How to Execute Outbound B2B Lead Generation Effectively

Alright, you’ve got the team hired, the systems set up, the training complete, the goals set, now comes the most difficult part, keeping your lead generation team on task and productive every day.

No matter how your team is set up and what department it lives in, it’s incredibly important to have a lead generation team that is willing to put in the effort make adjustments to be successful.

So the big question is, how do you get it done? Many sales managers will tell you one way to operate, but outbound lead gen in a beast of another color.

That’s why there are a few common tactics lead generation team managers are using to successfully motivate and unify their teams. Take a look.

Create a Management Process

This method looks at more of a hands off management process. Instead of daily check ins or hovering over your team, it assumes that you’ve hired the right people who are able to mostly manage themselves.

Now this doesn’t mean the manager never checks in, instead the team has established weekly and monthly meetings that cover key metrics, goals, and progress.

Here are a few examples of what these meetings might look like:

Kick Off Meeting:

  • Happens on the same day and time every week, ideally on a Monday
  • Keep it relatively short 15-30 minutes long
  • Recap the events of the last week, include any big wins
  • Cover the goals for the coming week, include anything new
  • Cover any industry or competitor news

Retrospective Meeting:

  • Ideally a bi-weekly meeting, happening later in the week
  • Runs 30 minutes to 1 hour long
  • Review of messaging and outreach
  • Review of team’s progress, including a re-cap of monthly/quarterly goals
  • Overview of any issues, things that aren’t working
  • Discussion of qualified leads

One on One Meeting:

  • Happens on a bi-weekly or monthly basis
  • Runs about 15-30 minutes long
  • Overview of recent qualified leads, and focus of each team member
  • Overview of what’s worked well and what has been more of a struggle
  • Review of the key performance indicators and goals, including where the rep is in the process
  • Discussion of what the manager can do to support the rep

Remember, as with any manager in any role one of the most vital keys to success is having open and consistent communication with team members. Part of this means knowing when to communicate.

For some brands having frequent meetings works, for others they prefer meetings to be few and far between. Whatever you choose for your team, make sure it is not only consistently practiced, but also respects the time of everyone on the team.

Review Templates

It helps for team members to understand where they are when it comes to KPIs and goals, after all, no one likes surprises.

Many successful managers use these templates to keep team members and management updated on their daily, weekly, or monthly activities. This helps keep the team members motivated, and helps push them towards their goals.

Here’s an example of some of the information that can be included in the template:

  • Quick overview of each current prospect, including company name, contact name, notes, and next steps
  • List of goals for number of calls, appointments, and opportunities, complete with the actuals for each number per day/week/month
  • Any special notes to be aware of like interactions, special requests, new information on prospects, etc.

This kind of information can be sent by the lead gen team member to the management on a scheduled basis, say via email, or they can be covered in the one on one meetings too.

Listen in on Your Reps

As they say, there’s nothing like the real thing. While team meetings are a great option for making sure everyone is on the same page, it’s always a good idea to spend some time actually hearing how the team members interact with prospects.

For teams that have got their lead generation methods and systems down pat, doing something like this might only be needed every few months as a quick refresher.

But, for brand that are building lead gen teams from scratch, the team manager is going to have to spend a bit of time listening and observing calls to make sure the message is being received and everyone is on the same page.

There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Managers can schedule a call every week or every few weeks with their lead gen team member where they will silently listen in on a prospect call
  • Managers can do mock calls with their team reps to help talk through certain situations, and make sure the right questions were being asked

Remember, it’s key when you’re doing this to always be respectful to your team members. The last thing you want it micromanagement, this is simply a way to support your team, especially if you have a few people who might be struggling with calls.

Team Metrics

No matter how great you think your lead generation team is, if they aren’t meeting your goals and metric, then you’ve got a big problem. So, having the right metrics set and followed is extremely important to your team’s overall success.

Now, there are any number of metrics your team can follow, but rather getting lost in the weeds, at least from the start, you can keep the metrics within three main categories:

  1. Activity metrics – these are an overall look at what your team is doing on a daily/weekly/monthly basis (i.e. number of touches like calls or emails)
  2. Process metrics – these are a look at how efficient your team is at what they are working on (i.e. conversions like call to appointment)
  3. Results metrics –  these are the actual results of what your team has done over a certain time period (i.e. opportunities or revenue created)

These metrics are going to help you determine how efficient and effective your team is.

The key is to pay attention to all three. While most managers and brands might only care about the results, it’s really the other two metrics that tell the story of your team and if your brand is going to be able to scale over time.

A lot of attention should especially be paid to conversion rates. It’s important to remember, especially if you’re growing your team from scratch, that your conversion numbers might not line up at first. This will allow you to see if you have set your goals to be too aggressive, or not aggressive enough.

These metrics can also help you see where there are problems with your processes or team members. If certain bottlenecks appear between steps, perhaps you need to change your system.

Models for Success

Since any lead generation team is dependent on spending their day cold calling for success, it means the day can be a bit unpredictable. And, as we all know, unpredictability means things can get off track quickly.

That’s not a good thing.

So, how do you combat that without micromanaging? Many successful managers instead try to set a model for success, a roadmap of sorts that can give team members some general guidelines for how to manage their day.

Here’s an example:

  • Morning: outbound calls and emails, high priority follow ups
  • Lunch
  • Early afternoon: responding to emails, low priority follow ups
  • Mid afternoon: outbound calls and emails, high priority follow ups
  • Late afternoon: pre-call research, prep for the next day

Of course, this schedule is flexible and can be shifted based on the system that works best for your team. Don’t be afraid to play around with it and tweak to see what works, and what times of day get the best results for prospecting.

Team Motivation

One big component of a good lead generation team is motivation. Any job that requires a lot of cold calling can have it’s moments, it’s not entirely unusual for a team member to feel frustrated from time to time.

So, it takes a good manager to be able to creatively be able to keep the team up and excited with some healthy competition. It’s also important to note, you don’t want to create any motivating factors that will backfire and cause tension among the team.

Here are a few ideas to try out:

  • Prize for most qualified leads
  • Prize for highest conversion rate
  • Prize for biggest improvement over x amount of time
  • Prize for personal bests
  • Reps divided into teams that compete against each other

It’s also important to consider the actual prizes as well. Sure, cash is great, but there are other motivating factors management should be able to come up with that work in conjunction with cash to make things fun for the team.

Some examples:

  • Visa gift cards
  • Cash
  • Trophy
  • Extra day off/ability to leave early
  • Team dinner
  • Small trip
  • Gift card to a local store/restaurant

Use these as ideas to help your team, create your own special prizes, days, or events to make sure your lead gen team is always motivated to perform.

Career Paths

For most people, the role of a lead generation rep is only the first step along a future career path. Your brand needs to be aware of this and plan accordingly.

Realize that a role like this could have a high turnover, especially if reps don’t feel like they have realistic goals to meet, are getting supported, or have a path forward. You can help to reduce churn by making it very clear that team members absolutely have a career path at your company.

So, start by mapping out the eventual career path lead gen reps can take. Usually, the next step will move to senior rep, and then eventually to the sales team where they can be responsible for closing deals.

Once the career path plan has been set, create a specific criteria of steps that members of the lead gen team must meet in order to be considered for promotion. Keep these skills, as well as intangibles like personality, productivity, and enthusiasm in mind once members of the lead gen team start hitting a year or more of service.

At the end of the day, it’s up to your team to determine their own fate. Help let them know that a career path forward is possible, but watch for those team members who are motivated enough to get there.

Key Skills

Now that your team is ready to go, it helps to note a few tactics and key skills that are working really well in outbound lead generation.

Email Skills

Email prospecting is becoming a more and more popular tactic for brands, especially when done correctly. Here are a few tactics that you can use for email:

  • Engaging and interesting subject lines – be to the point, friendly, and even casual
  • Highlight their content – be aware of the content prospects are putting out (including social media), use that as a leverage point to begin engaging them
  • Hit specifics – don’t forget to actually tell the prospect what action you want them to take, including asking them to respond to your emails
  • Optimize for mobile – most people read emails on their phones now, be sure  your messages are responsive for best results
  • Final “notice” email – send for prospects that haven’t responded to let them know you will be closing their file if you don’t hear back

Of course, prospects aren’t going to respond to your emails if they don’t even open them, that’s why a focus on open rates and improving those are very important for your email success.

It should go without saying that your team should be monitoring testing of email results to see what works. There are a couple of things you can try that will help improve your open rates:

  • Keep subject lines short
  • Think about the preheader (the first text that is seen in the email) to see if it makes sense
  • Consider the name of the sender (make sure it’s a person)
  • Watch the font sizes to make sure they are easily read on all devices
  • Test the time of day that works best for your emails

Use some of these tips to transform your email prospecting into something that can be a viable tool for bringing in leads.

Building Rapport

It should go without saying that phone skills are the bread and butter of a lead generation rep, but that’s not to say there aren’t some valuable tips that can’t be learned along the way.

One of the biggest is the ability to connect and build a report over the phone with prospects. While some people think you’re just born with the gift of gab and the ability to connect, it’s 100% a skill that can be taught and learned as well.

A lot of that is being able to read and understand what the prospects are thinking and how they typically react to all the other cold calls they get. Once you know how other people operate, you can flip the script and change your approach.

Just doing this can help make you stand out, in a good way, to your prospect. Another smart tactic is to try to insert some storytelling into your pitches. This can be a great way to grab the attention of your prospect from the start and get them engaged.

Understanding Gatekeepers

Most lead gen reps are quite aware of the gatekeepers that stand in the way of getting in touch with their prospects. While some think that these people are just an annoyance to get around, it’s a far better technique to actually work with the gatekeeper to get better results.

That means building a rapport with them. Simply put, if they like you they are going to be far more likely to let you pass through over time.

Also, remember, the gatekeeper is often a wealth of great information about the prospect. By connecting with the gatekeeper and building a friendly relationship, they can help you get better access, ideas on timing, and tips on how to get through to the prospect.

Here are a couple of other ideas on how to work with gatekeepers:

  • Ask them for relevant company information that can help you with the sale
  • Be nice, polite, and yes even flatter
  • Don’t be afraid to frame it as you are asking for their help
  • Try connecting with the gatekeeper on social media channels like LinkedIn
  • After sending an email with an open notification, try calling them right away
  • Try calling other departments and ask to be transferred to the prospects line

Any of these tips can help your team work with gatekeepers. Of course, it goes to mention, it never hurts to try out a couple of different approaches and see what works the best.

Getting Referrals

Another potential channel for prospects outside cold calling is from your current customers. How?

By asking them for referrals. Have your sales team get in touch with current customers on a regular basis to check in and ask if they could recommend your product or service to another.

For your lead gen team, consider asking for referrals on calls. Even if you find a prospect isn’t a great fit for them, don’t be afraid to ask if they might know the names of a few people who you might work for. Chances are some will be willing to share.

Research

A lot of inexperienced, or less successful lead gen reps might find themselves hitting wall after wall of ‘no’s’ simply because they didn’t take the time to do any research before calling.

Yes, it will add time to the overall process, but spending even 5-10 minutes before each call can make a big difference in the conversion rate.

Here are a few examples:

  • Check out any social media profiles for your prospect and see if there are any commonalities
  • Do a Google search to find any news about the company or prospect
  • Review any recent press releases on the company
  • Skim over any annual reports
  • Check LinkedIn to see if you are in any common groups or have connections in common

Doing this can help you try to find just one thing that your lead gen rep can latch on to and use to establish rapport with. This is going to help you stand out from all the other cold calls they get every day.

The key is to find a good balance.

For a first call especially, there is no need to go longer than 15 minutes of research. Work research time into your team’s processes and schedules to ensure it’s a key part of prospecting.

Inter-Team Management

Although your lead gen team is generally a self contained entity, it still has quite a bit of overlap with both the sales and marketing departments, regardless of how your organization is set up.

So, it is important to have the lead gen team communicate frequently with both sales and marketing. Part of this is because, simply put, the lead gen team is gathering quite a bit of data through the cold calling process.

They are able to hear potential customers thoughts, fears, objections, complaints, and perceptions of the brand, product, and service, very valuable information. This information needs to be shared between the departments on a consistent basis, here’s how.

Communicating with the Sales Team

The sales team is the most vital group the lead gen team will need to communicate with regularly. What is important, and often gets confused here, is that (depending on your business structure) the lead gen team has to work towards their goals, not the goals of the sales reps.

Too many brands have the lead gen reps serve the purposes of the sales team, don’t make that same mistake. While the final outcome, a new customer, is the ultimate goal of both, each team has some very specific tasks and systems that will get them there.

Where the teams can come together is with collaboration. It’s important to have the lead gen and marketing team go over the systems and processes in place, check out where there might be any missing steps, where bottlenecks can be improved, how the qualified leads are progressing, and more.

Schedule consistent meetings between the teams to collaborate.

Communicating with the Marketing Team

The marketing team is also an important component to the overall sales process. What the marketing team really cares about is the messaging and feedback. That means not only what potential customers are saying, but also how the lead generation team is delivering the marketing message.

Some of the concepts that can be collaborated on between the teams are things like:

  • Any objections the lead gen team hears on a consistent basis
  • Biggest pain points prospects mention
  • An overview of current trends in the marketplace
  • A conversation about what content the marketing team is pushing
  • Any updates to the marketing plan as a whole

Another place the lead gen team can work hand in hand with the marketing team is during events, particularly trade shows or webinars. The lead gen team can help drive leads to both events, and it usually isn’t a bad idea to have a rep or two at the events who are able to qualify prospects and speak about the product or service right off the bat.

So, just like with the sales team, it’s good practice to have the lead gen team and the marketing team have consistent meetings to encourage a feedback loop between the departments.

List Generation

Another lesser discussed collaboration that can benefit all three teams is list generation.

While it typically lands on the marketing team to provide leads, the brands that combine the forces of both marketing and lead gen can see more solid leads. Here are some things that can be done to optimize this relationship:

  • Set expectations – leads don’t need to be warm, but they should be within the guidelines of the ideal target persona
  • Set the lead flow – it’s better to drip out the leads on a consistent weekly or monthly basis rather than deliver them in giant chunks
  • Have open and honest communication – feedback is very important to the process to see what works, what doesn’t, and what is needed to improve

There are also a number of places the marketing team can explore to find better prospects that fit the ideal target persona, here are a few:

  • List directories like infoUSA
  • Online company databases like ZoomInfo
  • Published lists of companies like the Fortune 1000
  • Associations like chambers of commerce, or industry specific groups
  • Website metrics like Alexa

Using these in combination with some of the other tactics mentioned (like asking for referrals) can help build up the list of prospects that meet the target ideal persona.

As time goes on, more sources of information can be added, and more refined methods can be used to really streamline and enhance the lead generation process.

By successfully including and collaborating with the marketing and sales teams, it’s only going to help improve the lead generation team over the long run. Keeping open channels that are consistently looking for bumps in the road and how to improve can bring all three teams together into a well oiled machine, which is great for the bottom line.