Lead Generation
6 min read

How Outbound Lead Generation Can Improve Your Business

Do you need help with outbound lead generation? If so, then it's worth understanding the advantages that this powerful B2B sales strategy can provide. Find out what outbound lead generation is, how it differs from inbound marketing, and how to get the most out of your outbound strategies in this comprehensive guide.
Kevin Warner
Founder & CEO
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In times past, businesses would use a variety of "outbound" sales tactics to engage with prospects and win sales. Door-to-door visits, cold calls, and direct mail campaigns are just a few examples of this traditional approach. 

Nowadays, of course, most companies interact with their consumers over the Internet. For this reason, many marketers feel that the days of outbound marketing are gone, and that "inbound" techniques rule the day. However, the truth is that outbound marketing hasn't gone the way of the dinosaurs yet — not by a long shot! In fact, outbound lead generation can play a major role in growing your brand.

Let's discuss what outbound lead generation is, how it differs from inbound marketing, and how investing in it will improve your business dramatically.

What is Outbound Lead Generation?

One definition of outbound lead generation is "a way to engage with potential customers who might not know about your product. It works via sales representatives sending out communications to potential leads." Another definition puts it like this:

"Outbound marketing refers to any kind of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience... Examples include more traditional forms of marketing and advertising such as TV commercials, radio ads, print advertisements... [and] outbound sales calls."

The point is, outbound lead generation is all about proactively engaging with prospects that may be interested in your product, or have already demonstrated their interest in some way. In general, outbound leads can be divided into two basic categories:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs). These are consumers who have shown a measure of interest in your product. For example, they may have visited your website, liked one of your social media posts, or downloaded some free material you offered.
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs). SQLs are leads that have shown so much interest that the marketing team hands them over to a sales rep, so that the rep can (hopefully) close the sale.

Outbound Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

Now that we've discussed the basics of outbound marketing, the question remains: How is it different from inbound marketing?

Interestingly, inbound marketing didn't really exist as such until the late 90's/early 00's. In 1999, marketing expert Seth Godin coined the phrase "permission marketing." The basic idea behind the term is that when consumers willingly give out information to a company (e.g., their contact info), it shows they have at least a measure of interest in the product or service the company is offering. In theory, those leads will tend to have higher engagement and conversion rates than outbound leads.

Over the next few years, as the Internet became more popular and pervasive, the idea of "permission marketing" evolved into the concept of "inbound marketing." HubSpot, one of the leading proponents of inbound marketing, defines it this way:

"Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them... Inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have."

Common forms of inbound marketing today include search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, use of chat-bots, and so forth.

One reason why many marketers today are gung-ho for inbound marketing is their belief that outbound marketing is more of a nuisance to consumers than anything else. In fact, outbound lead generation is often referred to as "interruption lead generation."

However, while it's true that good consumer-brand relationships in inbound marketing are built on trust, the fact remains that developing such trust takes time — time that your business may not have. In contrast, outbound marketing features a much more active approach to lead generation. Even though it's "old school," it can still work wonders when properly implemented.

In summary, here are the basic differences between inbound and outbound marketing:

  • Inbound marketing is when you wait for prospects to come to you. It is built on trust, and providing value to consumers without "pushing" your product on them. It often has higher engagement and conversion rates than outbound marketing, but takes a lot longer to implement.
  • Outbound marketing is when you actively reach out to your prospects. Your basic objective is to show them why your product is valuable to them, and why they should buy from your company. Outbound marketing comes with a lot of rejections, but it is also faster to implement than an inbound strategy, and often yields exceptional results.

The Advantages of Outbound Lead Generation

As you can no doubt see from the preceding section, there is a place for both inbound and outbound lead generation in your overall marketing plan. In fact, one survey of business leaders asked which strategy (inbound or outbound) is more effective in capturing leads. Guess what? Outbound marketing received the same percentage of "votes" as inbound marketing (32% each)!

Yes, outbound marketing is a form of "interruption" for customers — but sometimes interruption is a good thing! An outbound ad can bring your product to a prospect's attention, make them aware of the solution you offer, and start them on the path to purchasing from your business. With that in mind, let's focus on some of the specific advantages that outbound marketing can offer your business.

  • It helps you target your ideal customer. In theory, inbound lead generation will attract your "ideal customers" to your business. However, in practice you may also attract prospects that aren't really interested in your product, and won't yield a high return for your investment. In contrast, with outbound lead generation you always know exactly who you're targeting with your messaging. Basically, you won't be wasting your time on "dead-end leads."
  • It enables you to shorten your sales cycle. The reality is that even the best inbound marketing strategy will take some time to pay off — perhaps up to a year! If you can't afford to wait that long to see results, then outbound marketing may be the perfect remedy. If implemented properly, you'll be able to get some quick wins and "hold down the fort" during slower times of the year.
  • It allows you to attract a new market. Many inbound marketing strategies revolve around attracting certain niche demographics to your business. For example, many companies bid on specific SEO keywords that come with minimal competition, and that only certain prospects will search for. While there certainly is value in maintaining such a narrow focus, you also want to reach the widest possible audience with your messaging. Outbound marketing tactics (such as direct mail campaigns or TV advertising) can help you to do just that.
  • It empowers you to build brand awareness quickly. Your prospects can't buy from your business if they don't know it exists in the first place. That's why it's so important to generate brand awareness among your consumer base — and outbound marketing is a great way to accomplish this goal. Whether it's cold calling, advertising on a billboard, or distributing a flyer through the mail, you'll be able to let as many people as possible know about your company and the products/services you offer.
  • It helps you take a more personalized approach to sales. Inbound marketing can be highly efficient, but it also tends to be automated in nature. As a result, much of the "human touch" is lost during the buyer's journey. In contrast, outbound sales calls (whether face to face, over the phone, or via a video conferencing platform) are highly personalized. Your reps are able to adapt their messaging to meet the specific needs and concerns of the prospect, and have an in-depth conversation that will motivate the consumer to progress to the next stage of the sales funnel.
  • It will provide more experience for your sales team. Feedback from your sales team should always play a role in the development and refining of your marketing strategies, whether inbound or outbound. However, having your reps regularly engage in outbound marketing will provide them with more experience in dealing with consumers — especially consumers in the early stages of the sales funnel (e.g., "awareness" and "evaluation"). As a result, their insights will be more well-rounded, and they'll individually be better equipped to handle interactions with a wide range of customers.

Upgrade Your B2B Sales with Outbound

While outbound lead generation is typically easier to implement than an inbound strategy, it still has a lot of moving parts. It takes time, planning, and perseverance to get everything right — especially if your company is in the B2B sector. 

Whether you need assistance with lead generation itself, or are exploring ways to implement new outbound strategies, our team of sales and marketing experts at Leadium are here to assist. We are a leader in digital-first outbound sales, and we offer a broad spectrum of solutions that will help your team to "hit the ground running" when it comes to outbound techniques. At the end of the day, we can help you take your B2B sales to the next level — and seamlessly integrate inbound and outbound tactics into one effective approach. To learn more, reach out to us today.

Outbound lead generation isn't dead — it just needs to be reimagined and properly implemented.