How to generate quality leads for outbound at scale
One of the biggest challenges sales teams face isn't necessarily closing leads — it's finding more of them.
We ran into this in the early days of Clearbit. A few years ago, we had a group of customers who'd come almost entirely from a healthy flow of inbound organic leads, but we hadn't cracked an outbound sales process just yet.
So we decided to try something a little different: for every single inbound, unaffiliated lead that came in, we’d manually find and reach out to 10 similar companies. It took a lot of tedious work, starting with taking an email address for our newest paying customer and running lots of searches on Google and LinkedIn to find similar companies and on Clearbit Connect for relevant email addresses.
The outbound emails we sent had a 61% open rate and high reply rates — and within nine months, helped us grow our business by 150%.
We knew we were onto something great, but all that manual, painstaking searching — even with Connect — and data-handling was unsustainable and inefficient. Eventually we created APIs and then a product — Clearbit Prospector — to fully automate the process of generating lists of relevant, new prospects.
In this post, we'll cover how this automated prospect-sourcing system enables you to run high-performing outbound at scale.
Generating qualified leads, not just more leads
In the past, companies hired an army of sales reps and contractors, maybe turned to data providers, to generate basic lists of fresh leads. This kind of sourcing was usually manual, extremely time-consuming, and often yielded only basic information, inconsistent data, and scattered results.
Plus there's this reality: You don't just need more prospects. What you need are quality prospects.
And to run effective outbound at scale, the starting point is efficient sourcing of quality prospects. That's where automatic prospecting enters the picture, empowering you to run queries for people who match specific criteria in just minutes, rather than painstaking one-by-one searches.
Instant prospecting helps you:
- Increase the productivity of your sales reps. Supply qualified leads so that sales reps can put their time to better use nurturing relationships and closing.
- Focus only on qualified prospects. Any kind of sales effort is more lean and successful when you're talking to a tailored, relevant audience who are more likely to actually convert into paying customers — prospects who fit your ideal customer profile (ICP), the right contacts in a target account, or new prospects who match criteria for a specific segment you're trying to make inroads on.
- Keep your sales pipeline up to date. Companies are growing and evolving constantly. Even if you build out a highly accurate contact list of leads today, it's only a matter of time until the names, email addresses, and phone numbers go stale. Instant prospecting means you can get started working with the most up-to-date information — and reduce bounce rates.
- Get high-quality data to improve interactions and conversion rates.
Highly targeted prospecting starts from a place of insight about who your new accounts and leads are. You can take this a step further by enriching these prospects with additional firmographic and demographic attributes to power personalization for outbound campaigns and other sales interactions.
How to automate sourcing for outbound
Roll out an automated outbound sales strategy by defining an audience, identifying their attributes, and automating the collection of prospects who fit those criteria.
Your target audience will determine which attributes to set parameters for. Once you know the attributes you're selecting for, you can run automated queries to simultaneously find new prospects. Then use that data to power your outbound efforts.
Learn what each of these steps entails below.
Step 1. Know your target customer
First things first: start by defining who you're trying to reach.
Often the answer is: prospects who fit your ideal customer profile. If you use ABM, you might already have identified lists of target accounts. Maybe there's a new segment or market you're trying to go after. Or if you're not too certain about your ICP yet, you can make educated hypotheses, like looking at your most recent batches of new customers.
Step 2: Determine the attributes that define this target audience
Once you know who you're targeting, it can become simple to settle on which data attributes will help you find them.
For each target customer segment, identify at least one quantifiable data point by which you can define them. It could be company size (by employee count) or whether they're based in San Francisco. While there's a lot of room for flexibility, your search criteria should be able to definitively distinguish a qualified lead from an unqualified lead. The better you are at identifying which attributes match your ideal customer, the more useful your prospect results will be for your sales team.
In Clearbit Prospector, the search is broken up into two stages: by company and by individual.
You set up conditions for any combo of search parameters like employee count, tech tools used, industry, location, Alexa rank, domain, and more. For instance, here's a search for accounts with more than 50 employees that use Google Tag Manager and are SaaS or B2B businesses:
Prospector returns a list of accounts that meet that criteria. You then choose which of these accounts to prospect into and then move onto finding the most relevant contacts, drilling down by role, seniority, name, or title — and then add to your CRM or download as a list.
Step 3: Bake this data into your outbound sales strategy.
The final step to send this qualified prospect data to your sales pipeline and whatever tools you're using to run outbound at scale.
Simplify sales with better results
Automating your outbound sourcing this way not only gives you qualified prospects but also gives you richer, more relevant data. These insights can prove valuable for understanding different prospects and give your reps relevant information to tailor their sales efforts, whether that be one-on-one sales calls or personalized outbound campaigns.