Outbound prospecting has always been a fine line to walk. However, in the past year, many agencies have come to rely on outbound prospecting through cold outreach, email and combo sales to find new business opportunities. So how do you do it right?
This week, agencies from our Network were invited to a collaborative workshop on how to build and execute an outbound prospecting strategy that works in your favour, engages audiences, and supports new business without the typical pitfalls. We’ve put together the key takeaways for our network and community below.
This workshop was in collaboration with our trusted partner Cognism. As specialists in compliant sales intelligence, Cognism support growth marketers and business development teams alike with outbound prospecting and revenue generation. To learn more about our partners, get in touch here.
The overall pain points GO! Network agencies voiced about outbound prospecting were:
· Getting a meaningful response from outbound prospecting was near impossible
· Appearing “spammy” was a concern for their reputation.
When done incorrectly, outbound prospecting via email, combo sales, and cold outreach can lead to a high rate of rejection and attrition.
Agencies should treat outbound with as much consideration and time as an inbound content strategy. Where often outbound is seen as a ‘quick win’ to use in the meantime as a business grows an inbound marketing strategy, outbound done right requires just as much attention.
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.
B2B outbound is the process of engaging with buyers and decision-makers inside a company to generate interest in a product or service and, hopefully, make a sale.
Though traditionally we think of B2B outbound as ‘cold calling’, other techniques can be used as well, including email and social media platforms such as LinkedIn; the combination of all these methods at once is known as a “cadence”.
B2B outbound is a proactive approach which requires identifying the key contacts in your target companies, going out into the market and selling to them.
Compared to other forms of prospecting, Outbound is fast, measurable and scalable
Challenges in outbound require a combination of factors to solve in a sustainable way, including everything from your hiring strategy to your databases.
- Minimising rejection – Ultimately, sales teams will face rejection. However, ensuring that the team are upskilled on objection handling, lead psychology, and your Ideal Customer Profile (or ICP) can help ensure that any engagement with a new contact (or ‘suspect’) has a positive experience. It’s important to remember that outbound doesn’t mean copy-pasting the same message. Do the research and ensure that any approach is somewhat personalised to minimise rejection rates.
- Maintaining reputation – From a digital perspective, agencies need to ensure they have data that is 100%accurate. Avoid sending your messages straight to spam by always keeping bounce rates below 10%. Company wise, a sales team need to behave professionally and avoid the ‘all press is good press’ approach.
- Attrition – Sales roles are ultimately often high-turnover positions that can mean you lose talent and experience all too frequently. To minimise attrition in a business development team, try hiring in pairs to offer support, but also ensure you’re hiring for the right profile for your audience.
Invest upfront, allocate ongoing resources and time, develop internal sales skills and build an infrastructure which is data driven
A critical component to outbound is in the targeting - often companies will just engage a list of leads which is highly inefficient and likely to get you the responses you're used to.
Your ideal Customer Profile (or ICP), is a comprehensive description of your perfect customer - the kind that can find massive benefit in your product or service, while also being able to give you enough value in return to make the business profitable.
Your ICP should guide you when targeting prospects - a solid one will mean you're targeting the right people at the right time.
If in doubt, don't cast a wide net - you're better off expanding your profile as you measure success than risking the wrong audience.
Create benefit statements for different scenarios to gain your prospect’s attention. Hyper-personalisation through researching the business you're approaching is a tactical method of informing your Value Proposition. Small adjustments like saying their name frequently can help to connect with personas pain points; Talk their language i.e., straight to the point/friendly/busy. Addressing their typical challenges reaffirms how you can help to solve their problem.
Having a creative format to approach prospects can cut through the white noise – consider sending them a video which is personalised or replying to a LI post in a constructive way that leads into conversation about your services.
Through a database, you can develop a capacity model which reflects the rate of new business won and allows you to measure your real return on investment from outbound prospecting.
This also brings out key ratios to generate targets to forecast growth. Recording rejections from leads and the stage they failed will be useful in determining how and where to target new business.
Navigating the balance between winning new work and having the capacity to fulfil the needs of existing clients is a big concern. So one solution may be dedicating “time” rather than people if agencies struggle with funding outbound prospecting i.e. 2 -3 afternoons a week on prospecting.
- Investing in a scalable outbound plan provides businesses with alternative streams of revenue to operate along existing streams.
- Knowing your ideal customer is key in any prospecting plan – who do you want to target is the first step in converting a lead.
- A strong, creative and unique value proposition will help cut through the white noise
- By measuring your successes and failures through a database, your business will be able to forecast and plan a scalable approach to prospecting.
The GO! Network work with a number of partners designed to support business growth in competitive organisations. To learn more, get in touch here.