Outbound Calling: Benefits, Costs, and Precautions for Your Small Business

Sean Lund-Brown

Outbound calling has gotten a bad rap for a long time. Like many things, a few bad eggs spoiled it for everyone else with spam calls and unprofessional telemarketing tactics that were enough to turn everyone off from being on the receiving end of phone calls from businesses.

That doesn’t mean it’s dead, though. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In light of the way the pandemic has changed the customer journey, many outbound calling efforts are actually more useful now than ever before. Yes, people hate spam calls and telemarketers that are unsolicited.

That’s the keyword: unsolicited. If — we’ll get to the how later — but if your customers need you, they’re usually more than willing to accept incoming calls. If you’re executing your campaigns effectively, the numbers don’t lie. According to the RAIN Group:

69% of buyers reported accepting one or more outbound (cold) calls in 2019

51% of business owners would rather hear from sales reps via phone

82% of buyers have accepted meetings or converted after a relationship forged by an outbound call

You can check out their full infographic here.

Of course, you can use outbound calling for several contact situations beyond sales, but you have to know how to do it effectively. In this guide, we’ll cover everything that you need to know, from the benefits of outbound calling, the costs for your business, and more. We’ll even offer some cautionary tips to ensure that you do it right.

First up, let’s talk about why outbound calling is not only still relevant, but perhaps more relevant now than ever. Then, we’ll get into the benefits and other information.

The case for outbound calling

In today’s business world, it can be hard to figure out which changes are going to provide the best solution and resource for your audience. Especially in light of the 2020 pandemic, which caused a total digital transformation in just two months that would have otherwise taken at least two or three years, business owners and leaders shouldn’t be surprised that outbound calling is back on the list of relevant topics.

We live in a disconnected world, despite being more connected than ever. So many prospects today welcome the interaction with brands that comes from taking a phone call. Others just appreciate the personal service or dedicated attention of a call that comes to them. And finally, although we could write an entire paper on the case for outbound calling as an effective marketing strategy and business tool, the reason that it should be on your agenda?

It still works. Better than ever, in fact. Let’s take a look at the benefits so you can see just what you stand to gain.

The benefits

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest perks of outbound calling.

● Modern technology eliminates all the tedious tasks involved in outbound calling, from outreach and discovery to dialing, scheduling and follow-up, and more. Whether you outsource the effort entirely or just invest in software for outbound calling, you’ll do a lot less of the work and get all of the rewards.

● Phone calls are harder to ignore than emails, online notifications, text messages, and other contact methods.

● Outbound calling creates a genuine human connection, which gives you a chance to provide a personalized touch and give people the warmth that they desire along with the answers and solutions that they need.

● Modern calling systems and strategies can be integrated with your CRM for seamless analytics and data tracking.

● Outbound calling can help you gather valuable insights about your target audience that will allow you to make better connections.

The case for learning

Let's look at the learning aspect. Too often, sales reps and even leaders get caught up in the sales and conversions of outbound calling and other marketing strategies. However, one of the best benefits of this and other tools is that you can change your perspective and change the way they work for you.

Stop looking at each call as an attempt at a sale. Just look at it as an opportunity to learn more about what works and what doesn’t. Outbound calling is essentially reaching right out to your target audience and saying, “Are we getting your attention?”

It’s a way to weed out all of the strategies and tactics that are ineffective and refine your strategy until it delivers everything that you need. While your agents are generating leads and qualifying customers, you can also be gaining a wealth of information about your customers and what they want.

That kind of firsthand education and insight into your marketing and sales efforts doesn’t come every day. Take advantage of it and take action to improve your business in several different ways.

The cost of outbound calling services

Like most marketing tools, your outbound phone marketing services are going to be an investment for your business. However, it’s important to strategize effectively so that you can create a budget that suits your needs.

It will cost more at the outset, and probably over time, to hire, train, and manage an in-house staff of call center agents or sales telemarketers for your business. If you have the means and the need, though, it’s well worth the investment.

However, that investment costs companies around $2,000 per rep, per year, on average (Brevet Group).

Fortunately, there is another option.

Today, virtual receptionists and call center services, along with digital contact center solutions make it easy for any business to get a solid outbound calling campaign put into place. These services can be customized to suit the needs of your business, allowing you to scale the calling strategy and services to your campaigns so that you’re not paying for anything that you don’t need.

For example, at Smith.ai, we have three standard packages that offer different volumes of calls and transfers, depending on the needs of your business:

● Starter: ~$200 per month

● Basic: ~$350 per month

● Pro: ~$750 per month

In addition, we can provide an array of add-on services, such as CRM integrations, MS Teams notifications, conflict checks, follow-up via text and email, and so much more. Outsourcing allows you to customize a solution that suits your needs.

So really, what you should be asking, is what the cost of not using outbound calling?

Of course, you’ve got to be careful to use it right.

Outbound calling precautions and reminders

We’ve stressed the importance of not just using outbound calling, but using it effectively. That’s because the effectiveness and how you use the tool is just as important, if not more so than, the fact that you’re using it in the first place. Along with all of the perks of outbound calls, there are some issues and precautions to keep in mind.

● 87% of buyers say that sales agents don’t understand their specific needs (TOPO)

● 84% of prospects report sales reps as “annoying” in their efforts (HubSpot)

● 58% of leads say that outbound cold calls are “useless” (RAIN Group)

● It takes approximately 18 calls to reach one buyer and five follow-up calls to seal the deal (Marketing Wizdom)

● Remember how we mentioned companies spending almost $2,000 per rep on sales training each year? (Brevet Group)

With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that there’s such a debate over the effectiveness of outbound calling. However, in light of the digital world that we live in and the changing sales landscape, many buyers today would gladly take a call from a human being as opposed to using online services or talking to a chatbot or AI phone operator.

That’s really all that matters. People are coming back to their need for the human connection. That’s why, when done effectively, outbound calling can truly be one of your best 21st-century assets.

You’re not alone

If you aren’t sure where to start, or you’re like the many companies that think you don’t have the resources or means to handle your own outbound calling, contact the team at Smith.ai. Our virtual receptionists can serve as your outsourced sales development representatives (SDRs), and we’ll help you at every step of the way, from creating the perfect strategy to reach your customers that aligns with your business growth goals, to conducting the calls, to connecting with your CRM through our API integrations and Zapier zaps to ensure fast and efficient workflows between our live agents and your in-house team.

Even if you just need outbound calling for customer service follow-up and other day-to-day communication, we can help. Let us customize a solution that works for you today!

Learn more about our Outbound Calls and SDR services, or schedule an Outbound Calling consultation to discuss how we can align with your business goals and budget to meet your immediate and long-term needs!

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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