Outbound sales 101: everything you need to know to get started

Posted January 10, 2019

Audrey weber headshot

By Audrey Weber

Associate Content Editor at Outreach

If you’ve been Googling “how to do outbound sales,” you're in the right place!

Sales is the lifeblood of our revenue organization here at Outreach; sales is the cornerstone of any company and helps bring the world's innovations to market. 

As the leading Sales Engagement Platform, we've also learned from our thousands of customers about what works for them as they implement or expand their outbound sales processes.

So whether you’re just starting out or looking to revamp your outbound sales strategy this year, we’ve got tons of resources to help you hire and train sales reps, choose the right sales tools, and engage your prospects like a pro.

This is your outbound sales crash course!

Hiring SDRs

Hiring and training high-quality sales development representatives is the first order of business for any outbound sales strategy. For this high-turnover position, new hires don’t necessarily need prior outbound sales experience, but they do need a natural hunger and drive.

The three basic steps to a successful SDR hire are:

  1. Have a sales process
  2. Understand successful SDR traits
  3. Develop a scorecard based on your Ideal SDR Profile

Taft Love, Senior Director of Sales Development at SmartRecruiters, has a genius time-saving outbound sales hack: hire researchers. This team, separate from your SDR team, can focus on collecting and inputting the data your sales reps need to succeed, including account info and outbound sales lead generation. You can find researchers within your own company, at local universities, online freelance marketplaces like Upwork, and overseas firms.

Every hour spent doing manual research or data entry is an hour not selling. Hiring a small team of researchers to support your outbound sales efforts frees up your SDRs to focus on talking to prospects and driving revenue for your company.

Onboarding and Ramping

Once you have your team of qualified SDRs, the real journey of transforming the new hire into a next-level talent begins. And that is where you should ditch outdated mindsets about sales onboarding.

Tenbound founder and CEO, David Dulany, recommends four ways that you can speed up and modernize your onboarding process. They are:

  1. Start with persona training instead of product training
  2. Connect your solution to the personas’ goals or pain points
  3. Conduct and record live persona interviews
  4. Document, document, document

If you have an outbound sales process already in place and want to scale it by adding a new wave of SDRs, try Sam Nelson’s Agoge Tribe approach. As an Outreach SDR Leader, Sam formed a team composed of the newest SDRs—“the most moldable and coachable reps”—as the incubator for innovative ideas and strategies. The Agoge team shattered all previous records, achieving 243% of quota and 100% participation!

Your Sales Engagement Platform

Technology is a game changer—but not when you and your competitors are using the same tech the same way. Just using a CRM, for example, involves a lot of manual data entry and task setting and so, while it can work, it isn’t recommended.

A Sales Engagement Platform (SEP) is the most important outbound sales tool you can have in your arsenal (we're biased). This outbound sales solution saves time by automating manual tasks like data entry so your reps stay organized and on top of their tasks without even having to think about it. A SEP helps you to build, scale, and sustain your outbound sales strategy while driving more revenue directly to your company.   

For every sales rep who has had to manually keep track of their accounts in Salesforce (or even Excel...*shudder*), outbound sales automation with an SEP is the answer to their prayers.

Cold Email Basics

Much of outbound sales involves reaching out, engaging, and qualifying prospects. Phone and email are the two major channels SDRs leverage to make contact and build relationships with prospects. Choosing the right channel and sending the right message at the right time will ensure your success at outbound sales.

MindTickle co-founder, Mohit Garg, recommends five simple steps for the best outbound sales emails:

  1. Research your prospect.
  2. Map the prospect’s individual KPIs to their organization’s business goals.
  3. Go beyond the persona.
  4. Use a powerful hook to connect.   
  5. Practice superior empathy.

Just any type of messaging won’t get responses, however. Patricia McLaren, co-founder and Head of Customer Operations at CopyShoppe.co advises that you simplify your message and segment your recipients for more accurate targeting.

Finally, whether you’re building outbound sales sequences from scratch or updating the ones you have in the new year (highly recommended), Nick Hart has nine steps to creating kick-ass outbound sales sequences!

Getting Your Cold Calls Right

For many companies, cold calling is essential to growth. Most customer interactions happen over the phone, and calling is still the best way to catch your prospects’ attention and have meaningful conversations—if you’re prepared, that is. Hardly anyone is a natural-born cold caller (if you know one, never let them go) but you can train your reps to be persistent, communicate more effectively, and, as a result, book more meetings.

Author and veteran sales trainer, Rex Biberston, prescribes the following cold calling for outbound sales techniques:

  1. Embrace rejection, don’t run from it.
  2. Focus on immediate learning, NOT immediate sales.
  3. Leverage technology to alleviate the tedious monotony.
  4. Don’t waste anyone’s time, including your own.
  5. Follow your scripts like an actor, NOT like a robot.
  6. Live at the intersection of quality & quantity.

You also want to make sure that you’re leveraging your SEP to ensure you’re connecting with the right prospects at the right time. Outreach, for example, can help you go after your most engaged prospects first, quickly engage inbound leads with high priority call tasks, call your prospects on their time, find the best time of the day to call

Additional Outbound Sales Resources

For more outbound sales methods, here are some additional resources to reinforce the basics you’ve learned here:


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