It all comes down to delivering the right message at the right time.
When it comes to sales prospecting, not all methods are created equal. While we have fully embraced inbound marketing techniques to support sales teams, many instances require outbound tactics.
When consulting with our clients on their integrated marketing campaigns, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention outbound prospecting when discussing the modern-day sales funnel. (In fact, we have a whole series on social selling we like to share with our clients).
Point being, inbound should be at the core of any integrated marketing strategy. However, prospecting is still a key component of modern sales teams.
What is Outbound Sales Prospecting?
Outbound prospecting is a process of reaching out to potential customers, usually via cold email or phone calls. Or, in layman's terms, Allen says, "it's going to a stranger or someone you know and saying, ‘Hey - buy my product.’"
Obviously, any sales professional will have difficulty succeeding with this approach!
The key here is to gauge the "temperature" of a prospect so that you can deliver a timely and relevant message to get the best results.
What makes a prospect cold, warm, or even hot?
Allen explained that when you think about being introduced to people, there are levels of familiarity that you might have with them.
For instance, they may be strangers to you or share a common connection through a friend, colleague, or family member.
According to Allen, outbound sales prospecting works best when prospects are warm or hot. In other words, they already have a level of familiarity with you, your business, or the product or service you're offering.
The more familiar someone is with your brand, the more likely they will react positively when you reach out.
Allen says, "If they’re a stranger and you share no common connections, that might be considered cold. On the other hand, a close classmate you haven’t spoken to for a few years might be warm, and a family member, ex-coworker, or employer might be a hot lead."
Cory adds, "Once you’ve identified the right prospects, outreaching is about understanding these different levels of familiarity and structuring your message in a way that invites them to learn more and explore what you have to offer."
By gauging the "temperature" of a prospect, outbound sales prospecting can be much more successful.
So, outbound prospecting isn’t necessarily colder than inbound - instead, it's just another tool that can be used effectively if done correctly.
On the other hand, some outbound campaigns will be “cold” if there's little to no pre-existing awareness of your brand.
In this case, you'll need to work extra hard to build trust and pique the interest of your target prospects.
This means crafting engaging, relevant messages that get to the heart of what potential customers are dealing with and how your product or service can help.
"To even get someone to pay attention to you, you have to be able to present yourself as someone trying to sell you a lemon or a product that you don't need or don't want," Allen says, "you have to add value to your prospect."
It is about sharing the right message with the right value proposition at the right time.
Why has outbound sales prospecting been getting a bad rap lately?
In this digital age, people are overly spammed, and we’re getting desensitized to the attempts at grabbing our attention. We're getting "pitch-slapped" by outbound messages without substance, and many outbound sales teams are out of touch with buyers.
Cory laughs, "I recently shared a MEME on LinkedIn that perfectly sums up some of the cold outreach I've received lately. Essentially, it's 'you breathe, I breathe, let's plan a 15-min meeting!'"
This is why outbound sales prospecting has been receiving some criticism. Too many outbound messages are sent out without personalization or research, making it difficult for prospects to engage with them.
Allen says, "one thing that’s great about technology is the ability to connect around the world and establish networks, but on the flip side this also means everyone is more easily accessible. And when you have so many different companies and products, everyone’s fighting for your attention."
We're hit with countless messages a day asking to meet. Most outbound prospecting is ineffective because the messaging doesn't resonate.
How to do outbound sales prospecting right.
Outbound prospecting shouldn't be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires careful research, personalization, and understanding of the target audience.
Allen shares, "one of the things I appreciate about Flip.to as a company is the level of thought that is put into everything. An area that has brought us success is to focus on the value that we bring, and why this is important for the prospect."
He goes on to say it's more than getting a sale, but truly understanding how you can bring value aligned with their goals and mission. It takes practice and is not easy, but you’d be surprised at what you can find by doing thoughtful research.
Cory adds, "outreach isn't rocket science but it’s something you have to consistently work on. Take the time to do some research, understand your prospects and craft out engaging messages that speak to their needs."
The best account executives aren’t sales professionals; they’re consultants. As long as you’re passionate about wanting to truly help, that’s going to lighten the load a lot for you.
Good outbound sales prospecting isn't about cold calling; it's about offering value and building relationships. With the right approach, outbound sales prospecting can be a great tool for finding and connecting with new customers.
Cory and Allen agreed that outbound sales prospecting is a great way to find potential customers, but it should be done with research and personalization in mind. Companies must focus on providing value and building relationships before pitching a sale. With the right approach, outbound sales prospecting can be extremely successful!
So take the time to research your prospects, understand their needs, and create an outbound message that resonates with them. That's how outbound sales prospecting can be successful. It takes practice and patience but will pay off in the end.