What Is Outbound Lead Generation?

Making prospects aware so they become customers.
What Is Outbound Lead Generation? Cover photo
To understand outbound lead generation, it's worth understanding what each individual word means in the context of sales.

Outbound refers to an effort done outwards by a company to generate interest - not inviting people in, but going out and informing them.

Lead refers to a potential client, customer, or buyer, depending on the wording your company prefers. As sales is part of all industries, a lead can be anything from a student looking for piano lessons to an executive searching for an organizational application.

Finally, generation refers to its meaning from generate or create, not Millenials, boomers, Gen Xs, or Gen Zs.

In other words, via an outward-facing strategy, potential customers are created or found. But it's a more nuanced set of tasks than this might suggest.

What Is Outbound Lead Generation?
The Difference Between Inbound & Outbound Traffic
How to Generate Outbound Leads

What Is Outbound Lead Generation?

Outbound lead generation is the process of finding potential prospects that may be interested, if unaware, of your product. It is a way to get your product and company name out there, providing you with visibility and potential clients and buyers.

Outbound lead generation is typically done by one of two teams, marketing or sales. Marketing teams will focus on paid marketing such as Google Ads or campaigns run via email, print, or TV, to name a few. The idea of this approach is to generate interest in the product by sending the messaging outwards.

Sales teams will go through a similar initial process as marketing, and those leading the charge are Sales Development Representatives, or SDRs. Understanding the product is step one. And not just understanding it, but being able to distill it in a quick, efficient way. As you can probably guess, sales and marketing often work in tandem on this one.

Following this, the correct audience to target, an ideal customer profile, is built. Customer profiles can be as broad as simply tech companies in the US and as specific as law firms, only in New York City, with 100-200 employees, using G Suite products, generating specific revenue.

From here a sales team will set out to find prospects that match this profile and contact them in a variety of forms that typically include cold calls, emails, follow-ups, and demos, amongst others, to arrive at a sale. Prospects can be found on LinkedIn, conference or membership lists, or spaces dedicated to the particular product.

The idea of this type of approach in sales is to offer your prospect something to fix a problem that they currently have. It is incredibly important that the sales team properly understands the product, the customer profile, and the way it can make some aspects of life easier for the prospect. The information received by the prospect should be beneficial to them in some way. It should not be seen as unnecessary or noisy.

Sales teams have to be both creative and well-researched, the cream of the crop, to truly appeal to their prospect in a way that breaks from the rest of the pack.

While a sales team can call and email potential prospects for days on end, what they are truly after is the response of a lead that turns them into a prospect. This happens when they see themselves and their problems addressed in the messaging they were sent, or, in the best of cases, they receive a solution to a problem they did not even realize existed.

The Difference Between Inbound & Outbound Traffic

Outbound lead generation, as we've seen, refers to going out and finding the prospects ourselves, either in marketing or sales. The goal here is to make a connection with a prospect to interest them in your product or company. This is what your sales team does as part of the pipeline building process, specifically in the target and contacting parts of the process. Your marketing team may do so as well. As the name implies, your team is going out and finding these prospects.

Inbound lead generation focuses on attracting the buyer to you instead. This is typically done via marketing tactics, anything in the realm of content marketing, such as SEO or blogging. Buyers are searching for solutions to their own problems themselves, and what better way to demonstrate your product's effectiveness than by being one of the top results on Google. Especially considering 95% of users don't go past page 1 on the results page.

And so outbound traffic is anything you or your company do outwardly to attract and inform potential customers of your product or service, whereas inbound traffic refers to them coming to you via other avenues, focusing primarily on marketing skills such as search engine optimization.

In the best of cases, you are using both of these methods, combining them to arrive at the best communication method for your company. An example of a combination is asking for an email so your prospect has granted you access to this information, and then adding them to an email campaign. The strategy you pick also varies depending on the industry, and B2B vs B2C. For instance, B2B outbound emails have a 23% higher open rate than B2C outbound emails.

How to Generate Outbound Leads

In order to generate outbound leads, your sales team will employ a variety of avenues to find prospects and convert them into leads.

As mentioned above, the second step is the creation of the customer profile, and, depending on how niche or wide-reaching your product is, it is extremely important that your team knows who they are selling to. If you are just starting out, sometimes it is a trial and error process until you are able to find the right person you should be contacting, especially if the product is particularly niche.

Sometimes it is a wider playing field and you can try via several avenues, and they might all work. In these cases, the best SDRs are still making sure their messaging is tailored to the specific type of prospect in each potential market. For example, a time-keeping application is useful for both project managers wanting to know how much time their team is spending on each task, and for anyone working in operations with interns at an NGO. While it is easy to see how both would benefit from such a product, the messaging being sent to each would be different according to their background and needs.

To prospect effectively, your outbound SDR has to have a clear set of guidelines: the ideal customer profile that was mentioned previously. From this starting point, and the work they put in every day, SDRs are then able to work on their messaging and find the exact right people to contact, as they are getting constant feedback from all their tactics.

Outbound lead generation tactics include cold calling, cold emailing, LinkedIn outreach, and social selling.

Cold calling is the old-school telemarketer tactic. It still works at times, if you are able to get your foot in the door, but it is not popular with the recipients.

Cold emailing is a lot more favorably received, and allows room for planning and preparing more than a call. You can organize a sequence of three initial emails and then email another one a few months later.

At SalesPipe, for example, we are well-known for writing especially creative, informative cold emails that result in meetings and mark us apart from the rest. You can combine cold emailing with cold calling if a prospect has also opened your email several times.

These can also be combined with LinkedIn outreach, which can be anything from viewing a prospect's profile, to sending InMail, to liking and commenting on a post your prospect made or is in. It is somewhat tied into social selling, although this depends a bit more heavily on your own branding in a social space. You can send personal messages, voice messages, or video messages to personalize the experience even further for your prospect, and to differentiate yourself from the rest.
How to generate outbound leads infographic
Exploring and exhausting all avenues to receive a response is absolutely necessary.

It is important to keep in mind that it is more likely that your prospect will not respond to that first contact, so keeping it up via all forms unless you are told otherwise, even if you are receiving no response, is part of the strategy.


Outbound lead generation will always be a part of the sales process, of that there is no question.

Getting your product or service out there to those who are unaware of it is key to any business, and there is a limit to what inbound traffic can generate.

Making sure you have the right outbound strategy and the right team members will be a large determinant of your success, so it is not an aspect to take lightly by any means.

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