Outbound sales is a strategy that empowers and relies on the rep to generate their own deals. 

Actively soliciting new business from prospects that were previously unaware of the company, product, or service being sold, outbound reps usually work off of a lead list or a prospecting qualification process contacting potential customers via cold calling, email outreach, or social channels. 

While it’s possible that a prospect has expressed baseline awareness or surface-level interest in the company through marketing content or otherwise, it is up to the outbound sales team to contact, nurture, and close deals. 

Inbound vs. Outbound Sales

Inbound sales, as opposed to outbound, is when leads come to the business and express interest in learning more, scheduling the next step, or even making a purchase on the spot. Inbound strategies rely more on lead capture and nurturing, compared to outbound reps that must place more emphasis on their prospecting efforts.

Inbound sales teams usually dominate in the world of products that are self-evident, with intuitive user interfaces and broad visibility in the marketplace. Outbound sales teams are most effective when the product or service is complex and serves a smaller total addressable market (TAM), necessitating an active search for qualified leads. 

While different business models and pricing strategies will likely indicate which sales strategy to focus on, there is often an opportunity for both inbound and outbound sales teams to coexist. Most companies today do generate a fair amount of inbound traffic through word of mouth, organic search, and other methods, which should be nurtured and optimized for conversions.  

Outbound Sales for B2B vs B2C

While many people are of the opinion that outbound sales is exclusive to B2B, outbound strategies are not reserved for any industry, vertical, or business. Anecdotally, while writing this piece, we searched Google for “outbound sales” and looked for instances of “b2b” and “b2c” on the results page — four mentions of B2B to B2C’s zilch. 

One metric that’s a good determining factor of whether outbound sales is the right strategy is average contract value (ACV) compared to customer acquisition costs (CAC). Unless the results (i.e. revenue) of your outbound sales efforts and margins are more than enough to compensate for the selling expenses inherent in an outbound (or outside) sales team (salaries, tools, etc.) then you likely shouldn’t implement an outbound strategy.

Outbound sales for B2C usually require a product or service with a high customer lifetime value or high profit margin. For example, a mortgage banking company might deploy an outbound sales strategy because they know that each customer who gets a mortgage will make interest payments for decades to come. 

Alternatively, a B2C product with a high price and high margins might require an outside sales team to demo the product and verbally justify the investment. 

What You Need for Success in Outbound Sales

To be successful in outbound sales, you must understand the law of large numbers. You will receive an overwhelming number of rejections, but it’s the receptive few that will deliver all of the results you need to be successful. 

Sales Development Reps (SDRs) and managers (SDMs) usually require some aspect of extroversion since they will have many conversations with complete strangers, but also must be driven by data when making decisions, since their sales metrics are what guide their performance, not individual deals. 

In addition to the skill set needed for outbound sales, your technology stack must also be calibrated for the uniqueness inherent in every industry, company, and team deploying outbound sales.  

Qualified Lead Sourcing

Outbound sales is a numbers game, which means you better be prepared with a channel, repository, or platform where you can source large numbers of qualified leads. Perhaps your company has proprietary technology that helps source and qualify leads, purchases lead lists, leverages social selling platforms, or otherwise. 

It’s also a good idea to have a backup or something to pull from when the well runs dry — a strategy to source leads when you’ve exhausted your usual methods. 

Proven Sales Playbook With Scripts

While you should be tracking sales to understand performance and pivot when needed, you should certainly have a formulaic approach to outbound sales with the understanding that your formula is simply a theorem and not a mathematical proof, hypothetically speaking.

When scripts and plays work, they can be highly effective at making the sales process more predictable, but they can also make it more monotonous and boring. Have a sales playbook that gives your team the basic foundation and structure needed to move their deals forward but also gives them the autonomy to call audibles when needed. 

Sales Tracking

Given the sheer volume of communication and prospects to keep track of in outbound sales, a sales tracking procedure and product are essential. Outbound sales tracking is also important for monitoring performance from a high level, which can help identify areas for opportunity and improvement within the sales process. 

Tracking the volume, cadence and contents of calls, emails, and meetings will provide a deeper understanding of what works and what doesn’t for your sales process specifically. Once you’ve uncovered trends in the data, you can coach your team towards adherence of what is proven to work. 

We’re all guilty of sticking to our routines and habits, arguing they’re, “the way we’ve always done things,” or “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” and while it may have worked in the past (or appeared to work), without proper measurement and analysis, you’ll never know if there could be a more effective way.

Sales tracking is how modern sales teams understand productivity, performance, and priorities for driving a more effective and efficient sales process.

Multi-Channel and Multi-Threaded Outbound Sales

Having a digital footprint in the eyes of your prospects is important. The first instinct of many people is to Google a new acquaintance’s name to check on their legitimacy of character. One way to make yourself more noticeable is to connect with prospects on more than one channel.

Before making an initial sales call, for example, having a genuine interaction with a prospect on LinkedIn, Twitter, or another social media channel could help bridge the gap between a cold and warm lead.

In addition to a multi-channel approach to outbound, you should also try to make your deals multi-threaded, or including more than one decision-maker or stakeholder from the prospect’s team. This will help increase your chances of talking to the right person and getting more buy-in from those that can champion your deal internally. 

As more people are threaded into the deal it becomes increasingly more complex and difficult to keep track of the various connections and conversations within the deal, which is the exact reason the relationship map was created and has become an essential component of sales. 

How to Become an Outbound Engine

If this article has helped introduce you to outbound sales or perhaps even solidify your decision to ramp up your outbound efforts, the next step is to scale your organization into a productive powerhouse. 

Becoming an outbound sales engine for growth is about finding the right balance between standardization and iteration. You must have procedures in place to score leads, manage opportunity hygiene, and track your sales funnel, while constantly improving upon these processes through a feedback loop of performance data. 
People.ai is the industry leader in machine learning’s application in outbound sales, bringing an algorithmic approach to deals based on your team’s processes and identifying your team’s unique leading indicators to accurately forecast and coach towards improved performance.

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