Outbound sales isn’t dead. In fact, it’s far from being dead.
While your inbound sales techniques may be generating leads, it may not be producing enough or the right kind of leads to increase revenue and grow your business.
Your business needs new customers, and you can’t wait for them to find your brand. You need to go out there, find your ideal customers, tell them you exist and make them purchase your product or service. And for that, you need an outbound sales team.
However, over the years, outbound sales has developed a bad reputation. People picture outbound sales reps or SDRs as someone who bombards their inbox, desperately trying to push a sale.
That’s not how outbound sales is done anymore.
Outbound sales tactics have evolved. It’s no longer just picking up the phone and calling prospects in line, or sending cold emails to a random list of leads.
Outbound sales today should consist of a well-planned and thoughtful outreach sales strategy to get the desired results. And in this blog, we’ll tell you three key steps you must include while building a sales strategy.
Step 1: Build your ideal customer profile list
One of the mistakes which most businesses make is to purchase a list of leads based on certain basic criteria, thinking that’s the way to do outbound sales. But when you do that, the response rate and the conversion rate are likely to dip because you aren’t targeting the right prospects!
Your ideal customer profiles are those companies whom you think will benefit from your solution. And one of the best ways to do that is to start with your current successful customers who have found value from using your solution.
Try to identify the characteristics that are similar to your successful customers. You can do that by answering questions like:
What’s the size of the company?
How much does the company make?
How many employees work for the company?
What are the titles of the employees?
Where is it located?
How many locations do they have?
What is the industry or vertical of the company?
Which department uses your solution?
How many employees work in that department?
What other software do they use?
Of course, there are tons of questions you can ask to narrow down and build your ideal customer profile list. It’s alright even if you end up with just a handful of leads. With the right outreach plan, there is a huge chance that they will consider buying your solution.
Once you know your ideal customer profiles, look out for the right people to contact in the organization. One effective way to do that is by looking at keywords in their designation. For example, if you’re selling a helpdesk software then look out for job titles with the word, helpdesk, customer service, customer operations, customer care, etc. It will also help if you know who are the decision makers and influencers in the company.
There are a whole bunch of sales intelligence tools on the internet that will help you find your ideal customer profiles along with their contact information. You can give them a try, or you can use the (manual) method above to build your buyer profile.
If you are a startup looking to identify and build your ideal customers list from scratch, Nichole Elizabeth, Co-Founder at PurposeBeyondProduct.com, tells you how to go about doing it in this video.
Step 2: Create a sales cadence
The first touch point with a prospect can either be over phone, email or LinkedIn InMail. However, most of the time, the first touch point may not invoke a response from the prospect. Probably your SDR didn’t get past the gatekeeper, or their email got buried in the prospect’s inbox, or the prospect would have read the email but didn’t get a chance to respond.
You never know unless your SDRs follow up with them.
But most SDRs hesitate to do that because they don’t want to come across as spam or stalker. So they send one email or probably a voicemail, and wait for the prospect to respond or call back.
That’s a wrong approach.
The key to getting a response from the prospect is to have regular follow-ups, and for that, you require a sales cadence. Here’s a quick example of a sales cadence template:
Business day 1: Auto email with the information you would like to share. LinkedIn connection request with a note in the afternoon.
Business day 3: Targeted personalized email in the morning. Call in the afternoon; leave a voicemail if no response.
Business day 7: Follow up email – A new thread with a different value-add.
Business day 10: Follow up email – Permission to follow up (quasi-breakup email). Call in the afternoon; leave a voicemail if no response.
Business day 12: Call in the morning; leave a voicemail if no response. Follow up on LinkedIn in the afternoon.
Business day 15: Follow up email – A new email thread giving a link to a useful resource.
Business day 20: Follow up email – The breakup email.
Of course, you don’t have to follow this cadence to a T. You can go ahead and tweak it and test what combination of touch points, timings and days work for your SDRs.
Another approach to building a sales cadence is by segmenting your buyer profiles into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 accounts. For example, big brands with characteristics similar to your ideal customer profile can fall under your Tier 1 bucket, while growing businesses and small companies can fall under your Tier 2 and Tier 3 lists.
So the first touch point to the Tier 1 accounts can be a highly personalized cold email and a follow-up LinkedIn InMail. Whereas, the first touch point to Tier 3 accounts can be a generic cold email and a LinkedIn connection request. However, this method works if you have a good number of accounts that fit your ideal customer profile.
To understand how to segment your accounts, check out this video from Clifton Lobo, Sales Manager at Freshworks.
Step 3: Measure outbound sales strategy success
Alright, so now that you have a killer outbound sales strategy in place, how do you know if it’s bringing in the desired results? It’s simple, you need to first understand the end goal of your outbound sales campaign. It can be to increase the number of sales opportunities, increase the number of appointments scheduled, or analyze the performance of your email strategy, etc. Based on your end goal, you can track the key metrics to gauge the success of your outbound sales strategy. Here are some of the metrics you can track:
Email click rate: Since SDRs send quite a number of emails to prospects, it becomes all the more important to measure the performance of their emails. Tracking the email open and click rate helps understand if the email content resonates with the needs of the prospect so that you have room to tweak or even change the email outreach strategy.
Calls to conversations/Conversations to appointments ratio: Tracking the number of calls that result in conversations and conversations that result in appointments helps measure the efficiency of your SDRs. If you notice that a rep is having conversations with leads but isn’t scheduling enough appointments, then you can listen to their call recording and probably help on improving their sales pitch.
Leads to opportunities ratio: This metric helps you determine if you have chosen the right customer profiles for your outbound campaign. It also tells you which geographies, industries, markets, etc., you should focus on and where you should hold off.
Opportunities to win ratio: This metric goes one step further into the sales funnel by tracking the number of opportunities that have converted into paying customers. It helps you determine the effectiveness of your outbound sales strategy and whether it’s in parallel with your acquisition strategy.
Sales velocity: Since your outbound leads match your ideal customer profile, they should move faster than the inbound leads in the sales funnel. By tracking the rate at which leads move through the sales funnel, you can determine if you are targeting the right set of leads.
It’s always good to do outbound sales to test the waters and to learn about your market. But it’s not necessary that your business should rely on outbound sales techniques to get new customers. If inbound sales is producing enough leads and of the right kind, you don’t have to add outbound sales to your prospecting mix.
If you have an outbound sales team in place, what strategy do you use? What tips would you suggest for those who want to create an outbound sales strategy? Let’s have a conversation in the comments below.
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