Guest Post By: Dustin Rusbarsky
Digital Marketing and Sales: Inbound vs Outbound Sales
In today’s digital marketing world full of a seemingly endless array of communication options, the going trend revolves mostly around inbound marketing strategies. However, this means there is now less competition in the outbound sales approach, which revolves around the strategy of approaching your prospects, rather than waiting for them to come to you.
Outbound sales revolves mostly around sending direct messages or emails as well as making direct phone calls to key members in the prospect organization.
A Special Twist in the Outbound Process
When most people think of “outbound sales,” the first thing that comes to mind is cold calling.
While there is certainly a lot of research that supports the efficacy of cold calling, we at Colibri Digital Marketing would like to offer some insight that we feel adapts the cold calling strategy to the modern day landscape.
Very few people would disagree that if there were a way to “warm up” a cold call, then that would improve the chances that the prospect will be receptive to your communication.
The way to do this is by having formulating an outbound sales strategy, rather than just a series of haphazard calls and emails.
As you read through this article, you’ll begin to see how the power of a well developed and carefully targeted outbound strategy can land you more leads and earn you more business.
First Steps in the Outbound Sales Process
The outbound sales journey usually begins with a flash of insight that pulls the sales contractor in the presumed direction of success.
If you’re a salesperson, you need to constantly be on the lookout for companies, verticals, industries, and business models that will resonate with your particular product or service.
For Colibri Digital Marketing — a top San Francisco digital marketing agency — this flash of insight will usually entail three essential elements:
- Business’ financial ability (>$1M to $5M annual, >10% marketing budget allocation)
- Business’ strong penchant for digital marketing
- Business’ direct sales model and relatively short cycle
Organization is the Key to a Quality Pipeline
After you’ve identified some general areas that you want to target, the next step is to compile a list of pre-qualified prospects using the above elements. You can track these with a spreadsheet or a full-blown CRM. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you use, as long as you’re able to easily keep track of your prospects and update where each of them are in the sales process.
Finding the Right Person
The next step is to determine the correct person(s) to reach out to for each of the items on your list. If no direct contact exists, we can attempt to reach them by an office admin or company directory. Sometimes, even a quick Google search using boolean operators can be enough to find the right person, whether they have a LinkedIn profile or even if their name shows up in an article or press release. For example, “ABC COMPANY” AND (CMO OR VP Marketing) is one potential way to find out who the correct person is at the company you’re targeting.
Don’t Dis’ the Gatekeeper
We’ve found, however, that oftentimes the best way of getting insider information about a company, including who does what, is to simply be bold and polite. A strong and confident phone presence is key to making people feel comfortable enough to let their guard down and give you information they might not always give to people who sound like they’re overly sales-ey. It is for this reason that we need to redefine the importance of a company’s office admin or other gatekeeper. These people traditionally get a bad reputation, but in reality they can be extraordinarily helpful in navigating your way to a sales meeting.
Lengthen the Sales Process and Speed Up the Sale
Note that a longer sales process is usually beneficial, as it helps appeal to the prospects human psychological needs for safety, trust, credibility, and familiarity. The idea is not to come out of the gates offering to sell them digital marketing solutions. In the first few touchpoint interactions, our goal is to merely present value that’s easy to say yes to (i.e. complimentary strategy session). Once we secure the initial meeting, our goal is to simply provide value and then politely interest them in a more formalized discovery call in which we will specifically offer our services as a potential solution to their challenges.
Don’t Just Go In Swinging
It is important not to blindly reach out to a pre-qualified prospect without first spending a few moments to consider a targeted approach that will be effective for each business. On the other side of the coin, we want to make sure we’re not wasting our time with prospects that are not interested in our offer to help. The way we attempt to reduce time wastage is to start off the sales cycle in a way that has little time investment on our part.
The initial goal is to make contact and plant the seed in the prospect’s mind that CDM exists and is available to potentially help solve their problems. In this point of contact, usually an email or a social media message, it is imperative that we demonstrate the following things:
- We know how your business works
- We understand the pain points associated with your business
- And we’ve taken the time to personalize the contact
If applicable, we might point to how we have been able to help similar companies or solve similar problems. Also, it is always good to share initial value, even if it’s pointing them to news, articles, or other resources that might be relevant to them.
No Follow Up, No Sale!
Our first point-of-contact should be lite and friendly. Consider sending a “Like” or “Follow” on their social media profile. Maybe send them a quick message or a LinkedIn note. Emails are good too but tend to easily be disregarded as spam.
Should the first contact be ignored, we can wait 3-4 days and try again. In the event of no response, the next step in the sales journey should be a quick call.
It is usually at this point where we are very likely to forget the details of our brief research into the prospect. We need to rely on a CRM to help us smoothly keep track of what point in the journey each of our prospects is on.
Also note that the follow-up call does not necessarily have to be to the correct person. We can make the call to someone who might be able to refer us to the right person or, even better, make an introduction on our behalf. This person can either be above or below the correct person in terms of seniority in the company.
I suggest a series of calls, as many as 7-10 until we’re able to get in touch with the correct person and offer to give them insights on how to dramatically improve their existing digital marketing campaign.
Don’t Sell on the First Date!
This initial call should typically last no more than 10 minutes and should not give too much away before we get a chance to book our complimentary digital marketing strategy session.
During the strategy session, we will be focused on qualifying the client by revisiting the three essential elements above and also by determining if we can help them solve their challenges with our services. It should also be an opportunity to build trust and credibility for when we go into the more formalized discovery call. In some instances, the initial strategy call may be enough rapport and information to move forward with an agreement of services.
At least for now, this is usually the point at which the sales representative has successfully performed their role in the sales journey and the sales closure and project engagement will be done by the team.
If You Think They’re SUPER Qualified Prospects…
In some especially qualified cases, we may want to consider sending prospects a mixed media presentation in order to help us stand out from the multitude of calls and emails they’re getting. This can be in the form of a video-based “digital marketing audit” or a simple and elegant physical mailer. In this could be a jump drive that has a brief presentation of what we believe we can do for that company.
Another idea would be to create a survey funnel that is attractive and very tantalizing to answer. Since this is a unique ask, it would likely bypass their psychological threat mechanism and allow them to feel like they are doing something worthwhile with very minimal investment of time. The survey could either be digital or even just a verbal series of questions that are designed to keep the prospect engaged and also allow us to delve into their pain points. There could also be a contest-based incentive to inspire people to engage with us for a few moments.
Finally, we could also create a “Is Your Marketing Making You Money” infographic that we can send out, directly in the body of the email. The infographic will have a call-to-action at the bottom to have them reach out to CDM. If they don’t, the infographic could be a great ice-breaker for conversation and will allow us to replace the tired line, “…I’m just following up…” I hate that line.
Bringing Everything Together
We hope this article has been helpful for you to get a better idea of how the outbound sales process works. We also hope we have been able to inspire you with some creative thinking that you can use to adapt this information to your own product or service offering.
Remember that outbound sales is not fast money. It will take time, patience, diligence, and a lot of experimentation before you begin to see the results of your hard work. If you want help with outbound sales or if you’re curious about other digital marketing strategies, please reach out for a free strategy session with Colibri Digital Marketing and let’s see how we can grow your business.
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