Outbound Sales: 14 Best Practices for Prospecting, Qualifying, and Closing

Getting through to potential customers can be challenging – especially when you’re going in cold.

To say that first phone call or email has a lot riding on it would be an understatement. It’s the key to opening up new opportunities and building your next high-value customer relationship. That is, if you can turn a good first impression into a signed deal.

Whether your outbound sales strategy revolves around cold calling, cold emailing, social media outreach, or all of the above, there are several best practices you can use to up your win rate.

Today we’ll cover 14 tactics to help you kick butt at every stage of your outbound sales process, from prospecting to qualifying to closing.

14 Best Practices for Perfecting Your Outbound Sales Strategy

We’ve all heard that outbound sales is a numbers game. Well, these best practices make it possible to stack the odds in your favor.

1. Set Tangible Sales Goals Based on Revenue Targets

Success begins with strategy. So, before you start dialing or hit send on your next cold email campaign, consider exactly what you’re trying to achieve.

Define any specific sales goals or KPIs you want to measure. Whether your main objective is to book 20 demos per week or bring in $5,000,000 in sales, your outbound sales goals should be measurable, attainable, and relevant.

Of course, your original strategy doesn’t need to be set in stone. You can and should make adjustments as you go, but it does help to start planning from the beginning.

With this sales goal in mind, you can break down your outbound sales strategy in order to make it a reality. You can also set benchmarks that allow you to monitor your progress over time.

Using a weighted sales pipeline approach, you can set a clear revenue goal and then work backwards to identify what kind of dealflow you need to generate every week, month, or quarter. From that, you an then determine how many outbound prospects you’ll need to make that a reality.

For example, say you want to generate $1,000,000 in new revenue through outbound sales in the next year:

  • Assuming that the average deal size is $50,000
  • Your win rate from proposal is 25%
  • Sales opportunities convert to proposals 50% of the time
  • Cold leads convert into a sales opportunity at a rate of 5%

What does this tell us?

$1 Million = $50,000 * # of Leads * (0.05 * 0.5 * 0.25)

For one, each lead you put into your sales machine should generate about $312.50 in incremental revenue.

But, more importantly, you’ll need 3,200 leads to hit your $1,000,000 goal.

Now, you can parse that goal out and make it your goal to build an outbound sales strategy that targets at least 800 leads every quarter or about 270 leads per month.

2. Build and Verify Your List

Building a strong list of viable prospects is essential to outbound sales because, without it, you wouldn’t have anyone to sell to.

Start by defining your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).

Conduct some preliminary research to decide which organizations you want to sell to, and then put together a list of specific contacts at each business. Include the person’s first and last name, phone number, email address, business name, industry, and job title.

The stronger your list, the higher your odds of success – so it’s important to make sure that your information is accurate and up-to-date. You can try a free tool like Hunter to verify the validity of your contact data.

3. When in Doubt, Refer Down

If you want to come out on top, you need to aim high. In the world of outbound sales, this means making contact with leads who are as high up the food chain as possible.

When searching for contact information at a company you think would love your product or service, try to connect with someone who has actual buying power. Otherwise, it won’t matter how much they want to say yes, because they won’t have the authority to make the decision.

In a situation where you’re not sure who the decision-maker is, reach out to the highest-ranking team member whose contact information you can find. And if your leads have to refer down, that’s actually to your advantage – because when their boss tells them to speak to you, you can bet your prospect is going to pay close attention and be more open to what you have to say.

4. Define Your Ideal Customer

Define Your Ideal Customer

The better you understand your existing customer base, the better you can target new leads That’s why we recommend creating an ideal customer profile (ICP), as well as breaking down your audience into customer personas.

Your ICP should include everything from industry, size, and budget to customer pain points, goals, and long-term requirements.

Defining your ideal customer gives you a clear sense of who you should be selling to, which allows you to focus prospecting and outreach on your most valuable lead sources.

5. Research and Qualify Your Prospects

The effort you put into qualification helps trim the fat by narrowing down your list of viable leads. You can find out a lot about a potential prospect by scoping out their website, blog, and social media profiles (for the business and the individual you’re targeting).

Whatever your research reveals, you can plug it into your lead scoring model (or use a pre-existing system like the BANT framework).

Evaluating your leads by specific criteria based on your ICP ensures you don’t waste time chase dead ends. Plus, your research will often uncover information that can be used for tailoring your pitch and talking points that help build rapport.

6. Segment Your List for Efficiency

Now that you have a list of qualified prospects, you should take the extra step of segmenting them before conducting any outreach.

For instance, cold emailing gives you the power to reach even more potential customers with a single click. But the catch is that cold emailing is only effective when it’s highly relevant and personalized – which is something you can achieve with proper segmenting.

Break your list into buckets based on demographics and other relevant variables so that you can adapt your messaging to specific audience segments.

7. Use a Script – But Only as a Guideline

It’s never a good idea to lean too heavily on your call script. No matter how fool-proof and effective you think it is, you can’t predict exactly how every call will play out. Plus, if you sound overly rehearsed, you’ll turn off potential customers before they even hear your full pitch.

That said, having a loose outline is certainly beneficial. It guarantees you’ll hit each of your main points, keep your facts straight, and have all the answers for whatever questions your prospect comes up with.

Your ideal outbound sales script should include enough details to keep your call on track without forcing you to stick to a rigid structure. A list of bullet points is more practical than a prepared speech.

8. Project Confidence (Yes, Even Over the Phone)

Although your prospect can’t read your body language outside of an in-person meeting, they can still sense your confidence (or lack thereof) in what you say and how you say it. If you don’t sound confident in yourself or what you’re selling, your prospect will have a hard time seeing value in your pitch.

So, as silly as it sounds, your sales calls might go better if you smile while you’re on the phone. You should try a few different tricks to boost your confidence to see what works best for you – whether that’s a pre-meeting pep talk to pump up your energy or a minute of meditation to calm your nerves before dialing.

9. Respect Your Prospect’s Time

Respect Your Prospect’s Time

One of the best ways to make your prospects feel valued is to demonstrate respect for their busy schedules. That means not taking up too much of their time and recognizing that you should call back if they sound rushed.

The easiest way to avoid eating up too much of their day is to ask how much time they have to chat before diving into a pitch. On a discovery or follow-up call, make an effort to stick within the scheduled timeframe for the meeting or call.

Another way to show respect for your prospect? Don’t send too many follow-up emails in a row – instead, give them a reasonable chance to read and respond. Otherwise, the only message you’re sending is that you don’t realize or care that they have other things on their plate.

10. Listen as Much as You Talk

Outbound sales isn’t about forcing prospects to listen to a long-winded, generic sales pitch. It’s about opening up the opportunity to build potential customer relationships.

In order to pull this off, you’ll need to develop an understanding each prospect’s needs so that you can earn their trust, tailor your offering, and deliver real value. Listening to what a lead has to say also gives you an opportunity to address any sales objections that might come up during the conversation or down the road.

11. Offer Value without Overpromising

Don’t overpromise, or you’ll always appear to underdeliver – and that’s not something you can recover from easily. Once you break a prospect’s trust, you’ll spend all your energy trying to mend the relationship rather than moving the deal forward.

It can be a fine line to walk. You want to excite a prospect without exaggerating or getting carried away. Focus on helping them understand the value of your product or service but stick to discussing features that already exist and benefits you know you can provide.

12. Don’t Rush Slow-Burning Sales Opportunities

While you should always be looking for ways to increase your sales velocity, you may need to make an exception for prospects that express genuine interest but aren’t quite ready to commit.

If a prospect seems truly hesitant even after you’ve addressed their objections, it might be time to ease off the pressure. They may need a few days to mull over your offer, confer with other decision-makers, or double-check their budget.

Whatever the case, give them an opportunity to think things through by setting a follow-up meeting to continue the discussion. This also gives you the benefit of coming back fully prepared with a personalized sales pitch.

13. Follow-up Even More Often

the average sale takes at least five follow-ups to close – and most sales reps give up well before that.

This is a big one. Even if you follow up once or twice, it may not be enough to close the deal. Statistically speaking, the only way to make outbound sales work for you is persistence.

That’s because the average sale takes at least five follow-ups to close – and most sales reps give up well before that. Remember that frequent follow-ups pay off.

14. Use a CRM to Manage Prospecting and your Sales Pipeline

The only way to improve your sales process is to measure it consistently.

The easiest way to do this at scale? Using a CRM to track and analyze your sales activities at every step.

By automatically tracking details like where your best leads come from and which email sequences result in sales most often, you can find ways to optimize your outbound sales pipeline and maximize your revenue.

Ready to up your outbound sales game and start closing more deals with less effort? Try Propeller today to see what selling on easy mode is really like.

Take the guesswork out of your outbound sales process with the right technology built for fast-growing companies.

Try Propeller today, free for 14 days. You’ll have all the tools you need to turn your outbound sales process into a finely-tuned machine that converts cold leads into hot sale opportunities--on autopilot!

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