Outbound prospecting has proven to be an effective lead generation strategy for B2B companies. It fills the sales pipeline with good-fit accounts. And the customized outreach to the qualified prospects enables organizations to increase their number of closed deals and revenues.
Unfortunately, many businesses still face problems implementing outbound. These failures make them think that this type of lead generation isn’t a suitable option for them. We believe that the reason why prospecting doesn’t work in B2B is bad execution, rather than the strategy itself.
CIENCE has been implementing outbound campaigns for its clients for three years now. We have a team of professional researchers and sales development representatives. Together they generate quality leads and make targetted outreach to them on a daily basis.
We’ve been studying the best practices and searching for new, efficient solutions. In addition to that, we’ve analyzed the most common problems. As a result, we’ve outlined three common issues that impede successful implementation of an outbound prospecting strategy.
1. Poor Performance of the Sales Development Team
It is one of the most frequent problems that occur in outbound prospecting. A group of motivated professionals is the primary source for any business. However, specifics inherent to an outbound model make it even more important than usual. B2B prospecting is all about a connection between individuals.
We’ve emphasized the importance of “human touch” in establishing connections between unfamiliar (“cold”) entities. A good sales rep can efficiently reach out to a company that fits your buyer persona. He or she can deliver the value of your offer and find the ways your product or service can solve the pain point of a prospect. How these messages are delivered matters.
On a flipside, poorly organized sales development efforts can ruin your campaign and damage your reputation. To prevent it, a company should audit and then fix several issues that cause poor performance of sales development.
Lack of sales specialization
Along with many other companies, CIENCE has been an evangelist of sales specialization for a while now. However, there are still organizations that are reluctant to change their model.
Their sales manager is torn —managing to numerous functions, including the research for quality prospects, locating of accurate contact information, adopting personas, building/testing value-based messaging, supervising thousands of discrete outreach tasks, discovery, qualification, calibration, negotiation, and closing deals. Some of them even manage accounts after an agreement is signed. All the above-listed functions are very different by nature. They require dissimilar skills and even mindsets.
At CIENCE we have hundreds of Researchers, Sales Assistants, SDRs, while also having Regional Sales Managers (RSM’s) and Customer Success Managers. The salespeople (RSM’s) are solely focused on closing. Each of these roles are all very different in behavior, especially when it comes to communication. Although SDR’s “do their homework” and search information before they start contact with a lead, for most of them, full-fledged data research and enrichment are unbearable tasks. And for most salespeople, outreach and prospecting are unbearable tasks.
Specialization is a logical consequence of increasingly complex sales process. However, once you implement it, you’ll see its benefits. If you think that hiring an in-house researcher or SDR is too expensive, which is true, consider outsourcing these tasks. Managed services are a great way to decrease your expenses and increase efficiency.
Improper hiring process
More often than not problems in outbound prospecting occur because you recruit wrong people to do this job. A sales pipeline has several sections. You need different skills and personal qualities to do the tasks at each stage efficiently.
Researchers need to be both attentive and tedium-resistant. These people have to spend the whole day in front of a computer doing monotonous, repetitive actions. If a person is too active during an interview, he or she is unlikely to withstand the daily grind of data enrichment.
Ask about the hobbies of an interviewee. Solo sports enthusiasts might be your match. When hiring, make sure that you explain the specifics of this job. In this case, bad-fit candidates will most likely stop the hiring process.
Sales development reps should be above all stress-resistant, resilient, and have good communicational skills. They will face much rejection and sometimes even hatred during their daily work. Look for hustle—proactiveness and wittiness in applicants, as well as persistence.
At an interview, you can ask about situations when a candidate had to cope with rejection. If a person overreacts, he or she hasn’t overcome this issue yet and won’t make a good SDR.
According to Mike Schultz, the President of RAIN Group, lack of motivation is the biggest sales prospecting challenge. It’s not surprising. Recently, we reviewed The Bridge Group’s Report 2018, a bi-annual benchmark survey in the Sales Development world. The average tenure of a sales rep remains as low as 1.5 years while 83% of companies are ready to hire a candidate with less than two years experience.
The primary outcome of the above-said information is that people view an SDR position as a launchpad for a career in sales. Lack of motivation results in two other prospecting challenges:
- Giving up too early on a lead
- Poor customization and personalization.
- Hiring good-fit candidates who are motivated to work as SDRs
- Enabling step promotions (SDR, Senior SDR, Team Captain, etc.)
- Raising OTEs and establishing bonus system
- Creating an outstanding working environment
- Outsourcing your outbound prospecting to professionals
2. Low Quality of Leads
The quality of leads has remained the top lead generation challenge for about seven years now. Data enrichment was the first type of service we began providing back in 2015. Our founder Thomas Cornelius faced the problem when he couldn’t find an accurate contact list of companies he wanted to reach out to– the seed kernel idea of creating what is now CIENCE.
Having worked with data enrichment for three years now, we’ve outlined two main reasons for low quality of leads.
Inadequate Buyer Persona / Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Sales don’t work as they used to back in the 2000s. Spraying the impersonalized emails on an unsorted list of contacts doesn’t work anymore aka Batch & Blast). It’s a waste of money and time for your sales team. You should know what kind of company needs your product or service, as well as which title within this company will be a suitable point of contact and a decision-maker.
It makes the preparation stage of data enrichment extremely important. Not only will it enable your company to target the potential clients, but also help your team personalize emails. It’s better to make several buying personas and targeted campaigns than to have one send-out to an unsorted list of contacts.
Study your market and unique sale proposition. This is a critical step in B2B prospecting. Who needs your product? Is it a CEO or Sales VP or marketing manager or content writer? In what industry do they work? Is their company small or big? How many people work there? Make your buyer persona as accurate as possible, then initiate data collection and enrichment.
More often than not, a company creates a deliberate buyer persona. However, the outreach still doesn’t work. In this case, the fault is in the data enrichment activities. If your team of researchers doesn’t keep in line with your buyer persona, you’ll find many leads in the contact list that don’t fit you.
It won’t necessarily be a prospect that is entirely different from your ICP. However, even one feature (e.g., annual revenue) is enough to make a lead useless.
Set clear Key Performance Indicator (KPI) criteria for your data enrichment team. Ask your SDRs to report every unfit lead they come across while prospecting. Keep track of inadequate contacts. Provide bonuses for “perfect contact lists” that are free of unnecessary prospects.
One of the most efficient solutions to this problem is outsourcing your data enrichment. Similar to sales development, it will be a significant return on investment.
Few sellers talk about it. However, any in-house outbound prospecting team is expensive. According to the Bridge Group report, on-target-earnings are on the rise again. They’ve increased by $3,000 over the past two years. Moreover, the OTEs of SDRs with 3+ years experience can reach as high as $97,000.
It’s the primary source of criticisms from marketing teams. They claim that prospecting is too expensive and the cost of one lead is too high. While it’s our sincere belief that outbound and inbound should work together to make the effective outreach to prospects, the issue is still there.
In-house teams are really costly and judging by the trends in The Bridge Group Report they are unlikely to decrease. And in our review, we explained the reason. In addition to that, the expenditures on SDRs aren’t limited to OTEs exclusively. They also include the payment for the premises, software, computers, telephone — along with managerial time.
Finally, few companies will be able to have positions for both researchers and SDRs to make the most of outbound prospecting.
Outsourcing is a profitable alternative to the in-house teams. This service has great ROI compared to FTEs engaged in lead generation. Furthermore, in outbound prospecting companies, most people work for several years as SDRs or researchers. As a result, they become real professionals in this business.