What Is Outbound Lead Generation?
Outbound lead generation refers to any marketing strategy that involves actively reaching out to potential customers on behalf of your business and brand. Although many sales teams and representatives generate outbound leads, there is a key difference between the goals of outbound lead generation and the outbound sales process.
For many small to medium-sized businesses, outsourcing marketing to specialists helps to control the sales pipeline; allows sales representatives to focus on converting leads to buyers; and, ultimately, generates higher quality leads and greater revenue. Whether a business chooses to build an internal marketing team, understanding the processes and best practices of both inbound marketing and outbound marketing is a necessary first step.
Outbound Marketing Versus Inbound marketing
In the simplest terms, marketing describes the voice of your business to potential prospects and existing customers. Within the buyer’s journey, marketing can attract, engage, and delight your customers. Within marketing, there are two distinct segments: outbound marketing and inbound marketing.
When a business actively presents any message to a wide audience, this describes outbound marketing. Traditional outbound marketing includes advertising, cold calling, direct mail, and trade shows. The focus is on reaching a large number of people, regardless of their specific interests or needs, with the hope that some will engage and become customers.
Inbound marketing tactics focus on attracting, engaging, and delighting prospects and existing customers within branded content. More specifically, inbound leads have shown interest in your brand by visiting your website, following your social media channels, or otherwise interacting with your brand. Inbound marketing includes content, experiences, and interactions that are relevant and valuable to these customers. Inbound marketing tactics include search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media, and email marketing. The goal is to draw customers in with valuable and relevant content, build relationships with them, and earn their trust and loyalty over time.
To clearly define the difference between an inbound and outbound lead to your business, an outbound marketing team takes the first action to find potential customers while an inbound teams focus on customers once they have contacted your brand.
Outbound Lead Generation
The underlying goal of outbound marketing is prospecting for qualified leads. Lead generation is the execution of distinct outbound tactics to attract leads. Outbound lead generation strategy applies to many campaigns including cold calling, email marketing, lead qualifying, sales appointment setting, and social media outreach. The goal of outbound lead generation is to build a pool of leads that have the potential to become customers.
There is a clear distinction between the outbound lead generation strategy and the role of sales representatives. For small to medium-sized businesses, outbound marketing strategies most often include two sales: a buyer first agrees to a sales appointment or a conversation, and the second sale is closing the purchase of products or services. Therefore, outbound lead generation tools are distinct from the outbound sales process. Outbound lead gen specialists execute strategies to find new leads, qualify the strongest prospects, and move outbound leads to sales representatives to begin the sales process.
On the other hand, the goal of the outbound sales process is to convert a lead into a customer by leveraging the information gathered during the lead generation stage and using effective sales techniques. Marketing and sales teams often confuse these processes which leads to inefficiencies and even reduced performance of sales.
How Outbound Lead Generation Specialists Help Marketing and Sales Teams
Strong business leaders recognize the skills required for lead generation are unique from traditional sales representatives. While a sales representative is highly skilled and trained to convert leads into customers, lead generation specialists possess skills in engaging leads at all stages of the sales funnel and managing the sales pipeline. Outbound lead generation specialists can greatly improve the efficiencies and performance of sales representatives.
Identifying New Market Opportunities
By reaching out to potential customers, outbound lead generation specialists can identify new market opportunities and assess the level of interest in their products or services. This strategy is key to prospecting but far outside the traditional sales representative role. This strategy often involves research, outreach, and networking over a long period of time.
Outbound lead generation provides the opportunity for sales and marketing teams to qualify leads and determine their level of interest and readiness to purchase. Qualified leads exist through the sales funnel so conventional sales tactics will not necessarily be effective on a top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) or middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu) prospect. Outbound lead generation tools guide these leads into a qualifying stage and transfer hot prospects at the bottom of the funnel (BoFu) to your sales representatives.
Outbound lead generation tactics such as targeted email campaigns, sales appointments, and ongoing lead nurturing efforts help generate higher-quality leads compared to inbound lead generation tactics. Eventually, these strategies generate leads from ToFu and MoFu to hot prospects.
Building a Steady Pipeline of Leads
Outbound lead generation helps to proactively build a steady pipeline of leads, which is essential for the success of any sales and marketing team. Most notably, qualifying outbound leads holds prospects within the appropriate stages and only releases them to the sales representatives at the ideal time to close.
Shortening the Sales Cycle
By proactively reaching out to potential customers, lead generation specialists within your sales and marketing teams can shorten the sales cycle and convert leads into customers more quickly. Prospects remain engaged until they are ready to buy, and sales representatives spend less time with cold leads.
In short, the outbound lead generation process creates more leads, reduces lost leads, and frees sales representatives to focus on closing more sales.
Outbound Lead Generation Specialists: To Build or to Buy?
Outsourcing lead generation is vastly more cost-effective than hiring an in-house team, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Hiring, training, and sustaining in-house lead gen specialists is often difficult especially for seasonal and niche businesses.
Outsourcing lead generation allows businesses to scale up or down their efforts as needed, depending on their budget and marketing goals. During new product launches or peak seasons, businesses can increase the efforts of a marketing agency and reduce outbound lead gen strategies during the off-season.
Improved Lead Quality
Lead generation companies design processes to qualify leads and ensure that they are of high quality. Valve+Meter uses research and planning within our outbound lead generation strategies to reduce costs for clients and improve higher conversion rates. Ongoing research, testing, and adaptation create a more efficient use of marketing resources.
Outsourcing lead generation frees up time for in-house sales and marketing teams to focus on core goals including closing sales and customer relationship management. Lead generation strategies – when executed by professional marketers – use technology and state-of-the-art tools to improve tactics and reduce wasted effort.
Outsourcing lead generation provides businesses with the flexibility to switch strategies or tactics as dictated by testing and results. Performance marketing constantly strives toward the best outcome for your business. If this means sudden changes in strategy or needed effort, outsourcing lead generation does not require significant changes to your internal processes or staffing.
Primary Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
Outbound lead generation encompasses a range of activities designed to identify, engage, and qualify potential customers. Performance marketing focuses on a proactive and targeted approach to reaching out to potential customers instead of inbound lead generation, which relies on attracting leads through passive methods.
Outbound lead generation efforts include sales prospecting. This critical step helps to significantly hone in on the ideal buyer persona (IDP). The process of identifying potential customers includes researching existing customer profiles, leads within customer databases, and market research. Sales prospecting determines the best fit for your product or service so lead generation campaigns do not waste effort on the wrong audience.
Like sales prospecting, lead qualification involves essential research and planning. Lead qualifying involves evaluating the potential of a lead to become a customer. Once ideal outbound leads are identified, lead qualification services gather information about the prospect’s business needs, budget, and decision-making process. Within broader lead generation strategies, this step helps to manage the sales funnel.
Sales Appointment Setting
Scheduling a face-to-face meeting, phone conversation, or digital meeting between a sales representative and a potential customer is often the first sale. Marketing and sales teams may overlook the value of connecting with prospects in a formalized meeting. This step is critical in the outbound lead generation process because – from a certain perspective – an outbound lead converts to an inbound lead. Depending on the stage of the process, sales appointment setters may continue with lead nurturing or transfer the prospect to your internal sales representatives. Appointments allow businesses to engage in deeper discussions with potential customers and build relationships.
B2B Appointment Setting
B2B appointment setting is similar to sales appointment setting, but it is specifically focused on scheduling appointments with potential business customers. More importantly, in the structure of lead generation strategies, B2B appointment setting requires a strong understanding of the target audience and the ability to engage in meaningful conversations with decision-makers. Many businesses have gatekeepers that lead generation specialists must convert prior to reaching decision-makers.
A Comprehensive Breakdown of Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
Proper record keeping and organization is a primary cause for lost leads. During the lead generation process, lead list creation is key to following up with potential leads and quickly finding their contact information. At Valve+Meter, our team uses data sources and research tools to find contact information for decision-makers at target companies.
Crafting scripts, practicing pitches, and developing A/B testing are vital to both email and phone calling campaigns. This includes a clear introduction, value proposition, and key points to be covered in the conversation.
Cold calling specialists, like all marketers, must access new training and the latest resources in the specialty. Valve+Meter’s experts are prepared and equipped to execute the cold calling campaign effectively.
Execution goes beyond simple phone calls, engaging emails, and tracking leads, though. Every effort should be recorded for testing and ongoing improvements. The leads generated through the cold calling campaign, including tracking, nurturing, and qualification help to improve inbound and outbound lead efforts in the future.
Qualified leads may be lost when reporting and analysis are not properly designed. Cold calling specialists provide regular reporting and analysis of the results of the cold calling campaign, including metrics such as lead volume, conversion rates, and cost per lead.
As a distinct tactic, executing a comprehensive sales prospecting campaign has unique components. Some steps throughout outbound lead generation apply to each strategy but may be fine-tuned to suit the goal of sales prospecting.
Sales prospecting first identifies the ideal buyer persona. This data is often the same as in cold calling, drawing on existing clients and market research. Lead list creation is also similar to cold calling.
In these early steps, sales prospecting often relies on accessing tools to find new markets for your business. Because sales prospecting focuses on outbound strategies to new opportunities, using cutting-edge technology is a core factor in the most efficient campaign planning.
Valve+Meter conducts an analysis of market trends and competitor activity to identify the best approach for each campaign. This is especially important for newer companies and niche products.
The development of a prospecting message is also key to prospecting. A compelling message clearly asserts the value of your business’ products or services and resonates with the target audience. Cold prospecting must solve a pain point for potential leads.
Execution of the sales prospecting campaign follows a steady iteration of outreach. Using multiple channels such as email, direct mail, and phone calls, engages prospects with your brand. Sales prospecting is almost always a cold introduction, so reiteration builds familiarity.
Sales prospecting requires meticulous lead management. Due to the use of multiple channels, managing the leads generated through the sales prospecting campaigns must be accurately tracked, nurtured, and qualified. Detailed lead management is most likely to result in meaningful conversations with prospects.
Ultimately, sales prospecting is largely effective at building brand recognition and creating introductions of new markets for your business. Of all outbound tactics, this is a long-term and ongoing effort to find potential leads.
Generating leads via cold calling and sales prospecting typically requires further qualification. Lead qualifying also refers to existing leads, new inbound leads, and even referrals from peer networks. By executing a comprehensive lead qualifying process, marketing and sales teams spend time with high-quality leads that are ready for sales follow-up.
The first step is to screen leads to determine whether they suit your ideal buyer persona. Specifically, lead qualification evaluates factors such as the lead’s level of interest, budget, authority, and need. Sales reps should not waste effort on appointments with prospects who cannot afford your products or services. Even more importantly, you need to pitch to decision-makers.
Lead qualification conducts research on each lead to gather additional information, including company size, industry, and role. This gains a strong understanding of whether the lead suits your requirements.
In some cases, lead qualification will keep metrics or scoring. Certain metrics indicate a lead needs further nurturing or can be eliminated as a prospect. High-ranking leads are expedited so sales teams can prioritize and convert these buyers.
Lead nurturing techniques keep prospects interested without wasting the resources of your internal sales team. Valve+Meter can provide follow-up emails with additional information and resources that keep cold and warm prospects engaged with your brand until they are ready to schedule future follow-up calls.
For busy sales teams, especially seasonal businesses, lead qualification is a scalable service that reduces fatigue and strain in your sales pipeline. By working with an agency, business owners can ensure that leads generated through outbound campaigns are high quality and ready for sales follow-up, improving their chances of converting leads into customers.
Sales Appointment Setting
Specialists in appointment setting must possess skills in prospecting, lead qualification, and sales. The first step is to qualify leads to ensure that they are ready for a sales appointment. Like other tactics, appointment setters regularly use BANT methods.
Appointment setters use their expertise and experience to create compelling messaging and engage with leads in a way that is both professional and persuasive. Scheduling an appointment is the first sale in converting a lead to a buyer. Just because a lead has expressed interest, the sales appointment represents the first commitment from a prospect.
Appointment setters must be nimble and diligent. They must coordinate with the lead’s schedule, negotiate the time and date of the appointment, and confirm all the details. Finally, when a sales appointment has been set, the agency will hand off the lead to the business’ sales team for follow-up and the potential conversion into a customer.
Outbound lead generation generally saves time and resources, but professional appointment setters are highly skilled at prospecting, qualifying, negotiating, and converting leads to appointments.
B2B Appointment Setting
Executing appointment setting in the B2B markets requires a higher degree of qualification. Outreach strategies must expertly determine the correct decision-maker before handing off a lead to your sales team.
When to Contact Valve+Meter about Outbound Lead Gen
Outbound lead generation demands special skills, access to the latest technology, and continuing improvements. For small to medium-sized businesses, outsourcing inbound and outbound campaigns can be a challenge. When you partner with Valve+Meter, we operate as an extension of your sales team.
We utilize services such as B2B cold calling, sales prospecting, lead qualifying, sales appointment setting, and B2B appointment setting to effectively reach potential customers for your business. Working with our Performance Marketing outbound lead generation agency can help businesses save time and resources, increase their efficiency and ROI, and stay ahead of the competition. In the end, implementing an outbound lead generation strategy can be a key factor in the success and growth of a small to medium-sized business.