An effective outbound prospecting strategy can help you start more conversations with qualified prospects and, ultimately, close more new deals and grow your revenue.
But, where do you start?
In this guide, I’m going to show you the benefits of building an outbound prospecting strategy, the best practices to improve your prospecting, and the strategies and tactics you can put to use today to start building your prospect list and reaching out to more qualified leads.
Let’s dive in.
Outbound prospecting is the name given to the entire process you follow to build a list of qualified, relevant potential clients with pain points that you can solve with your product or service.
Once your outbound prospecting process is finished, you’ll have a list of leads and be able to reach out to them and start a conversation.
Inbound prospecting has its place. If you can invest in a long-term inbound marketing strategy that involves SEO and brand building on social media, you’ll have a steady stream of qualified prospects landing on your website and discovering how you can help them.
However, it takes time to build a brand and generate predictable organic traffic that converts.
Outbound prospecting flips the script and lets you proactively reach out to prospects that you know will be interested in what you’re selling. You can start a conversation, pitch your product or service, and see if your prospect wants to move forward.
If you can build a reliable outbound prospecting process you’ll be able to quickly fill your pipeline with qualified leads and close new deals regularly.
1. Targeting is Critical to Success
The most important part of your entire outbound prospecting process is your targeting.
The more refined your prospect list, the more relevant your prospects will be, and the more relevant your outreach will be.
Before you start any large-scale prospecting campaign, consider interviewing some of your key customers to learn more about their business.
Find out exactly what pain points you solve for them, learn about the solutions they tried before landing on your product/service, and ask them about granular topics like the tech they use to run their website and how your product/service interacts with those tools.
You can then reverse engineer this information to build a better, more focused prospect list.
When you reach out to your potential prospects, they’ll instantly see that what you’re offering is going to help them in their business and be happy to have a conversation with you.
2. Personalization Helps You Stand Out
Personalization needs to be at the core of your outbound prospecting process.
Even at the list-building stage, you need to start thinking of angles you can use to approach your prospects and stand out.
Why is that? Well, the people you’re reaching out to are busy. Some key decision-makers receive multiple cold pitches per day and you need to differentiate yourself from those pitches. The best way to do that is by personalizing your outreach.
As you build your list, consider things like:
If your prospect has been in the news recently
Have they raised a round of funding
What software they use to run their business
Whether they’re based in the same location or have mutual connections to you
You can then mention your research when you reach out, which is going to instantly show you’ve put in real effort and care about winning their business.
3. Focus on the Benefits for Your Prospects
One of the best things you can do for your outbound prospecting efforts is to make it all about your prospects.
When adding someone to your prospect list, consider: what’s in it for them?
There’s no shortcut to this process, and it’s going to require you to apply critical thinking to each person you add to your list.
However, when done successfully, it’s going to ensure every person you reach out to is fully qualified for what you have to offer.
When you send a cold email campaign, it’ll improve your response rate, and keep your sales team focused on having conversations with prospects who are truly interested in what they have to say.
1. Identify Prospects Using B2B Database Tools
A simple but powerful way to build a qualified prospect list is to use tools designed for outbound prospecting, like BuiltWith, UpLead, or ZoomInfo.
These platforms collect contact data on B2B decision-makers and give you a way to filter through it to identify the best prospects for your business.
For example, in ZoomInfo, you can use the filters to search for prospects based on criteria like:
Recent media mentions
You can then save your prospects, export them into a spreadsheet, and organize your contacts before reaching out with a personalized cold email campaign.
2. Send a Personalized Cold Email to Qualified Prospects
One of the best outbound prospecting channels to start conversations with qualified leads is cold email.
It’s highly personalized, yet scalable
You can target anyone with an email address
You can cut through the noise of social media or paid advertising
Firstly, you’ll need a cold email tool like QuickMail. This is going to let you build automated email campaigns that include multiple follow-up emails that send to prospects that don’t reply to your first email after a delay.
Once you have your outbound prospecting list ready, you’ll upload them into QuickMail and ensure each prospect’s details are mapped correctly from your spreadsheet. This is key because it’s going to let you personalize your emails.
Next, write your email templates. In this part, you’ll include attributes that are unique and personalized to each recipient. This is going to help your cold emails stand out in your prospect’s inboxes and boost your reply rate.
All you need to do is add your attribute wherever you want a unique snippet of text to be added. For example, in the cold email template below the email will include the recipient’s first name, a completely custom opening line (that you included in your prospect list), and add the inbox signature from whichever inbox you use to send the email.
If someone doesn’t reply to your first outbound prospecting email, don’t worry – you can send a friendly follow-up email after two to five days to remind them of your value proposition and increase reply rates.
Add your chosen delay, write out your next follow-up, and it’ll be automatically sent. Anyone who replies will be removed, so you won’t need to worry about forgetting to remove prospects who replied from your campaign.
Cold email is one of the most effective ways to build relationships with cold prospects.
Our data on cold email shows that most good campaigns receive 10-20% reply rates. That means if you send just 100 cold emails, you’ll be having conversations with at least 10 qualified prospects.
You also have complete control over who you reach out to and your cold email copy, which means everyone who responds is going to perfectly match your ideal customer.
When you find a cold email structure and strategy that works for you, you can start to scale up your volume and you’ll be growing your pipeline on autopilot.
3. Run LinkedIn Outreach and Social Selling Campaigns
LinkedIn is an excellent outbound prospecting platform. There are thousands of B2B decision-makers on the platform, and there are tools to help you search for and reach out to those prospects built into LinkedIn.
Firstly, you’ll need a Sales Navigator account, which upgrades your LinkedIn experience and adds more powerful search filters and outbound prospecting tools.
Next, you’ll need to run a search for your prospects.
Sales Navigator lets you run granular searches based on criteria like:
Recent changes at a company
There are 40+ filters you can use, so identify prospects based on almost any criteria you need to.
Source: Sales Navigator on G2
You can then save your Sales Navigator searches to use again in the future, and save prospects you identify to a list inside LinkedIn to easily track their activity.
Once you have a list of qualified prospects, you can start to reach out to them.
There are a few popular LinkedIn outbound prospecting tactics that people use to build rapport and start conversations on the platform.
Firstly, you can run automated profile viewing and connection campaigns using a LinkedIn automation tool. This can help your profile get noticed, and expand your network in an automated way.
In addition to that, some outreach automation tools like PhantomBuster will let you build multi-step LinkedIn messaging campaigns. You’ll need to specify the profile URLs for the people you want to reach out to, then build your message sequence (like you would with cold email).
Once it’s ready, you can set your outreach tool to automatically message your prospects and if the message resonates, it won’t be long before you get replies.
The main challenge on LinkedIn is getting your message noticed. Most decision-makers check it less than they check their email inbox, so you’re at a slight disadvantage.
To get around this, you can use paid InMail messages.
InMail’s are effectively sponsored messages that you pay for, however, you have a certain amount included in your Sales Navigator subscription.
These are bumped to the top of someone’s LinkedIn inbox, and they’ll also receive an email notification that you’ve messaged them on LinkedIn. That means you can leverage InMail to reach out to the prospects you believe are the best fit for your business, and increase your chances of receiving a response.
The major benefit of using LinkedIn as part of your outbound prospecting process is that the platform lets you demonstrate lots of social proof in the form of your profile, which can help you build trust with prospects even if you’ve never talked to them before.
4. Use Personalized Cold Calls
Cold calls are a highly effective outbound prospecting channel. They’re not a fit for every single business but work best if you have a high average contract value.
They work well because they give you a real, one-to-one conversation with a decision maker and they know you’re reaching out personally to them.
To get started, most B2B data providers like ZoomInfo or UpLead will let you download a list of verified direct dials.
You can add these phone numbers to a power dialer in a platform like Aircall (which also has a direct integration with QuickMail), which will automatically call through your list of phone numbers.
If someone doesn’t pick up, you can skip to voicemail, leave a pre-planned message, then automatically dial the next prospect on your list as soon as you hang up.
Cold calls also work well as an additional touchpoint in a cold outreach campaign.
Even if your prospect hasn’t responded to your cold email campaign, there’s a high chance they’ll recognize your name from their inbox. When you reach out with a cold call, you can break the ice by letting them know that you’ve already reached out and wanted to verify if they’re interested or not.
You can add a cold call step in your QuickMail cold email campaigns. You can leave notes on the step, so whether it’s you or another team member who will handle the call, the interaction you have with prospects will be consistent.
If you’re using Aircall and have connected it with QuickMail, you can even make your cold call directly from your campaign in QuickMail.
Any notes you make from the call will be automatically synced to your prospect record between your two accounts, so you’ll always know how your calls went and can keep track of interested prospects in your pipeline.
Cold calling as an outbound prospecting channel can be intimidating at first, but if you’ve qualified your prospect list and are confident that everyone you’re reaching out to has a high chance of being interested in the topic that you’re reaching out about, there’s no need to worry about.
If you’re going to start an outbound prospecting campaign you can’t run everything manually. There are too many manual tasks involved, and using tools is going to save you time and money.
Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite outbound prospecting tools that we mentioned in this article, which can all help you improve your workflow:
QuickMail: Cold email software that’s going to help you automate your email sending process with highly personalized emails that get replies. There are also deliverability tools built into the platform, so your emails will always land in the primary inbox.
UpLead: A helpful platform to quickly build B2B prospect lists with people matching the criteria you care about. You can export lists into a spreadsheet and use those in any other sales tool.
Pipedrive: All outbound prospecting teams need a CRM. Pipedrive is an affordable and powerful option. Connect it with your tools to track prospects as they move through the buying process.
Aircall: Aircall is an excellent option for running cold call campaigns. You upload a list of phone numbers and can automatically dial through the list with the power dialer.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator: This is a must-have for anyone using LinkedIn in their outbound prospecting workflow. It gives you more powerful search features, higher message-sending limits, and more.
Zapier: This is a must-have automation tool for sales teams. It lets you connect any two sales tools together without code and build custom workflows. For example, you could connect QuickMail with your team's Slack account and get notifications in a channel whenever someone replies to your cold email campaign.
Tools are never a shortcut to great targeting or personalization, but they can help you speed up key parts of your workflow that can be repetitive and time-consuming.
Building an outbound prospecting that lets you and your team have a predictable way to identify and reach out to qualified prospects is going to be a game changer for your company.
You’ll be able to reach out to and start conversations with qualified decision-makers, show them how you can help solve their current problems and turn them into paying clients.
The outbound prospecting strategies we’ve outlined in this article are an excellent way to start. Over time, you can adjust them to match what works for your business and continue to improve your results.
When you’re ready to start running outbound prospecting campaigns using cold email, you can start your 14-day free trial of QuickMail.