Is Outbound Calling a Competitive Advantage?

The answer is yes. When used intelligently as part of a well-thought out lead generation strategy, outbound calling can give businesses a competitive advantage. Results prove that authentic human interaction is a differentiator.

So how do marketers develop campaigns where outbound calling makes a positive difference in the lives of their target market and ultimately drives revenue?

I want to offer a disclaimer here. The very best lead generation performance is the result of highly targeted, multi-touch multi-channel campaigns. Even though we’ll focus on the phone channel here that’s not to suggest that the strategy behind using the phone is to call everyone and hope that some are leads.

Highly targeted, multi-touch multi-channel campaigns are part of a comprehensive marketing strategy that is driven by two things. The first is understanding what matters to the target market and the second is revenue generation. The mission is to bring those two together so that everyone gets what they want. Using the phone can achieve that.

The other item that isn’t addressed here is finding and developing the skill set required to be a successful lead generator. Lead generation efforts are doomed if the people that serve as the voice of the business aren’t truly interested in listening, learning, and intelligently solving.

With all the disclaimers about what this article isn’t about, let’s turn to what it is about – how to execute a successful outbound phone campaign.

Competitive Advantage

Assuming that your business knows who to call and your lead generators understand which problems the solution addresses, and, of critical importance, can articulate exactly what that’s going to do for the decision maker’s business, you have the ingredients for success. Then it’s about execution.

The three keys to discovering highly qualified leads using the phone are:

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Actively listen
  • Talk about what matters to your prospect

Sounds simple. It’s not. Here’s how and why these elements work.

Ask open-ended questions

When lead generators ask open-ended questions at the beginning of the call they are giving the decision maker the opportunity to talk about their business. Both parties want and need that. It’s a process of mutual discovery. What matters most to the business at that point in time starts to take shape.

When lead generators ask close-ended questions they almost inevitably get yes and no answers rather than any substantial conversation. The walls grow higher and the decision maker feels validated in trying to get off the phone because the caller clearly isn’t interested in learning about the business or their particular challenges.

Actively listen

Having invited the decision maker to talk about their business and their challenges with open-ended questions, it only makes sense for lead generators to actively listen to the information being shared. It helps them determine if the solution is a good fit for the problem. It also lets them gauge the urgency to fix the problem.

And the truth is that when lead generators actively listen and realize that they might be able to help the business they become enthusiastic and that energy level lets the decision maker know they care about finding a solution that’s the right fit for them.

When lead generators don’t actively listen they miss out on all kinds of great information and possibly even buying signals. The decision maker also recognizes that they’re not being heard and feels like they’re wasting their time. Inevitably they stop sharing and start objecting.

Talk about what matters to your prospect

This is VERY important! People like to talk about their business. When lead generators actively listen they start to trust that perhaps there is a solution and they naturally share more information.

The best lead generators, through the course of their active listening, are able to start connecting the dots between problems, solutions, and benefits. It’s one thing to identify that a decision maker is hungry and to tell them that your company sells food.

It’s quite another to identify that a decision maker is hungry but is also on a gluten-free diet and having trouble finding tasty, reasonably priced items. A good lead generator learns those things by asking open-ended questions and actively listening.

Now for the best part! Strong lead generators skip over what matters to them – my company sells tasty, reasonably-priced gluten-free items and if I can get this decision maker to agree I can get credit for discovering a lead. Instead they talk about what matters to the decision maker.

They might ask about desired portions and other dietary considerations. They might ask about their tastes both sweet and savory. Then it would be appropriate to start connecting the dots between interest expressed and the benefits of their company’s tasty, reasonably-priced gluten-free items, narrowing it down to items that meet the criteria shared by the decision maker.

Need has been identified and qualified because the lead generator focused on understanding what matters to the decision maker. Now they have a good reason to suggest a deeper discussion with an expert who can match needs and desires to solutions.

Although this may seem like a simplistic example, the tenets of lead generation don’t change. Talk relevantly about what’s important to the decision maker. When lead generators are completely focused on understanding what matters to the decision maker the outcome is predictably positive.

Good lead generators focus on identifying need and recognizing the opportunity for both parties to benefit from a second, more detailed conversation with an expert. They genuinely convey to the decision maker that they heard what worries them. They put their specific challenges first and they want to continue to talk about those things to see if they can help.

Developing the focus away from the lead generator’s goals and on to the decision maker’s goals is challenging but when lead generators get it right, the results are engagement, loyalty, and revenue growth. All things businesses should care about.

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