Top 6 Outbound Lead Generation Strategies

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Lead Generation

Understanding Outbound Lead Generation Strategies

The common thread among the six main strategies of outbound lead generation – networking, referrals, engagement with existing clients, partnerships, LinkedIn, and cold calling – is the emphasis on human to human relationships. Each strategy involves direct communication and relationship-building with individuals who, over time, could potentially convert into a meeting.

Before diving into these strategies, let’s first consider the journey of a contact converting into a prospect and ultimately into a meeting. This journey can be broken down into the following stages:

  1. Contact creation
  2. Initial engagement
  3. Nurturing the relationship
  4. Meaningful interaction
  5. Conversion to prospect
  6. Booking a meeting

Through our outbound lead generation strategies, we get in touch with contacts, nurturing these relationships over time with meaningful interactions, and bringing ourselves to their attention. Our goal then becomes having a significant interaction, which might occur if they attend a webinar, have a longer conversation, or read a paper we’ve shared. This interaction sets the stage for requesting a first meeting and converting from contact to prospect.

Diving Deeper into Outbound Lead Generation Strategies

1. Networking

Networking revolves around attending events, interacting with individuals, and building relationships through these interactions. Over the past 18 months in the Virtual Era, this strategy has been under-utilized by many. Networking is unpredictable and can be challenging for some as it may not always result in immediate sales. However, it should be a regular part of our sales practice, with at least one networking event every week or two.

The Benefits of Networking

  • Expanding your base of contacts
  • Connecting with other well-networked individuals
  • Encountering potential clients and partners
  • Interacting with event organizers with large databases
  • Engaging with a random yet critical group of contacts

Both virtual and live events are valuable, and networking is at the heart of building a base of people to nurture and engage with.

Crafting a Networking Strategy

To develop an effective networking strategy:

  1. Find lists of events where your target audience will be present and register for these events a month in advance.
  2. Attend these events, and ensure you follow a structured process for maximum engagement.

Making the Most of Your Networking Efforts

When attending an event, be sure to:

  1. Research about the event, the organizers, and the speakers beforehand.
  2. Arrive early to network effectively.
  3. Engage with as many attendees as possible, connect with them on LinkedIn, and start conversations.

The goal is to show genuine interest in them and build a relationship. Remember to document interesting conversation points for future reference.

Post-Event Follow Up

After the event, you must:

  1. Enter all contacts into your CRM.
  2. Record all notes in your CRM.
  3. Connect with all contacts on LinkedIn.
  4. Engage with new connections and initiate conversations.

This level of organization and follow-up is what sets successful networkers apart. Networking, as one of the outbound lead generation strategies, can yield significant results when done right.

2. Referrals

Referrals play a crucial role in outbound lead generation strategies, providing a significant source of potential revenue for businesses.

Let me share an instance. A client once asked me to explain why a junior salesperson, barely 28 years old and only two years in the role, was outperforming 11 seasoned sales professionals. The answer? She had mastered the art of getting referrals, securing two quality ones each week for 18 months. The outcome was extraordinary – her sales size was quadruple, her closure rate ten times higher, and her meetings-to-client ratio much lower compared to her colleagues.

So, how do you get an endless stream of referrals? Below is a rudimentary framework which, when properly implemented, can significantly boost your business revenue.

A referral is a recommendation from a trusted person to someone who ‘could’ benefit from your product or service. The trust between the referrer, the referral, and you, as the receiver of the referral, is transitive.

Referrals can be categorized into three types:

  1. Referrals with a need
  2. Referrals without a need
  3. Inferred referrals

Most of us aim for referrals with a need, but finding them in large numbers isn’t easy. Where the scale truly lies is when a person introduces you to someone who might need your product or service in the future. This type of referral can be given in scale.

To get a high volume of referrals, you must tick four crucial boxes:

  1. Does the referrer trust you?
  2. Do they like you?
  3. Do they trust your product?
  4. Do they like your product?

Fulfilling these four criteria is the crux of receiving numerous referrals. However, what is the process, and how should we approach referrals?

Here are the main components of a successful referral model:

  1. Compile a list of individuals who trust and like you, trust and like your product, and either have influence or connections in your operational sphere.
  2. Request their help.
  3. If they agree, set up a meeting to explain the process.
  4. Extract a list from LinkedIn of people you want to interact with, who are connected to your referrer.
  5. Meet and discuss the list, highlighting the ones they know and are comfortable introducing you to.
  6. Provide them with a sample message.
  7. Request them to ask the person if they’re open to being referred, then make the introduction.
  8. After receiving a referral, keep the referrer updated on the progress.
  9. Try to reciprocate their help.
  10. Nurture the relationship to ensure they continue to support you and your business.

Implementing a process like the one above can be complex, requiring training and consistent follow-up. It took me years to streamline this flow, and it’s proved effective. It’s important not to skip any steps, as missing even one could lead to failure.

Refer to the process flow diagram below for better understanding.

3. Existing Clients

Existing clients, much like influencers, constitute a substantial referral source. However, they warrant separate consideration due to the unique approach required for handling and managing these relationships.

The first step involves evaluating your current client management strategies, understanding the revenue streams and assessing the effectiveness of your client relationship management (CRM) methods. This will give you an insight into what’s working and what’s missing. It’s often seen that while the top 2% of clients are managed effectively, the rest are largely overlooked, leading to a skewed and unsustainable CRM model. This usually happens because the focus shifts predominantly towards service delivery rather than maintaining and nurturing the client relationship.

There are two aspects to consider when it comes to existing clients:

  1. How do you manage upselling and cross-selling opportunities?
  2. How do you encourage your existing client base to provide referrals?

Here’s a basic structure of what an effective model looks like:

Upselling and Cross-selling to Existing Clients

The first aspect to consider is how your product is delivered to a client – who’s responsible for the delivery, how well they do it, and how you handle the inevitable challenges that arise during the process. Ensuring high-quality delivery is critical to building trust and keeping your clients satisfied. It’s less about always having the client be right, and more about being indispensable, trustworthy, and delivering on your promises.

The second aspect involves transforming the client relationship into a partnership. This involves providing thought leadership, collaborating, and engaging with the client to help them explore new ideas. The aim is to be seen not merely as a vendor, but as a trusted advisor.

Generating Referrals from Existing Clients

If you have successfully established a partnership with your clients, referrals will start to come naturally. Casual discussions over coffee or business meetings can turn into opportunities for referrals as clients begin to see you as a subject matter expert and seek your advice.

As with other referral sources, you should evaluate the relationship: Do they like you? Do they trust you? Do they like and trust your product? Do they view you as a partner? If not, what steps do you need to take to reach that level? Once you have established this kind of relationship, referrals will flow with proper nurturing.

4. Partnerships

Managing partnerships is both an art and a science, involving multiple elements that must work in harmony to create an effective partnership model. Despite this, many people tend to overestimate their expertise in this area.

Before setting up a partnership, you should ask three crucial questions:

  1. Why do you want a partnership?
  2. Why would they want to partner with you?
  3. What benefits do they stand to gain?

From this point, partnership management can be divided into three stages:

  1. Finding potential partners
  2. Onboarding them
  3. Managing and nurturing the partnership

Each stage requires a specific process that needs to be carefully planned, assessed, and executed. Often, companies rush into partnerships without sufficient thought regarding the strategic rationale behind such alliances. It’s not enough to just focus on generating revenue. Considerations like what you’re selling, why you’re selling it, how it fits into a partnership model, who your competitors are, and how you can gain an edge are all questions that need to be addressed.

Partnerships can be a potent force for most companies when handled correctly. However, it’s not as straightforward as it may initially appear. It’s crucial to remember that your partner is also your client and should be treated with the same respect and attention. Our role is to support, nurture, and help our partners succeed, leading to a win-win situation. Yes, they need to fulfill their obligations, but like all clients, they need to be treated right.

Infographic showing three quick factors to take into consideration when forming a business partnership.

Question to reflect on: How do we help the partner be more successful?

5. LinkedIn

Nowadays, most employees maintain a presence on LinkedIn. However, many people are not fully utilizing its potential. The misuse of LinkedIn often manifests in inadequate profiles, incorrect or insufficient connections, lackluster interactions, and poor brand development. More often than not, the focus on LinkedIn wanes, receiving barely any effort throughout the week. To get the most out of LinkedIn, a few key areas need attention:

  • Building an appropriate profile
  • Growing the right network of connections
  • Establishing effective, consistent communication
  • Developing a robust personal and corporate brand

Initiatives on LinkedIn should begin with the Marketing teams, extend to the Leadership, continue to Managers, and trickle down to the rest of the team. Despite their role, Marketing teams often fall short in this area. Their profiles and posts may be lacking, and their network growth may not align with their objectives.

Similarly, the situation with Senior Management is no better. While some individuals do well, the overall approach to LinkedIn does not meet expectations. Their efforts are crucial as they set the example for the rest of the organization.

Managers tend to fare slightly better, although there is still room for improvement. The state of LinkedIn use among Sales Teams tends to be inconsistent.

The use of LinkedIn should be structured in two main ways:

  1. Companywide Model: This includes creating a basic structure that everyone follows, from the top down. It should focus on improving profiles, expanding connections, enhancing communication, and facilitating regular posting.
  2. Advanced Use: This involves the more advanced use of LinkedIn’s resources, such as databases and Sales Navigator.

The goal is to create a companywide culture around the proper use of LinkedIn. Leading by example and incorporating appropriate training will ensure everyone gets on board and stays engaged.

An infographic showing the different reasons and benefits to use LinkedIn for networking and lead generation.

For training and model building around this area, reach out and look at our LinkedIn Optimisation Course.

6. Cold Calling

Last, but certainly not least, we land on the topic of cold calling. While it’s a phrase that may induce panic for many, it remains an essential part of the outbound lead generation strategy for certain businesses. Despite being last on our list, cold calling still holds considerable value. For some businesses, especially those selling products that require more direct, personalized selling tactics like niche software for restaurants, cold calling might be the most cost-effective way to reach their market. The target person – typically a manager – might not be active in the LinkedIn or email world, making a cold call the most effective outreach method. Done right, cold calling is making a resurgence in some sectors and can be a game changer.

A successful cold calling strategy hinges on five key elements:

  1. Data Quality
  2. The Call Team
  3. The Outreach Strategy
  4. Team Training
  5. Management and Coaching

Data Quality: Superior data equates to more effective calls. Having access to key details such as email, LinkedIn, mobile number, name and role of your potential lead can significantly enhance your outreach efforts. Equipped with quality data, your call is no longer a shot in the dark, but a well-informed conversation.

The Call Team: Cold calling requires a certain set of skills. Your recruitment strategy needs to focus on identifying individuals who possess these skills and can drive successful results.

Outreach Strategy: Your call success ratio can vary dramatically based on your outreach strategy. A well-thought-out, targeted approach can drastically improve your outcomes, resulting in more productive use of time and resources.

Team Training: Cold calling is an art. Without an effective training program, your strategy is bound to fail. Training is the cornerstone of a successful cold calling strategy.

Management and Coaching: Lastly, leveraging advanced technology, data analytics and effective management techniques can streamline the process of managing and coaching your team. The investment in a sound system is vital for long-term success.

Cold calling isn’t an outdated practice to dismiss or avoid. It’s a credible, powerful tool in your Outbound Lead Generation arsenal. If it’s necessary for your business, embrace it wholeheartedly, and it can yield impressive results.


Wrapping up, let’s remind ourselves that good outbound lead generation is a blend of hard work, smart strategies, and strong relationships. Whether you’re a pro or just starting, it’s always a good idea to keep learning and improving.

Let’s recap: From getting the most out of influencers, to taking care of our current clients and turning them into our cheerleaders; from making the best use of LinkedIn, to forming winning partnerships; and even reviving the age-old method of cold calling – each part plays a role in our success story.

The real magic happens when all these pieces work well together. They can change your business for the better, get more people to know about your brand, and build up your reputation.

Each part has a trick to it. The secret is to get each trick right. That’s when you see the real rewards.

I hope this deep dive into outbound lead generation helps you see new ways to spruce up your game plan. So here’s to forging new paths, making new connections, getting the word out on LinkedIn, and forming new partnerships. While the road may have its ups and downs, the view from the top makes it all worthwhile.

So, let’s remember, we’re in this together. Here’s to your journey in outbound lead generation – may it be exciting, full of solid connections and great outcomes. Remember, it’s less about the end goal and more about the journey. Enjoy every step.

Who We Are

Elevating businesses globally, 1000Steps offers expert sales and marketing consultancy services, empowering clients to reach further success. Our markets include Singapore, the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Switzerland and Dubai.

What We Offer

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About the author

Fraser Morrison

As the CEO and co-founder of 1000Steps, I apply my 33+ years of sales experience to help professionals excel. Specializing in sales process optimization, I'm committed to driving client success and achieving outstanding outcomes.