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Outbound Lead Generation: 7 Key Sales Strategies

Outbound lead generation is a way to engage with potential customers who might not know about your product. It works via sales representatives sending out communications to potential leads.

The goal is to generate interest in a product or service and build a sales pipeline. The communication methods used for B2B outbound lead generation include cold calling, direct email, social selling, and direct mail.

In this guide, we’re looking at:

  • What outbound leads are, and who is in charge of converting them.
  • The impact of data on outbound sales.
  • Seven outbound strategies to help scale your business.
  • Our top outbound plays that help make revenue predictable.

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What are outbound leads?

An outbound lead is any B2B prospect who has shown interest in a company’s products or services but hasn’t purchased anything yet. In order to qualify as a lead, the potential buyer must have shown interest in what you’re selling. Then they can be entered into the outbound sales funnel.

Two examples of outbound leads are:

  1. A marketing qualified lead (MQL) who has shown interest in your product through your website or via social engagement.
  2. A sales qualified lead (SQL) who has been picked up by one of your sales representatives. They have progressed through the funnel and are ready for the next stage in the sales process.

How does outbound lead generation work?

Outbound lead generation means tailoring your content and digital marketing strategies to attract your desired customers. This process involves both your sales and B2B marketing teams.

Outbound sales team

The sales team consists of:

  • Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) - they research, reach out to, and qualify potential leads using lead scoring models.
  • Marketing Development Representatives (MDRs) - they follow up on any activity generated by MQLs.
  • Business Development Managers (BDMs) - they negotiate deals, present live demos, and close new business.

Outbound marketing team

The marketing team consists of content marketers, campaign marketers, and performance marketers. Each one serves a different function to help generate outbound leads. For instance: 

  • Content marketers - create engaging content for your ideal customer profile/target audience.
  • Campaign marketers - run promotional campaigns through email, television, radio, print, and your social platforms. 
  • Performance marketers  - manage paid advertising and brand marketing.

Here’s a video breaking down inbound vs outbound:

What are the best outbound lead generation strategies?

Generating quality leads comes down to well-planned and executed sales and marketing strategies. 

There are several methods that B2B companies use to generate favourable results, but the following seven outbound lead generation techniques are the most popular:

1. Cold calling

This outbound lead gen tactic has been around forever. Why? Because it works! 

Yes, it might not be the most scalable type of outreach, but it has numerous advantages, especially when outbound lead generation services or sales intelligence software is used to support it.

Cold calling is personal, and SDRs can learn a lot from just one call. To do cold calling right, they’ll need to research the best times to call and be well-versed in pitching the company's product or outbound service. From there, they’ll generate targeted prospecting lists and then cold call contacts on that list. Their aim is to secure a meeting or demo with the prospect.

2. Outbound email

Also known as cold email, it’s one of the most cost-effective and practical forms of outbound. With this method, SDRs send prospects email messages that encourage engagement and conversation. An accurate B2B email list is key!

Outbound email is such an effective lead generation activity that many B2B companies use it as their primary lead source with the help of sales automation software.

The most successful forms of outbound email are those that benefit prospects. SDRs must outline precisely how their product can add value to a prospect’s business while showing versatility.

3. Social selling

One of the top lead generation strategies in B2B, social selling helps sales reps connect with and nurture leads. They do this by building brand awareness and their own personal brands.

LinkedIn is the number #1 platform to conduct social selling. Why? 

Because it’s more business-focused than Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Of course, you can use these other platforms to build your brand and create targeted adverts, but LinkedIn is the best for outreach.

To do outreach, sales reps connect with and nurture hot leads by building their personal brands. This includes sharing content and adding value to potential buyers. They can also use outreach tools to connect with the right prospects via InMail.

One outbound lead generation best practice for LinkedIn outreach is to make your messages as personalised as possible.

4. Multi-channel outreach

Blogs, social posts, adverts, video media, and SEO are all forms of content marketing - you can use them for multi-channel outreach!

Combine these tactics with the previously mentioned outbound channels to actively engage customers, convert them into leads, build trust, and nurture relationships throughout the buying process.

What’s more, you can run an outbound campaign online, on social media, through email, or even in print. It’s a form of outbound marketing lead generation that increases your brand’s reach.

The goal is to target more prospects across channels who may have never heard of your company.

5. Pay-per-click (PPC)

Content marketing is an organic lead source; PPC represents the paid side of outbound lead generation.

How does it work?

A performance marketing team actively manages PPC, quickly enhancing your brand visibility and putting your name in front of prospects who might have shown intent.

Pay-per-click means just that - you’ll pay for every click a user makes on your online adverts. It’s a more costly form of lead generation.

6. Content syndication

Content syndication is an outbound lead generation process of distributing content to reach targeted leads across channels.

The five types of content most commonly used for distribution are whitepapers, presentations, infographics, blogs, and case studies.

You can distribute these via email or through online communities like Facebook and LinkedIn groups, forums, and subreddits.

7. Cold approaching

Cold approaching might be a bit of an outdated outbound sales lead generation tactic, but it has its benefits.

Making a cold approach involves initiating contact in person. It can offer a refreshing change for your prospect compared to all the cold calls and emails they typically receive.

Companies wishing to try this tactic should still research their prospects and have a sales strategy in place before attempting contact.

Another idea based on cold approaching is to send thoughtful gifts or something quirky, like a funny t-shirt, to get your prospect thinking. Here’s an example of a quirky cold gift sent to Cognism’s Director of Sales Development, David Bentham:

Check out our resources:

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💡 Lead generation strategies for technology companies.

What is the outbound sales process?

The outbound sales process is a set of steps designed to help salespeople convert prospects into customers. It’s a scalable, repeatable instruction manual for sales success.

This is the 8-step sales process that has helped Cognism to hit company revenue targets consistently:

  1. Lead generation - finding people who have expressed interest in your product and who you should reach out to.
  2. Sales discovery - researching the prospect’s pain points before speaking with them. 
  3. Qualification - assessing the prospect’s suitability as a customer.
  4. Pitch - delivering a pitch tailored to solving the prospect’s problems. 
  5. Objection handling - Engaging with the prospect to understand their concerns and objections, then thoughtfully addressing each one, while positioning your offer as the solution to their problems.
  6. Closing - discussing prices and negotiating if necessary. Offering some free added value to the deal can help get it over the line.
  7. Follow up - providing the prospect with the next steps after they sign the deal.
  8. Check in - gathering feedback from the prospect. If they’ve been enjoying the product, you can ask for a case study or referral.

Check out which sales pipeline management tools improve revenue.

Mastering outbound lead generation: the Cognism Blueprint

Want to know how the Cognism blueprint can amplify your sales strategy?

This guide reveals the outbound lead generation techniques we used to grow from $10 million to $50 million ARR in less than two years.

We created the Cognism Blueprint to provide a clear path for B2B companies looking to refine their sales processes. It includes the practical strategies that contributed to our success.

Dive into the Cognism Blueprint today👇

The blueprint

Outbound lead generation FAQs

Teams of people conduct outbound lead generation, but it can be accelerated and optimised by technology. Sales teams worldwide have embraced outbound sales software and made it a part of their everyday workflows.

Teams of people conduct outbound lead generation, but technology can accelerate and optimise this process. Sales teams worldwide have adopted outbound sales software, making it an integral part of their daily function.

There are a large number of B2B outbound sales software providers available. Cognism has curated a definitive list for outbound sales leaders - click to see the best B2B sales tools and software.

Outbound lead generation tools like Cognism allow organisations to access all the data they need - leaving their outbound strategies open to bigger and better opportunities.

Data can help you identify new business opportunities, establish your total addressable market and take full advantage of buyer intent.

Your outbound lead generation specialist should be taking a data-driven approach to your outbound lead generation. Using this technique, you’ll be able to consistently meet and beat your sales targets - using lead generation data in an intelligent way to identify best-fit clients and the best times to contact them.

There are four main outbound sales activities:

  • Cold calling - a salesperson contacting prospects via the phone, often using a prospecting list.
  • Outbound email - a salesperson contacting prospects via engaging and personalised email sequences.
  • Social selling -  a salesperson engaging with prospects on social networks (for B2B outbound sales, the main focus should be LinkedIn prospecting).
  • Cold email cadences - the combination of the three above methods is known as a cadence.

The best way to measure your outbound sales team’s performance is to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

In outbound sales, KPIs play a vital role as teams sign deals and calculate revenue on an ongoing, monthly basis. The most important outbound sales KPIs include:


The KPIs tracked by Cognism’s Sales Development Representative team. These include:

  • Productivity metrics - the number of emails sent, phone calls made, and LinkedIn activity an SDR generates (e.g., the volume of InMails and connection requests sent to prospects).
  • Success metrics - including the number of meetings booked and attended by prospects. Also, the number of SQOs (Sales Qualified Opportunities) the SDR creates based on the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) criteria.


The KPIs tracked by Cognism’s Business Development Management team. These include:

  • Personal metrics - the average dollar amount of each BDM’s deals, plus the number of demos attended vs the number of opportunities won.
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) metrics - in dollars, the amount of MRR booked by each BDM, the MRR target for each BDM, and the percentage of the target won by each BDM vs their target.
  • Demo metrics - the number of demos booked vs the number of demos attended by prospects.
  • Pipeline metrics - a variety of KPIs tracking the sales pipeline, including the total number of open opportunities, the total number of opps moved to demo and to contract, plus the total number of lost opps vs the total number of closed-won opps.

Discover better leads with Cognism

If you’re looking for a sales lead tool that takes the pain out of outbound lead generation, look no further. Cognism is the European data provider of choice when prospecting for inbound or outbound leads.

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