Today’s companies use a variety of sales techniques and strategies to increase revenue, unlock new opportunities, and compete against other brands. While many organizations have begun focusing heavily on inbound sales tactics in recent years, such as content creation, and SEO, outbound sales can still play a valuable role in ensuring an organization’s success.
Though an outbound sales strategy needs to be implemented carefully to ensure businesses don’t damage their relationships with potential customers, the right method can be extremely effective. According to some studies, up to 82% of buyers will accept meetings with sellers who reach out to them, highlighting the potential of outbound selling.
Consistently attracting new prospects and converting leads into customers requires companies to invest in a variety of sales tactics. While there are numerous ways to generate opportunities for a sale, the majority of methods fall into one of two categories: inbound, or outbound selling.
Outbound selling, or outbound sales involve a sales professional activity reaching out to a potential buyer and starting a conversation. There are various ways to approach this strategy, from reaching out to cold leads with calls and emails, to pinpointing warm, hot, and qualified leads with specially tailored-marketing and sales strategies.
There’s often some controversy around outbound sales, as they can often be seen as disruptive and frustrating when sellers don’t use the right strategies to reach out to prospects. However, outbound selling can be an excellent way for many businesses to seek out new opportunities and connect with prospects. Used correctly, it can significantly increase your revenue.
Ultimately, outbound sales are the opposite approach to “inbound sales”. Lately, inbound sales have been gaining more attention, as companies look for new ways to attract customers to their products and services, rather than investing in reaching out to clients themselves.
The main difference between outbound and inbound sales is who initiates the conversation. With an outbound sales strategy, it’s the seller that starts the contact, seeking out specific prospects and reaching out them with calls, emails, and social media messages.
With inbound sales, it’s the customer that starts the conversation, connecting with companies to ask questions about a product, or service. Outbound sales actively works to sell products or services to customers who are likely to be interested in the solution on offer. Inbound sales focuses more on educating buyers, and convincing them to make certain purchasing decisions.
Both sales strategies have their own pros and cons to consider. While outbound sales requires a lot of investment in time and resources, inbound sales requires companies to invest heavily in creating compelling content throughout the customer journey. In many cases, it can take longer to see a return on investment from inbound sales strategies, than it would with outbound sales.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for outbound sales. Some companies find they get the best results by investing all of their efforts into cold calling as many potential customers as possible. Others take a more targeted approach, and focus on reaching out specifically to customers who they’ve already qualified as a potential lead. Outbound sales can also involve the use of various methods of communication, from email to social media and phone calls.
Typically, an outbound sales strategy will involve the following steps:
Step 1: Market segment identification:
First, companies need to define who they believe will be most likely to purchase their products and services. It’s important to define who the decision makers are in your industry, and create buyer personas which allow you to target your sales strategies towards the right people. Some companies will segment their market into smaller groups, to help sales reps tailor their approach based on the customer, their needs, and even their location.
Step 2: Lead generation:
After determining who they want to reach, companies using an outbound sales strategy need to start collecting contact details so they can build a prospect pipeline. Some brands use an in-house lead generation team to source opportunities from channels like LinkedIn and other social media platforms, as well as web directories and prospecting tools. There are also third-party companies who can manage lead generation for a brand.
Step 3: Qualification and outreach:
Once they have the contact information they need to connect with a potential prospect, sales people start reaching out to each individual, to determine which people might be a good customer for their business. This often involves using methods like cold calling to connect with prospects, ask about their needs, and discover any goals and pain points which may need to be addressed. Reps may need to follow up with prospects a number of times before they’re ready to move onto the next stage of sales.
Step 4: Conversations and demos:
Once a lead has been qualified, they can be passed onto another member of the sales team, who discusses their needs with them in detail, and produces a sales pitch relevant to their interests. Sales reps will use multiple conversations with leads to discover information about the prospect, provide insights into their solution, and generate interest or purchasing intent. Depending on the solution being offered, sales reps might need to host a number of conversations with each potential customer.
Step 5: Closing the deal:
Finally, using the information they’ve gained about their customer, sales representatives close the deal, by offering a specific solution to a customer. The customer then signs a contract or makes a purchase. After this, the role of the sales team is to ensure the customer remains happy and committed to the brand in the long-term.
The majority of companies will develop their outbound sales strategies over time, as they learn more about their target audience and the trends in the marketplace. However, there are some core “best practices” organizations can use to boost their chances of successful outbound sales.