In the past few years, the outbound sales strategy has been getting a bad rap.
The new, complex inbound sales process has taken its place as the king of sales, with its passive lead generation and a value-driven approach. Outbound sales have taken a step backward and are now considered a more traditional strategy with results that aren’t as impressive.
If you were to believe this and completely disregard outbound sales in your marketing efforts, you’d be making a mistake. Sure, inbound sales are an effective tactic but reaching out to prospects still has immense value – it can allow you to increase brand awareness and generate a lot of leads in a short period.
The only challenge is that you have to do it right or you’re risking damaging your reputation and wasting resources on a bad sales strategy.
Here is our guide to outbound sales that create value for both you and the customer.
What are outbound sales?
Close your eyes and imagine a salesperson doing their job. Do they have a headset and a sales script in front of them? Are they going door-to-door, selling products and making demonstrations?
Both of these approaches are outbound sales. A modern version of this are the people who send you all those cold emails and LinkedIn connection requests you’re likely getting every week.
So, outbound sales are those interactions where the salesperson initiates the contact with the customer, either through phone, email, in person, or through any other means of communication.
It’s clear why outbound sales are looked down upon – most of us have an instinctive reaction to hang up when we get a call from an unknown person trying to sell us a product we have no use for. Cold calls are also resented by many salespeople since they can be an awkward experience, and they’re not as likely to convert as some other sales tactics.
But, here’s the catch: with smart technologies, outbound sales have transformed in the past decade. Facebook, LinkedIn, contact forms, automation tools – all those are valuable sources of information that you can use to separate the leads who are worth calling from those who aren’t.
So, you don’t have to cold call/email anymore. You can contact the people who are likely to be interested in your offer, leverage data to send them personalized messages, and make the experience more enjoyable for both you and them.
Inbound vs outbound sales
Inbound sales takes a very different approach to outbound.
The inbound approach focuses on getting the customer to come to you. For this to happen, you need to create value, solve problems, offer useful information, and generate interest in the process. Then, you wait for users to come to you because you’ve built such strong credibility in the industry.
You might have already picked up on what’s the main issue with this strategy – it takes a lot of time.
Inbound sales usually require a deep knowledge of content strategy and SEO, along with a team of writers that can generate a lot of smart, useful content, across a long period.
Building domain authority is no easy ride. And, while it’s certainly worth the effort, if you want quick results – you should invest in a good outbound sales strategy too.
So, here are our key steps to executing your outbound sales perfectly.
1. Build up your digital presence
When you send an outreach email or finish a cold call, what do you think your prospects will do first? If they like your offer, they’ll likely research you or your brand online.
They’ll look at your website, find your social media profiles, and check out your references. When this happens, you want to make sure that all your digital channels are as presentable as possible. They should display you as an experienced professional with several satisfied clients in their portfolio.
Here are some things you should prioritize.
With more than 700 million users all over the world, LinkedIn is the no. 1 professional network on the Internet. That’s why your LinkedIn profile has to be impeccable – a representative profile photo, straightforward headline, and an honest summary with your best results. You should also try to get client recommendations to show you have significant experience in the industry. Here’s how those look:
Source: Lisa Marie Dias Designs
Social media content
All of your social media profiles should be filled with industry-relevant content. That way, when your prospects decide to research you, they’ll see that you’re on top of everything that’s going on in the industry. It’s also a good idea to be a member of several LinkedIn and Facebook groups in your field.
Your website should be as intuitive as possible – all the information has to be well organized and transparent. Your contact information should be easy to find, as well as your case studies and references. You can also use your website to create relevant content, just like you would with an inbound sales approach.
If outbound sales is a journey, your digital presence is your passport. It has all the information your prospects need to make a quick assessment of your expertise and previous projects. A bad website and a shady LinkedIn profile will be significant blows to your sales results, so make sure they both inspire trust.
2. Collect quality leads and qualify them
This is what separates the new outbound sales approach from the old-school one.
Before the Internet, you would simply collect as many leads as you can and start cold-calling them. You had very few ways to target specific, high-value leads.
Today, however, you can use all the data you can find online and combine it with prospecting tools to find those leads that are much more likely to be interested in your offer. Using different tools, you can differentiate between leads that are worth pursuing and those that are not, so you’ll avoid unpleasant conversations and increase your conversion rates.
The first step towards this is creating buyer personas.
Consider your perfect customer: what’s their demographic, professional background, a common problem they have? By creating buyer personas, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for, so you’ll be able to evaluate a lead almost instantly. The closer a lead is to your perfect customer – the more valuable it is.
The second step in collecting quality leads is advanced targeting.
You need to get creative and find leads in places where people from your industry meet. Some of the best places to find great leads are Facebook and LinkedIn groups. For example, take a look at what we get when we search for “social selling” on LinkedIn and select “groups”:
Source: Social Media Examiner
You can join these groups and use a tool like Phantombuster to scrape all the contacts from them. This is a simple process that can end up getting you thousands of leads that are actively engaged in your industry (more than 10.000 in this example). Similarly, Phantombuster can also help you scrape the contacts of people who engaged with a particular LinkedIn post – another handy source of good leads.
The final step is lead qualification.
This simply means assessing each lead and assigning priority to those leads that meet certain criteria. Salespeople often use the BANT approach to qualify leads. BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. By evaluating each prospect on these four things, you can get a better picture of whether a lead is valuable or not.
For example, if you’re selling a sales automation tool and one of your leads is a Head of Sales in a respectable company, you can say that this lead has a pretty high value in the Budget and Authority areas. That would make this lead valuable, so you should prioritize it in your sales process.
3. Personalize your message
In most sales guides in 2020, you’ll find that a great deal of attention is focused on personalization.
This trend is all the rage right now in outbound sales, and for a good reason. Studies have shown us, over and over again, that our prospects care about personalization.
People get frustrated when they get emails that are irrelevant to their needs. This is especially true for millennials, who are shaping the global economy and will likely continue to do so for years to come.
So, how can you personalize your message?
It starts with your opening line. Whether it's an email subject, the first sentence of a LinkedIn connection request, or a greeting on a cold call - your opening has to be personalized. Right from the start, you can mention where you got their contact and what makes your product/service a perfect choice for them.
Here's an example. Say you found a contact in one of the LinkedIn groups we mentioned above. You could start the message like this:
"Hey, John! I saw your comments in the Social Selling University group on LinkedIn - I have to say I agree with most of your points."
From there, you can make a natural segue into talking about your sales tool.
You can already see how this approach is bound to at least get their attention. It's also applicable to any form of communication and virtually any industry.
This is something that many salespeople are doing. It’s an approach that works but, if you want to separate yourself from the competition and take the next step towards personalization, you’ll have to do something new. Adding a personalized video to your outbound message could be just what you need.
It’s not as hard as it may sound – with Bonjoro, you can use your desktop recorder or your smartphone to create personalized videos in a matter of minutes. You can also integrate with the most popular sales and marketing tools like Salesforce, Zoho, and Pipedrive.
Not only do these videos look cool and help you engage your prospects more directly, but they can also increase your conversion rates by a significant amount!
4. Remember to follow up
If you talk to any good salesperson, they’ll tell you that the follow-up is one of the most important parts of a good sales calling plan.
One of the worst things you can do when a prospect isn’t replying to your email or softly refuses your offer is to quit. Research shows that people can say “no” up to four times before eventually saying “yes”. So, have a follow-up process and stick to it. Sales automation tools usually have presets for such plans, where they automatically send follow-up messages to those prospects who didn’t respond to the original message.
Once again personal video is a powerful way to follow-up your proposals. If you tried a normal email or DM message the first time around, why not up the ante, and show that prospect you truly took the time for them.
5. Always be closing
Most outbound sales call script examples you can find on Google will have some sort of strategy for closing. This applies to cold calls more than any other type of outbound sales – since they can go on for a long time and there’s a lot of back and forth, it’s important to arrive at a conclusion and close the sale.
However, the same applies to any other outbound sales technique: you need to close the sale with a strong CTA. You need to give a strong incentive to your prospects, a big reason why they should make a purchase.
Here are some suggestions.
- “Now or never” – you’ve likely encountered this approach when talking to a salesperson. Limited offers, time-sensitive discounts, and holiday specials – all of these are “now or never” closes.
- Linkage – by creating conditions and linking two events, you can put more pressure on the prospect. “If I can get my Sales Lead to drop one of the features, could we sign a three-month contract?” would be a typical example of this technique.
- Question close – this approach allows you to continue the sales process even if the prospect refuses. “Does this seem like a reasonable offer to you?” – even if the prospect says “no”, you still have room to make a better offer and try to win them over.
Outbound sales: the final word
When people say that outbound sales are dead, they’re partially right.
The old outbound sales where you relentlessly cold-call dozens of people every day, praying that you get an answer – that’s certainly a thing of the past.
However, smart outbound sales where you focus on getting quality leads and engage them with personalized content – those are very much alive. Follow this guide and you’ll be one big step closer to achieve great results!
And, be sure to check out Bonjoro if you want that personalized content to include fun video formats. Start your free trial and learn how you can infuse your outbound messages with some creative flair!