The Beginner’s Guide To Outbound Prospecting In Small Business

It’s no surprise that small businesses lack the resources big companies have, especially when it comes to their outbound prospecting. For small business owners who are trying to grow their business, they can only put a finite amount of resources and time into creating efficient sales processes.

The majority of the time this means small business owners are focusing on inbound marketing instead. With outbound marketing having an average of 8 outreach attempts before a business can reach a prospect, it’s easy to understand why outbound prospecting is at the bottom of most owners’ to-do lists.

Although inbound marketing is a great and efficient tactic, that well dries up too. Successful businesses need a little of both in order to really capitalize in growing their customer base.

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Good thing Bookmark has your back. Read on to learn more about how to effectively market to outbound prospects.

But first, for those who don’t know, we should go over what prospecting is.

What is Prospecting?

Outbound Prospecting In Small BusinessWhat exactly is prospecting, and why should you care?

Prospecting is the act of identifying potential customers for your product or service. As such, it’s the first step in any sales process. If you’re not prospecting for customers, you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage.

Just as people have prospected for gold in the past, prospecting in business today helps you sort out your ideal customers from the masses, allowing you to market and sell directly to them.

While it may be tempting to think your ideal customers will come to you, most businesses cannot achieve their goals without some sort of active outbound sales or lead generation process.

Finding leads takes work, time, and an outbound prospecting plan.

Why Use Outbound Prospecting?

sending emails on your laptopOutbound refers to the traditional method of prospecting, where you reach out and make contact with your customer. Examples include cold calling, cold emails, and advertisements.

As mentioned before, inbound prospecting through using valuable content and social media to attract leads is becoming more feasible as businesses transition online.

It can be significantly cheaper (Hubspot estimated that inbound leads cost 61% less on average than outbound), and prospects who show an interest are typically more qualified. Inbound is great in that respect.

However, it’s not without its drawbacks. An inbound strategy usually takes a lot longer to see returns, especially if your business is not already well known.

We are back to sitting and waiting for the ‘gold’ to come to us. Effective inbound prospecting can be a powerful magnet and should definitely form a part of your long-term strategy. Although, for many businesses, it’s not enough on its own.

Unlike inbound prospecting, outbound prospecting can be used at any stage to start finding customers and that’s where its strengths really show.

Here’s what you need to do to start the outbound prospecting process.

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How to Prospect Like a Pro

Prospecting is a process of finding potential customers in order to encourage them to move further along in your sales cycle. The end goal is to turn a person from a cold prospect into a paying customer.

For this to be successful, you will need to develop a sales process to nurture potential prospects. In order to nail this process, you will have to break it out into 4 steps:

  • Research Your Prospects
  • Connect With Your Prospects
  • Close The Sale
  • Measure Your Results

Research Your Prospects

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Identify Your Customer

The fundamental stage in outbound prospecting is to research your customer demographic in order to better understand the motivations behind who purchases your products and services and why. This will help you create a customer segment or persona. You can look to our post on How to Convert Social Media Followers Into Paying Customers under the section, ‘Define Your Audience’ to ask the types of questions you will need to build your persona(s).

For example, if you’re selling something like an accounting SaaS solution, ask yourself segmenting questions like, is my service for freelancers trying to get a hand on their invoicing or is it for Fortune 500 companies looking for detailed reports? If you find your product or service meets both criteria, you can build multiple customer personas.

Having a crystal-clear idea of who will be using your product or service and for what reason will help you understand the specific requirements people, who are likely to give you business, will need to meet.

By having a customer persona, you will have a checklist to refer to when going after prospects. Many companies will comb through social media profiles in order to create matching customer persona lists. Although using social media is a good start, there are better places to find your ideal prospects.

Find Your Customer

Gold prospectors don’t spend their time searching in supermarkets and cinemas. They go where the gold is.

Once you’ve identified your customer, you need to work out where they are. This usually means their digital location; are they managers networking on LinkedIn? Or are they millennials that are hanging out on Instagram?

On a special note, if you’re selling a physical product, this could also mean identifying a physical location for your customer; if you run a catering company focused on providing business lunches, you may want to concentrate your digital advertising to dense urban areas with plenty of offices.

Once you know who to find and where to find them, the last step before connecting with them is to collect their information. This is where searching for contact information on LinkedIn is helpful. Collect their information, create a customer list spreadsheet, and move on to the next step.

Connect With Your Prospects

resonating with your email marketing

Choose the Best Way to Reach Out

The second step to a succinct sales process will involve your business contacting your prospect.

In the world of marketing, there is one method of communication which gives the best return for investment (ROI), and that method is email. Email has a 2 times larger ROI than traditional marketing efforts and a 40 times larger ROI than social media marketing. Therefore, if you are stressed for time, your primary means of building prospects should be through email.

Connecting to your ideal prospects will be the hardest part of the process, as many people won’t even read past your subject line. Moreover, if your email is sent at the wrong time, you can suffer from a decrease in open rates as well.

To combat these difficulties, use subject lines that are entertaining or thought-provoking, sending emails from your company as well as your person, and timing your emails for best receptivity throughout the week.

Something to keep in mind is more and more emails are getting opened later in the day and at night, with increased click-through rates. Be sure to test email sends outside of the traditional 9 am to 5 pm window.

Personalize Your Contact

Many criticize outbound for being impersonal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, your results will be significantly better if you take the time to personalize.

This means more than dropping an [FNAME] tag into your email, though. Whatever form your prospecting takes, tailoring it to the person’s situation and addressing their needs will serve you far better than firing off generic messages that have no relevance.

Don’t believe us? personalized promotional emails have a 6 times higher transaction rate. That’s not all. These emails also experienced a 29 percent higher unique open rate and 41 percent higher unique click rate. You guessed it, that’s means you should start personalizing email copy for your segments and creating landing pages for the products you are promoting. Most email service providers will even have options to personalize their emails based on the receiver. Don’t forget to personalize your call-to-actions as well. Nothing is off-limits.

Close The Sale

When you have successfully researched and connected with a prospect, you will, naturally, want to close the sale.

It’s hard to close a sale solely through email. This is why you will need to ask for a call or to schedule a meeting in person.

The reason it is hard to close a sale through email is because your communication with your prospect is one-directional and not a long-form discussion where you can identify their pain points surrounding your product or service.

Most people buy products or services to alleviate themselves of a painful experience. This will change industry to industry, but the most important thing is to identify the pain they are experiencing. Otherwise, you will focus on selling them on what they stand to gain and that is an less effective selling tactic. They already know what they will gain. Instead, tell your product or service’s story and how it will help your prospect avoid their problems. Writing in this fashion will help you influence more purchase decisions because 70 percent of people purchase to avoid problems; whereas, only 30 percent purchase to gain something.

Measure Your Results and Optimize

Karl Pearson, a famous mathematician, once said, “That which is measured, improves. That which is measured and reported, improves exponentially.”

If you want to see those exponential improvements in your prospecting, you’ll need to measure your results and see what’s working. Do this by tracking successful and unsuccessful sales and determine if there is a correlation between certain segments that are buying more frequently than others. If you find segments like these, be sure to solicit feedback and get their background information. This will help you refine the targeting of your ideal prospect.

Many prospecting tools include detailed analytics, so you can keep an eye on performance, but it’s important to put what you learn into action.

If you see certain subject lines leading to better open rates, use more subject lines that are similar. If you find phone calls at a certain time are more successful, schedule your future calls for a similar time.

The information you learn first-hand from your campaigns with your audience is far more valuable than anything you will learn from other people’s campaigns.

Outbound prospecting can be hard work, but if you take the time to research your ideal customers and set up a relevant campaign, the results are well worth the effort.

Ready to get to work on your next outbound campaign? Make sure you’re using the right software for the job. Reply.io is perfect for email outreach, allowing you to automate your emails while keeping them personal. Try it out today and power up your prospecting.

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