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How to Build a Lean, Mean, Lead Generating Machine with Outbound Prospecting

Last updated: January 23rd, 2020

Lead generation is among the most important processes in the business world. And with the technological advancements, including the internet, it’s never been easier to find and attract people who may be interested in buying your product or service.

However, this is a double-edged sword for a simple reason – you’re not the only one with access to all those effective tools that can make your lead generation process more successful. Your competitors use them too.

So, what you need to do is always find new, innovative ways to find leads and start a conversation with them that can later result in their buying from you. One of those ways is to use outbound prospecting to get the most out of your lead generation campaign.

What is Outbound Prospecting?

Outbound prospecting is a direct marketing channel used for identifying target customers and then directly reaching out to them as a way to introduce them to your company, products, and services.

The majority of marketers and salespeople think that the sole goal of outbound prospecting is to book a call or demo. However, we can also look at this process as something that should start a conversation and lead to your brand becoming a trusted advisor to the targeted lead.

In addition, outbound prospecting is only one lead generation strategy that can work alongside SEO, SEM, social media and content marketing, email marketing, and so on.

Finally, outbound prospecting is the initial part of the sales process. It falls under the lead generation stage, where companies engage in research, prospecting, and outreach. The later stages of the sales process include customer fulfillment and lead conversion.

Will Outbound Prospecting Work for Your Company?

It is only natural that you are wondering if you should go for outbound prospecting.

Well, the good news is that it will most likely work if:

  • Your value proposition is clearly articulated.
  • You offer a high-quality service or product.
  • You can scale service/product delivery.
  • Other customers have already bought from you.
  • Your average order value is around $1000 per year.
  • There is a person in your company who can close the deals you generate.

However, if you really want to succeed with outbound prospecting, here are some things you need to know:

  • Make sure to offer value without expecting anything in return.
  • Understand the different stages of the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, decision).
  • Realize that even though a salesperson’s role hasn’t changed too much in the past decade, the buyer’s journey has changed significantly.
  • Keep in mind that only 3% of your market is actively buying at this moment. In addition, only 6-7% are considering making a purchase. The rest (90%) of your target market is simply not interested in buying from you or your competitors.

Finally, you should be familiar with the four stages of the lead generation process:

  1. planning
  2. research
  3. message
  4. launch

Let’s take a closer look at how each of them works.

Stage 1: Planning

outbound prospecting planning

First, you need to understand who you are targeting, that is, your ideal customer profile. 

The best way to do this is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the revenue/funding/budget of the company I’m trying to target?
  • How many employees does it have?
  • Where is it located?
  • What industry does it belong to?
  • What technologies do they use?

Your ideal customer profile may lie at the intersection of some of these, and the narrower it is, the better.

Once you know what companies to target, the next step would be to determine your buyer persona. In other words, you want to understand the decision-makers’ profile at these companies.

You can define your buyer/decision-maker based on the following factors:

  • job title
  • seniority
  • location
  • challenges and motivation
  • where they spend time online
  • communities they belong to

When you know all these details, you will be able to create unique, personalized messages later in the process, which is more likely to resonate with your prospects.

Why Do Humans Buy?

People buy for one of the two following reasons:

  • to avoid pain or a loss
  • to gain pleasure

In the world of B2B, avoiding pain or loss is a much more powerful motivation for buyers. That is why you need to find their pain points and show how your product or service can help them avoid losses.

Some ways to do this include speaking with your existing customers or prospects, talking with your sales team, and also looking at prospects’ job descriptions to get a better understanding of your ideal customer profile and buyer persona.

Creating campaigns

When creating your prospecting campaigns, you need to know how to segment prospects based on factors such as location, industry, job title, seniority, industry updates, and so on. 

In other words, you can’t just send the same message to different personas and expect it to work. Instead, you should segment your prospects into smaller campaigns and personalize the messages you’re sending.

Preparing the outreach email

Finally, when crafting the outreach email, make sure to use a spare domain instead of your main domain. The reason for this is very simple. Even if you use the best practices, your main email could be marked as spam, and you definitely don’t want that to happen.

To stay on the safe side, try to:

  1. Set up the email including DNS settings.
  2. Personalize your account.
  3. Use the account as you would normally do.
  4. For a start, send a small number of emails.

Stage 2: Research

Unsurprisingly, the first step of the research stage closely relates to personalization. After all, you are going to email a person, and the best way to approach this is to look at the three main levels.

1. Individual-level

Look for information like contact details, job title, recent social activity (posts, updates, job anniversaries), authored content, interests, and so on.

2. Persona

Search for their current objectives, challenges, motivations, fears, day-to-day roles, skills, tools they use, online publications, relevant content, and so on.

3. Account/industry

Finally, here you can find about their revenue, address, industry, recent news, case studies, awards won, the number of employees, the technology they use, M&A activity, funding, and others.

At first, this may seem a bit too time-consuming, but it’s definitely worth it. After all, you must have received hundreds of generic emails that are not specific to you as a person or your role.

And what did you do with those emails? You either deleted them or marked them as spam. Simply put, that kind of approach simply doesn’t work anymore.

Instead, what you should do is try to get as much useful information as possible about the prospect and use it in the email. However, you don’t want to go overboard and be too creepy. Always strike a balance between not personalizing at all and over-personalizing.

Data sources

So, where should you look for information about your prospects?

Here are just some of the places you can search for data free of charge:

  • LinkedIn
  • Clutch.co
  • Directories
  • Google Maps
  • Podcasts
  • Facebook groups
  • Supplier pages
  • Event websites
  • Google Search
  • Job boards

And if you don’t mind paying to access data, then you can also make use of Discover.org, SimilarTech, DataNyze, and ZoomInfo.

Lead sourcing

When sourcing leads, you should always opt for building your own list instead of buying a complete list. A bought list may be out of date, plus other companies may have bought this data before you did and spammed them already.

In addition, instead of building a static list, it is better to focus on dynamic lists. This will give you data that is always fresh due to the focus on trigger events – the moments when a prospect is likely to make a purchasing decision. Also, a dynamic list can be updated regularly.

To make your life easier, you can use one of TaskDrive lead sourcing playbooks. They will give you an insight into the exact steps you need to follow to find the right prospects and start your campaign.

Collate, organize, and validate

Once you have found the information you need, there are three final steps you need to take to successfully complete the Research stage.

  1. Collect all the data together and organize it into different campaigns.
  2. In case you use merge tags for personalization, ensure that they are set up in the correct way since not all email outreach tools work in the same way.
  3. Next, validate the emails using neverbounce.com, snov.io, or cleanify.io.
  4. Finally, make sure to double-check the researched data every once in a while to avoid mistakes.

Stage 3: Messaging

taskdrive outbound prospecting messaging

A messaging cadence, to put it simply, is a strategy that molds to your target audience’s needs, encompassing all or some of the following six communication channels:

  1. phone
  2. voicemail
  3. text message
  4. social media
  5. email
  6. direct mailing

A cadence is also known as a sequence or a follow-up sequence. It’s worth noting that you always need to pay attention to the number of attempts, channels you use, cadence duration, spacing, timing, and the content you are using.

Selecting media/channels

It is often difficult to select the right channels (or media). That is why you should first see what your audience is using, and use those channels for the best results.

For example, with transactional sales, short sales cycles, and small deal sizes, you can use email and social media.

On the other hand, when it comes to relational sales, longer sales cycles, and larger deal sizes, you can start with an email or social and then follow up through the phone, video, direct mail, and personalized experiences.

Also, if the deal is large enough, you can go an extra step and make sure the prospect gets a personalized experience they will never forget. 

Be careful when choosing the channels since it is easy to get lost and blow through your budget. Try to categorize deal sizes and figure out what you can do based on that.

Remember that the bigger the deal size, the more personal experience you should provide.

Cadence example

Here is a good two-week cadence example that has been used by some successful companies.

  • Day 1. The sales cadence starts with the first email.
  • Day 2. A company representative places a call or leaves a message via voicemail.
  • Day 5. Depending on the reaction, the second email is sent (follow-up), and another call is placed along with another voicemail message. Of course, if someone responds, there is no need to send a message or leave a voicemail message again.
  • Day 6. Here comes the third call. This is also the second social touch.
  • Day 7. It is time to send the third email, make another call, and leave another message through the voicemail.
  • Day 10 includes the fourth email and another call. This is the third social touch.
  • Day 12. Now you should send the fifth email, place another call, and leave a message in the voicemail.
  • Day 14. Send another email, place another call, and leave a message.

3 golden rules for compelling emails

When writing email messages, you should stick to three golden rules:

  1. Remember that this is not about you. It is always about your prospects!
  2. The goal is to start a conversation, not sell something right off the bat.
  3. Try to become a trusted advisor. This is called playing the long game.

This may look simple, but it’s not. So, maybe your best bet is to hire a copywriter who will write a conversion-oriented copy.

Elements of a cold email

A good outreach email includes four elements:

  1. subject line
  2. opening sentence
  3. main body
  4. CTA

When writing a subject line, you need to be effective. The goal of the cold email is to attract attention, so this heading has to provoke some curiosity. Try to personalize the subject line, use humor, and use the knowledge you have about the prospect.

Examples: 

  • ‘(Name), how do you do it?’
  • ‘Quick question!’

Now that you know how to go about writing a subject line, let’s move on to your opening sentences.

The first sentence should grab the reader’s attention. In it, you must prove that you have done your research and that you are well-informed about the prospect you are contacting.

The second one needs to be a bit personal (about them) as well, but you also need to tie that into your product value proposition. After all, you are sending these messages to sell something that a customer can benefit from.

The main body part has to focus on the pain point, and this is what sells products. However, you also need to resist the urge to pitch blatantly.

Always remember that this is not about your product. Do not list product features since that would be a clear sign of your intentions.

Instead, try to make the prospects imagine their lives and jobs without challenges. Get them to really paint a picture in their head and enjoy it.

Finally, when it comes to the call-to-action, you can be straightforward and ask a question. For example, this is quite simple and it works great:

‘(Name), would you be interested in finding out more?’

Handling responses

This is where a lot of people fail because they believe that all is done once they write the CTA.

But, that is not the case. Actually, once you get a response to a cold email message, you need to handle it in a very quick and timely manner.

As a result, this can significantly increase your chances to land a demo or a meeting with a prospect. Leaving a message unopened for a while just goes to show that you are either not interested enough or unprofessional.

The follow-up and its importance

People say that money is in the follow up for a reason. As a matter of fact, it can take up to 18 touches to generate a response from a cold prospect, and most people give up after only 4 touches.

Therefore, ensure that you always follow up in your cadences. Multi-touches across different channels really work.

Below are some of the follow-up best practices:

  • Provide added value – don’t just ask whether a prospect has seen your previous message.
  • Arouse curiosity.  
  • Make sure that the follow-up message is personalized.
  • Follow-ups must be spread over time.

In addition, here is a list of what to do in your follow-ups:

  • content sharing
  • politely removing people when asked to do so
  • being consistent and transparent
  • timing well
  • doing it often (5 to 7 times)
  • having a clear call-to-action in your emails

And, a list of things you should never do:

  • ‘bumping’ the email to the top of the inbox
  • making them feel bad for not responding
  • taking rejection personally

Stage 4: Launch (and Optimize)

Finally, the fourth stage that you’ve been waiting for so patiently. But carefully, this is not a good time to relax.

Tools

Now that it’s time to launch a sequence, you may be interested in some useful techniques that will make this process as convenient and easy as possible.

If you are doing simple email outreach, you should definitely consider using Gmelius, Lemlist, Amplemarket, or Reply.io.

On the other hand, when talking about sales enablement, there are some more complex tools that allow doing multi-channel outreach and they include SalesLoft, Outreach, and FrontSpin.

When it comes to video, you should definitely check out Vidyard and Loom.

And, finally, if you are trying to build up personalized experiences, you could use tools such as Segment, Clearbit, and even ConvertFlow to allow you to show personalized CTAs on websites based on the UTM parameters that you could include in the links.

Measurement and reporting

It’s really difficult to determine the best reply rate or at least what the industry standard is.

As you probably know, every industry is different and every audience has a different maturity level when it comes to responding. Especially when it comes to emails.

In general, you are doing well if you are getting a 60% open rate, 45% reply rate, 20% conversion rate, and 50% closed-won.

However, if you haven’t done your targeting correctly, you can’t hope for these numbers. You may get a lot of replies, but the final result won’t be satisfying.

Typical results (launch)

If you send a template email, you are most likely going to record a 1.5% reply rate. Obviously, this is not good.

However, if you send a well-researched, targeted email that is personalized at the account and contact level, you may record a 20% reply rate.

To make it even better, if you include highly targeted emails and double-tap them with calls (continue the cadence for at least 8 emails and 3 calls), you could reach a fantastic 50% reply rate.

And if you do all of this along with being creative in your messaging, and also use video and/or direct mail, you could achieve a whopping 70% reply rate.

Finally, if you manage to combine everything that was mentioned and you are an industry authority on LinkedIn, you could climb up to the 80% reply rate.

Learn, iterate, repeat

If you want to get better at your campaigns, you will want to do three simple things.

These are learning, iterating, and repeating. Once you get this right for one campaign, the process is more or less the same for all campaigns.

Going through the four steps for the first time may be a bit overwhelming, but once you do all of this in one go, it becomes easier.

Final Thoughts

That’s it! Your perfect lead generating strategy via outbound prospecting. Just follow these four steps and you will achieve tangible results.

Plan, research, message, launch, and repeat! Give first by offering value, find the right prospects and build dynamic lists (do not buy static lists), personalize your outreach to connect with people, and always experiment and have fun.

Good luck!

Marketing Manager @ TaskDrive Actively participating in the digital marketing world more than 5 years. Currently making sure that our website content is up-to-date and our blog is filled with easy and useful sales and marketing guides. Very passionate about dogs, topics on spirituality and Unicorns.

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