If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: your leads are the lifeblood of your business. No matter how many times you actually hear it though, it doesn’t actually make the work of generating leads any easier.
If you’re struggling to generate high-quality leads, you’re not alone. It’s one of the toughest aspects of marketing and sales for most businesses.
But in 2023, you can kick your lead gen struggles to the proverbial curb with the help of this complete guide to outbound lead generation.
Below, we cover everything from the latest trends and today’s top challenges to the lead gen strategies and tools you need to overcome them.
Table of Contents
- What is outbound lead generation?
- The biggest challenges businesses face in outbound lead generation
- Key elements of the outbound lead generation process
- Proven outbound lead generation strategies
- How to generate more outbound leads: the tools you need
What is outbound lead generation?
Outbound lead generation is the process of taking a proactive approach to discovering potential customers for your business. It’s all about initiating contact with your target audience through various channels like outbound calls, emails, texts, and targeted ads. By putting your business out there and actively engaging with prospects, you can spark further interest in your products or services, qualify and convert leads into customers, and ultimately fuel your business’s growth.
Inbound vs. outbound lead generation
When it comes to lead gen, there are two main flavors: outbound and inbound. While outbound lead generation leans on a proactive approach, inbound focuses on using content and offers to attract people to your business. In short, during outbound efforts, you reach out to leads; during inbound, you take leads in.
These two practices typically require different tones. That is, outbound lead generation looks a lot closer to sales, where you’re delivering a pitch, usually directly to decision-makers. Inbound, on the other, is about providing support and (more subtly) building the case for needing your product or services.
Ultimately, though, both approaches have the same goal: to drive more leads to your business.
Outbound lead generation trends
Before we dive into the best outbound lead generation strategies, let’s take a look at the trends currently affecting the industry—and shaping those strategies for getting leads.
Entering the age of AI and automation
Artificial intelligence has been on the rise for a few years. But recently, it’s quickly evolved from buzzword to luxury to must-have as the technology and the solutions it powers have rapidly improved.
Now, there’s no shortage of options available for today’s outbound lead generation teams. From intelligent virtual agents that can streamline lead gen outreach to AI sales tools that enhance activities like lead scoring, reporting, and follow-up, it’s officially the age of AI.
Omnichannel is key
Today’s customers no longer use one single channel to research products or services and make purchases. In fact, not only do more than 90% of consumers rely on multiple channels, 90% of them expect interactions to be consistent across all channels.
That’s why businesses can no longer just communicate over multiple channels. They must make sure that all channels are working in tandem as part of an omnichannel approach. And that lead generation and sales agents have easy access to customer data that’s always up-to-update. Without it, teams will be unable to keep up with what’s now a basic customer expectation.
Customers expect personalization
Omnichannel isn’t the only thing customers expect. They want organizations that are there in their channels of choice and that can deliver experiences personalized for their particular needs:
- 71% of consumers expect personalization in the sales process and 76% express frustration when they don’t find it.
- Using personalization also delivers sustained value that can help lower acquisition costs over time: 76% of consumers are more likely to consider purchasing from personalizing brands, 78% are more likely to make repeat purchases, and 78% are more likely to refer friends and families.
The biggest challenges businesses face in outbound lead generation
Heightened customer expectations are far from the only potential headwind that outbound lead generators face today. They’re also running into these widespread challenges.
Low contact rates
When every customer has their own mix of preferred channels and call blocking and flagging issues are disrupting successes in outbound calling, getting ahold of prospects can be downright difficult. Falling contact rates are at the root of a host of problems for lead generators, including high acquisition costs, lower revenue, and lagging ROI and are currently one of the leading challenges for call centers in general.
Low lead quality
Generating high-quality leads has long been a consistent issue for many organizations. And just like low contact rates, lacking lead quality will drive up costs and cut into your successes. The outbound lead generation strategies we cover below
Slow lead follow-up
Even when teams are able to find quality leads, many teams lack the agility they need to qualify that lead or convert it to a sale. In the age of digital marketing, online leads have a short lifespan. Poor lead follow-up is often an issue not of know-how but of technology.
Key elements of the outbound lead generation process
The outbound lead generation process needs to take into account customer habits and expectations. And they should incorporate principles and technology to help overcome common hurdles. If you’re looking to build a winning outbound lead generation approach, you should be sure that it incorporates these essential aspects:
- Clear target audience: Without an understanding of who they’re actually targeting, lead generation efforts are doomed to failure. Develop detailed customer personas to understand their habits, pain points, and more.
- Speed to lead: Lead response time is a critical metric for outbound lead generation. Choose technology that enables prioritization of the warmest leads to respond and reach out as quickly as possible—and before it’s too late.
- Smart cadences: Bombarding prospects with calls, texts, and emails is simply not a viable strategy. Like the leads themselves, you need to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to contact attempts. Use your experience (and your outbound software) to develop optimized cadences that capitalize on the times your prospects are most likely to respond.
- Well-written sales scripts: Once you’re in touch with a potential customer, reps need to be able to deliver the right message. Build the best messaging you can with these sales script best practices.
- Effective measurement and reporting: Tracking your team’s performance throughout the lead generation process is essential to making improvements.
Proven outbound lead generation strategies
Bringing together those aspects of an effective lead generation process gives you a foundation to build from. But the outbound strategies below are where you actually bring it all together and try to reach leads. To generate both the quality and quantity of leads you need, incorporate a mix of the following approaches.
Despite the challenges created by call blocking and flagging, outbound calling remains a hugely effective (and cost-effective) strategy for lead generation.
With the help of predictive dialing software, organizations are able to streamline the dialing process and reach more leads in less time. And with the right software, you can get a variety of tools that integrate with your existing CRM as well as allow you to fine-tune and optimize the way you reach leads on the phone.
For instance, Convoso’s dialer software features a tracking tool and smart caller ID reputation management solution that help you ensure that more of your calls get through to customers with a clean caller ID. Plus, customizable dashboards and powerful performance analytics help you monitor, understand, and improve agent performance.
Text messages are an increasingly popular and effective way to generate outbound leads. And it’s no wonder when they offer open rates of up to 98%.
Not every lead prefers talking on the phone, especially younger consumers that are sure to comprise more and more of your target audience. Like email, outbound SMS campaigns offer customers the convenience of a message that can be opened, considered, and responded to at any time, unlike a time-sensitive phone call.
SMS offers its own conveniences to businesses, too. Your lead gen team can reach prospects and customers en masse with bulk texts. Or it can get personalized with one-on-one, two-way texting. In either case, lead gen and sales text messages can be tailored to their intended audience—and even composed with the help of an intelligent virtual agent (IVA) solution.
Although their open rates don’t quite compare with text messages, email marketing remains a highly efficient means of contacting and generating leads. Triggered emails automatically sent in response to a user’s action can be timed, much like calls and texts, to catch leads at just the right time.
As with text messaging, email is especially productive as an outbound lead generation strategy when it can be tailored to carefully segmented groups of leads. Whether they’re based on source, age, demographics, proximity to sale, or other factors—the more precise, the better.
Automated omnichannel outreach
While each of these channels can be highly effective for lead generation on its own, no single channel can be considered a replacement for another. Instead, an omnichannel approach that enables each channel to be in communication with each other is best.
Better still is an omnichannel approach that is powered in large part by automation. With automated workflows, you can customize your approach with behavior-based rules to send perfectly timed sequences of text messages, emails, calls, or other methods of communicating with your prospects. The upshot is being able to generate more leads and sales without all of the manual guesswork of knowing when and how to reach out to someone.
One of the best strategies for generating B2B leads in particular, social selling leverages your business’s social media channels to connect with prospects, develop relationships with them, and convert them into leads and customers.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform for generating leads in an array of industries. By sharing content you’ve created (perhaps as part of an inbound lead gen campaign), you can expand your reach and engage with potential customers. Ads and sponsored content can even include lead gen forms, making opting-in a simple process for your leads.
How to generate more outbound leads: The tools you need
The strategies above can take your business far. But generating outbound leads is often as much a matter of technology as it is of strategy. Combining the proven strategies we’ve shared here with these outbound lead generation tools can help ensure your success and your ability to scale your operation.
According to one study, sales reps spend just 28% of their time focused on selling. Clearly, for the good of their businesses, they need some tasks taken off their plates.
That’s why to supercharge your business’s efficiency and effectively achieve scale, automation is key. There’s simply no better way to do more with the talent you already have than by eliminating time-consuming processes and freeing up managers and reps to focus more on the work of actually generating leads and making sales.
From the workflow automation software that drives omnichannel cadences as we covered above, to platforms that can automatically disposition calls and eliminate administrative work between customer interactions, there are plenty of automation tools out there to help. And they should be a priority of procurement decision-makers everywhere.
Powerful dialer software
For any lead gen team that focuses heavily on outbound dialing, there’s no bigger technology decision to make than choosing a dialer. Your dialer software is the foundation of your lead gen program. And at too many organizations, low-cost and unreliable dialers are working against them instead of for them.
Evaluate your current dialer and ensure that it can help you deliver on everything we’ve covered here, as well as provide:
- Multiple dialing modes: No two campaigns are the same. Your dialer should offer you the flexibility of multiple dialing modes so that you can take the right approach, whether that’s predictive dialing and power dialing for penetrating large lists at speed, or progressive and preview dialing for when agents need more time to review each case. No matter which mode you need, your dialer should minimize downtime and maximize contact rates.
- Robust reporting software: Keep tabs on the performance of your outreach and your agents with reporting software that handles high volumes of lead gen activities. Look for reporting tools that can deliver automated historical reports as well as granular real-time insights that help inform decisions made on the fly and in the moment.
- Caller ID reputation management: We already covered the widespread problem caused by call blocking and flagging. Be sure your outreach software has a built-in response with a caller ID reputation management offering that helps you monitor and manage the health of your DIDs.
- Compliance support: Lead generation is only ever as effective as it is compliant. Partner with a dialer technology provider that can deliver on all required aspects of performance and compliance, and with a proven track record of developing compliance solutions in response to ever-changing regulations.
Drive Growth for Your Business With Better Outbound Lead Generation
Ready to upgrade your outbound lead generation efforts? Start with the keystone of any successful lead gen campaign: the right outbound contact center platform. The Convoso dialer system integrates with your CRM system, offers productivity-boosting automation, and delivers unmatched speed to lead. See the difference for yourself when you compare Convoso side-by-side with your existing solution.
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