Influencing the death of outbound

While outbound tactics like cold calls and emails continue to face challenges from technology, the fundamental issue lies in building trust with buyers, which has become increasingly complex.
Shyam HN
Oct 12, 2023
4 mins

If you're in sales and on LinkedIn, not a day passes by without coming across some post on outbound. This wave of 'Outbound is dead' showed up sometime in the last couple of years. But then people suddenly realized that that puts them on the wrong side of many sales leaders and BDRs, in fact it was borderline blasphemous to a tribe that takes so much pride in the rugged hustle of sales prospecting. So the narrative switched to 'Outbound is not dead, it's just...different!'. New wine, old bottle? whatever! (BTW outbound is regularly put on life support - here's a reddit post from almost a decade ago!)

Here are 15 social media posts across LinkedIn and Reddit on the theme of 'Outbound is dead/ Outbound is not dead, it's just different'. There are hundreds more of them where these came from. Why am I sharing these? Well, two reasons - 1) GPT won't summarize these links for me, 2) some of these are fun rants for anyone with a good sense of humor. Like someone said, anyone who says something is dead is definitely trying to sell you something (Hey! don't judge me! I'm just doing my job.)

  1. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/jrbutler_allgasnobrakes-dialedin-activity-7114956947828695040-OFkR/
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/kyletcoleman_revenue-sales-sdr-activity-7072624883553198080-ypNo/
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/kchiu1_sales-customersuccess-ae-activity-7092161431667630080-OaUU/
  4. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/slichtenstein_salesdevelopment-outboundsales-salescoaching-activity-7089982713251725312-UpC8/
  5. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/jefftorbeck_outbound-sales-network-activity-7115009360942022657-4kWk/
  6. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/sethprezant_hiring-sales-salesleadership-activity-7053699903725658112-NHoh/
  7. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/andrew-gubler_sales-marketing-retail-activity-7009599487434248192-KBXi/
  8. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/jimbohops_outbound-prospecting-b2b-activity-7112850623678619648-e9G7/
  9. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/alexcboyd_b2bmarketing-demandgeneration-salesdevelopment-activity-7095078783317102592-ewNH
  10. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/jakedunlap_000-of-companies-ive-talked-in-the-last-activity-7039950526951682048-sbI0/
  11. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/retentionadam_ive-been-getting-hate-on-linkedin-because-activity-7108916636321009664-O8xn/
  12. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/charlesgaudet_outboudmarketing-boardofdirectors-predictableprofits-activity-7077768335701991426-QJgT/
  13. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/sahilmansuri_ai-in-sales-is-going-to-kill-cold-calls-activity-7090328186445578242-sb1B/
  14. https://www.reddit.com/r/marketing/comments/16bnyzx/is_cold_email_dead/
  15. https://www.reddit.com/r/sales/comments/xk6262/cold_calling_will_be_a_thing_of_the_past_in_the/

So who's saying this? Every single one of them.

  • The walk-and-talk influencers
  • The I-spoke-to-10-CXOs-last-week influencers
  • The I-just-want-to-say-something-controversial influencers (aka I-just-want-to-pick-a-fight influencers)
  • The I've-spent-my-last-20-years-doing-this influencers
  • The I've-got-this-useless-piece-of-data influencers

But what's real? Let's start with the facts

  • Cold call: iOS 13 released the option to block unknown callers (it's behind two layers of menu, I wonder how many people actually knew about it) .iOS 17 released Live Voice Mail. But this has always been a cat and mouse game, tech products will find ways to get around these.
  • Cold emails: Google and other email service providers continue to double down on their spam detection capabilities. With GPT detection tech as well in place, this is going to further affect the deliverability and open rates significantly.
  • LinkedIn: In 2022, LinkedIn came up with a bifurcation of the inMail inbox. As part of this, most unsolicited reachout go into an ‘Other’ folder, which as you can guess is where cold inMails go to die. You can still try connecting with the prospect first and then sending them an inMail, which will land you in the primary (Focused) inbox.

But these are business as usual. In this sense, tools and best practices will evolve over time to adapt to these (and other future) changes. People will still buy from people (until the bots take over, of course!) and a good portion of them will always be excited to hear about new things that they can use to make them more successful in their jobs.

There is however something more fundamental that needs to be taken seriously - Trust. At the end of the day, every purchase is a realization of the trust that a seller or a brand has been able to build in the buyer's mind. But lately, building trust has become very tricky. Over the last few years, as data and content creation engines took shape, every vendor ended up having competing and comparable data points to share, making it difficult for buyers to make meaningful distinctions. Result? They trusted sales pitches and seller claims much less, and started relying on other familiar sources like colleagues and peers. COVID created a general drop in trust across the society topping it off with a couple of years of remote working which gives much lesser interactions and opportunities to start building trust with strangers (things are obviously much better now). The next nail on this coffin is GPT which has proven to be able to spin up so much bs (pardon my language) that feels very real, so it naturally makes us now start to question the genuineness of every piece of information we interact with.The jury is still out on how will vendors build trust with buyers going forward and there are many creative approaches floating around - growth led with relationships, signals, network, partners/advisors etc.

It's not about the tactics of outbound, or inbound for that matter. In fact, there was a 'creative' way to beat spam filters that was recently popularized called Email Warm Up. It'll last until that gets cracked down upon. We've seen this game for quite some time now with SEO.

That being said, trust deficit and the need to find creative and credible ways to build trust with potential buyers is a real thing. Companies who want to grow (and grow sustainably) will have to come with honest strategies to build and retain trust with their buyers and users. This will naturally push everyone to focus on customer value, which is a very good thing! It'll automatically weed out bad products and bad customer acquisition practices, and thereby reinforce the good ones that anchor on delivering true customer value.

But until then, we can keep killing and reviving outbound with new creative tricks! 

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  • Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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