Dreamforce ’14: The Good and Bad News about Outbound Sales

This is a recap of a live session from Dreamforce 2014.

What does it take to create predictable, scalable sales revenue? Aaron Ross literally wrote the book on it and he has a number of ways to help your business grow. He believes that one of the key components to sales success is integrating outbound sales strategically.

Here’s why and how you need an outbound sales team at your company.

Why Not Only Inbound?

The problem is, people have a lot of misconceptions about outbound sales.

It’s not true that:

  • Inbound will be enough to build your business
  • Smaller customers will lead to bigger deals
  • More leads will fix everything
  • Outbound is just brute force

Outbound can be incredibly beneficial to your company because it can help you predict and control risk. It will help you have more control over your entire sales pipeline, so you’re not just relying on people to raise their hand and opt in. It’s also a way to go after bigger deals and grow your company more quickly. Outbound will also make your entire sales culture more proactive and aggressive. By relying just on inbound sales, a lot of companies have become really reactive in selling, which isn’t healthy.

The Challenge

The bad news is, outbound is not for everyone. A lot of companies try to do outbound sales, but unless the CEO or top executives buy in, it won’t make a significant impact on the business, according to Ross. It can work well, but for many companies that haven’t done outbound before, they simply don’t know how to go out and earn new business.

It’s generally easier to sell outbound if:

  • You sell a concrete, easy-to-understand product
  • You’re selling something unique or new
  • You’re selling something with a 10K or greater lifetime value

It’s harder to do outbound if you’re selling an unclear product, focus on only smaller deals, and don’t have a clear differentiator in the market. Early companies often have organic growth through referrals. These types of inbound leads give you more leeway – they’re willing to sit and listen because they opted in. It’s a real wake up call when you have to go out and do cold calls  – how do you engage with people who have never heard of you and get them to buy?

Go Outbound

Ideally, you want your business to have a healthy mix of both inbound and outbound sales. If you’ve already got inbound under control, create a plan for outbound. In fact, doing outbound can force you to be more targeted, force you to be unique and go after bigger deals. You have to find your product-market fit and really focus on who you go after in order to make outbound work.

If you’re doing cold calling and cold emailing, you have to be really targeted and concise and clear. It’s like learning a whole new skill. Outsourcing is also not a magical unicorn. It’s just a way to accelerate building your own internal team. But if you’re small, it’s a way to build a function that you can’t yet do yourself. But eventually, you should begin to build your own outbound team as you grow. It may take between 3 to 12 months to work, but you have to be agile and keep trying. All you need to start your team is to hire just one good outbound sales rep and build from there.

Predictable revenue is all about scalable outbound success.

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