The Predictable Revenue Guide To Outbound Prospecting (aka “Spears” aka “Cold Calling 2.0”)

Outbound Articles & Resources

If you already have a working outbound team and are looking for more advanced articles, skip the beginner stuff and scroll down to the bottom for a collection of 15-20 outbound articles.

If You’re Just Starting Out-

If you haven’t seen the chapters in Predictable Revenue about Cold Calling 2.0, you can get them free in at the bottom of this Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect article; look for the part around downloading the free book sample.

Read “Part 3” of The Predictable Revenue Guide To Tripling Your Sales

If you haven’t read it yet, check out Part 3 on outbound “Spears” in the Triple Guide, which you can get for free through here: www.PredictableRevenue.com/triple

When You Shouldn’t Do Prospecting

There are so many kinds of businesses and business models…ultimately you have to try different things, test what works and use your judgment on where to focus.

If you do mostly consulting or coaching, if your sales depend on you or your team personally, if you don’t have any customers that are worth $10,000 or more (and I bet there are more exceptions to be listed in the future), or if none of this makes sense…avoid outbound Spears and focus on your Seeds first and Nets second as the primary ways to grow your business.

If you’re one of those kinds of business, you can prospect with Spears but use the approach as a way to learn who your customers are/are not, and what they want / don’t want, but don’t expect it to generate a much profitable revenue.

Quick Review: Specialization

Remember, for ANY kind of b2b lead generation program that involves people to succeed, and to maximize your sales growth, you MUST specialize your sales roles:

  • Inbound marketing requires “Market Response Reps” that can focus on the fast response and high-volume required of inbound leads.
  • Outbound prospecting will not work consistently unless you have reps who are dedicated (at least 90%) to prospecting.
  • Customer Success won’t reach its potential until you have someone or people who’s job it is to help your customers succeed (don’t let them sink or swim after the sale).
  • if your Account Executive closers are juggling too many other responsibilities, they won’t be able to put their best focus on their pipeline of active prospects.

I don’t care if you have the most amazing lead generation ideas in the world, they won’t work without the right team structure in place!   Why do you think so many people complain about the “sales & marketing” divide?  Bridge it with the right people, in addition to the right process.

Exception: if you have a product that’s being sold with just one or two phone calls (a “one-call close”), then it can make sense to have one person fielding the lead and closing too.

Also, a big, big benefit in specialization is creating a career path for your people.  Your best people usually will be the ones you develop internally over time through this path, and it keeps the best ones interested and engaged.

For more details about these sales roles (Outbound, Inbound, Closer, Account Management), see Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect or pages 39 and 133 in Predictable Revenue.  Also, the Triple ebook has a bunch of “how to” questions and suggestions in Part 4.

When I mean specialize, I mean specialize.  Prospectors need focus to make it work.  Your prospectors should not close.  Your prospectors should not respond to inbound leads.  Your prospectors should not act as part-time telemarketers for marketing who want to fill their events.  Your prospectors should prospect (90% of their time/focus).

Build An Outbound Prospecting Team & Develop Them Into Experts

Ready To Build A Team, Or Get Buy In?   (Check out “Which outbound strategy’s right for you?”)

Be prepared to go through all this material in stages over several months.  The scope of it covers about the three months it takes to build a team from scratch and get them going.  Just make sure your executives buy into the value and vision of the team, so that if you hit snags they don’t quit too easily:

  1. Start Here: Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect (opens new tab) – just in case you still haven’t read this…read it!  It gives you a quick overview of a few key ideas, plus a sample funnel.
  2. Read Chapters 1-4: Download the first three chapters of the Predictable Revenue book – these chapters are the ones that focus on outbound prospecting, aka “Cold Calling 2.0″, providing the backstory at Salesforce.com and a lot of detailed “how to” information.
  3. Want Benchmarks, Or Need To Convince Your Executives?  Read Aaron, I Want To Copy What You Did At Salesforce.com, How Do I Do That? – this article gives you a lot of detail for your financial planning and expectations, around budgets, ROI, revenue, etc.  How much revenue should you expect?  That sort of thing, plus tips on helping sell the idea to your execs.
  4. Would Outsourcing Help Or Hurt?:  It’s something to consider if you don’t want to hire prospectors yet.   
  5. It Takes 6-12+ Months From Scratch To See Regular Revenue: Have realistic expectations, if you’re building a team from scratch, expect it to take 4-6 months to be generating quality sales opportunities consistently.  It can take another 3-6 months after that (6-12 total) to start seeing regular revenue coming in.  Here’s an excellent post by Devon McDonald at OpenView Partners on Realistic Expectations When Launching an Outbound Prospecting Team.
  6. Sales Force Automation / CRM / Salesforce.com: You can’t do this with Outlook and Excel, you NEED a sales automation system, though the tool you use isn’t as important as your process and people.  I recommend Salesforce.com, because it’s proven to work, most extra applications integrate with it, it’s a lot easier to hire people with experience using or managing it.  There are lots of interesting alternatives out there, and one may be better for you if you’re a small team or business; but if you’re getting ready to grow FAST, I haven’t seen anything better (yet).
  7. How To Hire: A Neat Recruiting Process Used To Hire An Outbound Team – once you’re ready to hire, use the ideas in this approach, and read our private client guide: Predictable Revenue Guide To Hiring Great Prospectors.  Your first hires can make success very easy…or make it really hard.
  8. Compensation: Quora answer to: “How SDR plans are typically constructed?”
  9. Video on Salesforce.com Tips8 Simple Tips On Making Salesforce.com Easier To Use
  10. An Ebook On Metrics: InsightSquared released a free ebook (with our help) dedicated solely to “Key Seeds, Nets & Spears Metrics”, which you can grab here.

Some Recommendations:

Who Owns It? The outbound prospecting team should report into Sales, rather than Marketing.  Why?  Yes I know it’s lead generation, but the prospectors need to work very closely with the Account Executives, and the role should be part of the sales career path.  The exception: whichever leader is most passionate about making the team a success should own it – regardless of whether they’re in sales or marketing.

Territories: Prospectors (and salespeople) need some kind of focus: I always advise clients to assign geographic territories or an industry; also have different people focus on simple/small clients and others on more large/complex ones.  If you need help understanding why, read: Why Your Salespeople & Prospectors Need Territories.

Hiring Ratios: The ideal ratio of people is 1 prospector for every 1-to-3 salespeople, depending on how much extra pipeline your salespeople need.  A good prospector can easily overload a single salesperson.  When a prospector actively supports more than three salespeople, the quality of the working relationships and focus go down, and results suffer.  At Salesforce.com, one prospector supports four or five salespeople, but usually just three of them get the most love (for some reason, some salespeople don’t know or care about their prospectors – I don’t know why).

Initial Training / Onboarding: For your first hires, don’t just throw them on the phones after a few days.  Make sure they spend a lot of their time during the first month learning about your company, culture, products and customers.  They’ll be slower to start, but faster to ramp.

How can we help?  See here for our own program options.

Develop Your Outbound Team Into Experts

So you have your team started?  It’s an investment to build a proficient outbound team.  But if you can turn them into experts, you are golden…

  1. Quality Over Quantity: Are you generating leads, but struggling with quality?   Read “Too Many Appointments Our Prospectors Set Up Are No-Show Or Not A Fit – How Do We Improve The Quality Of Appointments & Conversion Rates?”
  2. Go For Bigger Deals: The easiest way to increase revenue from a prospecting team is focus on finding bigger deals. Here are 7 Principles to Finding Bigger Deals.
  3. Detailed Case Study: Review this case study to hear what it sounds like in real life when a company puts the ideas to work: Acquia, On The $100 Million Track or How WhatCounts Added 26%….
  4. Develop A Full-Time Manager: You will need a dedicated manager who’s good at coaching and at process to your outbound team.  Perhaps promote one of your prospectors who shows leadership.  It makes a tremendous difference.  They can learn some important management lessons from How Lou Ciniglia of TheLadders Turns His Sales Team Around From Struggling To Self-Managing.
  5. Learn “Mapping Calls”: One of the first techniques we teach clients is how to make “Mapping Calls” aka “Talk To The Right Person Calls”.  Check out A Friendly Kind Of Cold Call.  Especially work on this call if a) your emails just aren’t working, and b) your messaging is terrible.
  6. Refine Your Messaging: Look for the outbound coaching I give on messaging in this case study: How Digium Grew Pipeline by 400% in 12 Months.  Being able to describe yourself in simple terms to someone who doesn’t know you makes a big difference in whether they’ll be interested or not.
  7. Check Out The Q&A: The webinar in this post covers ‘old ground’ if you’ve gotten this far, but check out all the Cold Calling 2.0 Q&A!  “5 Steps To Creating A Lead Gen Machine & The Predictable Revenue That CEOs Love.”

The Latest

We’re always posting new stuff on the blog, and in the new podcast, and see here for the latest program options.