Outbound Lead Generation: Complete Guide to Outbound Calls

By Sydney Wess / 03 May 2022

Outbound lead generation is a way to connect with prospective customers that don’t already know about your services. It’s not always a walk in the park, but this guide provides tips and tricks to handle this process successfully.

Lead generation is essential to any sales team. When crafting a lead generation strategy, teams will need to carefully craft strategies dictating how they plan to connect with their intended customers.

Outbound lead generation is one way to approach this process. Through reaching out to potential customers that don’t yet know about your services, you stand the change to greatly increase your customer base without relying on people to find out about your organically. 

This guide will showcase how you can integrate outbound lead gen practices into your own sales process and provide 7 outbound calling strategies to shape your plans. 

Looking to grow your business? Check out our directory of top lead generation companies. 

What is Outbound Lead Generation?

Outbound lead generation is the process of generating new leads for your business by making outbound calls to potential clients. Outbound calls involve an internal teammate either making a warm or cold call to a qualified prospect. 

Lead generation in itself is when companies search for prospective customers who are interested in a product or service. After locating prospects, the most important part of lead generation is convincing leads that your services have value, so they make purchases. 

There are several steps to undertaking this process successfully. Once your lead gen team has called potential customers, they’ll be responsible for the following: 

  • Introducing your company
  • Discussing products and services 
  • Making your value proposition clear
  • Maintaining helpful, empathetic customer service 
  • Encouraging a sale
  • Walking interested customers through next steps in the buying journey

You need a sharp team to succeed in outbound lead generation, but the effort will be well worth it. 

Inbound Lead Gen vs. Outbound Calls

This guide will exclusively cover outbound lead gen, but it’s important to make the distinction between inbound and outbound marketing strategies before diving into best practices.

Inbound Lead Gen: Inbound lead generation relies on digital marketing strategies such as content marketing and search engine optimization to bring more organic traffic to your website

Outbound Lead Gen: Outbound lead generation relies on leveraging marketing strategies that allow you to connect with potential clients. These strategies can be passive, like paid advertising, or active, like cold calling

Both inbound and outbound lead generation are effective methods for small to medium-sized businesses to expand their client bases. In fact, in a recent survey, 84% of businesses that responded agreed that employing both techniques made for the best marketing strategy.

Incorporating outbound calls into a marketing strategy can be daunting for many business owners and marketing teams. 

Even with pre-vetted leads, outbound calls may conjure up images of snake-oil-peddling call centers. However, when properly integrated into a cohesive marketing strategy, outbound calls can spark exponential growth.

Read on for 7 outbound calling strategies that will enable the practice to enhance your overall business goals.

7 Outbound Calling Strategies

There are many ways to undertake outbound calling, but here are 7 outbound calling strategies that you can use to reel in customers:

  1. Conduct outbound cold calls
  2. Leverage outbound warm calls
  3. Learn your industry
  4. Lean into personalization and research before calls
  5. Prepare outbound call scripts
  6. Automate email campaigns
  7. Confirm qualified leads on the phone

Companies that choose to take one or more of these approaches will find themselves working with a smoother lead generation process. 

1. Conduct Outbound Cold Calls

Outbound cold calls are calls made to parties who have expressed no prior knowledge of your business or services. These parties can come from a pre-researched list, though.

Of all the outbound calling strategies, cold calls are typically looked upon least favorably. Still, these calls are essential to a robust marketing approach. In fact, according to a study done by the RAIN Group, over two-thirds of respondents accepted calls from providers they weren’t familiar with in the year preceding the study.

By nature, the other components of your marketing strategy and even your outbound warm calls will be more targeted to particular market segments than your outbound cold calls will be. While this may sound like a negative aspect of cold calling, pursuing these leads allows your business to target as many prospects as possible.

Cold calls can expose your business to clients that may have been overlooked had you used other marketing techniques. 

By proactively and regularly conducting reviews of your lead generation and conversion success via outbound cold calling, you can incorporate these niches into the other parts of your marketing efforts and further expand your client base.

By conducting cold calls, you and your team will fill gaps in your marketing strategy and ensure potential clients are aware of your offerings.

2. Leverage Outbound Warm Calls

In contrast to cold calls, outbound warm calls are made to parties that have previously expressed interest in your company. 

These calls are great ways to ensure that your team’s efforts are spent on pitching to the most likely customers.

Relying heavily on warm calls can lead to downtime when waiting for others to express interest in your business. If this method is used creatively, though, it can enhance the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Warm calls are a great way to expand your business with existing clients. According to the aforementioned RAIN Group study, the most effective sales prospecting tactic is making phone calls to existing customers. 

These customers are certain to have business needs outside of those that you currently meet for them, but may be unaware of the full scope of your offerings and how you can further assist them.

With warm calls, you can supplement your team’s cold calling efforts with targeted, effective correspondence with potential new and existing customers.

3. Learn Your Industry

Outside of execution methods, a great way to better your business’ marketing strategy is to incorporate your accrued knowledge of your industry.

There’s no blanket approach to marketing that will work the same way for every business. As such, knowing how clients in your industry prefer to do business is a great way to make your marketing strategy more agile and effective.

For outbound calls in particular, leveraging the industry-specific knowledge you have will seriously enhance your lead conversion rates. 

Of course, learning your industry means learning more about your customers. While researching your industry area and potential clients, consider investing time in constructing customer profiles or buyer personas to guide your outreach efforts.

You and your team can build pitches that focus on the priorities and challenges faced by your clients on an industry level, thereby selling your offerings more effectively than you would if you took a less tailored approach.

4. Lean Into Personalization and Research Before Calls

Similarly, your business can see greater levels of performance with lead generation and conversion if you build your incorporate personalized client information into your calls.

Depending on the reach of your business, you may already be familiar with some of the potential clients your outbound calling efforts will target. 

However, if there are any gaps in your knowledge, looking to the clients’ websites or LinkedIn pages can be a great way to understand their specific priorities, goals, and areas of focus within their market.

Based on what you learn about your leads, you should be able to conduct simple lead scoring exercises to determine which leads are the best fit for your product or services.

Lead scoring methods for outbound lead generation
Source: The Manifest

Lead scoring requires teams to examine the potential interest level and qualification level. The best leads, of course, will be interested in you product and have the qualities of an ideal customer. 

Not all leads will be perfect, though. This is why it’s a good idea to invest some time in lead scoring as part of your research process — especially if you intend to conduct outbound lead generation. This will ensure that you reach out to your most qualified leads first. 

By working industry- and client-specific knowledge into your outbound marketing strategy, you’ll be employing a tactic called lead nurturing. In doing so, your personalized calling campaigns should yield a greater number of interested leads at a reduced cost to your business.

5. Prepare Outbound Call Scripts

To ensure that your prior knowledge and research is effectively integrated into your team’s outbound marketing efforts, preparing an outbound call script can be useful.

Outbound call scripts don’t need to be overly rigid. However, they should provide a general guide for your team to ensure that they hit on any major talking points and can quickly provide answers for any client questions or concerns.

One specific area to focus on in your scripts is the opening, as this part of the call will provide the first impression of your business and set the tone for the rest of the conversation.

Here are a few aspects that should be included in an outbound call script:

  • Name of the individual and company you’re calling
  • The names of you and your company
  • Concise description of what you’re offering them
  • Why you think they’re a good fit 
  • Your contact information or meeting schedule to continue the conversation

A good outbound call opening should be clear and personalized. The caller should greet the potential client by name and then identify themself using their own full name as well as the company name.

Before proceeding to directly state the reason for calling, the caller should ask a polite, yet unexpected question such as “how have you been?” This question will ensure that the respondent is engaged in the conversation prior to hearing your pitch.

AI research of over 90,000 cold call recordings in the recent past determined that successful outbound calls last twice as long unsuccessful calls. By providing your team with a call script, you’ll be better equipping them to have successful calls.

6. Automate Email Campaigns

While this article has mainly focused on call-based marketing so far, it’s important to understand that digital marketing has created a more dynamic playing field than ever before. In fact, 92% of marketers leverage more than one marketing channel, with 81% also leveraging more than three.

Especially in the context of outbound lead generation, it’s crucial that your business focuses on multiple channels and coordinates them so they complement each other. 

For outbound calling in particular, supplementing your efforts with an automated email campaign can be a game-changing way to shore up your lead generation and conversion performance.

For instance, if you have your team collect email addresses when they make outbound calls, you can use these to populate an automated email template via a service such as MailChimp

how to automate communications for outbound lead generation via MailChimp
Source: Zapier

You can then schedule these emails to send in a pre-determined timeframe as a means of following up on your calls. That way, your follow-up efforts cannot be screened and ignored in the same way as a follow-up call could.

Allowing your outbound email and calling efforts to complement each other is a strategy known as omnichannel marketing

This strategy, which integrates multiple marketing channels to create a cohesive, immersive customer experience, is hugely popular in the retail space right now. However, by using it in the B2B world, you’ll differentiate your marketing approach from that of your competitors and see better outbound lead generation.

7. Confirm Qualified Leads on the Phone

We already discussed lead scoring and lead qualification as part of the research process, but it doesn’t end there. Sales teams should actively be thinking about whether a lead is qualified on their calls too. 

Your research prior to calling a prospect won’t cover everything. 

While your calls should be focused on presenting your business to potential customers in an appealing way, outbound calls also provide a vehicle for you to learn more about these customers. 

As your team takes on outbound marketing, it’s important for you to remember that outbound lead generation is a two-way street — you’re making sure leads are good fits for your product or service, not pushing a sale regardless of the situation.  

When making outbound calls, your team should ask questions about the size, scope, and scale of the prospective client’s business. By gathering this data, you can evaluate if the leads your team is generating are worth pursuing further.

Outside of the context of the individual leads, this data should be reviewed regularly on a high level by you and your team. If you’re seeing a high number of leads from a particular avenue or sub-industry return less-than-stellar results, you’ll need to decide if these sorts of clients are worth pursuing.

Not only will these evaluations save you and your team’s time and effort in pursuing fruitless leads, they can also help you pinpoint weaknesses in your overall marketing strategy that can be improved upon in the future.

Additional reading, ‘How to Properly Follow up with Marketing-Qualified Leads.’

Outbound Lead Generation Widens Your Reach

In sales and marketing, it’s critical to the success of your business that you connect with as many qualified prospects as possible to increase conversions. Outbound lead generation may seem daunting, but it can also be an incredibly effective and personalized way to help customers discover what you have to offer. 

Looking to start outbound processes at your company? Connect with lead generation specialists on The Manifest.

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