September 30, 2021

Outbound Prospecting Guide for Sales Professionals

Written by The Apollo Team

Selling is like opening a door and inviting someone to enter a room — you can do it from the inside or the outside.

Imagine that your job is to make people enter a showroom where your products are displayed. 

One way would be to stand at the door, put a flashy sign above the door and engage in conversation with anyone who passes by and asks about the sign. 

The second way would be to go to the street and approach people to tell them about the showroom and why they should come with you.

Sounds weird, right? Well, this is a loose analogy of what inbound and outbound prospecting look like.

Now, let’s look at both concepts more closely plus some best practices.

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What is outbound prospecting?

Outbound prospecting (or outbound sales) is the technique where companies push their message or pitch to a prospect, through cold calling, social selling, email marketing and the like. 

In outbound prospecting, the sales reps are contacting leads, instead of waiting for the leads to come to them as in inbound prospecting.

Outbound prospecting allows salespeople to:

  • Conduct hyper-targeted outreach
  • Obtain quick feedback and results
  • Have a personal contact with prospects
  • Take control over the pace of the selling process

The outbound sales process has five stages.

1. Identify potential customers: Define your target market and any market segments if you have more than one product and prepare your team to reach out to them.

2. Generate leads: Now that you know who you want to reach, you must obtain their contact information — either with an in-house lead generation team, purchasing a database or using a sales intelligence tool like Apollo.io.

3. Contact and qualify leads: The outbound sales team now reaches out to the list of contact by email or phone and find out whether they’re really a fit for your product or service. If they are, they move on to the next step; if not, they remove them from the list.

4. Show off your solution: Here, the sales team (a sales development representative or an Account Executive) schedules a qualified meeting or a demo to show the leads all the benefits of your product or service.

5. Close the deal: If all goes well, the contract is signed with the customer.

A common misunderstanding is to equate outbound sales with cold calling, but while cold calling may be an attempt to capture leads with random calls, outbound sales is actually the result of data-driven research.

An outbound prospecting strategy involves using sales prospecting tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator in conjunction with Apollo’s Chrome Extension to find potential leads, source their contact information, sync them up with your CRM, and load them into a sales messaging sequence.

Inbound vs Outbound Prospecting

We’ve seen what outbound prospecting is about. What is the difference with inbound prospecting?

Also known as inbound sales, this is the technique where companies “pull” interested prospects and qualify them to see if they’re a fit for their product (inbound lead). 

In other words, inbound sales focuses on the customer’s needs and the salesperson adapts to the buyer’s journey, acting as a trusted advisor.

The inbound sales process has four stages.

1. Identify potential customers: Here’s where you engage with the strangers that stop by the showroom and convert them into leads. Let’s say, for instance, that you get their contact details and permission to send them information.

2. Connect with leads: Now you help the leads become aware of their needs and decide whether you can help them or not. Here they are considering your solutions as part of their goals.

3. Explore deeper: At this stage, you begin a conversation with the leads to gain trust and explore their challenges in a deeper way to find if your products fit their needs and identify sales opportunities.

4. Advise on a solution: When you are sure that your offering fits the needs of your leads and you have their trust, you provide advice (this is your sales pitch) on how your product is the best solution for their needs. Then the leads become customers.

The inbound sales methodology can be very cost effective, since you are targeting and engaging only with people who have shown interest in your company. However, initially it can be time consuming to create content, build up and generate good quality leads.

Outbound Prospecting Strategy

Start with the right data

According to McKinsey, data-driven organizations are 23x more likely to acquire customers and 6x more likely to retain those customers.

But without accurate data to start with, your whole outbound sales prospecting strategy will crumble. You must invest in good data.

Did you know that Apollo uses a 5-step email verification process that’s the most accurate in the industry? And that when you sign up for a free account, you get access to a database of 210 million contacts and 20 million companies?

With all that information at your fingertips, you can search for the contact info of your ideal customer profile (buyer persona), using search criteria such as:

  • Industry
  • Total employee headcount
  • Department size
  • Annual revenue
  • Geography
  • Budget
  • Technologies used
  • Size of their customer base

Once you have identified your prospects, you can start doing outbound outreach.

Send targeted email campaigns

A critically important aspect of doing cold outbound prospecting effectively is targeting. By being specific in your approach, you’ll have higher overall engagement.

While there is a time and place for email-blasting, being personalized and targeted in your approach will lead to more relevant content, better response rates, and exposure to contacts who will be excited to receive your messaging and offers.

Un-targeted email campaigns, on the other hand, will lead to lower engagement and response rates, annoyed email unsubscribe requests, and worst of all, your messages being marked as irrelevant SPAM. Over time, this may have a detrimental impact on your domain score and deliverability, and at worst, can have your domain blacklisted.

Remember, the better you know who you’re targeting in terms of buyer persona, characteristics, interests, motivations, and pain points as well as how they perceive you – who you are, what company you represent, what your intentions are, and how your email is crafted and presented – the better success you will have.

Thankfully, Apollo makes it extremely easy to do effective targeting! 

Here are five questions you should think through when writing targeted messaging to a potential customer:

Why are you sending this email? Meaning – where in your sales/marketing/customer funnel does this email fall? That will help set the tone of your email.

Who are you talking to? Think about the individual reading the email, and write it to them.

What one message do you want them to take away with from your email? Be clear with the main message – I want them to learn about my sale, I want them to know about this offering, I want them to take away some inspiration.

What do you want them to do after they read the email – what’s your call to action? 

Have you come up with a matching subject line? This is the first step to targeting – get them to open the email!

Apollo is an all-in-one platform that combines data and engagement for success in B2B sales. That means that as a sales rep, you have the ability to seamlessly find leads and reach out to them in one place, saving time and hassle from integrating multiple platforms. Try for yourself with a free account.

The Apollo Team