There is no doubt that inbound marketing is an efficient way for generating new leads. Research has proved time and time again that inbound marketing tactics like content marketing help customers navigate their way to brands and reach a buying decision organically.
However, inbound marketing doesn’t reach everyone, hence companies are bound to lose potential leads by sticking to just that one type of marketing. This is where outbound marketing comes in.
What is Outbound Lead Generation?
The word “outbound” is mostly used in marketing circles when refer to methods like TV, radio ads, press releases, bill boards. These methods are great for informing customers but they don’t single out prospects from among a general audience. To reach out to potential customers in a quick and proactive way, you need an outbound lead generation team. The job of such a team is to go out to your target market and connect with likely customers using methods like email, cold calling and prospecting on social media prospecting. They can also extend their activities to trade shows and conferences, through for instance, handing out brochures. Once prospect interest is established, the lead generation team then hands over the potential leads to the sales team for conversion. we will explore this further in the Lead Generation Workflow at the end of this post.
Why Use Outbound Ways to Generate Leads
Without a full pipeline, it will be difficult for your sales team to generate sales. For your company to expand, you need to find new customers. With a well-trained outbound lead prospecting team, you will experience the following benefits:
- Growth of your pipeline at a rate that is faster than inbound marketing or forming partnerships
- You can explore more markets with greater efficiency allowing for wider testing of an array of messaging techniques. Tapping into new markets will also give you access to more data sets that will be instrumental in creation of buyer personas and offering more relevant value propositions.
- Increase the versatility of your sales team.
- Ability to outsource low value and repetitive work from your sales team
- Impact sales results. Besides complementing inbound lead generation, outbound marketing generates more leads in the following ways:
- Gain more information and market intelligence that allows for creating robust prospect profiles. This is because outbound teams can verify prospect information earlier in the funnel, making lead conversion easier later on.
- More accurate information, leads to better segmentation. This helps you to cut through the saturation experienced in online channels to deliver your messaging in-front of the right audience.
- One on one interaction from first contact improves targeting and shortens the sales cycles.
Outbound lead generation is the right approach for your company if:
- Your goal is to grow sales but your pipeline doesn’t present enough opportunities to support this goal
- You have a complex and time-consuming sales process and deal with elaborate businesses that require numerous decision makers
- You are interested in new markets and require new information to support expansion.
- You need to test new market segments and experiment with new messaging
- You think your sales process will benefit from interaction and feedback from a wider variety of prospects
Elements of Successful Outbound Lead Generation
To achieve best results with your outbound lead generation, you need:
- Accurate buyer personas. Buyer personas will make or break your campaign. With accurate and clear customer profiles and buyer personas, your campaigns will deliver the intended results and consequently, a positive ROI. To create accurate buyer personas, find answers to the following questions:
- What do my customers have in common? For instance, are they from the same industry? Are they interested in the same technologies? What size of company do they represent?
- Why do our customers buy from our company?
- What do they gain by buying from us?
- What are the common pain points and which ones trigger the most sales?
- Who are the most important decision makers during purchase?
- An updated list of prospect emails
- Targeted content
- A seamlessly integrated multi-channel approach
- A lead nurturing approach that is data driven
- Campaign management and automation tools
3 Main Outbound Ways for Generating Leads
There are quite a number of channels used in outbound lead generation. But the ones shown to deliver the best results for b2b are: Social media (LinkedIn), emails and phone.
Email is important for:
- Initiating contact
- Nurturing leads generated from other channels
- Following up and keeping prospects engaged
- Content distribution
- Query handling and responding to prospect questions and requests
- Corresponding with prospects regarding sales appointments
Although email is said to generate a high ROI ( some sources report ROI of 3,800%.) This is only possible if you:
- Maintain a regular email scheduling and sending frequency
- Execute your email marketing campaign using reliable automated marketing platforms
- Create emails with a high open rate. This means:
- Your subject line should create curiosity, be irresistible and stand out
- The content of your email should interest your target group
- You should use a design that balances visual graphics and personal touch
- Exit with a closing line that is a strong call-to-action
Phone calls serve play the following roles in real generation:
- Continuing engagement with prospects generated through inbound channels
- Real time collection and verification of buyer information
- Ensuring prompt response to queries from prospects
- Immediate lead qualification
- Promoting better understanding of prospect pain points and suggesting methods to solve them
Recent research shows that despite claims that “cold calling is dead”, it is still an effective form of prospecting. RainGroup Sales Research centre polled 488 buyers drawn from 25 industries and holding roles such as director, managers and C-level/VP. As much as buyers do their own research, results of the study showed that:
- 71% prefer to hear from sellers when they are looking for new ideas,
- 62% like to hear from sellers when they are actively looking for a solution to a problem.
- Only 2% of the respondents said they don’t like to engage with sellers during the buying process.
- 49% of respondents said they prefer to be contacted through phone. This varied across industries: most tech buyers prefer the phone (54%) as compared to 40% in finance and 50% in other services.
- 57% of C-level buyers prefer to be reached via the phone.
The interesting thing that emerged from the study is that while majority of sales meetings may be arranged via cold calls, the sale dies during the presentation stage. Buyers said that up to 58% of sales meeting they attend are not valuable to them. They rated the following as valu- adding elements during any sales meeting:
As shown in the image above, each phone call should set the stage for a successful sales meeting. Use every phone call to show your prospect that their meeting with you will be full of solutions that they will appreciate. To do so:
- Research your client extensively before scheduling a call.
- Track your phone calls to rate performance, efficiency of your call approach, value points covered or not covered in each call and the prospect’s general attitude
- Before you exit your call, set the stage for your next interaction, preferably a face to face meeting
Your outbound b2b lead generation strategy will not be complete without social media, particularly LinkedIn. This is because majority of professions congregate on LinkedIn to get information, connect with like-minded professionals and prospect for leads. 80% of b2b leads come from LinkedIn, making the platform a must-use for outbound prospecting activities such as:
- Engaging prospects through LinkedIn connections
- Using LinkedIn profiles and account activity to map target accounts
- Joining LinkedIn groups to access a wider pool of prospects
- Using the search function to target and access specific segments
- Using introductions, In mail and direct messages to reach prospects directly
For your profile to work, you need to establish your thought leadership through a steady stream of relevant content. The 2019 B2B Though Leadership Study, carried out by LinkedIn and Edelman shows that an increasing number of b2b leaders vet companies through thought leadership and indeed use through leadership as a criteria for doing business.
What this means is that to leverage LinkedIn for outbound prospecting you need to:
- Create a professional-looking LinkedIn profile and business page. Fill out your details, including value proposition and optimize your page with visuals and keywords
- Join groups
- Connect with people who share common interests.
- Start publishing content.
- Increase your following by:
- Adding your LinkedIn information on your email sign off
- Adding a widget to your website and
- Promote your posts to your Twitter and Facebook followers.
Conclusion: An Outbound Lead Generation Example
Outbound lead generation is vital to lead generation and indeed lays the groundwork for Account Based Marketing (ABM). Below is Lead Generation Workflow example of how you can use email, phone and LinkedIn for outbound lead generation:
- First contact. Send an introduction email or use LinkedIn In mail. You should state your intention to offer services that will help your prospect improve productivity, meet their sales goals, etcetera
- Follow up email or Inmail 1. Refer to the first email and recap the key points. Exit with a CTA for the customer to download or get in touch.
- Follow up email 2: Send an article, research paper or info graphic about the topic addressed in your email. Exit with an CTA for the customer to download more information or get in touch.
- Follow up email 4: Send more content on email. For instance, testimonials showing benefits to real businesses from using of your products. Exit with a CTA for your customer to get in touch, sign up for a free trial or request a product demo email.
- Phone call/LinkedIn: This is a discovery phone call. Inquire about previous emails sent, ask if there are any questions or points of clarification. Aim to get a meeting. If the phone call goes unanswered, leave a voice mail.
If the prospect doesn’t respond within a time frame you consider reasonable, find other ways to grab their attention. For instance,
- Find them on other social media channels. Tag them, comment on their post, answer a question they have asked on forums.
- Connect on LinkedIn to someone else within that company.
- Look for LinkedIn connections you have in common and ask for an introduction.
- Email from Executive level. It helps to sometimes ask a colleague at executive level to initiate a meeting. This is especially the case if your targeting c-suite/VP. Senior level management respond better to peers.
Notice that this process is not a straight line. Things will not always work out as you expect, so you have to be creative and adjust your approach accordingly. The key with outbound lead generation is to never give up and to keep working at it until you get a good number of qualified leads.