- 1 What Is Outbound Lead Generation?
- 2 How Does Outbound Lead Generation Work?
- 3 Why Use Outbound Lead Generation To Generate Leads?
- 4 How To Run A Successful Outbound Lead Generation Campaign?
- 5 Best Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
- 6 Cold Emails
- 7 Cold Calls
- 8 LinkedIn Cold Outreach
- 9 Social Selling
- 10 Pay-per-click (PPC)
- 11 Referrals
- 12 Conclusion
When inbound lead generation first made an appearance a lot of marketers were quick to predict the redundancy of outbound lead generation. Little did they know where outbound lead gen was actually headed.
Almost a decade later, outbound lead generation remains to be as strong and paramount as it was in the lead generation sphere. In fact, several studies have shown emails consistently outperform any other type of lead generation method, especially in terms of effectiveness.
“But we already have SEO practices and content marketing in place. We don’t require an outbound lead generation strategy.”
Well, to a certain extent you are right. However, consider the following scenarios:
- The quarter is nearly over and you need to achieve your KPIs. You need leads now! How do you get them?
- Your company needs a specific type of lead, how do you get it? For example, Leads that are ready to make a purchase i.e. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
- The survival of your business is dependent upon getting 300 leads each quarter. Are your inbound lead generation strategies able to guarantee this?
Outbound lead generation is one of the best and most effective ways to solve the above-mentioned scenarios. The beauty of outbound lead gen is that you are able to pick and choose your ideal customers, and then decide to reach out directly to them. If you are looking for steady growth, your sales and marketing teams need to incorporate outbound lead generation tactics as a lever for growth.
Numerous organizations deploy a combination of both inbound and outbound lead generation methodologies to convert new prospects. There is no one size fits all approach. Each type of method offers unique benefits. According to your business model, customers, and budget you can choose which type of method you would like to prioritize.
In this blog, we deep dive into all things encompassing outbound lead generation—from strategies to benefits, we will walk you through everything you need to know to run a successful outbound lead generation campaign.
What Is Outbound Lead Generation?
Outbound lead generation is the process of directly reaching out to individuals that fit your ideal customer profile. All of your marketing and sales efforts are centered around pushing your product or service to your target audience, rather than pulling them in through inbound lead generation.
The biggest selling point of outbound is that it allows sales and marketing teams to take complete ownership of their go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
The ultimate goal of outbound lead generation is to pique prospects’ interest in order for them to enter your sales pipeline and eventually nurture them into paying customers. Outbound lead generation is indeed effective as several surveys have proven so. One such survey revealed, that 75% of executives said they were willing to make an appointment or attend a meeting based on a cold call or email alone.
These said ‘leads’ fit your ideal customer profile because they are experiencing pain points that your product or service can very easily resolve. These individuals are commonly referred to as ‘Outbound Leads’. They are cold leads because they have not voluntarily opened the lines of communication with you.
The good thing about outbound leads is that they allow your organization to have greater control over the type of leads you bring in. You determine the specific audiences you want to have as paying customers. However, with this type of methodology, you require a solid lead nurturing strategy to ensure your leads convert.
How Does Outbound Lead Generation Work?
The usual outbound lead generation process entails tailor making your content and digital marketing efforts toward the customers you wish to attract. The execution is handled by the Sales and Marketing teams of your respective organizations, each undertaking a specific role.
The general outbound lead generation process looks like this:
Leads are identified through the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) that your sales and marketing teams have drawn up. The pain points of these leads are then researched and then teams figure out how exactly your product or service can be plugged in as a resolution.
The next step in this process is to look for their contact information from verified channels such as LinkedIn, email lists, and email extraction tools. The extracted information is then further organized into segmented lists.
At this final step, you can now begin your outreach efforts and start qualifying leads accordingly.
As mentioned earlier, the sales and marketing teams each undertake specific tasks contributing to the ultimate outbound lead generation campaign.
- Outbound Sales Team
The role of your outbound sales team is to actively reach out to potential customers using proven outbound lead generation strategies. The two most common strategies include cold emailing and calling. The process of these strategies involves strategically propelling prospects through the sales pipeline toward making a purchase. Very often this occurs through a thorough process of follow-up emails or calls, negotiations, free trial offerings, and product demos.
A typical outbound sales team consists of:
Business Development Managers (BDMs) – their role is to negotiate deals, present product demonstrations, and close deals.
Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) – their role is to research and contact potential leads, qualifying them using their tailor-made lead scoring model.
Marketing Development Representatives (MDRs) – their role is to follow up on any activity that has been generated through Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).
- Outbound Marketing Team
The outbound marketing team typically facilitates the communication between numerous outbound marketing strategies that are created to generate new leads. An outbound marketing team consists of a variety of different functioning team members all serving a purpose to help generate outbound leads.
A typical outbound marketing team consists of:
Performance Marketers – their role is to create and execute a performance marketing strategy that largely encompasses paid advertising and brand marketing.
Content Marketers – their role is to plan, create and distribute engaging content for target audiences to attract and convert prospective customers into paying ones.
Campaign Marketers – their role is to strategize, execute and optimize demand generation campaigns to achieve sales goals. They usually run promotional campaigns in the form of television ads, radio ads, print media ads, email campaigns, and social selling.
By now you probably already have a rough idea of what outbound lead generation entails. But now you are probably wondering “Why should I invest in outbound lead generation?” and more importantly, “What makes it stand apart from inbound lead generation?”. In the next section, we will be answering these questions.
Why Use Outbound Lead Generation To Generate Leads?
Outbound lead generation is indeed needed in the current times we live in. With growing competition, an everchanging sales environment, and of course the global shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the right strategies and technologies in place, outbound lead generation can prove to be just as effective as inbound. But before we look at the benefits of outbound lead gen, let us quickly delve into the difference between outbound and inbound lead generation.
Outbound Vs. Inbound
In very simple terms, the main difference between outbound and inbound lead generation is the ‘HOW’—how does one bring in leads? Inbound lead generation brings in leads through activities such as social media ads, video marketing, content marketing, blogs, infographics, etc. Outbound lead generation focuses its efforts on reaching out to potential leads through cold emailing, cold calling, referrals, LinkedIn, and more.
The infographic below showcases the main difference between the two forms of lead generation:
Despite the two approaches appearing to be polar opposites, the two have some similarities as well. The primary goal of inbound and outbound lead generation is to generate qualified leads and increase brand awareness. When undertaking both methods, you are required to segment your target audience (ideal customers) by value points set by you (e.g. company size, location, industry, job title, and so on).
Now that you understand the basic difference between inbound and outbound lead generation, let us discuss the advantages of using outbound lead generation.
- Outbound lead gen is an excellent way to shorten your sales cycle. It allows you to hyper-target leads that are ready to make a purchasing decision. The sales cycle is also shortened because you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time qualifying leads.
- If your organization is in need of immediate results, then outbound lead gen is your answer. Outbound sales provide quicker tangible results within a stipulated timeframe. If you start now, you will see just how fast your results will start pouring in!
- With outbound lead generation, you are able to build brand awareness with minimal effort (and it happens at an accelerated pace). For example, you share your content with your prospects in the fastest way possible, this way, more right people see it when they require it the most. And well, if not, then you’ve still left an impression in their mind (doubling up your brand awareness).
- One of the biggest advantages of outbound lead gen is the fact that you are able to hyper-target leads. You are able to bring your messages to the people you want—whether they are interested in your product or service or not. Want the vice president of marketing at a firm to do business with you? Forget doing this with inbound tactics! The best way to reach high-value leads is through outbound lead gen!
- With outbound lead generation, you have direct control over the number of leads you want to generate. Since you are generating the leads yourself, you can pick and choose the number of leads you want to bring in.
Outbound lead generation in comparison is a lot more cost-effective than inbound. With inbound, you require a lot of time and resources to generate the end result. With outbound, you could pretty much start right now and start seeing results instantly.
How To Run A Successful Outbound Lead Generation Campaign?
In order to run a successful outbound lead generation campaign there are certain elements you absolutely need to have. Here are a few of them:
Buyer Personas & Ideal Customer Profiles:
(FYI: Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles are not interchangeable terms)
One of the leading causes of failed outbound lead gen campaigns is unclear and undefined target audiences. You cannot reach out to any Tom, Dick, or Harry—you need to have specifics for your perusal. For this reason, you need to have well-defined ideal customer profiles and buyer personas.
To create these two resources, aim to specifically answer the following questions:
- What are the pain points of my prospects?
- What are the common traits of my most successful and profitable customers? (for example, job title, geographic location, company size, annual revenue, industry, etc.)
- What makes our best customers want to do business with us?
- Which decision-makers do we usually reach out to in our top accounts?
- What do our top customers gain from using our product or services?
Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Persona Example
Updated Prospect Lists
With a verified prospect list you have already won half the battle in outbound lead gen. Most outbound tactics require that you have a clean and actionable prospect list. The data you have makes or breaks your campaigns. This is why it is of extreme importance that you have an action plan in mind for acquiring and managing your database.
- Use email extraction tools (I recommend using Saleshandy Connect. The tool works as a Google Chrome extension that allows you to extract verified email addresses from people’s LinkedIn profiles.)
- Avoid buying email lists as you can increase your chances of being marked as spam. Also with email lists, you won’t get quality leads.
- Implement strict validation procedures on lead-capturing forms
- Regularly update your prospect lists
- Eliminate data errors such as missing values, invalid entries, duplicates, and so on
Targeted Messaging With Pain Points
If you are running an outbound campaign, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is using a one-size fits all approach. Effective outbound campaigns require tailored messages that are relevant and specific to the buyer persona of an individual, and at which point they are in their purchasing journey.
Additionally, it is important to understand your customers’ pain points, because without a clear understanding you can’t plug in your product as a solution. So how do you identify their pain points?
- Qualitative market research
- Identify prospect’s pain points by talking to your existing customers
- Add a live chat feature to your website – through this feature customers visiting your website can directly ask you if you offer certain services that relate to their pain points.
- Hold a meeting with your sales and customer support teams – these teams are customer-facing, so they have valuable insights into customer perception.
If you are going to use outbound lead gen, then it is highly recommended you deploy a multi-channel approach. A multi-channel approach involves interacting with leads on two or more channels. This process ensures that leads have a consistent and continuous experience on any given channel you choose to reach them at. The key to this type of approach is to make sure the conversation flows smoothly across the different channels of your campaign.
Lead Nurturing Workflow
Since your outbound efforts will involve different channels and multiple touch points, it is important to have a lead nurturing workflow in place. This acts as a roadmap for engaging and converting prospects.
To create a successful lead nurturing workflow, ensure the following:
- Consistency is maintained by providing the team with a set of specific and unified strategies to follow
- Monitoring and measuring are made easy
- Bottlenecks and roadblocks are removed seamlessly to pave the way for speedier conversions
- The workflow should allow your team to quickly scale things up or refocus their effort in a different direction if need be
In the next section, I will be discussing the best outbound lead generation strategies.
Best Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
Cold emails are one of the most popular and effective outbound strategies. This should be one of the first strategies you should pick for your outbound campaigns. Also, it’s so easy to do and requires a very minimal amount of investment.
The best thing about cold emails is that the fact they can be personalized down to each and every individual. You are also able to directly reach the inboxes of key decision-makers.
Beyond this, cold emails have consistently been known to bring a higher ROI. A study by McKinsey found cold emails to be 40x more effective at acquiring new customers than Twitter or Facebook.
Cold email campaigns can be automated and sent at specific times of the day that suit your leads—increasing your chances of getting an open or reply. You can literally reach out to prospects while you’re asleep, thanks to automation!
- Personalized email content and subject line
- Attractive subject line
- Short and concise messages
- Aim to provide value – keep it less about you, and more about how your product or service can help the pain points of the prospects
- Identify the right time to send emails
- Add a powerful and compelling call to action (CTA)
- Include a follow-up sequence
- Automate this entire process
- Experiment with GIFs and emojis
- Configure all technical authentications needed for email deliverability
Use a Cold Email Software To Speed Up The Results You Want To Achieve
Cold emailing is extremely easy and effective if undertaken with precision and consistency. But manually carrying out all the tasks from start to finish can be a bit tiresome. This is why it is highly recommended that you make use of a cold emailing tool.
Saleshandy is a state-of-the-art cold emailing tool that will support your email campaign efforts. The tool is equipped with features that will help you create effective cold email campaigns that can be scaled and automated.
- Automated follow-ups
- Email tracking (plug-in)
- Merge tags for mass personalization
- AI-powered email assistant
- Email deliverability toolkit (inclusive of bounce guard, prospect list verification, technical authentication checks, and more)
- Inbox warm-up (required for new and old email accounts aiming to launch large-scale email campaigns)
- Shareable email templates
- Advanced email analytics
Cold calls have been one of the oldest strategies in the sales handbook. And no, it’s not dead! If anything, it has adapted and evolved with the technologies we use today. Spray-and-pray tactics will no longer work! Despite the general notion of cold calling, live phone conversations remain to be a key component in the outbound sphere.
In fact, recent research has revealed that B2B decision-makers would still prefer to talk over the phone when it comes to making purchasing decisions. 57% of C-level executives and 50% of managers and directors pick up sales calls.
A general cold calling structure looks like this. The caller introduces themselves and states the purpose of their call. They then move on to presenting themselves as problem-solver for a specific problem the lead has. Your product or service is then plugged in as the solution.
During this process, it’s important the caller quickly resolves any objections or doubts the lead may raise. After this, ask them what sort of organization they would like to do business with. If all goes well, you will be able to schedule a future appointment with the recipient.
Cold calling shouldn’t all be about numbers. What good are numbers if their quality is compromised? If you focus on calling highly qualified prospects whom you have vetted in advance, you will able to build rapport and book appointments easily.
Here are a few vital tips on how you can use cold calling effectively:
- Conduct pre-call research
- Write a cold call script
- Train your team to deal with rejections and objections in the right manner
- Find the right time to call prospects
- Don’t immediately start your call with a sales pitch (this will 100% make prospects drop your call)
- Remember this saying “calls are a dialogue, not a monologue”
- If a prospect expresses interest, make sure there is a prompt follow-up
LinkedIn Cold Outreach
The effectiveness of phone calls and emails will always remain in the outbound lead generation sphere. But social media’s reach and impact is also a crucial addition to a modern outbound strategy.
LinkedIn is one of the largest professional platforms with the most powerful tools to build your network to target potential customers. But why LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is known to have around 65 million users that are decision-makers on their platform. To add, a recent survey found that 76% of them use LinkedIn daily! LinkedIn has also been reported to be 277% more effective for lead generation than any other social media platform.
With LinkedIn, you can make use of their search option which has numerous filters such as job title, industry, location, degree of connections, company, and more. This lets you specifically target certain individuals that fit your ideal customer profile.
Once you have identified your prospects through LinkedIn, you can move on to sending them a connection request with a personalized message. Experts also recommend that you optimize your LinkedIn personal profile beforehand to be more appealing to leads.
The personalized message you send with your connection request should be personalized and NOT sound SALESY. The reality is that prospects receive innumerable sales and marketing messages every week. If you are clueless about what to include in your message, then you can make use of message templates.
Here are two quick pro tips for LinkedIn Cold Outreach:
1. Throwing in flattery in your messages will take you a long way. The more personal the better (and of course keep the flattery in a professional space).
2. If your budget allows you to upgrade your account to LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator, then make sure you use all the extra features to your advantage. One such feature is the InMail feature, which allows you to send ‘InMails’ to users that are not on your connection list.
Social selling is the practice of using your brand’s social media accounts to connect with leads, develop relationships and keep them engaged. Social selling is noted to be a powerful sales tactic as nearly half the world’s population is active on social media. It is an essential strategy for sales leaders wanting to penetrate the market with their offerings through contemporary channels.
Social selling works! And we have the data to back that statement up! Around 78% of businesses that use social selling are known to outsell businesses that don’t use social media. Organizations that prioritize social selling have a 51% greater chance of reaching their sales quotas.
There are numerous social media channels available where you can start social selling. Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are some of the most popular ones. Your choice should be dependent on where your target audience is, and what type of approach you want to make use of.
The four pillars of social selling according to LinkedIn are:
- Creating a professional brand with value: If you are new to social selling, it is advisable to first position yourself as a thought leader by sharing valuable content and resources. This shows prospects that you want to provide value to them rather than just blindly trying to make a sale.
- Focus your efforts on the right prospects: If you reach out to the wrong prospects your sales reps will be wasting their time on the wrong people! Find prospects that meet the criteria that fit your specifications listed in your ideal customer profile and buyer persona. This way you will have more success converting prospects into paying ones.
- Be Original: No one likes a cookie-cutter approach! When communicating with prospects, focus on addressing their pain points first and selling second. Making the effort to research the prospect’s pain points showcases your reliability and builds trust.
- Keep an eye on insights: Results take time! Social selling is not an overnight activity. Even if certain prospects express an unwillingness to engage with your brand, they might have opposite sentiments in the future, so stay in touch. Maintaining meaningful relationships will keep you fresh in the mind of prospects when they are ready to make a sale. Also, keep an eye on the success of your social selling campaigns, so it is easy to identify what’s working and what’s not.
Pay-per-click or PPC is an online advertising method, where, as the name suggests, advertisers pay each time a user clicks on their ads. This is a faster way to generate leads than organic methods. How does this classify as outbound lead generation though? Glad you asked. It falls under outbound lead gen because, well, the viewers of the ads didn’t ask to see or look at your adverts.
A commonly utilized form of PPC is search engine advertising. This allows brands to bid for an ad placement on popular search engines with sponsored links. The ads are displayed at the top of the search results page when users enter their search query.
However, building PPC campaigns requires a lot of hard work. Some essential tasks include researching and selecting the right keywords, creating high-converting PPC landing pages, organizing keywords into ad groups, and more.
Through the use of PPC campaigns, you gain access to extensive data on your target audience. The data provided will help you understand who exactly your audiences are and what resonates with them. You’ll get to know who clicks on your ads, where they came from, who is interested, and so on. In turn, this data can help you improve your other lead generation efforts.
PPC is an expensive investment, but one that is worth it and has proven to generate results if done correctly. Also, PPC campaigns have a 200% ROI rate!
Referral marketing is an excellent way to generate leads. Your prospective clients are more likely to listen to their peers who already have had positive experiences with you. Referral programs are one of the strongest ways of sales and lead generation.
Research indicates that around 84% of B2B buyers enter into the purchasing process after a referral. Referred leads take much less to convert than any other type of lead. If your customers have had positive experiences with your brand, then they will be happy to refer your services to their colleagues, peers, and professional network.
The key to a good referral program is to give them an incentive. Depending on the industry and business you are in, the incentive offered will differ. For example, if you are in the SaaS industry, then as an incentive you can offer free credits or upgrades for referring new customers. Or if you are in the services industry or running an agency, you can offer a commission on new referrals.
The primary goal of referral marketing is to turn your existing customers into brand advocates. FYI, there is a difference between inbound and outbound referrals.
Outbound referrals: These referrals are usually given to you, and require you to make an outgoing call to them.
Inbound referrals: These referrals come to you themselves after they have been recommended to you by someone else.
Another way of gaining a referral is to ask your customers to write testimonials for your website, or reviews on directory websites like Capttera or G2.
With the right outbound lead generation strategy in place, you can generate leads and increase your sales pretty quickly. The biggest selling point of outbound is the fact you are able to start direct conversations with key decision-makers that fit your ICP. You don’t have to wait for new customers to click on your website, hoping they will be a good fit.
With outbound lead gen, you are in control of who you are contacting and how you communicate with them. Yes, outbound does cost more but it brings in more revenue, FAST!
It is solely up to you if you want to choose outbound or inbound lead generation. And hey! No one said you have to stick to one, you can deploy a mix of both.
When it comes to outbound lead generation, keep this in mind: the most effective outbound lead gen campaigns focus their efforts on individual connections, staying relevant, and showcasing thoughtfulness during the prospect’s purchasing journey.