Despite what you may have heard in 2020, outbound sales is far from dead. Inbound sales might be “easier,” but it won’t always bring you the right kind of customer or enough customers to increase your overall revenue.
Engaging in outbound sales means you can target the exact type of customer you want, rather than waiting for them to discover your brand, find your website, and request a product demo or information. Many B2B companies are already doing what works. In fact, a variety of studies have shown that less than 20 percent of mid-size B2B companies relied on solely inbound or outbound strategies; 84 percent of respondents used some mix of both.
Outbound sales might seem off-putting to the uninitiated whose mindset is mostly informed by stereotypical portrayals of “cold-calling.” But we have to remember that an average deal can take between 15-20 phone calls, and that’s assuming you can find an interested contact in the buying cycle. Outbound sales should be a commitment for your team and your company. If you expect to win strategically, you should remove high-pressure, ineffective sales tactics and focus on building relationships with your customers. It is this mindset and the following strategies that will ease the way for your sales teams and increase revenue in the long-term.
Consider these five strategies to get you started:
1. Set Specific Targeting Criteria
Define what your ideal customer looks like. This doesn’t mean all of your customers have to fit this profile, but it does mean the contacts you spend time targeting with your sales outreach should match. Why repeat something you know isn’t going to work? Don’t waste time targeting prospects that are less likely to close by not meeting your chosen criteria.
Be sure to capture a customer profile as detailed as possible and form it from actual users and advocates of your product. Which employee/title/company size/industry is your product best suited for, and how do these factors determine the way people use your product? What does the path to purchase look like for these customers, and can you attempt to repeat and scale that process?
2. Develop Outreach Plans
Whether it’s the first successful call, the email drip campaign, or the voicemail you’re going to drop, think about the following results. Build a workflow, and outline what your sales reps should cover in each of those connections.
Ideally, you will create a script for the initial call, but build in flexibility. Trust in your reps — you hired them because they’re smart, quick-thinking salespeople who know the business, and ultimately the customer’s problems and your solutions. Give your reps a script outline, and encourage them to complete outline with their own ideas that meet the prospect’s specific needs. You may even find that letting the customer direct the course of a call or the sales process will help you close, because you actually address their needs. Be sure to follow an agenda for the call, review it with the customer, and ask if they’d like to address any other issues.
3. Work Accounts, Not Just Leads
Account-based marketing is more than just a buzzword; it’s a full strategy that requires research, attention, and personalization. ABM also requires collaboration between sales and marketing teams. While the full set of tactics can be much more nuanced, consider these tips to get rolling with ABM:
- Make a list of target account companies that resemble your ideal customer profile (the ICP)
- Research the key players and decision-makers in these companies
- Tailor your sales tactics to the needs of the decision-makers who constitute the buying group
ABM targets groups of decision-makers, rather than a single lead, to build awareness for your company & products and develops continuity across the account. If the right users or influencers know about your product and share info with decision-makers in the company, you’re more likely to close.
ABM is harder and often a lot different than what your sales and marketing teams are used to, but it lends itself to deeper personalization and yields more revenue from fewer clients.
4. Capture Lead Data
Consider using a data service or 3rd party provider to gain more targeted leads without spending exorbitant amounts of time on prospecting. There are numerous companies in the market that collect, verify, and sell prospect information to help sales teams build pipeline for their outbound campaigns. While it won’t replace your own internal research and account-targeting tactics, purchasing lead data from other sources can ease some of that end-of-month and end-of-quarter struggles you may be experiencing. Lists of opt-in leads are more expensive, but they’ll also take less time to close, especially if you have a good nurture process in place. Connect with your marketing team and their data sources to potentially see if they offer any playbooks or consulting to help you get the most out of your leads.
5. Connection through Social Media
Tread lightly here, and don’t use social media to sell. Be sociable and use the information you learn through social media channels like LinkedIn to your advantage. Connecting with a prospect can be great if it’s organic and based on similar interests or a genuine conversation about content or interests they’ve shared.
Be careful not to connect with someone on LinkedIn simply to sell them, as it may create questionable trust and credibility in the beginning. Interacting with unknown contacts is acceptable on Twitter, where users often comment and reply to others’ content, so you could build something of a relationship there based on shared thoughts in your tweets.
Use social media to research decision-makers and learn about your target accounts. Try to craft this information into your emails and calls to create a better sense of connection and interest in your prospect. You can also use a tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to guide your efforts and identify prospects faster.
It’s safe to say you can generally avoid Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest for your outbound efforts. Those social network models typically don’t lend themselves to deep content insights or professional interests, so focus your attention elsewhere.
In the end, the best thing that you can do for your outbound sales strategy is focus on building relationships with your prospects, leads, and accounts. While you may not get a sale out of every single relationship you build, if you treat potential customers with respect and genuinely try to solve their problems, you’ll gain a better understanding of the market and learn how to start valuable conversations that help your business grow. Happy Selling!