Trust takes time to build. Many months, if not years.
With inbound leads there is already trust there because typically it came from a referral or somebody knows of you. Therefore they inherently trust you more because they don’t think you’re trying to sell to them, plus if they have a recommendation they trust that.
Trust affects whether you get onto the short-list and how likely you are to win it.
With outbound new business, if you are a medium-sized independent agency, there is no trust there. Most people you call won’t ‘know you from Adam’ and marketing decision makers get up to 15 calls a day. You are not backed by a big group name like WPP.
With outbound, assume you are working from a position of zero trust. Don’t expect to be given a brief. Just like walking up to someone in a bar, you’re going to have to convince them you’re normal, decent and likeable before they start to warm up to you (unless you don’t want to be around for long).
Therefore, with outbound new business it’s crucial that the earlier interactions focus on building trust rather than selling, not just on the phone but face to face.
It’s worth considering old buying cycle models – e.g. unaware / awareness / consideration / intent / evaluation / purchase.
With incoming leads the buyer has usually made a decision to do something about their problem / gap / need. They are ready to buy.
With outbound much more time is spent speaking with people at the very early stages of this cycle – often before they have made a decision to do anything about their problem.
This presents an opportunity: to build trust and to help a prospect reach a decision to buy. If you can stay present with the buyer until they are ready to buy then you will probably have established a strong relationship and should be in a good position to be short-listed and to win the work.
That time spent is a cost too though. It could (and we believe should) be considered part of the investment in outbound new business.
The result of all this? To make outbound new business really pay dividends takes a long time.
But, it’s worth it. Outbound allows you to sustain your growth when incoming leads aren’t enough and it allows you to grow with the clients you want to work for.