B2B outbound sales prospecting is essential to business growth but vastly different from traditional marketing.
Outbound sales are highly proactive — it’s all about how to find new B2B customers (and just the right new customers!) and convince them to work with you.
It can seem intimidating at first, but with a little finesse and the right tools, outbound marketing can quickly become your favorite way to do business.
What is Outbound Sales?
Outbound B2B sales involve prospecting or identifying and contacting people that fit your ideal customer profile.
Unlike inbound marketing, where new customers come to you in reaction to an ad or promotional campaign, your business is responsible for finding new B2B customers and contacting them through a cold email or phone call.
The most successful companies typically use a mix of both inbound marketing and outbound sales in their digital marketing.
Outbound marketing can be especially important to B2B startups and other new businesses that need to generate revenue and build a customer base quickly without having an established footprint in the market.
Differences Between Inbound vs. Outbound Sales
With inbound sales and referral B2B sales, a potential customer is reaching out to your business because they already learned — and liked — something about your brand.
This could be due to hearing about a colleague’s experience, reading a review of your company in a magazine, or seeing an ad on the subway.
Inbound and referral leads typically enter the conversation with some expectations about, or perceptions of, your business. They might not want to convert right away, but they’re already warmed up.
In outbound marketing, however, you’re working with completely cold new customers. A cold lead is one who has not actively reached out to your business and may not even be familiar with what you do.
Cold leads may not be looking for a new business solution or even realize they have a problem you can solve. This means that education and relationship building is vital to successful outbound B2B sales to potential customers.
While your motivation may be to land a sale and grow your business, it’s important to keep outbound communications focused on the prospect and the value you can bring to them.
During the course of your conversations with an outbound prospect, you’ll need to:
- Validate and address the prospect’s pain points
- Create a sense of connection
- Back up your statements with social proof
- Work toward building a positive response rather than expecting an immediate ‘yes’
- Focus on overcoming objections
Ultimately, success in digital marketing begins before your sales team ever makes first contact with a lead. It all starts with having a solid prospecting plan and outbound sales strategy in place, plus the tech stack to back it up.
HubSpot Research found 72% of companies with less than 50 new opps per month didn’t achieve their revenue goals, compared to 15% with 51 to 100 new opps and just 4% for companies with 101 to 200 new opps.
How to Make First Contact in Outbound Sales
Before you can contact cold potential customers, you’ve got to find them.
In the past, outbound B2B sales professionals often obtained new customers through trade associations, professional networking organizations, LinkedIn with proper content marketing, or even going into businesses on foot.
While these methods all still work, outbound prospecting is a lot easier with the help of a dedicated tool like Growbots.
When you use a sales prospecting tool, you don’t have to hunt for leads — they’re delivered to you!
Regardless of your approach, it’s important to start with a clear picture of who your ideal customer is.
This makes the sales process of prospecting much more efficient. Think about your ideal customer in regard to the following:
- Company size
- Company revenue
- Public vs. private
- Geographic location
- Tech stack
Use these data points to develop a list of potential competitors and possible keywords that describe your ideal client’s business.
Nine in 10 companies use two or more lead enrichment tools to learn more about prospects. Growbots solves that by providing rich profiles for 180M+ business contacts.
Outbound Sales expert at Growbots
You can then plug these keywords into LinkedIn or build a targeted profile in your prospecting tool. Save the companies and individuals that intersect with attributes on your ideal client profile and reach out, either through cold calling or cold emailing.
Cold Calling B2B Sales Prospects
Many people associate outbound B2B sales with cold calling.
It has long been a favorite tactic of sales teams in terms of outbound marketing because the calls can deliver a fast response. This is, of course, dependent on your prospect answering the phone — which is becoming less and less common.
63% of Sales Leaders believe that virtual meetings with potential clients are just as or more effective than in-person meetings. With 67% of Americans screening their calls, relying on cold calling alone may no longer be enough for successful outbound marketing.
Pairing (or replacing) your cold calling activity with cold emails is an increasingly effective way to find new B2B customers.
Cold Emails for Outbound Sales
While conversations with potential customers will involve phone or video calls at some point, cold emailing is a highly efficient way to make initial outbound contact.
Email automation makes it possible for one person to reach far more potential clients in a day via email than by phone. Plus, prospects can respond at a time that’s convenient for them.
Email is nearly 40x more effective than either Facebook or Twitter at acquiring new B2B customers. For the cold email process to work, though, you need a well-developed message that will encourage the recipient to reply.
Your first message can determine whether or not a prospect wants to engage in conversation. Avoid words that can get your email flagged as SPAM or common sales phrases that customers hate. “World-class professionals” that, “think outside the box,” for example!
Cold emails should have a clear ask, such as offering additional information if they reply. Eventually, this ask will become a request to meet.
Looking for cold email examples?
If you’re feeling stumped by writing cold B2B sales emails, check out these sites for inspiration:
- Good Sales Emails lets you browse cold communications sent by real companies
- Hubspot has cold email templates for common use cases
Growbots also put together a list of effective cold email opening lines that help you establish a connection with your prospects.
How to Run Effective Sales Meetings From Day One
Once your cold prospect has responded and agreed to a meeting, you can officially consider them a warm lead. The first meeting you have with this lead will not be a hard sell but a discovery session.
The discovery goes two ways — it’s a chance for the lead to get more information about your business and for you to decide if they’re qualified to become a customer.
Make sales meetings as convenient as possible for your new potential clients. By reducing any friction in the process of scheduling and attending a meeting, you increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Scheduling an Effective B2B Sales Meeting
An effective and productive sales meeting starts with smooth scheduling. Don’t get caught up in a long chain of calendar negotiations with your lead.
Instead, know your prospect’s time zone and make time available in your schedule to speak with them during their normal business hours. Offer this availability up front with a scheduling service like Calendly or ScheduleOnce.
Both services are universal — if you use Outlook and your prospect uses Gmail, Calendly and ScheduleOnce will send you each the right kind of calendar invite automatically. You can also build scheduling links that are customized with a client’s name and brand, and send automated pre-call reminders to keep everyone aligned.
Preparing for Your First Sales Meeting with a Cold Lead
While your first few sales calls may involve a lot of preparation, you’ll soon develop a process that keeps your meetings flowing smoothly.
Aim to create a series of repeatable steps and actions that carry you through every sales call.
This makes it easier to measure effectiveness, see when people are dropping out of the conversation, and evaluate your strategy as necessary.
Things you should do before your first sales meeting with a new prospect
Conduct background research
Thanks to the ideal customer profile you created before prospecting, you should have a broad sense of your lead’s industry, needs, and motivations.
Before each call, dig deeper and familiarize yourself with the specifics around their business history and professional experience.
Check out what vendors and services they or their competitors are currently using. Read up on the state of their industry and note any pain points your prospect might be experiencing.
Develop a call outline
Use your research to establish a few topics you’d like to discuss on the call.
Be sure to include topics that lead back to your product or service and loop in any needs that the prospect may have mentioned during your email exchanges.
You don’t need to follow a set script for the call, but it’s a good idea to have a structure outlined when going into the meeting.
It’s easy to get stuck without a clear outline. There’s no need to read from a script, but knowing ahead of time which questions you want answers to is vital to running an effective sales meeting.
Share an agenda
Turn the call outline into a meeting agenda, and share it with your prospect.
Don’t send them the questions you plan to ask, though. Instead, provide a topic overview and ask if there’s anything they’d like to add.
You can also ask what they’d like to get out of the call. This question can provide you with additional insight and influence your pitch.
Remember to treat each touchpoint as another building block in your new business relationship!
Prepare a pitch deck
Pitch decks are an important visual aid during sales meetings.
Don’t read your pitch deck verbatim. Rather, use it as a tool to illustrate the points you’re expressing throughout the conversation.
Once you have several sales meetings under your belt, you’ll have a refined pitch deck template you can use on future calls.
Customize this template to align with your prospect’s brand identity — it makes a strong visual impact.
How to Structure Your First Sales Meeting With a Cold Lead
Once you have your lead on a call, keep the conversation fully focused on them.
Start your call with a broad view, discussing the prospect’s short- and long-term goals, getting an overview of any current solutions, and digging deeper into some potential pain points.
As the call progresses, begin to move your questions toward more targeted topics, such as the prospect’s budget, resources, and ideal timeline to reach a solution.
It’s important to let the call flow naturally as an organic conversation, not a prepared presentation. By rattling off all your questions in a row, you may deprive your prospect of the chance to offer up valuable information.
By taking the time to exercise active listening with your lead, you may discover additional pain points that you can solve.
What is active listening?
- Listening closely to what the prospect is saying.
- Reiterating key points to indicate you understand what they are feeling.
- Verbally confirming that you understand them correctly.
- Asking new follow-up questions to gain more clarity around key points.
Remember that your final goal in the digital marketing process is not to convert every lead into a customer — just the ones that are truly a great fit.
During the course of your sales meetings, you may find that some prospects aren’t your ideal customer after all, and that’s okay.
What Should a New Pitch Deck Include?
While your first sales call will be primarily a conversation, a well-crafted pitch deck can seal the deal.
Pitch decks are a great way to give the lead background on your company and share accomplishments, accolades, and statistics. Keep your deck graphics easy to read, and try to tell a narrative story throughout.
It can be useful to create different versions of a pitch deck based on who you’re speaking to.
Are you talking to a leader of a small business or the finance head of a large company? Focus on the numbers — how your product or service can improve their bottom line.
Is your lead the top executive or director-level at a large corporation? Go big and focus on high-level content marketing strategy instead of minute details.
Does the prospect work as a mid-level manager? Hone in on how your product or service will impact their team’s day-to-day efficiency and operations.
To make an even better impression, create two versions of any prospect-specific pitch deck.
Keep one light on text and use this during your meeting. Go deeper into written explanations and details on the second copy, and send this deck to the lead after your call.
This makes it easy for your prospect to share the information with other decision-makers at their company — remember, it’s all about removing any friction on the road to “yes!”
What to Expect from Your First Outbound Sales Call
If you’re used to communicating with inbound leads, your first outbound call is going to feel different. Even though your lead is now “warm” from emails, it’s unlikely that they’re going to sign on the dotted line right away.
But when it comes to inbound vs. outbound B2B sales calls, the latter gives you more control over the sales process.
In an outbound call, you get to set the tone of the conversation and bring solutions to the table. By anticipating and presenting a prospect’s needs up front, you can impress them with your understanding and begin building a positive relationship.
If your lead seems hesitant to engage in the conversation, ask them about it. They may bring up common sales objections due to a bad experience on sales calls in the past or express an incorrect assumption about your business.
You can overcome these objections by patiently listening and providing data that illustrates why your company or solution is different. Many times, this additional information will be enough to ease their initial fears.
You won’t be able to overcome every objection, unfortunately.
Sometimes your prospects will have a concrete concern tied to something like regulations or budget — one that means they aren’t the right fit right now.
Receiving a “no” doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Keep lines of communication open through nurturing email sequences and occasional check-ins. This contact can grow your relationship so that when the prospect wants a change, they think of you first.
Tips for overcoming objections:
- Encourage the prospect to share any concerns
- Be patient and empathetic
- Don’t push your lead for an immediate decision
- Schedule time to follow up
- Offer to share some additional information
- Back up your statements with social proof
- Keep lines of communication open
How Should You Hold Outbound Sales Calls?
Outbound sales calls can happen over the phone, as a video call, or as an in-person meeting. Video calls are ideal when face-to-face interaction isn’t possible — you can easily present your pitch deck and establish a rapport with the lead.
Some enterprise videoconferencing systems require meeting guests to download special apps or plugins for the call to work.
This can add friction to the meeting process. Instead, use universal meeting tools like Zoom or Google Meet. Both of these platforms allow attendees to access the call through a web browser; no account or software is needed.
Better yet, let your prospect choose the service they prefer.
Digital marketing techniques provide you with scheduling software like Calendly that lets you provide the prospect with several phone and video call options. As soon as your contact picks their preferred platform, the scheduler will generate a meeting link.
Leverage convenient, cloud-based tools to run more effective sales meetings and never lose track of detail. Keep a record of your outbound sales call by taking notes in a program like Coda, Notion, or Google Docs. These browser-based apps allow you to access your notes from any device. You can also opt to record your call and have it automatically transcribed by a service like Chorus or Otter.
How Should You Hold Outbound Sales Calls?
Your CRM of choice should allow you to track every interaction with a lead, move them between stages, and schedule future follow-ups with those new customers.
This way, you’re always reaching out at just the right time.
Growbots makes it ultra-easy to keep track of your cold email leads, communications, and statuses all in one place.
Our all-in-one Outbound Sales Platform is as simple as sending an email — but gives you far more insights at your fingertips. From the Growbots dashboard, you can:
- Access 180M+ contacts, including social profiles, emails, and phone numbers
- Procure new customers that fit your ideal customer profile
- Build customized email sequences that help you automatically build a warm relationship
- Track cold emails to new leads and monitor open rates
- Log past and future communications
- Keep track of leads’ status from first contact to close
- Easily filter out the warm responses to your cold emails
- Growbots also has something that you won’t find in a traditional CRM: strategy consultants!
We pair each Growbots user with a dedicated expert to help them maximize their workflow and build cold email sequences that win new customers. It makes outbound sales fast, easy, and enjoyable. Check it out for yourself with a complimentary strategy consultation — we’d love to show you around.