When discussing digital selling, people tend to focus on inbound marketing and sales techniques. Although inbound strategies are essential to lead generation, to ignore outbound strategies is putting your B2B business at risk of failure, or at the very least costing you further ROI.
So, what is outbound selling?
Simply put, outbound selling is the process of sales representatives contacting prospects via phone or email in a hope of generating interest in their business’ products or services and making a sale.
Traditional outbound sales
Outbound sales strategies have adapted to the digital transformation. Traditional techniques were driven by basic demographics. When approaching prospects, sales reps would be equipped with simple demographics. These often included the size of the company, the company’s location and industry. The lack of information available often resulted in the loss of time and resources.
Traditionally, cold-calling was the most popular outbound sales method. In the early stages of the digital era, email began to be used alongside phone calls to contact prospects. Equipped with little information, the closest thing to a sales strategy was calling and emailing as many prospects as possible without truly understanding the prospect’s needs.
Modern outbound sales
Data is arguably one of the greatest offerings to emerge from the digital era. The internet and digital tools now available can provide businesses with an abundance of customer data. These metrics can be used to develop buyer personas and develop a greater understanding of customers and their needs.
This data has improved the effectiveness of outbound selling strategies. Sales campaigns are now data-driven and sales reps are equipped with much greater customer insights, moving beyond the simple demographics.
Sales campaigns can now be tailored to specific buyer personas. Businesses within the same industry may have varying needs, developing buyer personas for each type of consumer can ensure your business successfully approaches each prospect with the appropriate product or service. These greater focused campaigns allow sales teams to use their time and resources more efficiently.
Outbound sales techniques
Email, withstanding the test of time, remains a top sales and marketing tool. The use of email is growing steadily and it has been predicted that there will be an estimate of over 4.1 billion users worldwide by 2021.
The abundance of customer data that is currently available to sales teams allows them to focus their email campaigns toward the most qualified leads. If the marketing team appropriately nurtures prospects through the sales funnel, salespeople can approach the prospect at the optimal time in their journey. This enables sales reps to channel their efforts with greater efficiency and increase their conversion turnover.
Email is an essential engagement tool for sales reps for keeping in touch with customers following their purchase. The sales team’s job is no longer completed once the customer signs on the dotted line. Current customers have become essential for B2B business growth. Sales teams should send an email to check-in with customers on a quarterly or annual basis. CRM systems can be used to automate task reminders for your sales team to do so. This ensures that your customers are happy with your product or service and it introduces the opportunity for upselling.
LinkedIn is the social network for B2B salespeople. Membership numbers continue to rise and in April of this year, it reported 500 million users across 200 countries. In recent years, LinkedIn has emerged as a key digital selling tool for B2B companies. It has become a lead generation platform and a vital component of many content strategies, with content consumption on the platform experiencing a 20% increase between 2014 and 2016.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator enables sales teams to utilize LinkedIn as an efficient digital selling tool. It takes note of your current LinkedIn connections and it equips you with the information that is needed to determine which ones are prospects. It introduces you to a wider network of prospects by suggesting organizations and leads with similar profiles. Your lead generation efforts can even be tailored to a specific location.
The LinkedIn Sales Navigator highlights your chosen prospect’s activity. This allows sales teams to remain connected with certain prospects and focus their engagement efforts more efficiently. Engaging with prospects through their LinkedIn activity can set the groundwork before directly contacting them via InMail or Messenger. InMail allows you to message prospects that you are not yet connected with while Messenger allows you to directly message prospects with whom you are connected.
Here are a few tips for contacting prospects via LinkedIn InMail or Messenger:
- Start a conversation rather than diving straight into a sales pitch.
- Personalize your messages by referring to the contact by name.
- Use the information that you have gathered about the prospect. Mention a post that they published or shared, discuss common interests, or ask for their expert opinion.
- Focus the conversation on their needs and interests. Avoid talking too much about you and your business.
- Move your InMail or Messenger discussions onto other platforms. Suggest a more in-depth discussion through a phone call or suggest meeting for a quick coffee and a chat.