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Outbound sales leads require a different sales approach

Thursday, November 28, 2013 Back

Like most companies these days, you have probably focused on generating inbound sales leads using online marketing strategies (Google AdWords, SEO, etc).  Outbound lead generation is an important sales strategy that creates additional sales opportunities with people who haven’t looked for you yet or haven’t found you online. 

Having a long term outbound lead generation strategy allows you to proactively build a larger sales pipeline.  But it’s important to understand how outbound leads differ from inbound and adapt your sales approach accordingly.

Inbound Sales Leads
Inbound sales leads are actively looking for your products or services.  They have done some research and understand how your business can help them.  They may already have budget approval and a set timeframe to purchase before contacting you, and are several steps along in the sales pipeline by the time you speak with them.  

Outbound sales leads
Outbound sales leads may not have been actively looking for you yet.  They are usually not pre-informed about your business and they don’t yet know exactly how your products or services can help them.  Outbound sales leads enter the sales pipeline right at the beginning.

Tips for selling to outbound sales leads

SALES CYCLE

Outbound leads enter your sales pipeline at the very beginning so you have to take them through the steps that inbound leads have already been through by the time they come to you. You will need to spend time nurturing and relationship building and understand they may take longer to convert, depending on the urgency of their need.  So don’t limit your opportunities by meeting only with people who have an immediate need.  The bigger your sales pipeline, the more opportunities you have to convert over time.  

BEFORE MEETING

Have an understanding of the prospect’s markets, clients and the areas your products or services can benefit them.  Inbound sales leads don’t expect you to know much about them (they called you!), but to make an effective sales presentation to an outbound lead you must understand their business needs.

AT THE MEETING

Make the focus of the first meeting about rapport-building, fact-finding, educating and positioning.  Your objective should be to get the prospect to understand how your business can assist them.  Ask questions to uncover their needs and then show them how your solution can help.

AFTER THE MEETING

After the initial meeting your offer or proposal should be based around the specific needs that you uncovered during the meeting, and how your products or services meet these needs.  

FOLLOW-UP

During follow up conversations, gain an understanding of how far through the decision making process they are.  For some outbound leads you will offer them the solution they have been waiting for and they will be quick to act, but others may need to get budget approval, wait for the next budget or wait until an existing contract expires.  Once you understand how long it will take for them to make a decision, you can schedule consistent follow-up so that you are there when they are ready to act.

NURTURE

If leads go quiet, add them to your marketing lists so they receive something from you at least every 3 months.  They will often come back to buy from you several months or even years later, if you have been diligent with your follow up.  Once a qualified prospect is in your sales funnel, keep them there until they buy, or ask to be removed from your marketing list.  If they don’t do one of these two things, they are still an interested prospect!

CONVERSION

Obviously you’ll have a different conversion rate for outbound and inbound leads. But it is important to also understand how your outbound conversion rates vary for different industries, locations, qualification criteria and types of offers.  You will then know which outbound approach yields the highest conversion or highest ROI.  Also have an understanding of those prospects that don’t convert.  If you adapted your outbound strategy or qualification criteria, could those least likely to convert be eliminated?  Or do these types of prospects require a different approach or offer?

Sales leads generated from outbound calls are different to inbound enquiries.  Think of it as the difference between “order taking” and “selling”. If you use the same approach and sales techniques with both, you will miss many great sales opportunities.  By making sure your sales team are armed with the right techniques you will secure these sales for yourself and not leave them unsold only to buy from one of your competitors.

Richard Forrest

Managing Director

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