Why Outbound Fails

The following is an excerpt from The Predictable Revenue Guide To Tripling Your Sales:

don’t become road kill on the road to building a killer outbound team

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.47.22 AM

i’m writing this from the Wicked Spoon restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas (and yes, i have some coffee at hand – it’s decent.)

i’m feeling a weird mix of crappy and excited. crappy because while a ton of people loved my talk at this EO conference yesterday, a workshop i gave later didn’t go so well.

but i’m also excited because that touch of failure gave me some new ideas in putting together a new workshop for today… one called “Predictable Revenue for Professional Services.”

but this note here isn’t about that – it’s about failure, which whether in business or in life marriage feels horrible in the moment…even if you know (or hope) it’ll lead to better things later.

well, like starting a business or getting married or having kids or drinking coffee – outbound prospecting can be amazing for some businesses, but it isn’t for everyone.

here are a few reasons not to make outbound prospecting a priority, or to be very careful or adaptable in how you use it for your business:

  • It’s not a real management priority: Management hires an intern to dabble, then forgets about it, or are just too busy to give it time. Or they won’t pay for even some basic data or apps you need. (Funny how companies will spend $5000 a month on paying someone, but not $50 a month on an app that person needs.)
  • Unrealistic expectations: “Hey guys, it’s been 30 days – where are our closed deals?” It takes 4-6 months to go from scratch to consistent pipeline generation – and longer for revenue. though you should see signs of progress (like appointments) week by week.
  • The CEO believes all prospecting needs to be done only by salespeople, & doesn’t believe in dedicated prospectors.
  • You’re in a commoditized or saturated market, and everyone you call on already has something in place that’s “good enough.”  where it’s not only hard to break out of the noise, but you don’t have anything really very new or compelling compared to everyone else to offer – at least in the eyes of clients.
  • You don’t have any way to sell deals bigger than $10k – $20k+ (lifetime value).
  • You’re a professional services company that has NOT developed a niche-based offering that is easy for prospects to understand & differentiated or uniquely interesting.  Usually the place to begin with professional services is a much more narrower niche…

To read more reasons why outbound fails, download the full eBook here.

Triple Cover - small


26 thoughts on “Why Outbound Fails

  1. I love this post. However, I do have to say that I’ve seen attorneys and other professional services do very well in outbound marketing. Unrealistic expectations drive me absolutely nuts! Thanks for yet another great read!

  2. Spot on Aaron! Outbound can work for (almost) any business, but it must be intelligently designed and deployed. It is a fundamental mind-shift for many traditional sales organizations (and their leaders) and takes a dedicated effort to get going, along with a commitment to see it through (sometimes many!) iterations to get the desired results.

  3. It is critical that you have a specific reason for making the outbound call that is tied to your value proposition. When you do not your are just wasting your and your clients time. I can find out the weather forecast on the web not from a sales rep.

  4. I really liked this article!
    I’m a first time founder of a SaaS company for a niche market, actually my background comes from the professional services world and the last point made me wonder why outbound fails for professional services companies? I’d love your input on that! Even if it was wrote as a joke!

  5. Multiple product companies can be a challenge as well; any thoughts on how to build a hybrid team that has a central central portion (e.g. overall leadership) and a specific portion for each product or business unit?

  6. In my experience for high value sales you have to build up momentum with outbound prospecting through multiple channels which in turn drives inbound enquiries

  7. Merchant services is a business service, and the entire industry is built around outbound. Maybe that’s why so many companies/ salespeople in it engage in unethical/ unpopular business practices. Having 90 % of your market hate your industry is a hard row to hoe. It does present unique opportunities to ethical, service driven sales people/ teams.

  8. I feel that those that get on soapboxes regarding outbound (and now social selling) are the same people that consistently bought an IBM because: “Nobody ever got fired buying an IBM.” It’s as offensive as, “Because we’ve always done it that way.”

  9. Outbound marketing is a patience game. We went in with great expectations, achieved better-than-expected results, and thought it was clear sailing. Then we hit our first down period and needed to revisit what we’ve been doing. It definitely requires patience, but we believe in the process.

  10. Totally agree, these are all real threats we’re always managing. Our potential deal size is good, but we’re definitely in a saturated market for professional services. Even in areas where we’re doing something really unique that is helping clients, they’re skeptical that it will really be any better than what they’ve got. It’s been critical for us to major not just on what problems we’re solving and results we’re delivering, but also open people up to the possibility that we’ll do something really dramatic.

  11. In todays internet business world, instant gratification is achieved on so many different levels that it can be hard to think about ramp up periods needed for sales staff. In my own outbound lead generation journey I’ve found myself jumping to conclusions, good and bad, far too soon than I should. I think its very important to manage expectations and ensure the budget is available for at least a 6 month go in outbound marketing before making any rash decisions. Focusing on incremental wins like touches and appointments is a much better metric to guage early success.

  12. Air, good points! At APT, we’ve moved from a desktop to web-based, subscription product. So, I need some help in setting up an outbound sales process. How might we engage your services? DFOTB

  13. Unrealistic expectations are the hallmark of many an abandoned initiative with unrealized potential. Great post!

  14. I think outbound prospecting combined with today’s modern marketing tools makes for more effective use of resources. Deal opportunity size certainly a factor to justify the effort.

  15. We’ve just started to do some outbound sistematically, based on Predictable. I agree it’s not easy on the beggining, especially when we have to build a process from the begining. But the results are very interesting, although not fast. After the process is design, it’s nice to see that anyone can follow the steps.

  16. Great information. What should be a good expectation for how much outbound should contribute. What I see time and time again is companies expecting outbound or the dreaded “rolodex” to account for 80% of sales. It is tragic, but still the most common pitfall.

  17. Very good! I had some argue with one partner in a project about this subject. Our team wanted to do some outbound prospect, but our project is a sideline one. None of us have time to do it, we need to do something scalable that can be operated with short resources of time and money.

  18. Unrealistic expectation was one of our major down falls. Setting them n=measurably and actually measuring them worked wonders for bottle necks, and areas needing tweaked or some times even needing reset completely

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


We’re not just a cold calling company.

Read The Best-Selling Award-Winning Book!