Outbound Sales Best Practices to Convert More Leads
What is an outbound sales process?
It's simple to think of sales reps making sales calls as an outbound sales process. However, a real outbound process is far more than calling a prospect from a target audience list.
In the past, the most challenging part of the sales process for sales agents was closing the deal, but today the biggest challenge is reaching the prospect.
Does this mean that cold-calling prospects is no longer viable? When 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone, outbound calls should still be a pillar of your outbound sales strategy.
Phone interactions may lead to successful outcomes, but first, your prospect needs to answer. That's where cold email and an omnichannel outbound approach come into play. Email nurture and SMS drip marketing campaigns can effectively engage prospects, increasing the likelihood that they will be receptive to a phone conversation later.
If your outbound team isn't contacting enough of your qualified leads, your outbound marketing approach may need an update.
These four practical sales tips will get your team moving in the right direction and closing more sales:
- Increase Your Contact Rate with More Attempts
- Warm Up Your Leads with Appointment Setting Specialists or SDRs
- Give Your Sales Team the Info They Need
- Use Robust Call Scripts that Address Objections
1. Increase Your Contact Rate
Increasing your contact rate is the only way to hit the numbers that will statistically increase your close rate. The best way to increase your contact rate is to increase your dials, emails, texts, and other outbound methods.
How many calls does it take to reach a prospect?
Most data suggest an average of 8 contact attempts to reach a prospect. That means that reaching 100 leads may require 800 calls. Gartner further suggests that It takes 18 dials to connect with a buyer.
Research shows that up to 80% of outbound call center agents give up after the third failed contact attempt. This is why calling efficiency is critical, and contact rates have become such an important metric. You should also think about how integrated or out-of-the-box solutions can help your outbound sales reps use email, text, or other ways to soft touch communicate with a potential customer.
Outbound call center agents that lose interest if they haven't closed after the 3rd call are missing out on a significant amount of business. In effect, they are squandering good leads you have paid for and driving up the cost of acquisition.
How many emails do I need to send to engage a prospect?
The number of emails required to engage a prospect or lead varies based on several factors, such as the target audience, the content of the emails, and the overall lead nurturing strategy. There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
Typically, starting with a series of 5-7 touchpoints is recommended, spread out over several weeks. This allows you to introduce yourself and your business, provide value to the lead through educational content, and build trust and credibility. From there, the frequency of your drip email marketing campaign depends on the lead's level of engagement and interest. Your email open rate is a good metric to watch in regard to over or under-sending.
It's important to remember that effective lead nurturing is not about sending as many emails as possible but rather about sending the right emails at the right time, with the right message, and in a personalized and relevant way to the lead. The key is to balance being persistent enough to maintain their attention while not overwhelming them with too much information or contact attempts in your email drip campaigns.
How many sales texts do I need to send to reach a lead?
Similar to email, the number of SMS texts required to engage a lead can vary depending on several factors. Some leads may respond to a single text, while others may require multiple touchpoints.
Generally, you should start with 2-3 texts spaced out over several days. The first text should be an introduction and an invitation to connect. The second and third texts can provide additional value and build rapport. It's essential to keep the texts short and to the point, focusing on the lead's specific needs and interests.
After the initial series of texts, you can gauge the lead's level of engagement and interest and adjust your follow-up strategy accordingly. Some leads may respond positively and be ready to move forward in the sales process, while others may need more time and nurturing.
It's also worth noting that texting can be a highly effective way to engage leads as long as it's done professionally and appropriately. However, it's important to respect the lead's preferences and boundaries and to always seek their consent before texting them. Learn more about managing your texting program with SMS marketing software.
2. Integrate marketing activity to warm up your leads
Warm your leads with drip email marketing, texting, or direct mail. Our research shows that only 13–20% of internet leads are ready to buy when submitting an inbound inquiry. If the first few calls fail to produce a sale, structured and integrated marketing campaign activity helps maintain interest and prevent leads from going cold.
Full integration of marketing activity helps refine lead scoring by determining the level of interest. This doesn't sound easy, but I promise it's easier than it sounds. There are many solutions to help you automate email touchpoints through the sales life cycle.
In addition, these solutions help your outbound efforts and can even prioritize leads based on a lead score. Lead scores are calculated based on potential customers opening emails, having a phone conversation, and replying to a text, which help your outbound sales team understand which of their leads have the highest probability of turning into a sale. Some solutions can even automate how leads are assigned to sales reps based on these scores and ensure they go to a better sales rep based on skill if they are stuck with a less productive sales rep.
3. Make sure outbound call center agents have the entire contact history
Equip your agent in your outbound sales call center with each prospective customer's contact history, including inbound inquiries, sales calls, marketing activity, responses to marketing, and any previous order history or customer service contact.
With this profile of each lead at their fingertips, your outbound sales agents maximize the ability to close by having the detailed information to fully explore and understand the needs of each prospect on every call.
Lead management software is the best way to track leads and sales activity and manage automated emails and texts. It can also provide sales scripts, leave prerecorded voicemails, and initiate email and SMS nurture campaigns based on your sales cadence.
4. Use Robust Sales Scripts that Address Objections
Best practices for outbound sales call centers should include a cold calling script for your new or junior outbound sales team. Cold call scripts are an easy-to-reference guide that can help them learn about your products while practicing your sales pitch. Outbound sales agents without the right tools can find themselves caught in awkward silence, at a loss for words, or repeating themselves repeatedly.
It is also beneficial if your outbound sales call center uses Whisper Coaching, Call Monitoring, and Barge software. These features allow your managers to help your junior salespeople and even let them take over a call if necessary, saving your leads from being wasted by a botched sales pitch.
Different prospects may need to be handled differently. Or the call direction may change based on responses to questions. Cold call scripts provided to your outbound call center sales agents can focus the call and keep the dialogue moving toward the sale.
Think of your call script as a working document. Address shortcomings or objections in weekly meetings. Update your cold call scripts regularly to counter objections and ensure that your agents are helpful, communicating clearly, and not wasting their time or the lead's time.
Cold calling is still an essential sales tool, but the rules have changed. It takes more calls to reach a prospect, so each prospect requires more contact attempts to achieve a viable contact rate. Use marketing and sales alignment to warm up your leads.
Sales agents need to be well informed and know as much as possible about where the prospect is in the buyer's journey. Finally, with a robust and evolving call script, and the right customer approach, your agents will be ready to close when they make contact.