Building a More Sophisticated Strategy for Outbound Sales

August 22, 2019

Outbound Sales

With all the talk about shifting sales strategies, and the increased inbound emphasis inherent to modern selling, one might conclude that outbound is on the way out. But this is by no means the case.

Outbound sales are still a vital component of almost any business development plan. These are the focused activities that create opportunities and drive them forward. Outbound is often where sellers can make their greatest impact, as well as making inroads toward quotas and goals. 

The problem with outbound sales is that it’s often still viewed through an outdated lens: Many think of it as high-volume, low-quality lead chasing. You rattle through a list of phone numbers, making cold calls with little context, or you send out a barrage of cookie-cutter emails with hopes of hearing back from a few. 

These kinds of approaches are ripe with inefficiencies and downsides. Cold calling statistics show fewer than 2% result in meetings, and unsolicited email outreach yields similar success rates. Not only do salespeople waste considerable time on these pursuits, but they can also sully the reputations of themselves and their organizations. Self-guided buyers have higher expectations than ever, and are less tolerant of company reps contacting them with irrelevant offers or misaligned messaging.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some sophisticated strategies for outbound sales, driven by insight, intelligence, and collaboration.

How to Make Outbound Sales Work Today

Executing a sound outbound sales strategy requires three key factors: incorporating inbound principles for smarter outreach; connecting with new contacts via preferred channels; and following through to advance meaningful relationships.

Laying Groundwork with Inbound Sales

We define inbound sales as tactics “performed with the intent of getting future sales prospects to come to you.” These differ from outbound sales tactics in that they are scalable and perpetually accessible. Even during downtime, when you have no specific contacts to reach out to or follow up with, you can always put in productive work toward strengthening your inbound drawing power as a sales rep.

These include activities such as:

  • Optimizing and refining your LinkedIn profile
  • Seeking out and engaging with relevant content in your niche
  • Teaming up with marketing to develop sales content for specific needs
  • Publishing thought leadership content
  • Reviewing saved leads in Sales Navigator to identify outreach prompts or timing triggers

Develop a Plan for Qualified, Value-Driven Outreach

The information gleaned through the previous step will help greatly toward making this one successful. With savvy inbound tactics in place, you might’ve gotten a few relevant prospects to come your way. But even if they didn’t reach out directly, perhaps they commented on your LinkedIn post, or viewed your profile after coming across some thoughts you published. These can all help you build a list for non-random, worthwhile outreach. 

Collaborating with the marketing team will help you create customized content for each stage of the sales funnel. The manner in which you came across a particular prospect will help you personalize your content and message to match their specific context or needs. 

You should also do a bit of homework to determine which channel the individual prefers to be reached through. If they’re active on LinkedIn, an InMail message might be more welcomed. If they openly share their email address, they probably don’t mind receiving messages there. If you have to dig around for a phone number, maybe think twice about dialing them up out of the blue.

In general, the No. 1 problem with unsolicited outreach is that it’s a lopsided value equation: You’re contacting a stranger and asking them for something — at least their time, and sometimes even a meeting. This is off-putting. Instead, we should always endeavor to earn the prospect’s time and attention, by providing them something up-front. Whether it’s a piece of useful content, a word of advice, or even an empathetic dialogue, the value-first mindset puts you on the right path toward a trusting relationship.

Build Relationships and Grow Your Network

Outbound sales should never be viewed as a one-and-done tactic. Sometimes it will be, because the recipient will make it clear they’re not interested, and that’s fine. We can’t always magically conjure up a connection out of nowhere. But when you bring a value-first approach and encounter a receptive party, you should immediately start thinking long-term. Keep in mind there can be a lot of benefit in developing a strong relationship with someone influential in your target audience, even if they don’t become a customer.

These individuals might be able to connect you to a peer or colleague who DOES have a need. Or maybe one will later develop within their business unit. Or, the contact switches roles and has a built-in recommendation when their new company is considering vendors. 

Relationships and trust are gold in modern sales. Outbound selling, traditionally, is not oriented toward these outcomes. But when you infuse inbound elements, put value first, and reach out with relationship-building in mind, you can adopt a new set of techniques that proactively fill your pipeline while avoiding the ill will and endless rejection resulting from aimless canned outreach.

Outbound Sales Call Script Examples

Let’s say you’ve followed the tips above to generate a list of targeted, relevant prospects for outreach. With the caveat that sales calling scripts are generally counterproductive (every engagement should be customized to the recipient), here are a few suggestions for conversation-starters:

  • “Hi [Name], I loved your comment on my post about [X], super thoughtful. Lots of people are feeling your pain. If you’re interested in a deeper dive, we’ve got this great guide with a lot of expert insights.”
  • “Hey there [Name], I noticed you checked out my LinkedIn profile the other day. If you’d like to learn more about me or anything I do, feel free to send me a note or a call. No pressure!”
  • “Hello [Name], we came across your company’s LinkedIn Page and noticed you’re talking a lot about [X]. If you’re interested, we recently put together some research on the subject. I’d love to hear your thoughts!”
  • “Good morning [Name], our mutual connection [acquaintance’s name] suggested that it might be a good idea for us to get in touch. Would you be willing to let me know a little bit more about what your team is trying to accomplish and where the snags are?”

Improve Outbound Sales Lead Generation

The trouble with inbound sales is that it’s passive, and most sellers like to be active. Even if you’re taking all the right steps, it can be hard to feel productive when you’re waiting for people to come to you. That’s why mixing in outbound sales can provide the perfect balance. 

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