Outbound prospecting and lead generation has a bit of a bad reputation, yet it is a heavily relied on channel for many agencies looking to find new business opportunities. So how do you do it right?

Some of the most common pain points companies have when it comes to outbound prospecting are that they won’t get any meaningful responses and that they don’t want to appear spammy. 


When done incorrectly, outbound prospecting through email, combo sales and cold outreach lead to a high rate of rejection and attrition. These challenges often lead marketers to avoid outbound prospecting altogether, or treat any outbound prospecting as a 'dirty secret' compared to awareness or inbound lead generation.

This week, we reached out to agencies from our Network who specialise in outbound lead generation to learn how to build and execute an outbound prospecting strategy that works in your favour, is more personal and supports new business without the typical pitfalls.

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How do you know what lead generation strategy is right for your business?

Targeting and testing


“It is so important to test different approaches. You cannot be sure what strategies are going to work unless you try them.

The more channels you have available to generate leads, the more leads you are likely to generate. Having a plan to test new channels and improve them based on your learnings is key to finding out what works for your business.” - Matt Stump, Sales & Marketing Lead, Curated

Matt Stump from Curated discusses the challenges of outbound lead generation


Customer engagement and understanding their journey


“It depends entirely on how your buyers want to engage, and at what stage they are. Where you put outbound lead gen in the funnel is as important as who you're targeting.” - Charlotte Graham-Cumming, CEO, Ice Blue Sky


“By taking the time to define your buyer personas and understanding their customer journey, you'll see a pattern in buyer characteristics. This will help identify the right type of lead generation strategy to reach your target audience and channels most suited for that outreach. This helps you identify which lead generation strategy is suitable for reaching out to that type of audience and what channels are most likely to yield success.” - Julia Payne, Co-Founder, Incisive Edge


How do you make cold outreach and lead generation more personal and less generic?


One way to make your cold outreach less generic is to treat it with as much consideration and time as an inbound content strategy. 


Would you create content without knowing your audience? When it comes to outbound, remember to review your audience personas and consider your goals in advance – don’t blast. Here’s what our network members had to say…


Be relevant and keep it casual


“When engaging with cold prospects, it is important to ensure that what they are being sent or targeted with is as relevant to them as possible and more about them than about you. As well as that, I think it is key to make as big an impression in as short a time as possible, being selective in what you say is important, as nobody is going to read a cold email if it is too long and full of fluff. Lastly, keep it fairly casual. It is really easy to ignore a robotic email, people are more likely to respond if you come across like an actual person with personality!” - Matt Stump, Curated


“For us it's about two things: relevance and timing. We put outbound middle to bottom of the funnel journey, firstly so we know more about the people we're calling and secondly so that they are more warmed up and receptive to contact.” - Charlotte Graham-Cumming, Ice Blue Sky


Spend time on your research


“Before you begin, spend time in doing your research and preparation. It doesn't have to be onerous - make sure you at least carry out a Google search and social media searches so that you can personalise your message. A little effort will go a long way in generating engagement with the right people if it is done well.

By spending some time understanding what really matters to an end user, you'll be able to get straight down into what's important for them without any confusion on their part as well as benefiting from this information yourself.” - Julia Payne, Co-Founder, Incisive Edge

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Julia Payne of Incisive Edge discusses the challenges of outbound lead generation


What should you consider before embarking on an outbound lead gen strategy?


One of the most critical components of outbound lead generation is the targeting. Very often, companies will just engage a list of leads, which is highly inefficient and likely to get you the responses you're used to. 


By building an ideal customer profile, a comprehensive description of your perfect customer, you can use it to guide you when targeting prospects. A solid one will mean you’re targeting the right people at the right time.


Where does outbound lead generation fit into the funnel?


“Where in the funnel is it appropriate to place it? What's the objective? It doesn't have to be meetings, it could be personal invites to events for example, slightly softer and has less resistance. How can you minimise the "interruption" to the recipient, so it feels more helpful as opposed to selling. Set realistic expectations, it's MUCH more difficult than it used to be.” - Charlotte Graham-Cumming, Ice Blue Sky


Consider your goals and define your strategy


“You need to define your strategy, approach and objectives before placing outbound calls or sending messages. An effective outbound lead generation strategy will help you make the most of your budget while also maximising results. Make sure that when you are targeting companies, they are a good match for what it is that you offer them - this can be achieved by having a key message which is too good to refuse.

Too many companies throw money at outbound without the above in place and wonder why it doesn't deliver the results they expect.” - Julia Payne, Co-Founder, Incisive Edge


“It sounds obvious but consider your goals: Do you want to generate as many sales qualified leads as possible? or do you want to engage with a select few market leaders in a specific sector? Making sure you understand who you want to target, and what you want to achieve is really important to making your outbound campaigns a success.” - Matt Stump, Curated


What are quick wins that someone can do to make their outbound lead generation more effective? 


To summarise, we asked our network members what quick wins a business could implement to make their outbound lead generation more effective.


Make it less about you


“I often receive really long cold emails where there is a lack of relevance, and I am not sure what action they actually want me to take. Three quick wins I would encourage brands to do to ensure they make their lead gen more effective are: 


-       Make sales emails more about your customer, and less about you.

-       Make it clear what you want in your email and keep it fairly short if possible. 

-       Don’t just rely on one channel for outbound, targeting companies across multiple.” 


- Matt Stump, Curated

Charlotte Graham-Cumming of Ice Blue Sky discusses the challenges of outbound lead generation


Start small and test


Test and learn fast by starting small. By continuously refining your messaging and approach, you'll be able to increase levels of success with end users.” - Julia Payne, Co-Founder, Incisive Edge


Use it in the right place


Use it in the right place in the funnel and focus more on help than selling. Tie it into something memorable like events, set expectations in comms that you will be phoning.” - Charlotte Graham-Cumming, Ice Blue Sky


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