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What is Outbound Lead Generation? 7 Strategies for Successful Sales

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 the customers you want. This is done through 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: 

  • Campaign marketers - run promotional campaigns through email, television, radio, print, and your social platforms. 
  • Performance marketers  - manage paid advertising and brand marketing.

What are the best outbound lead generation strategies?

Generating quality leads comes down to well-planned and executed sales and marketing strategies. There are a number of methods that B2B companies use to generate favorable 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 is one of the most cost-effective and practical forms of outbound. With this method, SDRs send prospects email messages that encourage engagement and conversation. 

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 need to outline exactly how their product can add value to a prospect’s business while showing versatility. 

Here’s a video discussing the five outbound emails that get responses: 

3. Social selling

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

LinkedIn is the number #1 platform to conduct social selling 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 this, 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 personalized as possible.

4. Multi-channel outreach

Blogs, social posts, adverts, video media, and SEO are all forms of content marketing and can be used for multi-channel outreach. 

These tactics are used with the previously mentioned outbound channels to engage and convert customers into leads by building trust and ensuring a relationship is built throughout the buying process.

What’s more, an outbound campaign can be run either online, on social media, via email, or even 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 not have heard of your company before.

5. Pay-per-click (PPC)

While some lead sources result in organic leads, PPC is a more costly form of lead generation. managed by your performance team. It’s a quick way to build your brand and get 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.

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. They can be distributed 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.

A cold approach is similar to a cold call in that the connection is made in person, and your prospect might find the visit refreshing compared to all the cold calls and emails they might receive. 

Companies that wish 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:

💡 Lead generation strategies for financial advisors.

💡 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 consistently hit company revenue targets:

  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 - listening to what the prospect has to say and repositioning your offer in a way that answers their questions.
  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 the deal is signed.
  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.

Outbound lead gen: the secret to predictable revenue 

If you want to skyrocket your sales revenue, then you’ll need to improve your sales process.

That means:

Implementing a dedicated outbound lead generation team.  

However, even the best B2B companies make mistakes, so to help you get started on the right foot, we’ve created a quick guide that includes our favorite outbound plays.

Give it a read to start making your revenue more predictable in 2024 👇

Outbound lead generation tips - read the guide!


What is outbound sales software?

Outbound lead generation is conducted by teams of people, but it can be greatly optimized and accelerated by technology. Sales teams around the world have adopted outbound sales software and made it part of their daily function.t 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 ultimate outbound sales tech stack.

How does data impact outbound lead generation?

Outbound lead generation tools like Cognism make it possible for organizations 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.

Tip! Are you in SaaS sales? Read our guide on generating leads for software companies.

What are the main outbound sales activities?

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 personalized 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.

What are the most important outbound sales metrics?

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

KPIs are incredibly important in outbound sales, where deals are signed, and revenue is calculated on an ongoing, monthly basis. These are the most important outbound sales KPIs:


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.

Closing thoughts

There’s a lot to think about when deciding between inbound vs outbound sales as your main choice for B2B lead generation. 

Consider this:

Outbound costs more to implement, but it brings in more revenue fast. It’s recommended if you want to drive revenue growth and build a strong customer base quickly. However, creating a successful outbound lead generation process requires a great deal of perseverance and effort, while inbound is more organic. 

Another point to consider is that outbound leads who engage with your sales and marketing teams might not be aware of who you are or what you sell. Education and information are, therefore, very important to a successful outbound strategy.

That’s not to say that inbound lead generation isn’t a good option for finding new leads. It’s cost-effective and helps forge meaningful customer relationships, leading to referrals and brand loyalty in the long run.

But you don’t need to choose! Our advice is to merge the two for the best chance of B2B success.

Tip! If you’re an outbound company that is keen to learn more about SDR lead generation, you might be interested in this article on leads vs prospects.

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.

Click 👇 to take a tour of our tech.