Emphasizing Quality Over Quantity in Outbound Sales Prospecting

If you had limitless resources and time available to you, quality would win over quantity almost every time. But when it comes to outbound sales prospecting for your SDRs, the question of quality vs. quantity isn’t always so clear-cut.

Here are the pros and cons of taking a quantity approach vs. a quality approach in your outbound prospecting.

“Quantity” outbound prospecting: Pros

Pro #1 for quantity: The volume game

There is some truth that sales is a volume game, and this is especially true with outbound prospecting. Even if your solution is a perfect fit for the prospect, a lot goes into getting to the sale. Timing, budgets, and so many other factors affect whether or not you close the deal – so you need to be talking to a lot of prospects.

Pro #2 for quantity: Outputs are easy to measure

If your quotas include metrics such as “send 100 cold prospecting emails a day” and your SDRs mass email 100 prospects, that makes things easy to measure. Many sales teams are driven by how many meetings they conduct. Whether it’s an in-person, conference call or web demo, it’s a very common metric and SDRs are compensated on it. Many sales managers know their conversion from meeting -> closed deal and want their meeting metric to go up.

[Tweet “Quality beats quantity when making #sales and prospecting wisely”]

“Quantity” outbound prospecting: Cons

Con #1 for quantity: Lack of personalization

When you’re making 50+ calls or sending 100s of emails a day, you just don’t have the time to personalize them very well. Your pitches and emails are more generic by default and are going to make less of an impact as a result. Quite simply, you risk wasting a lot of time.

Con #2 for quantity: Danger of spamming

If your prospecting activities include email, it’s hard to take a quantity approach without spamming people. Not only is this likely illegal with anti-spam laws tightening up, but you might even have repercussions from your mail providers or a general hit to your company’s reputation.

“Quality” outbound prospecting: Pros

Pro #1 for quality: More meaningful conversations

If you spend the time targeting people that are a genuinely good fit for your solution, whether it be now or in a year, you will generate more meaningful conversations with people. People remember you if you attempt to make a real connection with them, and it’s human nature to prefer to buy from people we like and trust.

Pro #2 for quality: Building relationships over time

In business and in sales, things change quickly. If you target qualified prospects, treat them with respect. If the timing isn’t right to get into a buying cycle for them, you can start to build a relationship. With transactional sales cycles, it’s easy to get caught up in hitting month end or quarter end numbers. When you get a “not right now” in January, you’d be surprised how quickly November comes around and the timing becomes perfect.

“Quality” outbound prospecting: Cons

Con #1 for quality: Not as many prospects in your pipeline

Quality outbound prospecting is time-consuming. It’s very hard to cheat. Even if you use a tool to help automate some of your work, you still need to spend the time crafting custom pitches and communications. You won’t “touch” as many people as you would if you bought a list of 1,000 emails and did a generic email blast.

Con #2 for quality: It’s time consuming

Quality requires more research. If you have a team of people doing prospecting, it’s easy for them to get stuck doing too much research. One inside sales manager I worked with said this analysis paralysis made reps spend up to an hour researching a prospect.

The bottom line is you’re just trying to find out enough about the account and prospect to determine if they’re a fit for what you’re selling. Time, budget, and other qualifying factors can be determined when you get them on the phone. I suggest that SDRs aim for 10 to 15 minutes of research per prospect.

Quality vs. quantity for outbound prospecting: The takeaways

Don’t look at what other sales teams are doing and simply copy their process. A call centre that pushes very transactional deals is very different compared to selling enterprise software. It’s important to experiment and measure to see what approach works for you.

For my own sales team at Ideal, I’ve found that taking a quality approach is superior. We certainly don’t think of ourselves as transactional and building long lasting relationships with our customers is paramount.

What’s your strategy?

Shaun Ricci is the Co-founder and COO of Ideal. Shaun’s accomplishments include spots on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists as well as the 2012 Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Shaun is also an active writer, documenting his ups and downs while building his startup sales team. You can read more of his work on ideal.com.

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