A guide to outbound sales: definition, benefits, techniques

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales professionals use various types of sales and strategies to gain revenue for their team. Two common types of sales are outbound and inbound sales, with outbound sales being an effective method in business-to-business (B2B) sales. Learning about the characteristics of outbound prospecting and how it works can improve your sales skills. In this article, we define outbound sales, list the benefits and methods of this prospecting technique and explain how it compares to inbound sales.

What are outbound sales?

Outbound sales, also known as outbound prospecting, is a sales process during which sales representatives contact potential buyers who haven't previously expressed interest in offering them products or services. A classic example of outbound prospecting is cold calling and emailing. It's a technique in which a salesperson contacts businesses or individuals who haven't previously expressed interest in the goods the sales representative sells. Because many individual consumers consider this form of sales invasive, it's more common for representatives to use outbound prospecting for B2B sales purposes.

Related: Marketing vs. sales: differences, definitions and elements

Benefits of outbound prospecting

When you approach this process correctly, outbound prospecting can be a highly effective sales method that allows you to support your employer and help your team meet monthly targets. Here are a few benefits of implementing outbound prospecting into your sales strategy:

Requires less time to see results

Outbound prospecting requires less preparation than other sales techniques, which makes it great for new companies or sales representatives who are just starting to build their base of clients in the industry. Thanks to being an almost instant way to make connections, it can help generate money quicker than search engine optimisation (SEO) or content marketing.

Related: How to develop an SEO content strategy in 8 steps (and tips)

It's predictable

Outbound prospecting relies on numbers rather than luck. This makes it a predictable sales method, which you can keep improving to obtain your ideal results. In many instances, the effectiveness of outbound efforts depends solely on the number of prospects you contact during the day or month.

Related: Sales technique: definition and types of sales techniques

Helps companies become more competitive

Unlike many other sales methods, outbound prospecting allows companies to choose who they want to approach and work with. By doing enough research and preparing a strong sales pitch, they can generate more high-profile leads. This is especially helpful when you want to concentrate on a specific niche and build expertise in it.

Related: What is a competitive positioning marketing strategy?

Offers advanced automation

When contacting a large number of customers who haven't previously shown any interest in what you're selling, you might use the same welcome message to cold email everyone from your mailing list at the same time. Because this process is rarely personalised, it's possible to automate your outbound processes to a large extent. For example, you may use software tools and online platforms to find leads, source their contact information, send them a welcome email and follow up if they don't reply.

Related: What is workflow automation? (Plus benefits and how-to)

Outbound prospecting techniques

Most organisations that rely on sales use a combination of outbound and inbound sales techniques to attract new customers. This is because each approach has its own advantages. Here are some outbound methods they might use:

Creating an ideal buyer persona

When approaching an outbound project, one of the first things you can do to prepare is creating an ideal buyer persona for each product or service. Through analysing the market, including current challenges that the industry is facing, you can determine what types of companies are likely to be interested in what you're selling. For example, you may decide to target companies with a specific number of employees or businesses that have been operating for at least 10 years.

Related: What is pre-sales? (Definition, activities and skills)

Using market segmentation to target prospects

Market segmentation is a way of dividing a population, or a large target market, into smaller groups. Typically, sales representatives do this based on characteristics like common interests, goals, needs or challenges. Identifying what your prospective buyers have in common is helpful for creating a better pitch that they might find relatable.

Related: How to do market segmentation in 6 easy steps: a guide

Adjusting communication to different time zones

When you want to reach a company's decision-makers, it's helpful to consider their location. This tells you about the time zone in which they work and allows you to choose a better time for sending your cold emails. To increase your chances of attracting their attention, make sure you're sending emails during their workday. Make sure to avoid emailing them on a Monday morning, as they might be busy handling other emails.

Using software tools

When implementing outbound campaigns, sales professionals use a variety of digital tools. This includes customer relationship management (CRM), database management and emailing software. Automating their repetitive tasks allows them to scale their processes and make sure they have time to manually handle more complex challenges, like improving their sales pitches.

Implementing live chats

Live chats are standard elements that many businesses include on their websites to improve their outbound efforts. Live chats are convenient for prospective buyers because they help them get answers quickly. If your team has a small budget and it's not possible for you to hire a 24/7 support team, you may consider a semi-automated chat that can answer simple customer questions outside of standard business hours.

Related: Customer service experience: definition and improvement tips

Asking for referrals

Successful sales professionals split their time between building new and maintaining current relationships with customers. Providing exceptional customer experience during each phase of the transaction builds trust. It also makes it easier to ask for word-of-mouth referrals, which helps attract new customers.

Engaging in visitor tracking

Even if a customer hasn't expressed interest, the fact that they visited a company's website shows that they might be willing to hear more about its products or services. If you're working on new ways to generate leads, you may consider implementing a tool that enables real-time IP tracking. Although this may not provide you with a list of specific companies that visited the website, it gives you a chance to understand their demographics, including the industries in which they work.

Creating sales scripts

If you're responsible for training your team and overseeing their outbound efforts, it's necessary to provide them with helpful resources to use. A useful document you can create is a sales script. In the script, you can explain the process you want them to follow and include examples of welcome emails and follow-ups they can use to cold email prospects.

Related: How to write a sales script (with a template and example)

B2B vs. B2C outbound prospecting

Outbound prospecting can apply to both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales strategies. In B2B scenarios, sales cycles are usually longer. One of the reasons is that closing a deal with another business requires approval from more people. Selling to businesses may also require more follow-up calls or emails. When selling to individual consumers in a B2C model, the transactions that you might close are likely to be smaller and involve products like insurance policies. For this reason, a standard B2C outbound campaign may require that you contact more prospective leads daily than your colleagues handling B2B sales.

Related: Understanding B2B: meaning and examples (with tips)

Outbound vs. inbound sales

In outbound prospecting, it's the sales representative who makes the first step to initiate contact. Typically, they do this by emailing a prospect, calling them or sending a message on social media. This positions the company selling goods on a more active side. With inbound sales, the customer makes the first step. Depending on the company's strategy, customers may express their interest by completing a survey, signing up for a newsletter or contacting the sales team directly, for example, after coming across the company's content online.

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