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Everything You Need to Know About Outbound Sales
October 6th 2021
Outbound Sales
How to A/B Test your Outbound Sales Campaign
We all have experienced cold calls and SMS at some point in our life. Haven’t we wondered whether these marketing gimmicks used by organizations are even effective? Cold calls and SMS are tools of traditional sales used for reaching out to customers under the umbrella of outbound sales. They continue to develop into one of the most effective and used sales techniques.

Both B2B and B2C companies use cold calls and SMS to improve their reach and customer engagement. Sales representatives engage customers through cold calling, email prospecting, social selling, and networking. Let’s move ahead and explore the stakeholders who make such sales possible. We can divide them into two groups:

  1. Sales Development Representatives (SDRs): Focus on creating opportunities and setting up meetings with potential customers.
  2. Business Development Representatives (BDRs): Focus on conducting demos, negotiating and closing deals and contracts.

Table of contents:

  • What is Outboun Sales?
  • Benefits of Outbound Sales Process
  • Outbound vs Inbound Sales
  • Outbound/Inbound Sales: Pros and Cons
  • Outbound sales condensed into 7 easy steps
  • Outbound Sales & GDPR
  • How to Measure Outbound Sales?
  • Outbound Sales Performance
  • Outbound Sales Tools for Beginners
  • Key Takeaways

What is Outbound Sales?

Outbound sales is a process where sales reps initiate contact with prospects to make sales using techniques such as cold calling, emailing, social selling, among others. Sales representatives search for prospective customers, and the outreach is often cold. They have no contact history with the prospects. To maximize the outcomes of your outbound sales, you must target, prioritize, and engage only the most qualified prospects. Personalizing and finding an individual solution for your prospects' pain points can also improve the results.

Benefits of Outbound Sales Process

The primary function of outbound sales is to contact prospects through prospecting instead of reaching out to you. The proactive approach ensures targeted sales outreach. You have the control to qualify prospects based on your ideal customer profile before contacting them. You can optimize outbound sales outreach with personalization based on their preferences. The other primary benefits of implementing an outbound sales process include:

  • Predictable Revenue Growth

  • Outbound sales provide formula-based or strategic outcomes and don't depend on luck or chance. A consistent framework is applied to generate prospects predictably. You have complete control over the outreach process and the expected outcomes if you target prospects that match your ideal customer profile.

  • Optimize Time-taken to Engage Leads

  • Outbound sales outreach has the possibility of being hyper-targeted. You can generate revenue from day one when you reach out to potential customers. Consistent engagement and interactions lay a solid foundation to build relationships with prospects. The time taken to engage leads depends on the length of your sales cycle. You can optimize the sales cycle with A/B testing different steps to ensure you book more meetings and close more deals.

  • Hyper-target your Niche

  • Outbound sales outreach allows you to choose your audience compared to other lead sources. You can build a focused prospect list and engage them based on their preferences. You can create different segments of prospects to hyper-personalize their journey. It allows you to move upmarket to identify and prioritize highly qualified prospects.

  • Automates Routine Activities

  • Outbound sales has the potential to automate routine activities. Every step of the sales cycle — sourcing leads, lead qualification, sending emails, following up, measuring results, among others can be automated. You need to create a sales tech stack based on your volume of outreach and the expectations from automation. Automating routine activities like follow-ups can keep the conversation going while your sales reps focus on building relationships and closing deals.

Outbound vs Inbound Sales

Inbound sales differs from outbound sales. Moving ahead, we will explore these differences comprehensively and look at the best practices in both these methods. Inbound and outbound sales have been used to maximize customer outreach and, in turn, improve revenue generation. Despite their differences, they work for a common objective — to reach as many customers as possible. While we delve deeper into the finer aspects of such sales and its differences with Inbound sales, it is also interesting to answer the bigger question: Which is better?

Inbound sales:

Inbound sales focuses on prospective customers who have already expressed their interest in your product or service. The sales rep is given the responsibility of initiating the conversation with them to nurture their curiosity. The main focus of inbound sales isn’t selling the product or service. It is about creating awareness of their needs and pain points. Inbound sales reps know that selling the product will be organic if you generate awareness.

The most basic Inbound sales methodology includes Awareness-Consideration-Decision stages. It involves working with prospects and guiding them through the process, and not pushing them to purchase. It is more comfortable since the prospect has shown interest in your product or service.

Outbound Sales:

Outbound sales usually focuses on prospects who have not explicitly expressed their interest in your product or service but can be potential customers. The categorization is based on their internet, social media activity, and many other factors. A sales rep reaches out to such prospects through several tools like emails, cold calling, social media messages, etc. It is more about creating awareness about the product and less about understanding the needs and pain points of the customers.

It is more accessible as sales reps need to focus on the product or service and related aspects. It requires more effort to concentrate on curating the list of leads, convincing, and pitching your product or service.

Outbound Sales Process in 7 Easy Steps

  1. Lead Generation
  2. Collate data of prospects who have shown interest in your product or service and segment them. You can prioritize your sales outreach based on detailed insights.

  3. Sales Prospecting
  4. Before starting a conversation with prospective customers, you need to define your target prospect and filter prospects who fit the characteristics. Post this; you use tools like cold calling, email marketing, and reaching your target prospects.

  5. Qualify Prospects
  6. In addition to understanding prospects, it is also necessary to understand their capabilities. You must test whether the prospect qualifies to buy your product or service.

  7. Sales Pitch
  8. Based on your research, you must deliver a pitch that will resonate with prospect pain points. It will bring you one step closer to closing the deal.

  9. Listen to Prospects
  10. Understand your prospect’s psyche about the product. Ensure you address their queries on priority so that they feel necessary.

  11. Deal Closure
  12. After approaching prospects, qualifying them, and addressing their queries, the next step is to discuss the pricing. If necessary, you can negotiate or offer a free value-added deal to engage the prospect and close the deal sooner.

  13. Follow up with prospects
  14. After a sale is completed, it is imperative to keep in touch with the customers for feedback. It makes your customers feel valued. Now you might be wondering which is the most effective and best way to reach out to customers? The answer is dependent on a lot of factors and can change from a case-to-case.

    The general industry trend is that an organization has both inbound and outbound sales teams. They focus on both kinds of customers – those who have expressed interest and those who can be interested. To help you build your sales strategy, let’s look at its pros and cons.

Outbound or Inbound Sales? Pros and Cons

Inbound Sales

Pros:

  • Improved Customer Engagement:
  • One of the most critical aspects of selling a product/service is to build a strong connection with prospects. Inbound sales allows you to personalize the sales journey based on their interest, behavior, and other aspects.

  • Focus on qualified leads:
  • Not every lead turns into a customer. To attract prospects, you must focus on those who have expressed interest in your product or service.

  • Brand Awareness:
  • The most effective way of educating prospects is through creating accessible content. Interested prospects can share your content on their social media profiles if they find it appealing.

Cons:

  • Investment of time and efforts:
  • As you know by now, inbound sales focuses on educating prospects. You invest your time, effort, and thought in creating and curating content to nurture and engage them.

Outbound Sales

Pros:

  • Connecting to more prospective customers:
  • It focuses on targeting prospects that could potentially turn into customers. It becomes a part of the process to reach out to as many prospective customers as possible.

Cons:

  • Negative Brand Image:
  • Using invasive tools to reach out to customers might lead to customers feeling irritated and disturbed at the wrong time. It may create a negative brand image.

  • Low Success Rate:
  • It is essential to understand that only a tiny percentage of them might revert from the numerous calls, emails, and SMS that a sales rep might send. An even smaller percentage will convert into clients.

Outbound Sales & GDPR

GDPR or General Data Protection Act is a law by the European Union since 2018. It regulates how you store and process personal data. European citizens have complete control over their personal data to be used. Personal data is any information that helps in identifying individuals. It includes name, age, address, phone number, and indirect identification such as social, cultural, and physical information. You can keep your outbound sales campaigns GPDR compliant in the following ways:

  • Collect Relevant Data only

  • Prospecting requires you to source personal information to segment and reach relevant leads. GDPR doesn’t restrict you from collecting personal data. It requires you to be mindful while handling the collected data. The simplest way to handle data is to ask what you need. Limiting the data collection process to only necessary information can keep you GDPR compliant.

  • Maintain Records

  • Keeping a record of collecting and processing the data is essential to respond to questions like “Where did you get my information?” It can also help you provide context to prospects during cold outreach.

  • Define your Interest

  • You must store data and contact prospects only if you have qualified interests. While targeting prospects, your reason for contacting them should be evident. You must inform them how you’ve sourced their data. The essential part is to offer them the authority to change your data. They should be able to remove it from your database and ensure you stop contacting them.

  • Simplify Opting Out

  • As per GDPR, your prospective customers can restrict how you use their data. You must simplify opt-out in your emails. An ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the email or asking the recipients to reply with ‘not interested’ is essential. Once a prospect asks you to remove their data, you must respect their privacy—segment prospects who have asked to be removed from your list and never contact them again.

  • Update your Database

  • Along with removing opt-outs from your database, GDPR insists you regularly update and cleanse your database. You must identify inactive or unresponsive prospects and cleanse the database regularly. Segment and label the different types of prospects and ensure you have appropriate contact information. Maintaining your data hygiene is essential to get consistent outcomes. It’s necessary to remove obsolete data and update it with relevant information.

How to Measure Outbound Sales?

The sales outbound process is significantly evolving with the help of technology and tools. The traditional email blast has evolved into targeted sales outreach. Measuring the outbound sales process can help you scale the outcome and ensure consistent results. The following metrics can help you measure and provide actionable insights towards generating more qualified prospects.

The metrics for your outbound sales process can be divided into two types:

  • Email Engagement Metrics: To measure the relevance of the content shared with your target audience
  • Funnel Metrics: To identify and fix the gaps in your sales funnel

Let’s cover their importance and relevance one by one.

Email Engagement Metrics

Engagement is essential to ensure your content or templates have relevant information for your target audience. The primary email engagement metrics at the template level include email deliverability, open, click, and reply rates.

  • Open rates may depend on the subject line, sender name, and the time of receiving the email. You can A/B test to with these levers to improve your email open rates.
  • Once the email is opened, the click and reply rates help you understand the relevance of the content shared. The expected action should be well constructed and easy to identify. The placement of the call to action may also impact the engagement.

Funnel Metrics

Measuring your sales funnel performance can help you know if you have a predictable revenue process. The different metrics to measure the sales funnel performance include:

  • Prospects Contacted
  • The number of new prospects contacted each day is the first metric at the top of the funnel. Though there is no standard formula to perform better, consistency is essential. Instead of contacting all prospects in a day and keeping your activities stagnant, you can divide the number of prospects into smaller segments. You will consistently reach out to new prospects and keep the email volume aligned. It will also increase the email deliverability for your outbound outreach campaigns.

  • Email Opens & Clicks
  • If there is a considerable gap between the total prospects contacted and the email opens and clicks, then you may want to revisit your lead qualification process. You may even have to check the relevance of the content shared. Before increasing your sales outbound outreach contacts, you must streamline the email open and click rates.

  • Email Replied
  • Email replies can help you understand if your call to action is compelling. If there is a drop from the open rate to the reply rate, you must revise your call to action. You must simplify the expected action or add an option to call in your sales cadence. It’s ideal to A/B test to identify and bring out the best outcome.

  • Positive Replies
  • Positive replies work as a validation to your outbound sales outreach campaigns. More positive responses indicate that you’re targeting the right prospects with relevant content.

  • Qualified Prospects
  • The number of qualified prospects helps you identify the efficiency of your outbound sales process. You can compare outbound lead generation to other channels and estimate the performance.

  • Closed Deals
  • The rate at which your qualified prospects close into deals can help you calculate the ROI from the sales outbound process. You can optimize your sales cycle based on the pace of deal closures.

Outbound Sales Performance

Now that we have explored the finer details about such a sale, let’s use some statistical proof.

Outbound Sales Tools for Beginners

Building a sales stack can equip your sales team to maximize productivity and effectiveness. To optimize your outbound sales strategy outcomes, you can include automation, data management, and similar tools. Here’s a list for beginners:

  • CRM Software

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) system helps your sales reps track and manage customer data, including interaction from outbound sales campaigns. You can update the position of your prospects in the sales pipeline and generate reports based on the progress.

  • Sales Engagement Software

  • A sales engagement software can help you start multi-channel outbound sales campaigns. You can automate campaigns yet personalize individually and keep the human touch. It can help you book more meetings by ensuring you never miss out on follow-ups. It integrates with your CRM to enhance its capabilities. You can automate workflows with multi-channel activities and hyper-personalize the experience for your prospects.

  • Business Intelligence Software

  • A business intelligence software can help you evaluate every effort made toward your outbound sales strategy. It can help you make data-driven decisions to increase sales and revenue generation.

Key Takeaways

Outbound sales has been evolving with time and technology to improve its shortcomings. While exploring inbound or outbound sales: which is better? We can conclude that a mixture of both is the most accepted approach. With the evolution in technology, outbound sales strategies also have evolved. Inbound and outbound sales may continue to exist, but they will only be influential if they are fine-tuned to current business dynamics.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suyog Ghawali
Contributing Writer
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suyog Ghawali
Contributing Writer
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