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Outbound Sales 101 | Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Written by Lidia Vijga
Outbound Sales 101, Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Table of Contents

The outbound sales system has been one of the most popular sales methods used by businesses to reach out to potential customers and drive sales. Outbound sales strategies enable companies to expand their reach and connect with potential clients that may have never heard about their products and services.

Some sales professionals say the outbound sales method is too intrusive and even aggressive, however, in many industries, it is the most effective way to connect with potential clients and decision-makers. Not only that but in the B2B space, outbound sales are a norm and something that is to be expected from companies.

The debate between outbound vs inbound sales has been going on for many years, and it is a highly contested topic within the sales community and amongst sales leaders.

In some ways, outbound is easier but more labor-intensive. Meanwhile, inbound sales can be quite time-consuming and require long-term planning. Ultimately how you choose a sales strategy will depend on many factors, like the stage of the company, target market, conversion rate, LTV to CAC ratio (Life Time Value to Customer Acquisition Cost), etc.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about outbound sales.

What is outbound sales?

Outbound sales definition

The outbound sales process is a proactive approach to lead generation, connecting with prospects, and making sales. The outbound sales reps actively looking to connect with potential customers via cold outreach activities such as cold calling, cold emailing, networking, and attending trade shows and conferences.

Outbound sales professionals are contacting leads to spark curiosity about their product or service. Outbound sales reps do cold outreach through cold calls, cold emails, or social media.

In many cases, prospects are not aware of the company and generally are less engaged compared to inbound leads.

One thing worth mentioning is that rather than closing deals, sales development reps oftentimes focus on generating quality leads for account executives whose main focus is closing deals. These sales reps are called “closers”. These are highly experienced sales reps that have a very specific skill set and specialize in closing deals.

What's the difference between Outbound vs Inbound Sales?

Outbound vs Inbound sales

Outbound and Inbound Sales are two distinct but related methods of sales. Outbound sales reps exclusively rely on cold outreach in a more proactive pursuit of leads. Inbound sales reps focus on inbound leads that were generated through content marketing and have already expressed interest in the company offerings.

Many sales teams oftentimes employ both inbound and outbound sales strategies allowing them to reach more potential buyers and expand the sales funnel faster.

The inbound sales process involves attracting inbound leads through content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and other tactics and drive potential buyers to a company’s website. The inbound sales process can be very effective as it allows an inbound sales team to connect with inbound leads that have already shown some level of interest in their offerings resulting in higher conversion rates.

Sales development reps discussing inbound vs outbound sales

Unlike the inbound sales process, the outbound sales process involves actively reaching out to potential customers through tactics like cold calling, email outreach, and even direct mail. Outbound prospecting can be very effective because it allows a sales team to directly target and engage new prospects who may not be aware of their offerings.

By using both inbound and outbound sales tactics, your sales team can benefit from the strengths of each sales process, reach a wider range of new prospects, and increase conversion rates.

What's the difference between B2B vs B2C Outbound Sales?

Outbound B2B sales process

Outbound B2B sales development reps closing deals in the office

In B2B sales, reps sell to other businesses. Depending on the product or service, the sales cycle can last from as low as a few days to many many months, and in some cases over a year. The outbound sales process in this context is often more drawn-out and involves many steps, decision-makers, and stakeholders. A crucial part of the outbound salesperson job is to build relationships with potential clients and keep track of their progress in a CRM.

Lead generation and outbound process are very very time-consuming and often exhausting processes, with many pieces of vital information necessary to build and maintain sales momentum. Well-maintained and configured CRM provides a single source of truth and reliable data for sales development reps, making it easier to keep track of their sales funnel ensuring the entire sales team is on the same page.

Outbound B2C sales process

Outbound B2C sales development reps closing deals in person

Outbound B2C sales reps sell products and services to potential buyers directly. They usually sell lower-priced items and their sales process is often more straightforward compared to a typical B2B outbound sales process. In contrast to outbound B2B sales reps, outbound B2C sales reps reach out to much broader target audience and aim to close the deal on the initial call. As a result, they tend to make significantly more cold calls than B2B sales reps.

What are the advantages of outbound sales system?

There are many advantages to implementing an outbound sales process as a part of a company’s overall sales strategy.

Here are some of the main advantages of outbound sales:

1. Take a new product or service to the market faster.

Potential customer contact data can help sales reps take new product or service to the market faster

Outbound sales offer a great way to introduce potential customers to a new product or service. Whether a company is looking to launch a new product, expand into a new market, or simply grow its existing customers base, outbound sales can be an effective tool to reach out to prospects who are unfamiliar with the company.

Not only that but the outbound methods can help a sales team expand the reach of a company and build relationships with clients remotely at scale using video sales tools like DeckLinks. Using video for sales is especially effective when selling complex products or services, as potential buyers require more information, guidance, and time before making a purchase.

2. Reach target audience.

Target audience in a sales funnel

Modern sales engagement and sales enablement tools make it easier for outbound sales teams to implement highly-targeted outreach strategies that can meet the growing demand for personalization. Outbound sales reps can create custom email campaigns tailored to potential buyers needs and interests, instead of reaching out to a larger pool of prospects with one-size-fits-all approaches.

3. Connect with decision-makers directly.

Multiple decision-makers are discussing business opportunities

Outbound sales techniques allow sales reps to connect with decision-makers directly. For example, they can use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with decision-makers in their industry or niche. Outbound sales reps can also send video emails to create a more personal connection with potential buyers and showcase their products or services in a more engaging way. Additionally, outbound sales reps can directly reach out to decision-makers by cold calling them.

If you’re not familiar with video emails, be sure to read our article.

4. Get immediate feedback.

Outbound sales methodology represents a proactive approach to sales that puts an outbound sales rep in control of the sales process as opposed to an inbound strategy which requires waiting for potential buyers to reach out. This distinction is significant, as the outbound sales process allows a sales team to get immediate feedback, collect valuable data and insights faster since outbound sales reps are actively contacting potential customers. This can include information about customer preferences, competitors, buying process, and pain points.

Even though it takes less time to implement an outbound sales strategy compared to an inbound sales strategy, still, outbound sales require a well-thought-out approach to ensure the sales process is efficient and effective. Many modern sales enablement and sales engagement tools allow tracking many different engagement metrics and KPIs to help sales development reps and sales managers continuously optimize their outbound sales process.

These insights can also be used to improve the company’s sales and marketing strategies and sales collateral.

5. Identify new market segments and ideal customers.

Identify new target market and ideal customer profile

Effective outbound sales strategy can help a sales team identify ideal customers and new market segments. Unlike inbound lead generation tactics that require a lot of time to implement to start seeing the results, outbound sales involve reaching out directly to potential prospects as a way to spark conversations and uncover sales opportunities. Sales development reps can easily experiment with their email cadences and target different customer profiles to identify new market segments and ideal customers.

6. Outbound sales is great for training new sales reps.

Sales development reps and lead response reps training

Outbound sales is an invaluable experience for sales reps to have early in their career. The process of outbound selling can provide new sales reps with hands-on experience and the opportunity to develop their sales skills and apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Through outbound selling, new sales reps can quickly sharpen their sales and communication skills. This experience can help a sales rep become better at handling future customer engagements with even more confidence.

See if you miss any of these business development representative skills.

What are the disadvantages of outbound sales process?

While outbound sales methodology definitely has a lot of advantages, it also has many drawbacks.

Here are some of the key disadvantages of outbound sales:

1. The outbound sales process can be labor-intensive.

Whether it is cold calling, sending cold emails, networking online, or visiting trade shows and conferences, outbound sales can be very labor-intensive. Even though modern sales tools allow to automate the outbound sales process quite a bit, outbound sales still remain one of the most highly labor-intensive sales strategies.

The outbound sales process can also get very complex as numerous touch points must be taken into account to warm up the cold leads. Even when the outbound sales process is highly automated, sales funnel still requires manual tracking and managing to get the most optimal results.

2. Outbound sales are expensive.

Outbound sales can be a great way to accelerate business growth, however, outbound process can also be very expensive. Implementing outbound sales strategies always involves significant training and recruiting costs, as well as cold leads generation costs. Companies should carefully consider many factors such as the length of the sales cycle, conversion rate, blended customer acquisition cost, and life time value of a customer before choosing to go with the outbound sales method. As a rule of thumb, companies should always aim for LTV to CAC (Life Time Value to Customer Acquisition Cost) ratio of 3:1 or higher.

While outbound methods can be quite effective at driving revenue growth, companies considering outbound sales should have the necessary capital to commit to their implementation.

3. Outbound selling may not be suitable for your products or services.

Depending on the products or services your company is offering, outbound sales can be less effective compared to inbound sales, as many customers these days are more likely to research products and make purchasing decisions on their own, without the need for direct contact with a sales rep. This can make it more challenging for outbound sales reps to connect and engage potential customers.

For example, if your company is offering a SaaS solution that is easy to use and does not require hands-on onboarding, you may be better off with an inbound sales process and focus on content marketing to generate leads. Inbound techniques can also be effectively combined with sales assist, meaning, once several users from one company start using your self-serve product, your sales team can approach them and see if there’s an opportunity to onboard more users from their company or upsell them on higher-tier plans.

How hard is outbound sales?

Account executives and lead response reps find outbound sales tactics very hard

Outbound sales are not easy. The outbound sales process requires a lot of resilience, grit, and hard work from the outbound sales reps. Even the most experienced outbound sales professionals agree that, while it does get easier with time and practice, outbound sales is never an easy process.

The toughest part of outbound sales is getting potential customers to engage with you. Outbound sales reps try to contact potential buyers who have very limited knowledge or don’t know anything about the product or service sales rep is selling. They are starting from scratch in terms of building a relationship, which can be quite difficult.

Additionally, because a sales rep is starting from scratch, it can be difficult to gauge the potential buyers level of interest or need for the product, which can make it difficult to effectively tailor the sales pitch to them.

So if you’re looking to start a career in outbound sales, brace yourself for rejections, as most of the time prospects will have no interest in what you’re offering. This could be because they don’t realize they have the problem that your solution is solving, the timing is wrong, they already using a similar product, etc.

Outbound reps must have the necessary determination and resilience to stay the course despite setbacks and rejections. Experienced outbound sales reps understand that many sales leads will say “no”, so it is essential for outbound sales professionals to handle rejections and still have the motivation to continue their work. Those who do not give up are rewarded for their hard work, resourcefulness, and ability to adapt quickly.

Can shy sales reps succeed in outbound sales?

Shy sales development reps can succeed at lead generation

Most salespeople with introverted personalities often find outbound sales overwhelming, but with little practice, they can become successful in outbound sales. Although some people might claim that to do outbound selling sales reps need to have an extroverted personality, this is not entirely accurate. Although extroverts may take more joy in the fast-paced and face-to-face interactions of outbound process, introverts can still excel as sales development reps.

Introverts can find success in outbound sales by leveraging their strengths, such as great listening skills and attention to detail. These qualities can help them to understand their client’s needs and pain points better and provide assistance more effectively.

The outbound sales process can be intimidating for shy sales reps who may feel anxious about making cold calls. Fortunately, outbound sales done over email can greatly benefit these individuals, as it requires fewer in-person interactions and allows introverted sales reps to take advantage of their analytical skills to dig deep into sales engagement analytics.

Want to increase sales engagement but don’t know where to start? Check our sales engagement tips.

Top 5 outbound sales tools that all sales development reps need

The outbound sales process is highly dependent on two factors: the talent and dedication of the sales development reps and the outbound sales tools they are using. Sales managers must equip their outbound sales reps with the right outbound sales tools. These specialized tools provide not only a way to capture customer data and automate cold outreach, but are often equipped with detailed analytics and tracking capabilities that can help outbound sales team optimize their strategies and move leads more efficiently through the sales funnel.

Sales development reps that use the right outbound sales tools can measure results and analyze data better, determine which outbound activities are most effective, accelerate the sales cycle and provide a better buying experience.

1. Customer Management Platform (CRM) for outbound sales.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are essential for an effective outbound sales strategy. With features like automated sales funnel and smart notifications, CRM can help increase the speed and efficiency of outbound selling processes. With a solid CRM in place, outbound sales teams can manage customer data, track sales engagement, and automate tedious tasks.

Additionally, outbound teams using a good CRM can analyze data and generate insights that can be used to improve outbound sales tactics, optimize cold outreach methods as well as personalize engagement tactics to provide a better buying experience for new customers.

2. Sales Intelligence Tools.

Sales intelligence tools help sales development reps to improve the quality of outbound leads. These sales intelligence tools provide access to large databases of contact data enabling outbound reps to automatically generate leads based on the specified criteria and find all the necessary information to tailor their cold emails and sales pitches.

Platforms such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Apollo, and Outreach are some of the most popular sales intelligence tools for sales development reps. These sales tools provide visibility into target accounts, allow users to find key decision-makers within those accounts, and provide contact data with up-to-date job titles and contact information details. With sales intelligence tools, sales development reps can make more informed decisions, optimize their outbound sales process, and increase their conversion rate.

3. Power Dialer or Auto Dialer Software.

Auto-dialer software is a type of sales tool that automatically calls phone numbers from a pre-qualified leads list and can either redirect the call to an outbound sales rep when a lead picks up the phone or play a prerecorded message. Auto-dialer software eliminates the need for sales reps to manually dial lead numbers, allowing them to be more productive and focus on message delivery. Many auto-dialers have click-to-dial functionality that integrates with CRMs that makes it easier for outbound sales reps to make cold calls and log all the necessary information without leaving their CRM.

4. Email automation tools.

Cold email outreach is one of the most cost-effective ways for sales development reps to connect with prospects, expand their network, engage new target audience and generate leads.

Email automation tools streamline creating and sending of cold emails at scale. They allow tracking metrics like email open rate and email click rate, and automate follow ups saving outbound sales reps hours upon hours of their valuable time. One thing to keep in mind when using email automation tools is not to rely too heavily on email opens and email click rates to measure sales engagement. These metrics can be very deceiving when measuring the effectiveness of your outbound sales process.

Learn more about why email opens is not a good metric to measure prospect engagement and what are the better alternatives.

5. Video selling tools.

Video selling tools are truly a game-changer for sales development reps, allowing them to connect with prospects and clients on a more personal level without having to spend time commuting to meet in person. There are two types of video selling tools: live video conferencing software and asynchronous video sales tools.

Many sales development reps are familiar with live video conferencing software. Tools like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams have been around for a while enabling sales reps to connect with prospects and clients via live video calls.

Asynchronous video is a relatively new format that has started getting significant traction amongst the most savvy outbound sales reps. Asynchronous video tools like DeckLinks allow outbound sales professionals to video narrate any PDF presentation or document and share it in a trackable link. Asynchronous video enables outbound sales reps to effectively communicate their value propositions, build relationships with busy decision-makers, and pre-qualify leads using engagement analytics.

If you want to learn more about asynchronous video presentations, be sure to read our guide on asynchronous video.

Top 4 outbound prospecting techniques for B2B sales

1. Social selling on LinkedIn.

Social selling using LinkedIn sales navigator

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that has been proven to be one of the most effective social media platforms for lead generation, outbound prospecting and social selling for sales teams.

Here are some of the main advantages of using LinkedIn for outbound sales:

  1. LinkedIn allows outbound sales reps to engage and build relationships with prospective clients in a less intrusive way compared to cold emails and cold calls.
  2. LinkedIn provides a great place to expand your network and uncover decision-makers.
  3. LinkedIn is a great place for a sales rep to build their personal brand, showcase their expertise and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industries.
  4. LinkedIn allows outbound sales reps to uncover valuable insights to personalize cold outreach, accelerate the sales cycle, and increase their conversion rate.

Even though LinkedIn can be a super effective tool for outbound sales, there are also some disadvantages to using it.

Here are some of the main disadvantages of using LinkedIn for outbound sales:

  1. To maximize LinkedIn potential, outbound sales reps have to dedicate quite a bit of time and be consistent in their communications.
  2. LinkedIn has a lot of limitations when it comes to outreach automation so it is considerably more difficult to automate LinkedIn cold outreach compared to other outreach methods.
  3. LinkedIn can get quite expensive to use if your outbound sales team signs up for LinkedIn Sales Navigator to access features that help optimize the outbound sales process.
  4. It can be very difficult to stand out on LinkedIn, especially if you’re operating in a highly competitive industry.

2. Cold emailing.

Cold emailing is an ideal strategy for sales development reps looking to increase efficiency in their outbound sales process and increase ROI. Sending cold emails remains one of the most common outbound sales techniques in many industries.

Here are some of the main advantages of using cold emails for outbound sales:

  1. Cold email outreach can be fully automated saving outbound sales reps a lot of time.
  2. Sending cold emails is an efficient and effective way to engage prospects at scale.
  3. Cold emails are very cost-effective compared to other outbound sales techniques, such as cold calling or direct mail.
  4. Personalized cold email cadences that cater to the ideal customers profiles can greatly amplify the response rate. Cold emails become especially effective when combined with video. Learn more about video emails here.
  5. Cold email strategy is easy to scale quickly once sales development reps have figured out the right messaging and ideal customer profile.

While cold emails can be an effective way to reach potential customers, there are also some drawbacks to using them for outbound sales.

Here are some of the main disadvantages of using cold emails for outbound sales:

  1. Cold emails are frequently labeled as junk mail by email providers and many prospects tend to be apprehensive when it comes to opening or answering them.
  2. In some cases, cold emails can be difficult to personalize especially when outbound sales reps send them to a wide range of audiences. Lack of personalization makes cold emails less effective at engaging prospects.
  3. Stats like email open rates and email click rates are not very reliable metrics to measure sales engagement.
  4. Many prospects find cold emails very intrusive and annoying.

3. Video prospecting.

Video prospecting is quickly becoming one of the most effective outbound sales techniques thanks to its high engagement. Video allows sales development reps to connect with potential buyers on a more personal level at any stage of the sales funnel.

Here are some of the main advantages of using video prospecting tools for outbound sales:

  1. Video analytics allow outbound sales reps to measure the effectiveness of their cold outreach efforts.
  2. Granular engagement analytics enable outbound sales reps to pre-qualify cold leads more effectively.
  3. Video sales tools enable outbound sales reps to add a personal touch to their cold outreach and build relationships with potential customers more effectively.
  4. Prerecorded video presentations or asynchronous video presentations provide a convenient way to showcase even the most complex products or services in a more engaging and visual way compared to static PDF presentations.
  5. Video prospecting tools allow outbound sales reps to stand out from competitors that are not using video for prospecting.

While using video for prospecting can be a great outbound sales method, asynchronous videos also have some disadvantages that outbound sales teams should consider.

Here are some of the main disadvantages of using video prospecting tools for outbound sales:

  1. Video prospecting is a new format that many outbound sales reps need to learn to use effectively.
  2. Asynchronous videos may not be effective in all situations, and outbound sales reps need to use asynchronous videos in a combination with other outbound sales techniques to reach potential buyers.
  3. Asynchronous videos may not be suitable for industries or markets where the main means of communication remains a phone.
  4. Not every outbound sales rep feels comfortable on camera.

Learn more about using video for prospecting and how prospecting videos can help you book more meetings.

4. Cold calling.

Sales development reps are cold calling

Cold calling used to be one of the most common outbound sales techniques that can still be quite effective, when done right. However, cold calling is heavily reliant on outbound salesperson experience and requires extensive training and practice to master.

Here are some of the main advantages of using cold calls for outbound sales:

  1. When done right, cold calling still remain one of the most effective ways to reach out directly to prospects.
  2. Cold calling allows outbound sales reps to reach prospects that may not be accessible through email or social media platforms like LinkedIn.
  3. Cold calls can be an effective way for sales development reps to differentiate themselves from competitors that are heavily relying on other forms of cold outreach.
  4. Cold calling allows outbound sales reps to get instant feedback from potential customers which can help them improve their sales pitch.

Cold calling can be quite an effective outbound sales strategy, especially for those companies that operate in traditional industries where the phone is the preferred method of communication. However, cold calling just like other cold outreach methods come with their own disadvantages.

Here are some of the main disadvantages of using cold calls for outbound sales:

  1. Cold calling is a very time-consuming and labor-intensive sales process that requires quite a bit of training.
  2. Many people find unsolicited calls to be very intrusive and disruptive. Oftentimes, potential customers avoid answering phone calls from unknown numbers or engage with outbound sales reps.
  3. Even with the help of auto dialers, cold calling can be costly to scale.
  4. In many cases, outbound sales reps will have to make a large number of phone calls to engage a cold lead.
  5. For many sales reps cold calling is emotionally exhausting as they have to deal with rejection regularly.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The outbound sales process is a proactive approach to connecting with sales leads.
  • Outbound prospecting involves outbound sales professionals that cold call, cold email, and use social media to connect and nurture potential buyers. Outbound sales reps also attend trade shows and conferences to generate leads.
  • Unlike outbound sales reps, inbound sales reps focus on sales leads that have already been generated through brand’s content marketing efforts. These pre-qualified leads have expressed interest in the company’s offerings.
  • Sales team can employ both inbound and outbound sales tactics to reach their target audience.
  • The main difference between Outbound B2B Sales vs Outbound B2C Sales is that B2B sales reps sell to other businesses while B2C sales reps sell to consumers. The average B2B sales cycle is significantly longer than a typical B2C sales cycle and usually involves many decision-makers.
  • The main advantages of the outbound process are targeted outreach, faster road to the market, outbound sales professionals can connect with decision-makers directly and get immediate feedback.
  • The main disadvantages of the outbound process are 1) the outbound process is very labor-intensive 2) it is very expensive 3) outbound prospecting may not be suitable for businesses that have unfavorable LTV to CAC ratio or business model that doesn’t support outbound sales strategy.
  • Even seasoned outbound sales professionals find outbound prospecting very difficult at times.
  • Shy sales reps can succeed in outbound prospecting and sales; however, it takes hard work and dedication.
  • Sales development reps need CRM, Sales Intelligence Tools, Power Dialer or Auto Dialer Software, Email automation tools, and Video selling tools.
  • The most popular lead generation and outbound prospecting techniques are LinkedIn selling, cold emailing, video prospecting, and cold calling.

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