Time and time again, we have heard that outbound sales do not work. It’s usual rhetoric that by doing outbound “it’s spamming people’s inboxes,” and others “It’s too aggressive and time-consuming.”
That’s not true. Outbound sales is not a walk in the park since it can be time-consuming, frustrating and tiring. However, outbound sales do work.
As salespeople we all want to be winners and sell (hell, that is the job description!) and as the saying goes: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”
So, how do we become winners in outbound sales? After consulting with numerous sales teams and doing outbound sales for the past six years, I have found the number one predictor if outbound will work for you and your team is a mixture of attitude, approach, and being consistent.
Unlike inbound sales teams, outbound salespeople must sing for their supper. They typically do this through either email sequences, personal outreach or a combination of both. Throughout my years of experience in sales, I’ve seen both methods work.
However, using the personalized outbound outreach method will almost always get you more positive responses. Statistically speaking, email sequences and using the “spray and pray” approach does not work well for the majority of the companies. Feel free to test both out, but always keep in mind the number one predictor of success (attitude, approach, and consistency). Once you know which method is best for you and your team, keep doing it, but be sure to tweak it and measure results continuously. If the results improve, do more of what worked but always test new methods!
To begin testing new methods, there are some simple techniques that you can implement immediately. By using these three simple techniques, I have helped companies like NetGuru more than double their qualified sales meetings that came via the outbound channel.
1. Create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Get started with the basics – Why did you build your product? Who will receive the most value out of your tool? In sales, you always want to sell the benefit, so knowing your ICP makes your job easier.
At LiveChat (where I worked as a Head of Sales), we came up with a highly targeted approach of reaching out to Head positions in either communication or support teams working in the telecom industry with a headcount of 200+ teammates.
To break it down, our ICP looked a bit like this:
- Sector: Telecoms
- Regions: North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe
- Ideal point of contact: VP/Director of Communications, Head of Customer Support/Service
By using this approach, my sales team understood our ICP – we knew their job title, industry, and team size. Knowing the ICP is essential because we knew exactly how our tool would benefit them, we knew their support team size (which is crucial since we were a live-chat software), and we had similar success stories to persuade them to see the benefits of the tool.
How to build your ICP?
If you already have a product and customers, that makes building your ICP super simple! Take a look at your top 10 power users; these are not always the users spending the most money – but the users getting the most value out of your product.
Once you make a list of the users that value your product the most, try and see the commonalities amongst them. You can create this in a spreadsheet. When discovering commonalities for your ICP, look at things like:
- Job Titles
- Team Size
See any commonalities? Great! That’s your ICP right there.
If you are starting out and do not yet have customers, you may not know your exact market fit or ICP. To begin creating an outbound sales process with an ICP, keep in mind the reason you created your product and target users that would get the most benefit. For instance, Slack saw overwhelming success within its first six-months by targeting SMBs that needed to collaborate more effectively.
Having an ICP is the most crucial step when creating an outbound sales process. You have to design an ICP and test it out to see if you get the desired results.
Pro-tip: Target various different people within one company to enhance chances for a positive reply!
Once you have the ICP, it’s time to search for those potential clients, and that leads us to the next step…
2. Approach your ICP on the right channel (cold-calls, emails, LinkedIn, etc.)
After you’ve discovered who your ideal customer looks like, you now have to answer two core questions:
- Where are you going to find more contacts that fit this ICP?
- Which channel will you use to reach out to them?
To answer these questions, it depends on how many people you want to reach out to on any given day. At LiveChat, we restricted our outreach to 10-15 contacts per week. For most companies, this is low, but it’s what worked for us. By keeping the number low, we were able to research our prospects and come up with a game plan before contacting the prospect.
By having a small handful of prospects, we used the personalized outreach method. After completing thorough research on these prospects, we began to reach out to them on different platforms. We did our outbound outreach using this order of operations:
- Firstly, we sent out emails
- Next, we reached out via Inmail using LinkedIn
- For our final attempt, we would do cold calls
For us, emails were the most effective when it came to outbound.
All our leads were sourced through LinkedIn Sales Navigator along with Lusha as a chrome plugin. Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator works great since you can customize and dive deep into precisely the type of prospect you’re looking to target. Then by using Lusha, you can easily find email addresses of those prospects. By combining both LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Lusha, you can create an unstoppable outbound sales process.
Personalizing every email
Personalizing an email does work, but customizing each email is not necessary. Depending on the number of prospects your team is reaching out to, it can be extremely cumbersome. If your team indeed is reaching out to a lot of contacts, sequenced emails might be the way to go. Well written sequenced email templates can be highly effective, but rarely does it beat personalized outreach in most outbound sales strategies.
When creating your outbound sales strategy, try out both the personalized and sequenced approach and see which one works for you. Make sure you continuously A/B test both approaches, continually tweak, and always measure the results to find the one that converts and then retains the most prospects.
While doing this, remember the golden rule of sales: Never give up!!
My results using personalized outreach
At LiveChat, our customized email approach brought us over $200,000 in new revenue in just under six months, while the email sequences weren’t as useful. At Bibblio (another company I worked with), I was able to revamp the entire outbound process using these three steps and increased qualified lead opportunities by 60% in as little as 3 months (please note: usually outbound does not work that quickly).
On the flip side, I’ve seen a few companies where automated sequenced emails worked better than the personalized ones, but this is not the norm. It’s all about finding the right balance and seeing what works for you and your team.
In sales, there is no such thing as “one size fits all solution!”
3. Follow Up with Every Outbound Sales Prospect
After you have discovered the ICP and have begun reaching out to prospects, it is time for the follow-up. Relentlessly follow-up with your prospects, but remember – there is a fine line between following up and harassing! The worst case scenario is they will not reply, but they will remember your name when they need your tool.
Here is a follow-up I sent when I was working at LiveChat:
I wrote the above email explicitly for that particular person, and it includes a video that was made just for him. This email reach-out helps put a personal aspect to an email. This particular email template had over 75% reply rate.
There is no greater feeling than seeing a positive reply appear in your inbox.
🙂 Here is a positive response that we recently received by using a similar outbound sales “video template” email for Prezly (the company I’m currently working with):
Once you get the reply, all the hard work and effort is worth it. Sales are about adding value to the prospect’s business and understanding your product’s ability to better the prospect’s life. If you believe in that, it is your responsibility as a salesperson to convince the prospect on why they should talk to you and not the other 26 people that they receive emails from on a weekly basis.
The best way to stand out in outbound sales is by always following up and being consistent. With each touchpoint, be sure to show to the value your product provides. Showing up is half the battle in outbound sales!
In sales as in life, you will receive a lot of negative replies. But do not get disheartened, it’s an occupational hazard. Just remember, have the right attitude, have a robust approach, and be consistent by continuously following up. In no time, you will have a stream of good leads in your inbox.
Track and measure your outbound sales efforts
In outbound, it is essential to monitor and track everything. That’s why we use a plethora of sales tools! Since we’re focusing on outbound outreach, it is good to know what is working – which emails do prospects open, which links get clicked, attachments downloaded, and the reply rate for email templates (even if you personalize them). That’s why you can use tools like MixMax or Yesware! You can check out this article I wrote about some of the best tools for salespeople to see my entire tool stack.
Outbound sales are not black magic
Article after article will give you tips and tricks on how to do outbound sales, but honestly, it’s not that difficult. It’s a simple process that requires the number rule that we discussed above – attitude, approach, and consistency with a dash of patience!
Outbound sales do work. Do not give up!
Outbound sales take a minimum of 6-months to see results, and the results can be astonishing.
Before you go anywhere near outbound sales, you have to commit yourself and your sales team to try it out for six months and see if it generates any results. You will have to put all your effort into creating a personalized outbound sales strategy. Unlike inbound sales where prospects have expressed interest in your product, with outbound you have to generate the interest yourself, and that can often take some time and effort.
Inbound sales are vastly different from outbound sales, with inbound you know your leads are coming from the assistance of referrals and marketing efforts like SEO, blog posts, paid adverts, etc. Those leads are “hotter,” more educated, and tend to close quickly. With outbound, you have to be patient and consistent with your approach to see the results.
Go out there and contact people that fit your ICP. As long as you can add value to their business and have a message that resonates with them, they will almost always get back to you.
How do you improve your outbound sales strategy?