Outbound Sales and Lead Generation: Successful Strategies for 2021
Is outbound outdated?
As long as you have sales to make, you will have leads to generate.
If those leads aren’t coming to you, then you have to go to them.
And why wouldn’t you?
Outbound lead generation is one of the fastest ways to accelerate your company’s growth. But outbound sales is also often the Cinderella of strategies, piled up with tasks no one else wants to do.
It then becomes necessary to transform your outbound marketing into the beautiful lead-generating machine you know it can be. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as waving a magic wand.
To truly be successful in outbound sales you have to identify the right channels, invest in the right tools, and develop the right workflow.
So to help you succeed, we have put together this guide on how to developing an outbound lead generation strategy that will prepare you for the exciting journey ahead.
What is Outbound Lead Generation?
Outbound lead generation is a sales strategy that involves reaching out to key prospects who meet your ideal client profile (ICP) and have not expressed interest in your products or services.
All too often, outbound lead generation gets a bad reputation for being akin to telemarketing; this could not be further from the truth.
The big difference between disruptive tactics, like telemarketing, and outbound lead generation is outbound marketing targets ICPs that have a true need for the solution your company provides.
This generally results in a much higher conversion rate than the spray-and-pray methods of telemarketers.
Due to changes in buying behaviors, companies have shifting focus from outbound marketing to inbound, but there are some inherent problems with this trend.
The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation
The ‘in” and “out” prefix of these two lead generation approaches give away their differences, but sometimes things get a bit murky when it comes to middle-of-the-road tactics. So, for clarity’s sake, let’s compare.
Inbound lead generation is the process of acquiring prospects through compelling content and offers designed to draw in those who match your ICP and push away those that don’t.
It all comes down to who makes the first move.
With an inbound lead, contact is initiated by the prospect.
With an outbound lead, contact is initiated by the sales representative.
But what about paid advertising?
Ah yes, there’s that gray area we mentioned. If you take a moment to think about the way leads are generated, it’s easier to identify prospects as either inbound or outbound.
For paid advertising, it all comes down to the intended use of the platform.
For example, pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google are considered inbound marketing because the prospect’s intent is to find a solution.
On the other hand, Facebook ads are considered outbound marketing because the prospect’s intent is to find entertainment and socialization. On social media platforms, people are rarely looking for companies that can help them with a problem, so it’s safe to say that outreach in these cases is outbound by nature.
Is Inbound or Outbound Lead Generation Better?
There is this myth that one type of lead generation is better than the other.
In reality, inbound and outbound lead generation is like peanut butter and jelly, while both are good independently, they are much better together.
That being said there are pros and cons for both inbound and outbound lead generation strategies that offset each other in a harmonious way.
You can see from the above chart that it is beneficial to use both inbound and outbound lead generation instead of favoring one over the other. When one strategy lags behind the other can step in to keep your business growth on track.
How to Develop an Outbound Lead Generation Strategy
Enough about definitions and comparisons. Let’s get to the real reason you are here.
How do you implement an outbound sales strategy without gambling away your budget on tools and tactics that don’t work?
It’s tricky; I’ll give you that. But it’s not only possible it’s profitable.
Just like a professional baker uses the freshest ingredients to set their pastries apart from the day-old duds at the market, you’ll need to use the freshest outbound sales processes to set your lead generation strategy apart from your competitors.
There are three major aspects you need to consider before getting started.
The Right Channels
While all of us have our own channel preferences, what truly matters is where your ideal prospects spend their time.
Say you are selling daycare management software. What are the channels you would use to get in front of decision-makers? Now, I am no daycare expert but if I worked in child development, LinkedIn would not be my go-to platform. So, though LinkedIn is great for most B2B lead generation, this particular ICP would be better reached through emails, calls, and even Pinterest.
Keeping your prospects’ day-to-day activities in mind when choosing the right channels will have a profound impact on your conversion rate.
The most popular outbound lead generation channels include cold emails, cold calls, LinkedIn, direct mail, landing pages, and advertising; however, it doesn’t hurt to go outside the norm for audiences with unique attributes.
Choose at least three outlets in the beginning. By doing so, you will increase your touchpoints and provide an omnichannel experience that improves engagement.
The Right Tools
Technically, you could perform all outbound tasks with an email account, a phone, and a spreadsheet; however, it would cost you more in labor hours and mental stability than it’s worth.
Choosing the right resources can be overwhelming so below is a list of all the tools you will need to set your strategy up for success.
One of the most important investments in outbound marketing is data. Really take some time to investigate your options because though database expenses can take up the majority of your budget, the quality of the data can make or break your lead generation efforts.
Solutions range from manual scrapping to AI-powered lead filters. For our clients, we rely on intent data that pinpoint prospects searching for particular solutions based on keyword usage on search engines. Intent data can help you reduce your research time and make the most of each campaign.
If you plan on incorporating cold emails, you may be concerned about triggering spam filters or damaging your domain reputation. With the newer regulations, it’s harder than ever to send out email campaigns without raising some red flags.
An email deliverability tool will help keep your domain safe by verifying recipients and providing blacklist monitoring. You’ll most likely see an increase in deliveries, open rates, and conversion rates when using an email deliverability service.
Follow-up is not just a good idea anymore, it’s necessary for success in both outbound and inbound strategies. But it’s impractical to manage this marketing task manually.
Most marketing tools automate follow-up for you by offering email, SMS, and call campaigns that trigger based on a predetermined schedule or actions performed by the recipients.
As marketing automation tools become more popular, all-in-one solutions that include email deliverability, templates, social media integration, and a variety of other nifty tools have become the new norm.
A word of caution. When marketing automation tools start to diversify into website development, landing pages, and data management, the quality usually degrades and problems tend to increase. We recommend having multiple tools as long as they integrate well with your customer relationship management system (CRM).
Customer Relationship Management
A CRM system does more than just organize your data. A good CRM is like the world’s best friend for a sales representative. It lets you know when your doing a great job, gives you honest feedback when you need to improve, reminds you when you need to complete important tasks, and keeps you from making some questionable life choices.
When choosing a CRM consider your team structure and location, the level of integration needed, and the amount and type of data you need to store.
Many CRMs offer marketing campaign options, but they are generally best suited for inbound rather than outbound strategies.
Landing Page Builder
Land page software can be a great asset if you plan on doing paid advertising through social media. There is a formula behind the formatting so pay attention to the high-converting land pages of your competitors.
With most landing page software, you can create stunning designs without needing assistance from a web developer. Pre-built templates are generally included in the software, and pages integrate seamlessly with your current domain.
The Right Workflow
If you have tried to find a sales workflow that spits out qualified leads like an automated assembly line, it’s probably safe to assume that success was iffy at best.
That’s because a sales workflow takes continuous maintenance. Luckily, with all the tools mentioned above, you will be able to minimize the time it takes to find flaws in the flow and perfect your process piece by piece.
Before you do any of that though, you have to get started.
Make a Decision
In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “…the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Nothing literally gets you nowhere. Even if you make a wrong decision, like choosing a poor subject line or targeting the wrong account, you’ll at least have learned a valuable lesson of what not to do next time.
Here are some steps you can take to push you further into the decision-making process:
- Assess your budget for everything
- Set weekly, monthly, and quarterly SMART goals
- Create a campaign schedule with 7+ touchpoints per lead
- Research and demo outbound lead generation tools
- Compare the cost handling processes in-house vs outsourcing
Once you have made your decision, it’s time to set things in motion.
Implement the Plan
While you are probably eager to get things going, start with a small sample size of around 300 leads. This will give you an idea of what kind of results you may get on a larger scale without burning through your prospects.
Divide your leads into two equal-sized groups and split-test one aspect of your campaign at a time. If you are sending out emails, test two different subject lines. For calls, you might want to test the time of day calls are made.
Make use of your outbound tools to keep the data clean and easy to track. As you see success, double down on what works, but continue to collect data and monitor progress.
Analyze and Adjust
Your first campaign is going to have some hiccups so don’t hold your breath for a perfect run.
Most sales teams have a bad first, second, and even fifth run of their outbound campaigns. As long as you make the necessary adjustments, each failure is a stepping stone to success.
Set key performance indicators (KPIs) based on the outbound channels you have chosen to use. Some of the most popular metrics are delivery rates, bounce rates, open rates, click-through rates (CTR), responses, unsubscribes, connection rates, call length, voicemails left, and of course, conversions.
For each split test, compare the relevant metrics to see what performed better. Make assumptions and adjustments based on your findings.
Email subject lines are one of the first pieces of outreach that we test. We use open rates to determine the winning subject line. Then, we move on to the body of the email and split test the call-to-action to see if we can improve response rates.
Even if you are getting great results, keep analyzing and adjusting your campaigns. An increase conversion rate of just 1% can make a big difference in your ROI.
Now that you have a good understanding of the channels, tools, and workflow you need to make your outbound lead generation work, there is still one thing that many marketers miss.
The Most Important Thing in Outbound Lead Generation
Personalizing your outbound approach is hands down the most effective way to grab your prospects’ attention. There are two widely used personalization methods you can implement depending on your available time, resources, and budget.
Once you start poking around in various outbound marketing tools, you’ll notice that almost all of them offer the ability to personalize your outreach with dynamic tags.
For sales executives going after a large number of leads, using dynamic tags is the most efficient solution. One can easily use these tags to incorporate a prospect’s name, company, title, location, etc. Some even allow you to create your own custom fields that serve as a placeholder for lead-specific data.
This has been the most effective way to personalize outreach for many years. However, there has been a recent shift to a hyper-personalized approach due to new regulations on email and LinkedIn campaigns.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is an outbound sales strategy focused on targeting key decision-makers at specific companies with solutions personalized to their current position in the market.
With ABM comes an increased time commitment to research, writing, and follow-up. These potential roadblocks have kept some companies from pursuing this strategy.
But if you have a good understanding of your ICP and have a list of key accounts that would benefit from your products or services, then now is the time to experiment with ABM.
Many companies use a combination of both, going after a small number of high-value enterprises with an ABM approach while pursuing small and medium-sized businesses with a semi-personalized strategy.
Choose what works best for you. As long as you make an effort to communicate with prospects on a one-on-one basis, you’ll stand out in their inbox.
Outbound sales can be very rewarding, not just from a financial perspective but on a personal level as well.
Too often people avoid outbound outreach because it is “intrusive” when in reality you are performing a service that benefits the prospects. By actively reaching out to people you know struggle with a particular problem and providing a genuine solution, you are making it possible for their company to better survive and thrive.
It’s only intrusive when you act as a profiteer rather than a problem-solver.
Others avoid outbound sales because of negative past experiences or inexperience. If this is the case for you, then we understand your hesitation and want to help.
We have spent over a decade developing and implementing outbound sales strategies for tech companies around the world. At Martal Group, we already have the right channels, tools, and workflow in place to make your outbound lead generation a success.
If you would like to see if Martal Group is a good fit for your company, schedule a chat with us today.