Many believe that cold outbound sales is a long-dead game.
Most marketers nowadays prefer to leave breadcrumbs along the way, through SEO and content marketing, hoping Google’s algorithm favours them and leads their niche audience their way.
While inbound marketing gets a lot of attention these days, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Outbound lead generation is (still) and will continue to be an important means of getting customers for any business. By investing in outbound sales, you’ll not only be able to raise awareness for your products and services but also capture leads that are likely to have escaped your inbound marketing strategies.
Great marketing is key to having your sales team sell better and faster. Solid outbound lead generation will be the result of a marketing strategy that aligns with your sales plan. This helps you generate more leads, reduce customer buying time, and increase sales team efficiency.
Before we see how the marketing team can help the sales team to generate more outbound leads, let’s see what exactly is inbound vs. outbound sales.
What’s outbound sales?
When a customer interested in your product reaches out to you, that’s an inbound lead. It’s the prospect that kicks off the sales process in an inbound strategy – the lead comes to you.
When you go to the lead by wanting to start a conversation with them, then it’s an outbound lead for outbound sales. Outbound marketing tends to build interest, convert sales prospects quickly, and get your brand in front of potential leads (hopefully ahead of your competitors).
But, universally, salespeople prefer ‘hot’ leads that are ready to buy. This has given colder outbound leads a bad impression. Sales teams have a general understanding that cold leads generated by marketing are less eager and are as a result viewed as extra action items.
Now let’s look at some outbound strategies that marketing teams can employ to warm up those colder outbound sales!
#1: Social selling
This is a modern outbound lead generation method that’s widely gaining popularity. It’s the same as social media marketing but you’re not going to piggyback on the business; you’re instead amplifying your voice to echo your brand.
Think of social selling as the modern way of building customer relationships. Actively communicating with potential clients on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter forms a subconscious bond that builds with every interaction. And when they’re ready to make a purchase, your business is the first thing to come to mind.
Salespeople can overlook the value of being active on social media. It can be brushed off shortsightedly as something not worth the time investment; they’re under the impression, really, that personal selling is something only marketing should cater to. This is partially because they view social media as an inbound lead channel and don’t know how to utilise it for outbound lead generation.
Personal selling helps you humanise your products and services while standing out from the competition. When you build your personal brand, you're also building trust, authority, and influence.
To be successful at social selling, you need to first develop a strong social media network of your target audience (or niche). Marketing can help sales teams by optimising their LinkedIn profiles. This can be done by taking proper headshots of everyone, for example. You can also comment on industry-related posts, share relevant profile content, and interact directly with potential customers.
Marketing teams can further hold internal training sessions to help sales understand the importance of having a personal brand on social media. They can also give guidance, tips, and strategies to create content that attracts potential buyers.
Personal branding doesn’t stop with creating content. Take your brand to the next level by tracking your profile analytics, see which posts are performing better, and optimise them. This helps you to see which content is getting more engagement, and then precisely what content you need to be making more of.
#2: Create an outreach plan for website visitors
On average, 96% of visitors will leave your site without becoming a lead. While you can always work on increasing your website conversion rate, it’s worthwhile to keep track of website visitors and nurture them.
This is precisely why businesses wanting to thrive need to have their inbound and outbound marketing strategies aligned. You can use outbound sales to fuel inbound lead generation, and vice versa. Further, you can keep a list of website visitors, or leads generated through lead magnets, and send them consistent content that addresses their pain points.
Website visitors may be interested in your products and services but don’t feel it’s the right time or the place for them to make a purchase. This could be because they need more information or time to decide.
So make sure that you create engaging content that captures interest. You can interact with them through your chatbot, livechat or dynamic forms to get their contact details and keep them in the loop. Additionally, while they’re on the website, you can also invite them to subscribe to your newsletter.
Make sure your website features a variety of content to cater to customers in different stages of their customer journey. A visitor at the top of the sales funnel would probably like to read other user examples, like case studies. While a mid-funnel visitor would be more interested in reading long form content like competitor comparison articles or listicles pointing out additional features to solve pain points. Visitors in this stage are also more interested in joining webinars and taking up product demos.
An outreach plan helps customers to trust and overall feel more comfortable with your brand. This encourages them to share their product and service experience with you, and with their friends, bringing you referral traffic as well.
#3: Cold outreach
Cold calling is a classic outbound lead generation method.
Should you even think the method outdated, let me remind you that 75% of executives are interested in booking an appointment based on just a cold call or cold email.
But truth be told, it’s incredibly difficult to call a stranger out of the blue, barge into their life, and pitch your products and services. But if done right, it’s a lucrative way to generate revenue and expose your business to clients that may have been overlooked by other marketing techniques.
To help in cold outreach, marketing teams can create email templates for potential objections a person might have. It would also be beneficial to conduct training sessions on adding a more personal touch to cold emails. Salespeople can then send a brief and personalised email.
I also recommend using email tracker Chrome extensions. These notify and inform you on whether the customer has opened your email or not. You can then take action accordingly, and increase chances of making a deal.
If a cold lead is interested in learning more, they can provide you a time to take the next step and talk, naturally now being more receptive and more attentive to any meeting. Once a lead is warm, it’ll be much easier to get on the phone. From there, you can use a good script and close the deal.
After a customer submits any contact information and becomes an inbound lead, they can just as easily forget about you and your business if not followed up with. And this is why it’s essential for marketing teams to carry out special lead-nurturing campaigns with one goal in mind: cold-calling leads. This is you knocking on the lead’s door and reminding them of your services, your brand. If and when they decide to make a purchase, research shows they’re more likely to contact you if having cold-called.
By nurturing leads, you cultivate and maintain good relationships with potential customers, provide valuable content, and gather information about their needs and preferences. This is just as much about converting customers as it is about increasing referral traffic.
Nurturing leads can be product or service brochures, blog articles that answer questions, or case studies showing how your brand has helped similar companies excel in their field.
#4: Email marketing
Even after so many years, email marketing is an outbound strategy that’s still going strong as one of the best ways to market your business.
Email marketing can be used in a variety of ways: to promote a new product or service, create a memorable customer experience, turn leads into customers, build brand identity, and connect on a deeper level with audiences.
Now I’m going to let you in on a Serviceform secret of how we’ve run successful cold email campaigns before.
To really reap the benefits of email marketing, it has to be a team effort. Marketing teams should conduct weekly or bi-monthly meetings with sales to understand customer requirements, obstacles they’ve faced, and the information they need. Then draft different content plans according to each stage of the customer lifecycle.
To ensure your email marketing is being delivered to recipients’ inboxes, write clear and clickable subject lines, keep your emails concise, include one call-to-action button per email, hyperlink email images, and make sure to include noticeable text links.
But the most important thing is never to send an email campaign from your company email account, like [email protected] or [email protected]. Always send it from a company email account used by an actual employee, like [email protected]. This gives your emails a human touch or friendly face, so your audience knows there’s an actual person behind those emails.
An email signature is also a big part of your first impression. It helps people get to know you (if even a little) by putting a face to the name and sharing some information about you. For your own signature, check out Serviceform’s free email signature generator to create a stylish email signature including a unique calendar booking option as well as banner personalisation that can be completely customised.
#5: Paid Google search ads
Though paid Google search ads are widely viewed as a cross between inbound and outbound marketing, it’s predominantly an outbound lead generation method.
Search ads can be text-based, banner, or video ads, and are one of the most popular ways to boost lead generation numbers and get your brand (and its offerings) out there.
Search ads are like paying to jump to the front of the SEO line; your brand’s message gets positioned front and centre. This is a scalable and relatively fast way to increase brand visibility and awareness. You don’t need a huge budget to start with either, and can always analyse and track the results to measure your return on investment (ROI).
To start, you need to precisely define your audience segment and do thorough keyword research. Avoid broader match phrase keywords and bid on long-tail keywords with great traffic volume, specifically. Keep track of campaign results, measure effectiveness, and keep optimising campaign copy, keywords, landing pages, and ad extensions to generate better results.
And here’s a little warning: Many people (including me) skip Google paid search ads – the ones displayed on top of the results page. This is because people want organic content that’s ranked authentically. And they know paid search ads are not based on Google’s algorithm.
But then again, some people like to click on the first thing they see. Both ranking high and having Google ads helps your brand be visibly on top, so searchers on Google have a better chance of recalling the name. Because you get charged only when a customer clicks on the ad, paid ads help spread brand awareness.
Inbound vs. outbound sales: What’s right for you?
There’s a never-ending battle going on in the sales world: Inbound vs. outbound sales. What’s the difference? Which is the right approach for your company?
The best approach is in how you look at it. It’s not inbound versus outbound marketing, but rather inbound and outbound marketing. One is not better than the other. It depends on your goals and how you strategically use your channels and teams to achieve those goals.
Your goal should involve a joint sales and marketing approach, where marketing delivers sales leads of high enough quality that sales can get motivated to get to work. Marketing teams should act as a catalyst in warming up colder outbound efforts. That’s how you bring the ‘heat’ to cold outbound leads.
The strategy you devise as your team will determine the type of sales strategy you use – but any strategy should be based on your sales team setup, your goals, your target audience, your product or service, as well as any other variables specific to your situation.