Generating new B2B leads in a crowded online space is a tricky game. With competitors on your trail and constantly modified search engine algorithms, you have to struggle to provide a growing number of visitors to your website each month. And also make sure the traffic is of high quality.
But you can also reverse the scenario and instead of waiting for the leads to come to you, you can reach out to them first. What is more, you decide who you want to contact. That’s the idea behind generating sales leads the outbound way. Curious how the process looks like? Read on.
What is outbound lead generation?
In outbound lead generation you are the proactive party who does the first move. In contrast to inbound lead generation, you don’t wait for the potential customer to find you. You reach out to the individuals who match the criteria of your ideal customer and start building a business relationship with them.
The overarching objective of outbound lead generation is not instant sales, but creating rapport with your prospective customers. It’s about gaining their trust and showing them how they can benefit from your product or service.
Inbound vs outbound lead generation
There’s a common misconception that in the digital era outbound had to give way to inbound. In fact, outbound and inbound are two sides of the same coin. These two approaches to lead generation do not exclude each other. Actually, in combination, they give you more opportunities to find new sales leads, because both methods offer different benefits and complement each other.
Outbound lead generation brings the results faster than inbound. You don’t have to wait months for your website to position itself in the top ten search results in Google. Your business growth is independent of search engine algorithms and therefore it’s more predictable. You have more control over who you target because you get to choose your ideal prospects.
But at the same time, a professional-looking website with a well-kept and informative blog, the pillars of inbound lead generation, give you a strong background should a prospect want to learn more about your business before replying. The content you publish helps you position yourself as an expert in your niche, thus making you more trustworthy and reliable.
Read more about why combining inbound with outbound lead generation should be your way to go: Inbound vs Outbound Lead Generation: Which One Works Better? >>
How to generate business leads with outbound outreach?
Outbound lead generation in its outline boils down to 5 basic steps:
1. Define your Ideal Customer Profile
Who would you consider your ideal customer? What types of companies? From what business niches? How big is their team? Who are the decision-makers? What are their needs and pain points? Why are they a good fit for your product? The answers to such questions will help you paint a clear picture of who you want to target with your outbound outreach.
Why is this step so important in outbound lead generation? Because searching for prospects without having a clearly defined Ideal Customer Profile is like going for treasure hunt without a map. You’ll most likely end up walking in circles and wasting your time. Knowing and understanding your target group will allow you to communicate with them in a way that resonates best.
2. Search for prospects
With your ICP criteria in mind, you can now start building your prospect list. Think of where you can find your prospects in the online world. LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, G2 are just to name a few. Have a look at our list of 15+ Places Where You Can Find B2B Leads, Other than LinkedIn >>
What to pay attention to while prospecting? Anything that will help you personalize your outreach. Your communication should be as prospect-oriented and tailored to an individual as possible. Only when a prospect feels they can relate to what you wrote in your message, you will get their full attention and interest.
3. Reach out to your prospects
Outbound outreach is also referred to as cold outreach because it’s the first point on your way to building a relationship with your prospects. Reaching out to and serving outbound leads differs from approaching inbound leads, because they’ve most likely heard little or nothing about your company so far.
Therefore, when contacting outbound leads, you should build the context. Explain why you’re reaching out to them. Make their company a focal point of your message. If you want to show the benefits of your solution, do it in context of your prospect’s business, so they can see the value of it for themselves.
The part of your message where you explain why you reached out to a prospect is also called a value proposition. Here are a few tips on how to communicate your value proposition in a way that will intrigue your prospect and won’t sound salesy:
Value Proposition – How to Tell My Addressee Why You Reached Out to Them? (Updated) >>
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4. Follow up
You shouldn’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back from your prospects right away. Sometimes they are too busy to answer you. Or they need to discuss things with another decision-maker in their company. Give your prospects some time and if you still don’t get a reply, follow up with them.
Make sure following up is an integral part of your outbound lead generation process. When it comes to email outreach, a single follow-up message can boost a total reply rate by 22%. Definitely worth the extra effort.
5. Set up a meeting and win a deal
A prospect who expressed their interest in hearing more about how they can benefit from using your product turns into a warm lead. Don’t let them cool down. Set up a call or a demo with them and win this deal.
You may want to expand the process with some additional steps as you develop and remodel your own outbound strategy. The above steps are a base for creating your outbound sales pipeline. Organizing your work in the form of a pipeline will help you spot and deal with possible bottlenecks more effectively as well as observe how the enhancements you introduce to the process affect your workflow.
Dig deeper into how to build and manage an outbound sales pipeline:
- How to Build a Sales Pipeline to Turn Your Outbound Leads into Customers >>
- How to Manage a Sales Pipeline to Grow Your Customer Base? >>
What are the ways to generate sales leads the outbound way?
There are three main channels you can use to generate outbound leads:
With the internet revolution, the role of cold calling in outbound lead generation has slightly changed. These days it’s not that much used as the first point of contact between companies and prospects. Rather, it supports other outbound lead generation channels as a follow-up method.
The biggest drawback of cold calling is that it’s difficult to scale and not as cost-efficient as the online ways of outbound lead generation. That’s why the use of cold calling in outbound sales is declining.
What are other ways to generate outbound leads without cold calling, then?
Emails are the most popular means of communication in the business world. Most individuals in a B2B environment point to email as their preferred contact method. That’s why beginning a business relationship this way seems so natural.
Emails, in contrast to calls, are easier to scale without losing a personal touch, which is one of the most important factors for successful outbound sales. With the right toolset, you’re able to automate the sending and following up process and still keep your communication personalized. I’ll talk more about using automation in outbound lead generation in the next paragraph.
Social selling, as the outbound lead generation via social media is also called, has been gaining a lot of popularity in a B2B world for some time now. It’s a process that combines elements of inbound and outbound, a tad of influencer job and social listening in order to build meaningful B2B relationships.
In a nutshell, to be successful at social selling you need to have a thriving social media profile, for example on LinkedIn, where you regularly publish compelling and valuable content. That will help you position yourself as an expert in your niche and build a strong network around your social media profile. A background that will give you credibility in the eyes prospects who you want to reach out to via direct message on social media.
Each way to generate new outbound leads has its pros and cons, but they all have a chance to succeed provided you target the right people. That’s the essence of outbound lead generation.
The channel you use to do your outbound outreach should first and foremost fit the preferences of your target group. In some cases, cold calling may still work well, while in others cold emailing will produce great results. Sometimes a combination of two or three methods will work wonders. Get to know your target group’s communication habits and preferences to choose the best solution for your business.
How to scale up the process and generate more B2B leads?
On a small scale, doing manual outbound outreach may work pretty well even for one person to handle the process. But things get tricky when you want to scale it up. Sending the first touchpoint message, replying and following up may finally get out of control as your prospect base grows.
Here’s where automation steps in. The right set of tools may make your efforts more effective and help you focus on developing relationships without having to manage the mundane part of the job on your own.
What tools should you consider when you want to generate more B2B leads?
- prospect list building tools – that will facilitate the process of data collection directly from websites and social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Angel.co, Crunchbase and more;
- outreach automation tools – to schedule personalized outbound campaigns with automatic follow-up sequences;
- CRM tools – to manage your sales pipeline;
- appointment scheduling software – that will make it easy for your prospects to book a meeting with you.
While building your toolset, pay attention not only to the features, but also whether there are integration options with the apps you already use, so you could create a smooth workflow. Also, most tools offer a free trial. Use it well to test how the software works for you, whether it’s intuitive to use, and if it meets all your expectations.
To sum up
If you want to implement outbound lead generation into your sales process the first thing on your to-do list should be defining your target group. When you get to understand your prospects better, choose the outbound lead generation method that matches their preferences – cold calling, cold emailing or social selling. As your outbound lead generation gets traction, build your outbound sales pipeline to have better control over each stage of the process.
Also, keep in mind that outbound and inbound lead generation do not exclude each other. In fact, they can exist in perfect symbiosis and give you more opportunities to reach new sales leads.