How to Build a Profitable Outbound Sales Process


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Getting your outbound sales strategy right is vital to ensure you’re targeting and selling to the right audience, and ultimately boosting revenue. But what can you do to raise your performance on this front?

Article 4 Minutes
How to Build a Profitable Outbound Sales Process

A steady and reliable sales flow is a key factor in the success of most businesses, so it's important to plan how you go about selling your products or services. One of the key decisions you need to make is how to divide your efforts between inbound and outbound sales.

Given the recent growth in inbound marketing - an approach reportedly used by 74% of marketers around the world - some have questioned the relevance of outbound sales techniques.

But research shows that the outbound method still has an important part to play in sales. A survey of 400 professionals found that it's more common for sales to be primarily outbound (55%) than primarily inbound (27%).

Since this approach is clearly not going away anytime soon, it's worth thinking about how you can improve your outbound sales process.

1. Understand your market segments

A fundamental requirement for successful outbound sales is having a well-researched, detailed idea of exactly who you're selling to. What target audience is your product or service designed for, and what do they have to gain from it?

Without a clear picture of your ideal customer, your sales team won't be able to make the right decisions about who to contact and how to modify their pitch accordingly.

A key part of refining and optimizing your audience understanding is market segmentation. Use a wide range of criteria - from essential firmographic or demographic details, to more nuanced psychological and behavioral traits - to divide your target customers into distinct groups. This makes it easier to tailor your sales activities for particular segments and to track the results you're getting from different customer types.

2. Research customer problems and priorities

Another vital step in understanding your customers - and consequently improving your ability to sell to them - is learning about their most common problems and pain points, as well as their future goals and priorities.

This is a fundamental part of outbound sales that everyone in your team should be trained on. It's important not to underestimate just how vital it is for salespeople to understand the person or business they're selling to, and what really matters to them.

After all, your sales efforts should be strongly focused on what the customer needs and how you can provide them with something of genuine value to meet these requirements.

3. Build a team of product experts

Anyone tasked with selling to customers should be given the time and opportunity to ensure they know what they're selling inside-out.

This will put your salespeople in a stronger position to pitch to prospective buyers, since they’ll have the expert knowledge and insights required to give a compelling account of your product and its benefits. Customers won't feel confident making purchases if the salesperson appears to have limited knowledge of what they're selling.

Furthermore, a detailed understanding of your product or service will prove crucial when members of your sales team have to face probing questions from potential buyers. This is particularly relevant in the complex and demanding world of B2B sales, where buying decisions typically involve six to ten people. Salespeople are therefore likely to face a wide range of questions on various subjects from a number of different stakeholders.

4. Choose the right time to scale up

When you start to see some success with your outbound sales and revenue generation is progressing nicely, you might start to think about how you can build on this by scaling up your activities. This is likely to involve either bringing in more staff to target more leads, or planning an expansion into a new market segment or geographical territory.

If scaling up is on your radar, it's crucial to ensure you go about the process in the right way. Getting it wrong could have serious financial consequences for the business if your investment in growth fails to deliver results.

Before expanding, consider whether:

  • Your outbound sales results are consistent and sustainable enough to justify investment in new projects or resources
  • Your sales team are committed to the business and ready to take on the challenges that could come with growth
  • You have the right tools, technologies, and infrastructure in place to support a bigger sales operation
  • You have reliable systems set up to measure results and monitor the ROI you're receiving

5. Use KPIs to measure performance

Using the right KPIs will help you gain a thorough, data-driven view of how your outbound sales process is functioning, where you're getting results and where you can make improvements.

While the particular measures you use will relate to the unique demands and goals of the business, common KPIs that prove relevant to most organizations include:

  • Sales cycle length
  • The percentage of leads your sales team converts into customers
  • Existing customer upsell/cross-sell rates
  • Net promoter score
  • Cost per sales opportunity

Monitoring KPIs to gauge outbound sales performance is essential if you want maximum visibility over this aspect of the business, so you can focus on raising standards to the highest possible level.

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