A Guide to Outbound Sales: Training, Recruitment, and Culture

12 mins

Learn how sales leaders can improve outbound sales team performance, reducing costs, boosting efficiency, and tracking high-impact metrics.

This guide looks closely at how leveraging sales recruitment agencies' services can offer access to an extensive pool of outbound sales talent before exploring the specialist skills required for outbound sales success. We’ll cover how to build a winning recruitment strategy that specifically targets the skills needed for outbound sales, why leveraging technology such as AI and LinkedIn should play a role in your talent search, and why nurturing your team and providing clear metrics for measuring success can ensure longevity and resilience.

The Benefits of Outbound Sales

Identifying Key Skills for Outbound Sales Success

Here are the key skills that will serve the development of an outbound sales team that a sales leader  should keep their eye out for: 

  • Relationship-building. Without the ability to build and maintain relationships with key accounts, your outbound sales representatives are likely to be unsuccessful in converting prospects into loyal customers.

  • Communication. Sales leaders can improve their ability to shortlist and select the right candidate by looking at how clearly they articulate themselves and build rapport within the interview environment.

  • Strategic approach. Even for candidates who don’t possess extensive outbound sales experience, a sales leader can ascertain whether they approach situations strategically by asking targeted questions regarding their short, medium, and long-term plans for personal and career development, which can help to highlight how they plan to address their weaknesses and leverage their strengths.

  • Lead-generation. Outbound sales is a lead-generating exercise, so focusing on candidates who have the right attitude towards customer service, compelling pitches, objection handling, and closing can mean the difference between a good and a poor hire.

  • Analytics. Understanding the role that sales data plays in strategising and driving performance is vital to sales success, so keeping an eye out for candidates who are interested in developing their technical and digital competencies can mean that future sales training for successful hires can be targeted at enhancing their analytical skills.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the right candidate is going to possess expertise in all of these skills, and an early-career or graduate salesperson could be an excellent hiring decision for your outbound sales team despite their lack of experience since they’re going to be much more interested in remaining with a company that puts their training and professional development front-and-centre. 

Building Your Outbound Sales Training and Recruitment Strategy

Now that we understand the skills a sales leader should be looking for in the application and interview stages, we’ll turn our attention to how you can enhance the competencies of your existing team and new hires alike through a robust recruitment strategy and additional outbound sales training courses. 

Connecting With Outbound Sales Recruitment Agencies

So, why should a sales leader worry about connecting with outbound sales recruitment agencies? They’ve got to this point in their career through experience, expertise, and determination—and, as such, they’re bound to ask what the advantages of external recruitment agencies are in comparison to conducting their hiring exercises internally. 

The Advantages of External Recruitment

As a sales leader, effective recruitment is key. Utilising external agencies offers a streamlined and specialised approach, crucial for mitigating internal hiring biases and resource constraints. These agencies, adept in legal and administrative aspects of recruitment, ensure a more impartial candidate evaluation. 

This strategy not only reduces the risk of costly hiring errors, which can adversely affect your finances and brand but also ensures the right fit for outbound sales roles, enhancing overall revenue generation.

There are several benefits to leveraging the services of an external sales recruiter, including: 

  1. Talent mapping and succession planning. Crucial to identifying and mapping the roles and competencies within your organisation, talent mapping and succession planning services can help you recognise staff that can be internally promoted into key managerial positions and develop hiring strategies for filling skill gaps.

  1. Gaining access to a wider pool of candidates. Specialist sales recruiters will have access to a network of candidates actively searching for a new role and enable your business to connect with passive candidates who can be encouraged to join your business. 

  1. Sales recruitment specialisation. A recruitment agency focused on outbound sales will have expertise in shortlisting and identifying candidates with the key qualities required for success. These talent partners should have a track record of recruiting for these roles, so make sure to check out their case studies and testimonials for an accurate representation of their commitment and effectiveness.

  1. Reduced time-to-hire. Sales recruitment agencies reduce the time taken to interview, provide offers to, and onboard successful candidates, streamlining the overall recruitment process through tried-and-tested methods that help them quickly identify talent.

  1. An understanding of sales training needs. Experts in sales recruitment will communicate with sales leaders and hiring managers to establish whether they need candidates who are ready to step straight into the outbound role or if they’re looking to hire early-career professionals who can be trained and shaped into the ideal candidate for their unique business needs. sales leaders are facing significant issues with talent acquisition and skills gaps in the coming years, with 90% of organisations reporting a talent shortage and only 16% suggesting they’re ready to face this issue—using advanced analytics to identify staff that are in need of targeted training will lead to a more effective workforce, better placed to carry out revenue-generating activities.

From outscouring the entirety of the recruitment process to handling the writing of job descriptions and personnel specifications, a sales recruitment agency allows business leaders and senior staff to focus on the delegation of tasks to team-members, allowing them to focus on the long-term and high-level strategic decision-making that empowers revenue-generating activities throughout the business. 

Onboarding New Outbound Sales Staff: From Early-Career to Management

An external recruitment partner provides you with additional resources during the application and interview stage, and many will also offer ongoing support and bespoke onboarding plans for your new hires. 

Whether it’s training in core outbound techniques, such as live prospecting or negotiation, or specialised sales management training to get new senior hires up-to-speed, sales recruitment agencies offer you the ability to enhance the onboarding process and establish training programmes that will help your outbound sales team to realise their potential.

This is especially important within the fast-paced environment of outbound sales. Whilst it can take new hires a somewhat sluggish average of six to nine months to become as productive as their established colleagues, an effective onboarding and professional development strategy can reduce the length of time it takes to get recruits up to speed by almost three-and-a-half months

By reducing this time-to-productivity, sales leaders can reduce the overall cost of onboarding and even drive revenue-generating activities by giving staff the skills needed to close deals. Additionally, offering ongoing support and access to sales training courses to all outbound team members can enhance retention and help your staff feel valued, reducing the risk of turnover and the loss of revenue invested into their skills training. 

Measuring Outbound Sales Success

So, your staff are successfully onboarded, and they’ve been provided with the training and resources to make an impact in their outbound role. 

The question now turns to how we can measure ongoing outbound sales results: what metrics should sales and business leaders be looking at to ensure that they’re strategically targeting future training activities and providing coaching for any of their colleagues’ weaknesses? What internal factors present controllable ways to improve sales metrics, and which uncontrollable factors should be deprioritised to avoid an internal culture of blame which can hamper self-improvement?

Setting Outbound Sales KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial metrics for sales leaders to track. They provide valuable insights into their outbound sales team's efficiency and allow them to identify patterns to address with future sales training courses. There is a significant danger when outbound sales teams are measured on revenue targets alone, and KPIs or objectives and key results (OKRs) remain unmeasured—all too often, leading to a lack of focus and clarity when assessing team performance.

By working with an external talent partner, sales leaders can begin to identify activities that aren’t producing results or inefficiencies that take active selling time away from their staff. This can lead to a positive, organisation-wide restructuring, to which an external talent partner can help a business adapt. 44% of businesses have undergone such a major restructure, with a shift towards a learning and development-focused culture that emphasises enhancing employee experience and creating an environment where salespeople are connected to a purpose.

There are a number of KPIs that sales leaders should keep in mind once their outbound sales team is up and running, including:

  • Return on investment. Ultimately, the be-all and end-all of sales KPIs, a truly successful outbound sales team will provide a return on investment—investment into the hiring exercise, as well as skills development and customer acquisition. sales leaders will track the revenue generated by outbound sales efforts and compare this with the programme's overall cost.

  • Efficiency. Sales leaders can measure their outbound sales team’s efficiency by tracking the time spent on certain tasks—such as sales follow-up, cold emailing, or account management—to identify areas where adjustments can be made or automation tools can be introduced to allow their salespeople to focus on revenue-generating activities.

  • Conversion rate. By determining how many leads are converted into customers by each member of the outbound team, managers and sales leaders can identify where their staff’s strengths and weaknesses lie, allowing them to target any future training strategies to reinforce the skills they’re lacking. 

  • Sales cycle length. When looking at a specific sales period, a sales leader can understand and adjust the length of future sales cycles by determining the total number of deals and dividing that figure by the days taken to close those deals. This allows them to identify trends, consider ways to optimise their sales strategies, and address bottlenecks in their processes, ultimately improving the performance of the outbound team.

  • Customer acquisition cost. Sales leaders must always consider the cost of acquiring customers. This allows outbound sales leaders to balance marketing and salary expenditures with the value that each account brings to the business. 

The clear picture these metrics provide can enable sales leaders to address the weaknesses in their outbound sales team, improving overall efficiency and guiding future coaching, mentorship, and sales training activities.

How Sales Coaching Can Enhance Customer Experience

In today's economic landscape, product expertise is vital for sales teams. Investing in professional development ensures your team is equipped to secure business and keep your company competitive. With 92% of L&D professionals maintaining or increasing their 2023 budgets, many are preparing for the ongoing digital transformation. 

Sales training and coaching enhance your team’s skills, ensuring they can effectively meet customer needs and improve conversion rates. This approach fosters customer satisfaction and supports internal staff advancement, aligning with the evolving market and technological advancements.

Addressing Outbound-Specific Issues

As we’ve already established, outbound sales processes present representatives, senior staff, and sales leaders with a range of unique, real-world issues, two of the most impactful being the problem of GDPR compliance and the risk of stale leads, which can impede successful conversion. 

In this section, we’ll cover some practical tips you can apply for each area and why they’re crucial to success in the outbound sales environment.

The Problem of Stale Leads

Stale leads hinder outbound sales reps, typically due to insufficient follow-up or unclear next steps after initial contact. This stagnation can occur at any sales stage, halting revenue-generating efforts with potential customers.

There are a number of effective strategies for mitigating and eliminating the risk of stale leads, including: 

  1. Ensure your databases are regularly cleaned. Not only is this vital to GDPR compliance, but good database housekeeping can also help you remove leads who are no longer interested in your products or services, allowing you to focus on prospects with a higher likelihood of conversion. 

  1. Re-engage old leads. CRM software can highlight when leads are at risk of going stale, allowing your salespeople to reach out to them in good time with a personalised message or telephone call, helping to reignite their interest and move them along the sales pipeline. 

  1. Lead scoring helps to prioritise conversion opportunities. Scoring prospects based on their engagement with your product or service gives you the ability to forecast their likelihood to convert, helping to ensure your team are focused on the potential customers that have a higher potential of resulting in a sale. 

  1. Nurture leads. A lead nurturing programme helps qualify prospects and provides value to potential customers by keeping them engaged with your business. It builds rapport and trust, significantly impacting your ability to market and sell.

  1. Follow up regularly. Timing is everything in outbound sales, so to ensure that your leads move through the sales funnel, staff should be encouraged to reach out to their leads for a follow-up strategically, ensuring that interest in your product or service—and their opinion of your business—remains high.

Re-engaging stale leads requires experimentation, as each prospect may respond differently. Incentives like trials or discounts can be effective for some, while others may appreciate feedback requests on lost interest. Consistent updates and follow-up calls/emails keep leads engaged and enhance the sales process, reducing the risk of future staleness.

Closing Remarks

For optimal revenue and profitability in outbound sales, sales leaders need a strategic approach encompassing talent acquisition through recruitment agencies and focused training on product knowledge. Monitoring key metrics like ROI is essential. 

Pareto's work with Johnson Controls International exemplifies the benefits of a coaching culture, where targeted interventions led to significant performance improvements and business growth. This blend of skilled recruitment and comprehensive training is a proven formula for enhancing customer engagement, increasing sales, and reducing staff turnover.

By following this guide, sales leaders can help their outbound sales team deliver a better customer experience, increasing sales, enhancing profitability, and reducing staff turnover. 

Sales Training Courses and Recruitment in Manchester, London, and Beyond

At Pareto, our consultants have worked closely with organisations at the forefront of their industries for over 25 years. During this time, we’ve developed a strong reputation as one of the premier providers of sales training in the UK, developing cutting-edge methodologies for enhancing the profitability and productivity of entry-level and sales leadership staff. 

We also provide a bespoke sales recruitment and staffing service, allowing you to address your urgent and anticipated talent needs and plug your skills gaps. 

Get in touch with us for a discussion of your hiring and training requirements today, and realise the potential of your outbound sales team with our support. 

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