As we’ve said here before, outbound lead generation and inbound lead generation are very different beasts. Though both have their place in a successful lead generation strategy, failing to recognize and accommodate the differences between inbound and outbound will lead to diminished returns and disparagement.
Outbound lead generation in particular provides some unique opportunities and challenges for companies. For instance, the campaign-based nature of outbound lead generation allows it to be more tactically employed around business needs (in a way that inbound cannot). At the same time, costs associated with outbound lead generation create increased pressure to monetize leads delivered.
The bottom line is that outbound lead generation is a highly effective channel when it is well-understood and employed as part of a solid marketing strategy. With that said, here are five tips to achieve better outbound lead generation outcomes.
Targeting is one of the major advantages outbound lead generation has over inbound. Where an inbound lead could be nearly anyone, an outbound lead matches carefully-selected target criteria. If you aren’t fully utilizing the targeting options of your outbound lead vendor, you’re wasting your money.
Outbound lead generation offers the opportunity to find customers who are demographically similar to your best existing customers. Setting strict filters prevents your company from wasting time and money on leads that are obviously unqualified. For example, if your company only works with other B2B companies, it would be useful to remove all leads who work at B2C companies.
2. Be Timely
Timeliness can be a major challenge in outbound lead generation because a company’s response time is largely dependent on their lead provider. Some providers are agile enough to deliver leads more or less as they come in, while others deliver leads in a single batch at the end of the campaign. In the latter case, leads that are generated early in the campaign could be three or more weeks old by the time they are delivered.
The fact is, a lead that’s a matter of days old is of far greater value than a lead that’s a matter of weeks old. As time goes on, your point of affinity fades – information changes, leads move further in the buying process, leads forget they completed the form, and so on.
Ideally, outbound lead generation should be sourced to a company that is capable of delivering in a timely manner. At minimum, a company needs to be aware of the age of their leads and consider this factor during outreach.
3. Be Prepared
Unlike inbound lead generation, you know when outbound leads will be delivered. If you’re unable to handle the leads in an efficient manner, you shouldn’t be running the campaign.
In order to coax the best results from outbound leads, companies need to have planning and content in place before the campaign ever runs. Supporting content is essential to nurturing leads. Additional assets give you a reason to contact leads without being bothersome or intrusive. On the planning side, reps need to understand typical needs and attitudes in each stage of your sales process, allowing them to quickly identify and effectively serve clients in those stages.
4. Customize the Process
Because, in most cases, you’ll be generating fewer, more targeted leads through outbound lead generation, you able to dedicate more time and attention to each lead. Use this newfound time to personalize the process for these leads.
Leads can tell when you’re working from a script. You’d be surprised how much even just a small piece of company-specific information can help you stand out. Don’t stop personalization at the messaging. Timing is another factor that can be tailored to fit individual leads. Do away with hard schedules and nurture clients at their own rate.
5. Measure Everything
The campaign-based nature of outbound lead generation makes it ripe for comparison. It’s easy to create relatively even side-by-side comparisons between assets, personas, campaigns, and even providers.
Companies should be paying attention to a variety of metrics when it comes to lead generation. Obviously, companies should monitor conversion metrics (lead-to-close rate, lead-to-prospect rate, time to close, etc.). It’s also important for companies to collect metrics that compare and develop personas and campaign messaging. Ask yourself questions: Which email versions resonated with our IT manager target group? What time period produced the greatest number of answered calls with marketing directors? What asset generated the most click-throughs on follow-up emails to HR specialists? This information can then be fed back into your campaign planning and targeting.
For more information on constructing a solid inbound/outbound lead generation strategy, take a look at our white paper, “The Savvy Sales Manager’s Guide to Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation“.
Let us know what you think:
- What combination of outbound and inbound lead generation do you employ?
- Which of these tips is most important in your experience?
- How have you optimized outbound lead generation?