In 2019, buyers are armed with more resources than ever before.
Think about it. Before you try a new restaurant or buy a new mattress, you probably ask friends for recommendations, do research, and read reviews so you can make a better-informed purchasing decision. It’s likely that you know exactly what you’re looking for before ever speaking to a salesperson.
As buyer behavior shifts, salespeople have to adapt their tactics accordingly. In other words, relying on traditional sales outreach methods just isn’t cutting it anymore. Prospects are flooded with messaging across all applicable channels, and it’s become increasingly difficult to reach the right people.
Taking all this into account, life as a sales or business development rep is not always easy – especially since sales outreach often receives a negative response. That being said, many businesses still rely on an outbound strategy to maintain growth because it works, you just have to do it correctly.
Before we dive in, let’s define exactly what all this means.
Outbound sales outreach definition
Outbound sales outreach is a method of prospecting where salespeople are contacting prospective buyers in the hopes of generating new business. Often times this outreach is cold, meaning that the sales person has had no previous contact with the prospect before.
In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at different methods of outbound sales outreach and share strategies for adopting these methods effectively.
What is sales outreach?
Decades ago, outbound sales were mainly done door-to-door, in meetings or over the phone. As time went on, sales shifted toward heavily relying on email and other digital channels. Shifting towards a mostly digital approach has changed the sales process in many ways, and has had a major impact on the way salespeople conduct outreach.
Nowadays, there are multiple channels you can leverage to engage with prospective buyers. In some ways, this is beneficial because there are multiple opportunities to connect and you can reach more people, faster. On the flip side, the ability to target a wider audience in less time has now flooded prospects with sales messaging and made it more difficult to get your message to stand out.
Inbound vs. outbound outreach
Before we move forward, it’s important to distinguish the difference between inbound and outbound sales outreach. These methods may be similar, but they serve very different purposes in terms of the overall sales process.
An inbound sales model is one where potential customers, or leads, come to you. This means a buyer has expressed interest in your product or service and wants to be contacted by a salesperson to learn more.
At most companies, the marketing team is responsible for owning an inbound strategy. As the leads come in, business development reps are responsible for following up with them. This is inbound outreach. In general, this type of outreach is less difficult because the buyers are already interested and are expecting to be contacted.
An outbound sales model is one where buyers are sought out and sold to. To get in touch with prospective buyers, salespeople must do outbound outreach. As I mentioned earlier, this type of outreach is usually cold and therefore, more difficult to master since the prospects are not expecting it.
In most cases, a company’s sales model will have a combination of both inbound and outbound outreach, but this will vary based on your business.
Methods of outbound sales outreach
In order to close a sale, you need to establish relationships with your potential clients first. Fostering a connection with someone you already know is easy, the hard part is reaching out to someone entirely new and hoping they see enough value to give you a chance. This is when an outbound strategy can be instrumental in helping to get your foot in the door.
Next, we’ll dive into different methods and best practices for outbound outreach.
In short, cold calling is the act of calling a prospective buyer without having any prior business relationship or contact with them. The goal is to establish a connection with the buyer, tell them about your business, and eventually convert them to a customer.
Cold calling is a traditional, tried-and-true method of sales outreach. If you’re just starting out in your sales career, the thought of calling a stranger may seem daunting since prospects don’t generally like being called and their reactions are unpredictable. For this reason, a lot of sales people shy away from it. However, with practice, cold calling can prove to be extremely effective.
To be successful, there are several best practices to follow:
Keep an accurate contact database
To be successful, you need to make sure that your database of potential buyers is accurate and up-to-date. You can waste a lot of time calling inactive phone lines and never getting through to the right people. To combat this, always be updating contact information when possible. Many sales teams invest in sales intelligence software that pulls data from online resources and updates contacts automatically.
|TIP: Buying lead lists isn't recommended but is sometimes necessary if your company hasn't established a strong database of contacts yet. Learn best practices using this lead list purchasing guide.|
Write a call script
If you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed during a cold call and forget your pitch. As a backup, it’s a good idea to have a call script on hand as a point of reference. It’s also a great tool to use when you’re practicing. Just remember never to read off of a call script word-for-word. It’s important for the conversation to be as natural as possible.
Don’t fear rejection
It’s likely that you will get rejected on the phone many times – it’s part of the job. Handle the “no’s” with grace, and keep moving on to the next.
Cold email outreach
Similar to cold calling, cold email outreach refers to the act of sending unsolicited emails to prospective buyers without any prior contact or existing relationship.
Email has its benefits. For one, it’s much less disruptive than cold calling. Additionally, in an email you’re not being put on the spot in any way. Without the added pressure of having to deliver your pitch over the phone, you can take your time to communicate the desired message.
There are a few general best practices to follow that can help kickstart your success. Consider the following:
Keep it concise
Nothing will ensure that your email gets ignored quite like writing a message that is too long to read. People don’t have a lot of time in their day, and the little time they do have is likely not going to be spent reading your lengthy sales email. Make your message comprehensive, but don’t add unnecessary fluff.
Make it relevant
Always have your target audience in mind when you’re sending out emails, and make your message is as targeted as possible. A prospect will appreciate a thoughtful email that feels personalized. Sending out an email blast that comes off impersonal and unoriginal can leave your prospect feeling like your outreach is careless and not worth their time.
On average, it takes anywhere from 5 to 15 total touches to make contact with a prospect. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get a response right away, so always be sure to follow up. Find new and creative ways to demonstrate value and tell your brand’s story. This shows that you are persistent, and truly believe that what you’re selling will help the person on the other end solve a business problem.
Social selling is a modern method of outreach that has come to fruition with the rise of social media. By definition, social selling is the act of using social media platforms to engage with prospective buyers in a more authentic way.
This method of outreach is intended to be a “softer sell” than the others since you’re not overtly asking buyers for their business. Instead, the goal is to interact with prospects in a more genuine way that is less intrusive than interrupting their daily life with emails and calls.
To leverage social selling effectively, here are a few best practices to consider:
Define your professional brand
Ensure that your social media profiles, namely LinkedIn and Twitter, reflect how you’d like to be perceived by prospective buyers. You should aim to put your best foot forward, especially if you’re trying to establish professional connections.
|Tip: Share relevant content on social to establish yourself as a knowledgeable thought-leader in your network. This will help boost your credibility when prospects come across your profile.|
Use social as a research tool
People write about and share things they care about. By looking at what prospects are sharing and liking, you can gain insight into what their pain points are and then use that information to target your outreach more strategically.
If you have a G2 profile, you can use review-driven data to better understand your customers and prepare for a meaningful conversation with them. If you don't have a G2 profile, it's free to claim one!
Don’t send the same messaging
You shouldn’t use LinkedIn InMail or Twitter DM as just another channel to send the same message as you did over email and hope the prospect replies. That’s an easy way to get blocked, entirely. You can use these channels to send a note providing more value, but remember to be concise and never redundant.
Keeping your outreach organized
Now that you’re familiar with different methods of sales outreach, it’s easy to see how it may be difficult to stay on top of everything. Luckily, there’s an easy way to incorporate all of this into your daily workflow by creating a sales cadence.
A sales cadence is a scheduled sequence of touch points created to establish a connection with a potential buyer. Following a cadence allows you to structure your outreach in a way that helps eliminate efficiencies and keep everything organized. Each day you come into work, you know exactly how many emails, calls and social touches need to be crossed off your to-do list. As time goes on, you can experiment with different cadences and make adjustments once you get an idea of what will be the most successful.
The search for a silver bullet continues
When it comes to outbound sales outreach, you’ll realize that there is no surefire recipe for success. That being said, developing a strategy that combines all three of these outreach methods can come close. Salespeople are used to hearing a lot of “no’s” from prospects, but when you eventually perfect your outreach strategy, it will make every “yes” that much sweeter.