What are Outbound sales: definition and stages

Outbound sales

Outbound sales are a sales process (a planned, detailed set of actions that you need to follow to close a new client), in which a sales assistant opens communication with a potential customer from their end. 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 taken from a phone directory or prospect lists created with the help of tools like an email finder.

As opposed to inbound sales, where sales agents expect leads to initiate interest and ask about a service or product, outbound sales are more proactive. It is presumed that a prospect has no information about the goods or services or has barely heard of them. An outbound sales rep’s job is to present the lead with a solution or and option they have not considered yet.

inbound vs. outbound
Inbound vs outbound sales and marketing
Source: Waypost Marketing

The outbound sales process consists of several steps. They are:

1. Prospecting (lead generation) for outbound sales

Lead generation, also known as prospecting, is a method of accumulating contact data of potential new customers. Before prospecting, it is essential to have a clear view of your target audience representatives. Find answers to these questions: What types of businesses are you targeting? Who makes decisions about your service or product in these organizations? Do you have a buyer persona

Leads can be generated in a number of ways: 

Any additional data collected with the contact info (especially in the case of prospecting from LinkedIn) can be used to filter leads and also to personalize your emails and offers.

2. Cold outreach

Cold email outreach is a powerful and popular outbound sales technique. When composing cold emails you should try to make them short, consistent and personalized, relevant to your leads’ needs and pains. It is not unique for a salesperson to follow up with a lead half a dozen times when cold emailing (a sequence that can actually be automated without losing the human feel). It is vital to introduce one clear call to action (CTA) in every email. Power words are also a common method to improve open and reply rates for cold emails.

As we’ve mentioned, any additional data, most commonly collected on social media, can be used to boost the chances of converting a cold lead. Sales representatives can even go as far as use these details for creating tailored sales scripts and marketing offers. 

In some situations, business offers can even be made instantly in real-time without the need for a sales assistant. For instance, a user who publishes a post on social media that they need a last-minute dress reservation for a night out can be targeted by a business on the next street simply by responding to her post in real-time with a bonus or a discount offer. If this cold lead turns into a buying customer, then the outbound sale turns into a closed deal.

3. Lead qualification, demos

You turn a cold lead into a prospective one when, having received a message about your service or product, they take interest and agree to accept a sales call. This is a standard stage of many sales funnels, in which a sales assistant performs a product presentation. 

sales funnel and lead's journey
A typical sales funnel

The first sales call is often the first live communication with the lead, so it is essential to be equipped with relevant information about the lead and have a flawless demo for that prospect type. 

Discovering more about the lead and their business as they advance through the sales funnel can help salespeople offer a more tailor-made proposal, and enhance the probability of closing the deal. Ask about their pains and difficulties and why they chose to communicate with you, let them speak out and try to understand what it would take for them to become your client. It is necessary to distinctly outline the next steps at the end of the call.

4. Closing the deal

This step refers to any late-stage actions that follow as a deal comes to a close and you are about to turn a lead into a new client. This stage of the sales funnel varies from business to business and may involve things like preparing a quote, discussions of the offer, upgrading from Freemium to Premium, etc. Eliminate any choice difficulties in this stage. Give a distinct offer and make it easy for leads to sign a new agreement or to upgrade their account. Be determined to acquire this lead as a client. 

5. Reaching customer success

At this point, you have succeeded to land a new customer. Now it is your turn to fulfill your promises, give your new client the best imaginable experience and support them. Once you have pleased your client, ask them if they have colleagues or partners that may be interested in your services as well. Have your client refer new leads to you and be the ones who tell them why they need your product or service. This helps find new business opportunities.

These are the most essential stages of an outbound sales funnel. Observe, measure and take advantage of any progress at every stage. Small advances in one part of the funnel can have a powerful impact on the number of new deals you close every month. 

Having a clearly outlined, dynamic, repeatable and scalable outbound sales funnel is one of the main keys to success.

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