best practices.
What is outbound sales?
Outbound sales is a process where sales reps initiate communication with potential customers. The primary contact is usually established by arranging cold calls or sending cold emails to potential clients (commonly referred to as prospects or leads in sales). Contact details are usually sourced from phone directories or email lists created using tools like an email finder.
Importance of outbound sales
Outbound sales is an absolute must-have for businesses that can’t afford to spend too much money on advertising, waiting till their prospects find their website and contact the company first.
Apart from this, outbound sales is always associated with the following benefits:
- Fast and bulk prospecting. Outbound sales lets you connect with prospects in a flash. Cold calls, emails, social media, or chat communication can yield speedy results, allowing you to engage with potential customers and get their responses in no time.
- Personalized approach. Targeted selling is at the heart of outbound sales. By researching your prospects, you can tailor your outreach with a highly personalized offer, building trust and fostering meaningful relationships – a key ingredient in the sales world.
- Control over the process. When you’re in charge of the outbound sales process, you can oversee every stage of the funnel, from prospecting to closing the deal, while making adjustments on-the-fly as needed. And with reliable outbound sales software, like a CRM or a sales automation tool, you can track your progress with ease.
Outbound vs. inbound sales
When comparing inbound sales vs. outbound sales, it’s like watching a tennis match where the main difference lies in who serves first. In outbound sales, the sales rep initiates contact, whereas in inbound sales, the potential customer reaches out for more information about a product or service.
The objectives of inbound vs. outbound sales also differ. Outbound sales is all about selling a product or service directly to a buyer, closing the deal as swiftly as possible. Meanwhile, inbound sales focuses on educating potential customers about the company and its offerings before attempting to sell.
And, of course, each sales strategy comes with its own unique set of challenges. Navigating the outbound sales process can feel like a high-energy workout, requiring considerable time and resources to guide potential customers through the buyer’s journey from cold call or email to closing the deal.
On the other hand, inbound sales is more like a marathon, demanding patience and persistence as you work to establish a strong web presence and analyze data.
Crafting your outbound sales strategy: tools and techniques
The outbound sales process involves various tools and techniques for engaging prospects through multiple channels, both online and offline. Let’s explore some popular outbound sales strategies to boost your business.
Cold email outreach
Cold emailing is an effective strategy that presupposes reaching out to potential customers with no prior relationship to your business. With cold email outreach, you can introduce your product or service and spark the recipient’s interest or engagement.
As the average open rate for a cold email campaign is 23.9%, it’s obvious that not all salespeople use email marketing efficiently. To succeed with cold emailing, pay attention to the quality of your content, target the right audience, and carefully time and follow up on your emails.
Similar to cold emailing, cold calling involves reaching out to prospects who haven’t yet interacted with your business. The process typically includes researching and identifying potential leads, making initial contact, and engaging them in conversation. Your main objective is to understand your prospect’s needs and pain points and demonstrate how your product or service can help.
On average, it takes about eight calls to reach a prospect. To make cold calling an effective outbound sales strategy, ensure a high-quality call script, hone your communication skills, target your calling list accurately, and be prepared to handle objections and rejection.
→ Discover 8 Cold Calling Tips For Boosting B2B Sales Success
Social selling techniques
The goal of social selling is to use social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others to engage with potential customers, providing them with helpful content relevant to their needs and interests.
Social selling techniques allow you to build relationships and establish trust, leading to more conversions and long-term customer loyalty. That is why it’s particularly effective for B2B companies that leverage LinkedIn sales.
→ Learn more about mastering social selling on LinkedIn step by step.
Podcasts and webinars allow you to reach a targeted audience, showcase your expertise, and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. This helps build trust and credibility with potential customers, making it easier to reach out to them with your offer.
What is more, participating in podcasts enables you to network with other experts who may recommend your business to their audience, bringing in more leads.
From trade shows and summits to other sales events, business gatherings offer opportunities to connect with people in your industry and professionals who can help you grow your business. These events provide a platform to network and build relationships, leading to new opportunities in the future.
In addition, attending such events is a sure way to establish brand awareness for your business and meet your potential customers face-to-face.
Outbound sales process step by step
Did you know that companies with a defined sales process experience 18% more revenue growth than those without? It’s high time to define your outbound sales process, isn’t it?
Let’s take a step-by-step journey through each stage:
Step 1. Identifying your target audience
Your outbound sales process should start with identifying who your potential customers are.
- Analyze your existing customer base to uncover patterns in demographics, firmographics, and buyer behavior.
- Conduct market research to get insights into the market, competitors, and customer needs.
- Create an ideal customer profile based on this information and break it down into buyer personas.
By doing this, you’ll be able to focus your sales efforts on those most likely to become customers.
→ Learn more about how to create the ideal customer profile with Snov.io tips.
Step 2. Outbound prospecting
With your target audience and ideal customer in mind, it’s time to build a list of prospects that match your criteria.
You can generate leads through various channels, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, web directories, or by using prospecting tools directly on company websites.
For instance, you can use Snov.io to streamline outbound prospecting by generating leads from company websites, LinkedIn, Twitter, or finding email leads by company name, location, job title, and other parameters. The tool will automate the process and save prospect data to your personal Snov.io account for further outreach.
But why do 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most difficult part of the sales process?
Prospecting doesn’t only boil down to lead generation. It also requires researching your prospects to understand their needs, pain points, and interests. This will help you tailor your outreach messaging and increase your chances of a positive response.
Step 3. Cold outreach
Now that you’ve found leads, reach out to them with your cold emails or calls to gather even more information and determine if they’re a good fit for your offer.
Although outbound sales calling is a classic example of cold outreach, cold emails have become a more popular outbound sales strategy. When composing them, aim to create engaging, concise, personalized, and relevant messages that address your leads’ needs and pain points.
The main problem you may encounter while doing cold outreach is that 90% of decision-makers don’t respond to it at all. Don’t give up. Sales is the art of following up. So prepare a chain of messages to send as reminders to your prospects.
Luckily, you can automate your email sequences from the very first message to the final follow-up with Snov.io Email Drip Campaigns. Program all steps of your email outreach, compose highly personalized emails, or use ready-made templates that will be sent at just the right moment to capture your prospect’s attention.
Step 4. Lead qualification
As soon as you’ve got a positive response from your lead – a hint they have some interest in your solution – it’s time for you to qualify the lead, i.e., determine if they can potentially buy your product.
A sales rep typically identifies qualified leads over a discovery call by asking sales-qualifying questions. Here are some examples:
- What is your budget for this project or purchase?
- Who is the decision-maker or decision-making team for this purchase?
- What might be the main challenges for the upcoming year for your company/department?
- What motivated you to search for a solution now?
By posing these questions, you’ll not only uncover whether a lead is a good fit for your product or service but also reveal the key factors important to them. This intel will empower you to tailor your sales approach to meet their needs.
Step 5. Sales pitch/presentation
With a list of qualified leads, you’re ready to step into the limelight and deliver a show-stopping sales presentation.
Ensure it meets the specific prospect’s needs, showcase a clear and compelling value proposition, support your sales pitch with visuals and data, and be ready to answer any questions that may pop up during the presentation.
Remember that 82% of prospects accept meetings with sellers who proactively reach out to them. So you should not stop at one meeting request message. Do follow up!
→ Learn the secrets of nailing your best sales presentation.
Step 6. Closing the sale
After a successful sales pitch and demo, the customer signs a contract – it’s a standing ovation and time for celebration!
But hold your applause – the journey isn’t over yet.
Continue to engage with the customer and provide support throughout the onboarding process to ensure a seamless experience.
Outbound sales automation tools and technologies
Okay, in theory, you could start your outbound sales process with just a mobile phone and a spreadsheet to record your leads. But as soon as you scale, the challenge of managing prospects, points of contact, and analyzing your outbound sales strategy’s performance becomes a Herculean task.
That is why experienced salespeople adopt outbound sales software that helps them automate their tasks, organize their outbound sales process from A to Z, and gain insights into their outbound sales strategies.
Here are some of the top outbound sales automation tools that you’ll undoubtedly find invaluable as your business grows:
Sales automation software
Sales automation software acts like a personal assistant to help sales teams manage their sales pipeline efficiently, boost productivity, and close more deals. It automates tasks such as lead generation, lead nurturing, follow-ups, appointment scheduling, and other administrative duties.
For example, with such a sales automation tool as Snov.io, you can automate lead generation by finding email contacts from across the web and validating them. Snov.io streamlines your cold outreach by sending automated cold email campaigns and follow-ups to prospects. Plus, it puts your meeting scheduling on autopilot, so you can focus on more critical strategic tasks.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software
A sales CRM, or customer relationship management software, is your one-stop solution to centralize all customer data, making it easier to manage and analyze. It automates tasks such as lead management, lead scoring, sales forecasting, and reporting. It also provides sales teams with real-time insights into customer behavior, offering a comprehensive view of customer relationships.
Predictive dialers are like speed dial for sales teams! These automated outbound call management systems reduce the time spent waiting for a call to connect and maximize the time spent talking to customers.
They offer features such as call recording, call monitoring, and real-time reporting. Besides, they can integrate with CRM software, allowing sales teams to access customer information in real-time, increasing call volumes and overall sales productivity.
Email marketing software
Ever wish you could clone yourself to handle all your email outreach? Well, email marketing software is the next best thing!
These tools automate email sending and follow-ups, allowing sales teams to communicate with prospects and customers in a more personalized and targeted manner.
What is more, they often provide an A/B testing feature to help you choose the most effective email copy, boosting your email response rates. And with easy-to-use tracking features, you’ll know exactly how many prospects have opened and read your messages.
Social media management tools
Imagine being able to manage all your social media accounts like a boss, all from one convenient platform. Social media management tools make this a reality!
They give you the power to schedule posts in advance, monitor social media conversations, respond to messages and comments, track social media metrics like engagement and reach, and collaborate with team members or clients.
By automating routine tasks, these tools free up your time to focus on creating engaging content and forging connections with prospective customers.
Outbound sales metrics and analysis
You’ve learned the ins and outs of running the outbound sales process step by step. Now it’s time to track the success of your outbound sales campaigns. In this chapter, we’ll dive into the key performance indicators (KPIs) that help measure outbound sales success:
- Sales conversion rate. This is the percentage of leads that transform into paying customers. It is calculated by dividing the number of closed deals by the total number of leads generated.
- Number of touches. This KPI tracks the number of outbound calls or emails made by sales reps within a given period. Use it to measure the productivity and effectiveness of your sales team.
- Qualified leads generated. This metric counts the potential customers who meet predetermined criteria, such as budget, need, authority, and timeline, making them more likely to convert into actual customers.
- Sales pipeline value. This key metric for sales management represents the total value of all potential sales opportunities being pursued. It’s the sum of the values of all deals in various stages of the sales process.
- Average deal size. This is the average value of each sale. Calculate it by dividing the total revenue generated by the number of deals closed.
- Sales cycle length. This KPI measures the time it takes to close a deal, from the first contact with a prospect to the final sale. A shorter sales cycle indicates a more efficient sales process.
- Lead response time. This KPI gauges how quickly sales reps respond to leads after they express interest in a product or service. Remember, 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first – a good reason to think about how to rev up your lead response time.
- Appointment setting rate. This metric shows the percentage of calls or outreach attempts made by a sales rep that result in a confirmed appointment with a prospect.
- Customer acquisition cost. This metric measures the efficiency of customer acquisition strategies. Calculate it by dividing the total sales and marketing costs spent on acquiring new customers by the number of customers acquired during a specific period.
- Sales velocity. Also called pipeline velocity, this KPI measures the speed at which deals move through the sales pipeline. Find it by dividing the total value of deals closed by the sales cycle length.
Outbound sales challenges and best practices
Embarking on the outbound sales journey can be thrilling, but it also comes with its share of challenges. In this chapter, we’ll explore some key challenges you may encounter and provide solutions to help you overcome them.
Challenge 1. Tackling objections and rejections
When navigating the outbound sales landscape, objections and rejections are like turbulent waters you must sail through. Prospects may have doubts about your product’s price and features; they may already work with your competitors; or they may simply be not ready to accept your offer at this moment.
So what’s the solution?
Anticipate and address objections and rejections in a way that builds trust and confidence with your prospective customers. Listen actively, empathize with their concerns, and provide effective solutions to their objections. With practice, you’ll be a master at turning “no” into “yes.”
→ Check out our post on how to handle the most common types of sales objections.
Challenge 2. Mastering sales pipeline management
Sales pipelines can be complex, involving multiple stages, touchpoints, and interactions. Add in the pressure of dealing with sales objections, meeting sales targets, and balancing the need to close deals quickly with the need to build long-term relationships, and you may get a real pain in the neck.
So what’s the solution?
Define clear stages in your sales process, set goals, prioritize opportunities, organize your leads, and follow up regularly. To stay in tune, use a reliable CRM. It will help you track leads throughout the pipeline, control your sales team’s performance, and harmonize your outbound sales process.
Challenge 3. Keeping up with performance metrics
In the vast sea of sales data, it can be difficult to determine which metrics are the most important to track and how to interpret the information. If your sales data is scattered across multiple systems or tools, getting a comprehensive view of your sales performance and measuring your ROI becomes even harder.
So what’s the solution?
First, define your sales metrics (we’ve provided you with some essential KPIs above) and set measurable goals for each. Track your metrics in real-time to quickly identify any areas that need adjustments. Use a CRM tool or sales performance management software to monitor outbound sales performance metrics and generate reports.
→ Read our recent post about the best sales CRM software for your business.
Challenge 4. Navigating the legal labyrinth
Complying with regulations is critical to maintaining ethical and legal sales practices while safeguarding customer data and privacy. With ever-evolving regulations, it becomes challenging for businesses to keep up with the changes.
Remember the GDPR panic of 2018? Many companies struggled to adapt to the complex requirements for data privacy and protection while avoiding hefty penalties for non-compliance.
So what’s the solution?
Stay informed about regulatory changes by conducting regular research and monitoring. Train your staff on relevant regulations and their responsibilities for ensuring compliance. Implement procedures for obtaining consent for data collection, storing data securely, and providing transparency around data use. And if you’re ever uncertain about compliance, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice.
Challenge 5. Handling customer complaints
Converting prospects into customers is like climbing a mountain, but retaining them feels like scaling an entire mountain range. Especially when customers have complaints or concerns about your product. If you fail to address customer complaints effectively, it could create reputational risk for your business.
So what’s the solution?
Listen carefully to the customer, empathize with their situation, and apologize if they had a negative experience. Offer a solution that addresses their complaint or need, whether it’s a refund, replacement, or credit towards future purchases. If the issue is complex, provide an estimated timeline for resolution and keep the customer updated.
And don’t forget to gather regular customer feedback to identify areas for improvement.
→ Learn more about providing impeccable after-sales service in one of our posts.
Challenge 6. Staying motivated and productive
Sales can be a high-pressure environment, with targets to meet and quotas to hit. You’re faced with repetitive tasks, numerous prospects, and a barrage of objections and rejections. How do you keep your sales battery charged?
So what’s the solution?
Start by setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals to give yourself a clear direction. Prioritize tasks, take breaks, and focus on factors within your control to minimize the impact of customer rejections. Finally, connect with colleagues, mentors, or coaches who can offer guidance and never stop learning the art of outbound sales through books, workshops, and industry events.
The outbound sales process can be challenging, but with the right outbound sales approach, you can transform your business into a thriving ecosystem in just a few months. By carefully choosing your target audience, developing personalized communications, nurturing prospects through every stage, and providing stellar after-sales support, you’ll increase your chances of success.
And when it comes to outbound sales automation, get equipped for every scenario with a trusty outbound sales tool like Snov.io.