Outbound Prospecting: All to Know

Prospecting by getting the word out.
outbound prospecting article cover
The name of the game these days seems to be inbound.

Inbound marketing, inbound sales, how to connect with clients that are already looking for your services, and beating out the competition for those clients by showing up earlier on Google.

Does this mean outbound is out?

No, not by any means.

In fact, with so much emphasis being placed on inbound, it is now outbound that can truly find a chance to shine.

Especially outbound sales.

Especially if you do it the right way.

Even more especially if you have an expert in your corner.

After all, 82% of buyers accept meetings when a salesperson reaches out first.

What Is Outbound Prospecting?

The first thing to understand is prospecting in outbound. What is outbound prospecting?

Prospecting is the process of finding potential leads that may turn into paying customers. Typically, this is done by your sales development reps and team, or you can outsource it to specialists.

They are given an ideal customer profile, and then find potential customers that fit the parameters laid out in that profile. These leads may be found via social media, conference lists, membership lists, or elsewhere - cold outreach strategies and tools for prospecting leads are varied.

Prospecting efforts, if done correctly, are rewarded with responses agreeing to meetings or demos. Arriving at this part of the sales funnel means your prospecting strategies have been successful, and your initial lead, while specific and targeted, did indeed become a potential customer.

Outbound prospecting is therefore very different from inbound prospecting. In inbound prospecting, the leads have come to you. Usually, they filled out a form on your website in which they have provided their information - anything from their email address to information about their company may be considered here.

Your inbound sales team then has to qualify these leads and see if they are worth going after. This may be done via research or an initial call. It is often the case that with these types of leads the email is incorrect or non-existent, or one person has filled it out with multiple fake emails, and as such your inbound team has to wade through several low-quality leads to arrive at the true opportunities.

With the good quality leads, the inbound sales team then takes a different approach than your outbound team. These prospects may be added to a nurturing email cadence, perhaps a weekly or monthly newsletter, to continue generating interest passively. Or they may have filled out a form with more specific details, so your inbound sales team can tailor an email specifically responding to the information they provided.

As such, the key difference between inbound vs outbound prospecting is where the leads are coming from. All other parts of the chain are then dependent on this initial step. If you are providing the information to a tailored set of leads, based on an ideal customer profile, you have already qualified them somewhat and any responses should be considered overwhelmingly positively and as actual possibilities of a sale.

Here the chief part of the process is ensuring that your client profile is correct and that your following prospecting strategy and tools are in tip-top shape. Both the quality and quantity of the approach you take are what you need to pay attention to here - to get the very best results.

In inbound prospecting, instead, the important, time-consuming step is the qualification of leads. You may receive 50 to 100 interested leads every day, but if you add all of them to the sales funnel without qualifying them, you will muddy the waters and the work for yourself and for your numbers at the end of the quarter.

Qualifying leads is a major part of the process and its importance cannot be overstated. Imagine your VP ending up a meeting with someone completely wrong for your business - you've wasted everyone's time by chasing it.
inbound vs outbound prospecting infographic
Both sides of the sales equation need to be a well-oiled machine to arrive at the desired goals and outcomes for lead generation and prospecting strategies. As they are both time-consuming, a great way to move things forward is to hire experts like us here at SalesPipe to take care of either side of the sales process for you.

How to Make a Prospecting Strategy

So now that you know what outbound prospecting is, it is time to talk about strategy, our bread and butter here at SalesPipe.

The first step mentioned previously to ensure your outbound prospecting strategy works well is to have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is.

Let's say you sell a service and your service is offering the logistical support and creation of international study abroad programs for American university students in Spanish-speaking countries. Your ideal customer profile has two distinct possibilities: administrators at international study centers in American universities and professors at those universities who may be interested in running programs in such countries. The subjects covered may be incredibly varied and your customer profile should account for this.

Making use of this customer profile, it is time to search for your prospects. As seen previously, your prospects can come from a variety of sources. Conference lists, previous customers, social media - joining LinkedIn Groups related to your customer profile is an underutilized resource. Services exist specifically for this, if you want them as well, as this is also a time-consuming process, although great tools like LinkedIn Sale Navigator do make it easier. As our example is specifically regarding universities, it would also be worthwhile to look at the university websites.

And also to take into account the time of year. Universities are bound to the school year, so knowing when exactly is the best time to reach out about considering study abroad programs for the following year or years is key. It's a particularity of this customer profile, but this is the kind of information that helps to build it with the utmost precision to ensure you generate interest.

Then you organize your list from most to least likely to respond and become a customer, according to your service and industry. For instance, perhaps a professor is more likely to respond, but they do not have the final say as much as a university administrator - depending on the university. On the other hand, perhaps a university has to spend a certain amount of money on study abroad per year, and the administrator can find the professor for a program instead. All of these things should be researched and taken into account. You want to make sure you're finding the decision-makers themselves.

From here, you begin your outbound contact processes. You have your qualified list and you can do one of several different ways of prospecting: cold calling, cold emailing, LinkedIn profile visits, connection requests, direct messages or InMail, social selling, video messaging, to name a few. But whatever you pick, you want to make sure you have clear ideal outcomes and following steps - these are the best practices for prospecting.

Your strategic prospecting should always have a prospecting cadence and the frequency of that cadence depends on the goals your sales team is trying to achieve. The best ways to prospect in sales are the ones that are continuous, evolving, and work for you. No two SDRs nor two industries work the same.

Sometimes even within the same company two different prospects with similar roles may react completely differently.

Keeping this in mind is always important whenever sales prospecting has you a bit down.

Following the study abroad example, the best idea is to begin with cold emailing.

With the correct, fun, creative copy, tailored and personalized depending on the customer profile, whether an administrator or a professor, you can begin to spark interest that may result in a conversation. Even if it is a not right now, you could add them to the nurturing efforts of your inbound team so they continue receiving information about you in a newsletter.

You can do a video message after your emails to really drive the point home and personalize it even further. And have fun with it as you would with the email copy. If you're looking for professors that may run programs based on language, use some of that language. If you're looking for professors that may run business programs, dress in a suit.

For LinkedIn, a great way to make your direct messages or InMails more memorable is to include GIFs - they're not only great conversation starters, but they provide a good chuckle from all parties. Whatever you do, ensure each touchpoint is accurate to the associated customer profile and as personalized and creative as possible.

This sounds a lot harder than it is. Trust us, with the right information and tools, it can be done effectively.

This is how to target sales prospects in a way that ensures they feel comfortable and interested: multiple avenues of contact and making yourself stand out.

You are presenting them with a potential solution to logistical problems, or additional help they may require that they had not thought was a possibility. You want them to feel like they are part of a conversation, not an ATM that you want to get money from.

Because the ideal outcome for every sale is really a beneficial partnership - not a one-and-done transaction.
best practices for prospecting


Here at SalesPipe we are happy to share our tips for prospecting in sales. It is what we do, and we are proud of it. Sales prospecting best practices ensure your sales are an actual partnership and help sales professionals get treated seriously and with respect.

Outbound prospecting can seem daunting at first - so much information to wade through and so many people to get it out to. But with the right prospecting strategy and tools, and the right talent behind those, it is a conquerable skill that will help you drive business and growth consistently.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help your outbound prospecting efforts.
Post by Flor Fustinoni.
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