To the uninitiated, outbound sales may look an uphill battle, especially when one’s mindset is shaped by stereotypical portrayals of cold calling. It’s easy to see why: it takes no less than 18 calls to connect with a buyer and only 23.9% of sales emails are opened. With data like this, can you really blame people for not believing in this inefficient process? Outbound sales is not about numbers: it’s all about committing yourself to the buyer and being relevant to their business. If you’re truly intent on improving your outbound sales strategy, here are 5 ways to turn things around and get better almost instantly. Ready?
1. Set your targeting to “specific”
By specific, I mean define who your ideal customer is. When you’re just starting out, it seems like a good idea to cast a wide net, but why focus on prospects that are less likely to close? Mapping out a template doesn’t mean all of your customers have to fit perfectly, but it does help you connect those who are generally interested in your solution (those that fit best with it) and as such, worth your time and attention.
Image credit: Gunderson Direct
To begin, you need to establish some basic criteria to go by, such as the company size, industry, geographic location... From there, make it as detailed as possible to include information like web traffic, technology stack, correlated technologies, relevant position holders (decision-makers and influencers), and other factors that might determine the way(s) buyers could use your product. If you can base the profile on actual users, all the better - try to replicate their buyer’s journey and improve on it.
2. Know what’s important to your potential buyers
With a wide variety of decision makers involved in B2B purchase decisions, the emphasis on relevant and targeted information has become even greater. You need to understand the dynamics behind the decision-making process of the people you’re dealing with. So much information is available today that your potential clients are well prepared before you even reach out to them. They can easily look up someone in their networks who has a past experience with your product or service and place a much higher value on those words than that of your sales rep.
Stay alert and pay attention to “trigger events” which can be the momentum you need and key drivers of change. This includes spending time where the relevant position holders are routinely engaged and spending their time, identifying core topics of their discussions and understanding their current challenges and pain points. As I said before, there’s so much information available – but it goes both ways. There’s as much info about your prospects as much there is about you (if not even more) and you can learn a great deal from your prospect’s digital footprint. Start utilizing business intelligence to gain a better understanding of your prospects to be 100% relevant.
3. Leverage social media
When I say leverage social media, be sure I don’t mean start selling on Facebook. I don’t know anyone that likes dealing with the stereotypical salesman. If you make a habit of connecting to prospects with a hard sell approach - you won’t last long. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes: do you answer cold calls and emails? Put the social back in social media and use the information you obtain to your advantage: research decision-makers and companies and implement this into your sales pitch. This is about professional social networking aimed at getting you and your prospects closer. Find an organic way in, either based on similar interests, mutual acquaintances, or genuine and engaging conversation about the content they’ve shared or shown interest in. Social media can be leveraged to form a relationship from networking and just like your “regular”, non-social media prospect, it needs to be nurtured.
Image credit: Qubole
4. Build long-term trust and credibility
With as much as 75% of B2B buyers using social media as a part of their purchase decisions, it’s clear you can’t stay on the sidelines. Yet, you simply can’t approach potential customers with a hackneyed line like “tell me about your business” line or any variation of it - that’s a guaranteed deal killer right there. Instead, use the opportunity to become truly knowledgeable about your prospects and deliver useful and relevant information in an advisory role. Becoming a respected and trusted advisor with credibility and knowledge of every facet of your prospect, their industry, and needs is a necessity these days. In doing so, you gain the ability to identify a problem or a challenge before even the prospects themselves realize it’s there. In addition, you don’t have to pretend to know everything (you probably can’t anyway). Be honest and earn your prospect’s trust so you can create a long-lasting relationship that will go far beyond the initial sale.
5. Be flexible
Having a streamlined and uniform strategy that works for you is great, but be wary of falling into “typical” sell trap. Sales isn’t one-size-fits-all proposition - how your prospects want to do business is solely up to them. So you need to adjust your approach accordingly. Figuring out the right time for a conversation, the right topic of that conversation, and all the small details and specific items depend on the company (or decision-maker) in question. Maybe all they’re looking for is a more wallet-friendly solution. Maybe they need better functionality or a more encompassing solution. Every potential customer is different in its own way so you have to be prepared to adapt to them. Use the available data to recognize their needs and highlight how you can provide value. Just don’t be a pushover, for reasons obvious by now.
Improving outbound sales strategy one step at a time
The single best thing you can do for your outbound sales strategy is to concentrate on creating and maintaining relationships with your prospects and leads. There’s no money-back guarantee here: you won’t make a sale out of every relationship you build. It’s a time-intensive process, but if you show your potential clients respect by doing your homework and try to meet their needs and demands, not only will you get a much better understanding of your market, you will make the connections that can ultimately grow your business.