098: How to close outbound leads with Liston Witherill

One of the biggest challenges with running a LinkedIn lead generation service is seeing customers receive a lot of leads, but NOT turn those leads into sales calls.

Even if they convert them to calls, they struggle to convert them to closed deals.

It doesn’t matter how many leads we send a business if they can’t create new business from those leads.

This article is based on the interview posted below which is a conversation between Liston Witherill and myself all about closing outbound leads.

More leads can even be bad for your business if you don’t know how to turn them into sales calls and close more deals.

The goal of this post is to make sure you don’t end up in the position where more leads are hurting your business. I want you to be able to handle more leads, have more sales calls, and close more deals with confidence.


First, There’s a Fundamental Problem.

Inbound and outbound leads are different.  

And you can’t treat them the same.

A lot of business owners get trapped in a cycle of sales methods that work with inbound leads, but don’t work when they get a flood of new outbound leads at their disposal.

You have to remember that even if you've closed deals in the past, there's always room for improvement. The same methods that work for leads that are generated through inbound channels like content marketing and referrals don’t work for leads generated through cold outreach.

Inbound leads are in a buying cycle.  They’re actively looking for a solution to a problem. Sometimes they're even pre-sold on us being the potential solution to that problem.

Outbound leads are not sold on us as a solution yet. They may not be looking for a solution to a problem. They may not even know what specific problem they have. We really don’t know where they are in the buying process.

And if you want to know how to best help them buy what you’re offering, you need to know where they are in the buying process.

You can start by uncovering where they are in their Problem Awareness Level.

Here are three questions to help you identify what level a lead is on and how you should approach them.

  1. How aware are they that they have a problem? (Level 1)

  2. How aware are they that there is a solution to their problem? (Level 2)

  3. How aware are they that I may be the solution to their problem? (Level 3)

The further a lead is along the Problem Awareness Level, the easier it is to close a deal.

When a lead knows you can help them solve their problem, they want to buy from you. That’s an easy conversation to have. They may even want to give you money without ever having a conversation with you.

When a lead isn’t even aware that they have a problem, there are obviously conversations that need to take place.

That is the fundamental difference between inbound and outbound leads that makes all the difference.

They are in different phases of the buying cycle and problem awareness. Your goal is to help them further along the Problem Awareness Levels and into the buying cycle.


You Want Them To Like and Trust You

You may have heard the quote, “People buy from those they know, like, and trust.”
It’s a popular saying because it’s true.

Inbound leads reach out to you because they like and trust you on some level.
Outbound leads don’t know you, like you, or trust you.

Your job is to help them get to know you. And to help them begin to like and trust you. Today, and for the foreseeable future, the first way most people are going to get to know you are through your website and online profiles.

You want to make sure you’re clearly sharing who you are, who you can help, and what you can help them do. Your website, your LinkedIn profile, and any other online profiles need to clearly express those things.

The best way to clearly express how you can help your ideal prospects is to actually help them. That can be as simple as sharing valuable information with them.

You can help them when they look you up and as you’re interacting with them. Your goal is not to go for the sale immediately. Your goal is to help them further along in their buying cycle.

The more you interact with them, the more your leads have a chance to begin liking and trusting you. Every interaction is an opportunity to build more trust. When you have more steps in your sales process you give people a chance to build trust with you over time.

Here are a few ways to help build trust while you’re interacting with your leads.

  1. Mirror their personality. Don’t do this in a way that’s weird. Just do your best to keep pace with the way they are interacting with you. If they use short, choppy sentences, keep your communication as short as possible. If they use long, run-on sentences, feel free to use long sentences. People like people who are like them. Do your best to engage with your leads how they want to engage.

  2. Personalize your communication with them. Let them know that you actually took the time to know who they are. Find something you can compliment or appreciate about them and share that with them. Maybe you like someone they’ve done business with in the past. Maybe you like an organization they support.

  3. Let them know you’re a real person. By mirroring and being a person like them and personalizing your communication you’re already doing this step. Just be natural in your communication with them so they know you’re real. Another way to let them know you’re real is just having a conversation with them.

If you’re really going to help them know, like, and trust you, you need to…

Be ready to work

Whether you’re getting inbound or outbound leads, you’ll have to work.

Inbound leads take work and time up front. You’ll need to produce content, pay for ads, set up funnels, and whatever else you decide to do to get people to come to you. You’ll invest time and money up front if you want people coming to you further along in the buying cycle.

Outbound leads take work and time on the back-end. You can stop reading this article right now, do some outreach and have new leads in the next 60 minutes. Once you have those new leads you have to begin putting the work in on the back-end.

Remember, the majority of your outbound leads are likely not actively looking to buy your service before you start communicating with them. It’s great if they are ready to make a purchase.

If they are not that far along in the buying cycle, you need to...

  1. Find out what Problem Awareness Level they’re on

  2. Begin helping them know, like, and trust you using the steps we talked about above

When you’re generating outbound leads, your investment of time is on the back-end after you already have the leads. People buy from people they have active relationships with. So once you have your leads, your job is to build an active relationship with them.

You should consistently communicate with them. Send them helpful articles, case studies, or any resources that are beneficial to them.  This helps them begin to trust you, see you as an authority, and it keeps you in front of them as the person that offers what you offer.

And finally, avoid the mistake that would have you waste all your back-end work.

Don’t Make It Hard For Them To Do Business, or Start a Deeper Relationship, With You

People are silently begging to be led. They are crying out to know more about a business’ product or service. When you educate your customers, you’ll see your profits soar.
— Jay Abraham

If you don’t know what to do next in your sales process, you’re almost guaranteed your lead doesn’t know what to do next to buy from you.

That’s making it hard for them to move forward.

You have more confidence when you have clarity about the next step someone should take. It not only helps you though. It also helps your potential customer.

Make it easy to understand the next step to doing business with you.

You have to teach people how to buy from you. That’s how you create clients.

When people have a clear picture of what it will be like to work with you, it makes it easier for them to make the decision to do so.

If your main offer is not easily packaged or explained, you should have some type of introductory offer that provides a clear and easy way for someone to start doing business with you.

People want a way to know what it will be like to work with you without huge risks or uncertainty.

Here's what you need to do next

You understand there is a fundamental problem with trying to treat inbound and outbound leads the same way.  You understand that you need to be ready to work to build a relationship where your outbound leads know, like, and trust you.  You understand that you need to make it as easy as possible for them to know what it’s like to work with you.

Once you start implementing what you’ve learned here, you’ll start to get more sales calls and have the opportunity to close more deals.

I’ve covered how to handle your sales calls and close more deals in my SPIN Selling for Agencies and Consultants post.

If you want to make sure you don’t drop the ball on all the sales calls you’ll be generating, you need to read that post as well.

Combine what you learn there with what you learned here and you are well on your way to being able to handle more leads, have more sales calls, and close more deals with confidence.

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