Outbound vs Cold Calling

26 Dec, 2022

Collin Stewart

Learn about outbound calling, including what an outbound call means, how they compare to cold calls, and more. 

Outbound and cold calling are often used as interchangeable terms, but there are several differences between the two. This post will break down those differences, along with different types of outbound calls and the purposes of each. Finally, we’ll discuss improving your outbound calling process and boosting conversions.

What are outbound calls? 

What is outbound calling? Outbound calls refer to any calls made from your organization to an external source. Although these are typically sales calls made to prospective customers, they can also be made to current customers for contract renewals, customer service, or market research purposes. 

Is cold calling outbound or inbound?

Cold calls are a type of outbound sales call. As the name would suggest, cold calling involves reaching out to prospects who haven’t expressed an interest in your product (i.e., “cold leads”). The goal of cold calling is to spark enough interest that the prospect agrees to set another appointment to continue the sales conversation.

Inbound calls, in contrast, are initiated by the customer (or prospect). While inbound calls usually indicate some level of interest on the part of the prospect, the drawback is that salespeople have less control over the process. Since the customer or prospect is the one who reaches out, they generally lead the conversation. 

Outbound vs cold calling

Outbound calling vs. cold calling: How is an outbound sales call different than a cold call?

Outbound calling refers to any call initiated by your business or sales team. Cold calling, where a sales rep calls prospects who may or may not be interested in hearing about the product, is a form of outbound calling. To put it simply: cold calling is a type of outbound call, but it’s not the only option.

Warm calls are another type of outbound calling, where the prospect has already shown an interest in the product or company. They could have opted-in to an email list, attended an event or webinar, or engaged on social media. All of these activities demonstrate an interest in the product.

Many sales organizations are moving away from traditional cold calling techniques toward more targeted outbound sales calls. “Dialing for dollars” has been replaced by customer research, personalization, and long-term relationship building. It’s no longer about the number of calls made but the quality of those conversations.

Warm calling offers a helpful way to bridge that gap. When combined with account-based marketing, warm outbound calls are especially effective.

What are the different types of outbound calls?

Lead generation

Lead generation calls can be either cold (if the prospect hasn’t indicated interest) or warm (if the prospect has already engaged with the company in some way). The purpose of lead generation calls is to pique the prospect’s interest, ask questions, and gather enough information to determine whether or not they could become a qualified lead.

Appointment setting

Traditionally performed by sales development reps (SDRs), the goal of appointment-setting calls is to book a sales meeting with the prospect, who will then be handed off to an account executive (AE).

Follow-up calls

These calls can be used to follow up on inquiries or after a prospect indicates interest (by downloading a lead magnet, for example), but they’re also a great way to stay top of mind and nurture long-term relationships. 

Outbound calls are an essential part of your larger follow-up strategy; according to Invesp CRO, salespeople who contacted prospects within an hour of receiving a query were 60 times as likely to qualify the lead as those who waited 24 hours or longer.

Market research

The goal of outbound calls is not always to make sales. Market research calls also qualify as outbound and can be useful for gathering customer data. These insights can then be used to inform future sales and marketing campaigns, feeding back into the larger sales strategy. 

How can working with Predictable Revenue improve outbound sales calls?

Despite claims that cold calling is on the way out, it’s more effective than ever. According to Crunchbase,  69% of buyers have accepted cold calls from new providers, and organizations that don’t cold call experienced 42% less growth than those that do. The key to cold calling success is having a strong outbound sales strategy.

At Predictable Revenue, we’ve helped thousands of companies develop outbound calling strategies. Our coaches can help you find the right prospects, build an effective call flow, and train your team for success. Reach out here to learn more!

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