What Is Outbound Lead Generation?

Making prospects aware so they become customers.
What Is Outbound Lead Generation? Cover photo
Understanding outbound lead generation is worth understanding what each word means in the sales context.

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, potential customers are created or found via an outward-facing strategy.

But it's a more subtle set of tasks than this might suggest.

Outbound Lead Generation Definition

Outbound lead generation is the process of finding potential prospects that may be interested, if unaware, in your product. It is a way to get your product and company name out there, giving you 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. This approach aims to generate interest in the product by sending outward messages.

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 quickly and efficiently. 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 various forms, typically including cold calls, cold emails, lead follow-ups, and product 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 how it can make some aspects of life easier for the prospect. The information received by the prospect should benefit them in some way. It should not be seen as unnecessary or noisy.

The Difference Between Inbound & Outbound Traffic

Outbound lead generation refers to going out and finding the prospects ourselves, whereas inbound, the prospects find you.

The goal in outbound is to connect with a prospect to interest them in your product or company.

Your sales team does this 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 finding these prospects.

Inbound lead generation focuses on attracting the buyer to you instead. This is typically done via marketing tactics, anything in 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. In contrast, inbound traffic refers to them coming to you via other avenues, focusing primarily on marketing skills such as search engine optimization.

In the best cases, you combine both methods 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.

Your strategy also varies depending on the industry and B2B vs. B2C. For instance, B2B outbound emails have a 23% higher open rate than B2C ones.

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 creating the customer profile, and depending on how niche or wide-reaching your product is, your team must know who they are selling to. If you are starting out, sometimes it is a trial and error-process until you can find the right person you should contact, especially if the product is, particularly niche.

Sometimes it is a broader playing field, and you can try via several avenues, and they might all work. In these cases, the best BDRs still ensure their messaging is tailored to the specific type of prospect in each potential market.

For example, a time-keeping application is useful for project managers wanting to know how much time their team spends 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 sent to each would differ according to their background and needs.

To prospect effectively, your outbound SDR has to have a clear set of guidelines: the ideal customer profile mentioned previously. From this starting point and the work they put in every day, SDRs can work on their messaging and find the 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.
How to generate outbound leads infographic
Cold calling is the old-school telemarketer tactic. It still works if you can get your foot in the door, but it is not popular with the recipients.

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

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

These can also be combined with LinkedIn outreach, which can be anything from viewing a prospect's profile, sending InMail, and liking and commenting on a post your prospect made or is in. It is somewhat tied into social selling, although this depends more heavily on your branding in a social space.

You can send personal, voice, or video messages to personalize the experience for your prospect further and differentiate yourself from the rest.


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

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

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

Ready to generate outbound leads? Get in touch with us, and we'll meet with you shortly!
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