The State Of Cold Outbound Sales: Does It Still Work In 2023?

When you think about lead generation in 2023, cold outreach wouldn’t be top of mind. This isn’t surprising since most people consider it a thing of the past (to put it mildly).

And that’s true, to some extent. Traditional telemarketing has long become obsolete and anyone involved in outbound sales is generally regarded as a kind of outcast pestering people on the phone with some shady offers or sending out spam.

Yet, the outbound sales tech market, for example, is growing like crazy! Take Outreach—this powerhouse now boasts a staggering valuation of $4.4 billion, having reported a robust profit of $185 million in 2023. Not to be outdone, Gong has also made waves with a hefty $7.25 billion valuation, alongside a substantial revenue of $178 million in the same year.

This clearly shows that cold outreach is alive and well. So anyone claiming that it doesn’t work is most likely doing it wrong.

If you’re one of them, read on to get some tips and tactics to get outbound sales right in 2023.

What Are Outbound Sales

More strategies underlie outbound sales than direct calls or emails.

That TV ad interrupting your favorite show? That flyer you’ve been handed on your way to work? That connection request from a stranger on LinkedIn? Like it or not, we’re constantly being sold to without even realizing it.

In a nutshell, the term “outbound” refers to sales (or marketing) tactics aimed at engaging potential buyers who have no previous interactions with your brand but might be interested in your product or service.

💡What is the difference between inbound and outbound sales? 

Outbound and inbound sales serve different purposes in business strategy.

Inbound techniques focus on generating leads through valuable content and experiences by utilizing channels like blogs, search engines, and social media

This method is often seen as subtler and potentially more effective, but it requires consistent content creation and may take longer to yield results.

An outbound sales strategy is sometimes perceived as more aggressive and aims for quicker brand growth and revenue generation by directly reaching out to specific users.

While conversion rates might be lower, outbound selling offers a more immediate way of reaching out to prospective businesses.

Unlike inbound sales tactics, where potential customers have already identified their need which then made them intentionally reach out to you for the solution, outbound leads might not be aware of your product/service or haven’t yet identified the need they have for them.

You aim to build awareness, help a potential buyer realize the opportunity, and eventually convince them to buy from you. This is typically achieved through several steps within a typical outbound sales cycle, i.e.:

➡️ Identifying your target audience and ICPs (ideal customer profile)

➡️ Executing lead generation, i.e. list building

➡️ Performing lead qualification—background research and segmentation

➡️ Executing sales outreach (until the prospects respond)

➡️ Negotiating/closing the deal

Being able to handpick the prospects and reach out to them puts you in charge of the process from the very start, which offers you a ton of benefits as well as pose certain challenges to overcome.

💡Expert Insight: 

“The common perception is that outbound sales techniques are outdated and spammy. I think this view is reductive and doesn’t capture the sophistication of a modern outbound sales process.

Contrary to popular belief, outbound prospecting is a strategic method where brands carefully generate and qualify leads, segment audiences, and deliver personalized messages with tailored offers across various platforms, including email and social media.

Labeling an outbound sales technique as just ‘cold calling’ is an oversimplification. Today’s outbound sales are a refined direct marketing channel where companies carefully identify and introduce their offerings to the right customers.

So, are outbound sales techniques dead? Far from it; they’ve just matured.”

  • Ian Taylor, CEO of Hyperise

Three Upsides (and Three Downsides) of Cold Outreach

It goes without saying that inbound close rates are typically higher than those of cold outreach.

After all, a person who has willingly contacted you to make a purchase should have already gone through the initial stages of the sales cycle.

On the other hand, outbound leads require some time and effort before they are ready to commit.

Let’s look at the three main challenges of cold outreach:

⚠️ It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Cold outreach is more like a long race than a quick dash. It usually involves 10-20 steps that often span over a month. Also, outbound sales reps will need to make 8 follow-up calls to reach someone, which shows the need for persistence in these campaigns.

⚠️ It takes effort

While automation does offer some advantages, outbound strategies require a more direct, personal touch.

Personalizing your approach is key. For instance, outbound reps are typically expected to make around 60 outbound calls per day, which is an average of 8.5 calls per hour or about 420 calls per week.

Additionally, it’s important to keep a close eye on whether your messages are reaching the intended recipients and to continuously add new leads to your outreach sequence.

⚠️ You will get rejected

Cold outreach can be tough as you will face a lot of rejection and bias. Only 27% of salespeople think that making outbound sales calls is a good starting point for prospecting.

Also, the response rate for cold emails is usually less than 1%, and the success rate for cold calls is only 1.48%. These percentages show the challenges and biases that come with cold outreach efforts

At the same time, there are enough cold outreach benefits to counterweight the drawbacks, including:

✔️ It’s affordable

Starting up an outbound sales team doesn’t require a hefty investment—you can get started with as little as a corporate Gmail account and a free email finder.

To dive in a little deeper, here are two more reasons why an outbound sales strategy is cost-effective:

✅ Time efficiency: Using cold email outreach tools can significantly cut down the time and resources needed to send personalized emails to many prospects, making the process more cost-effective.

✅ Targeted outreach: When done correctly, cold outreach targets qualified leads and personalizes strategies to cater to prospects’ needs. A highly targeted outreach approach can lead to higher conversion rates, which make the initial investment in cold outreach more cost-effective over time​.

📈If you want to make your content genuinely personal, try Hyperise for free and witness how seamless personalization can elevate your email campaigns.

✔️ It’s reliable

Outbound sales calls and outreach are a source of high-quality leads. Once you get it right, cold outreach can consistently generate a pipeline for your business.

This consistency is pivotal for predictable revenue streams and long-term business sustainability.

✔️ It’s effective

There are many examples of how a single cold email helped secure millions in funding, so you have all the chances to get people to buy your product thanks to outreach.

💡Pro-tip: It’s also worth mentioning that cold outreach is a perfect tactic for businesses or early-stage startups to test assumptions, new products, or ideas. And, since you reach decision-makers directly and early in the buying process, it can help you get ahead of the competition with your offer.

Yet, cold outreach success doesn’t come easy. You need a solid strategy to reap the listed benefits. Read on to find out our top outbound sales tips.

How To Make Cold Outreach Work in 2023?

As a sales professional, you might be familiar with Cold Calling 2.0—the approach suggested 10 years ago by Aaron Ross in his best-selling book Predictable Revenue (basically, the sales development representatives (SDR’s) bible). Simply put, it implies getting a referral, usually via email, prior to cold calling the target prospect.

While this tactic is still pretty popular, it has long evolved to become what might be considered Cold Calling 3.0 or even 4.0—with more tactics, channels, personalized messaging, etc.

Let’s take a closer look at the aspects of an effective outbound prospecting strategy fit for 2023.

1. Know who you’re targeting

First off, you need to understand exactly who you’re targeting with your outreach. From defining your buyer persona to lead research and prequalification, this process is extremely time-consuming but also very important to your success.

A good practice is to follow the 5/2 rule, i.e., contact 5 people within the same company, 2 of which are decision-makers with purchasing power. This approach also perfectly fits account-based sales strategies.

Yet, since finding 5 contacts might not always be possible, we usually pick 3 different types of personas to target:

➡️ Evaluator: the person in charge of the department that will be utilizing the software (in our case, it’s the SDR team leader)

➡️ Influencer: typically the product’s end-user within the company (i.e. SDR, sales rep)

➡️ Decision-maker: mostly a VP or C-level executive (i.e. VP of sales, CEO, founder)

Once you’ve identified your targets, do some background research on each of them. This includes key data points for your CRM or SEP, e.g., full name, contact info, location, interests, or anything that might help you personalize your outreach, as well as some intent signals that might serve as a reason for outreach (more on that later).

2. “Warm up” your leads

As mentioned above, cold outreach isn’t about aggressively calling every person on your list. It’s best to take some time to build awareness prior to reaching out. This will help you prepare the ground for your future outreach.

A good idea would be to try and establish a connection with a few subtle touchpoints. The easiest way to do so is by engaging with yourprospects on social media. If we’re talking about B2B, LinkedIn should be your first choice.

You can simply view their profile, send a connection request, engage with the content they have shared, join the same group, join a discussion where they’ve commented on someone else’s post, or launch an ad campaign focused on the selected leads.

If you’re targeting salespeople, you can even get them to contact you first by interacting with some lead magnets on their website. Do whatever works best for your specific audience!

Your goal here is to ensure that when your email lands in the prospect’s inbox, your name or photo will ring a bell in their mind. Also, mentioning a previous way you’ve connected with that contact might serve as a great ice-breaker and justify your outreach.

3. Adopt a multichannel approach

Building awareness prior to outreach isn’t the only way to utilize social media touchpoints. It’s also a great way to follow up with the prospects who haven’t responded yet.

What’s more, there are tons of effective outreach channels outside of calls or automated emails you should be using in your sales engagement sequences, including:

🔥 Voicemail: Leaving a succinct and compelling voicemail can pique your prospect’s interest and prompt them to return your call.

🔥 Email: Sending a personalized email, complete with custom snippets or videos, can create a more engaging experience for your prospect.

🔥 SMS/messengers: While typically reserved for inbound leads, SMS and messenger platforms can provide a direct and immediate channel for communication.

🔥 Social engagements: Interacting with prospects on platforms like LinkedIn or other social networks can foster a more personal connection and result in a higher likelihood of closing deals.

🔥 Custom tasks: Actions such as in-person visits and commenting on or sharing a prospect’s blog post, can demonstrate a genuine interest in your prospect’s activities.

🔥 Direct mail: Sending tangible items like a letter, company swag, or an Amazon gift card can create a memorable impression.

🔥 Account-based selling (ABS) and account-based marketing (ABM): Launching campaign-specific ads on platforms like LinkedIn, Google, or Facebook, targeting prospects from your lists, can generate a focused and personalized outreach effort.

Incorporating a mix of these channels and tactics within your sales engagement sequences can create a multidimensional approach, enhancing the likelihood of engaging your prospects effectively.

Here’s a sample outbound sequence template to illustrate this approach:

4. Personalize your messages

Effective email personalization involves more than just addressing the recipient by their first name. It’s about making the email resonate with them by incorporating additional information that shows you’ve done your homework. Here are some ways to do it:

🤖 Technographics: Mention a tool or platform they use, for instance, “I noticed that your team at {{Company}} is using {{Technographic tool}} as your CRM.”

🤖 Engagement tracking: Refer to their interaction with your previous email, like “I see you’ve opened my previous email {{number of opens}} times.”

🤖 Day reference: Add a personal touch by mentioning the day, for example, “Hope your {{day_of_week}} is going well!” or “How’s your {{today}} treating you?”

For international contacts, a greeting in their native language can be a warm and attention-grabbing opener.

Try personalized images in your outreach

Now, to take your personalization up a notch, incorporating personalized images or videos in your emails can significantly enhance engagement.

This is where Hyperise comes into play! With Hyperise, creating and inserting personalized visuals is a breeze, making your emails more engaging, warm, and memorable. Ready to transform your email outreach? Start personalizing with Hyperise today!

💡Pro-tip: If you’re looking for more personalization, you can send a manual email with a 100% custom snippet or video to impress your prospects. However, we recommend using this touchpoint either as an initial email to your top-tier prospects, or as a final follow-up.

5. Don’t get carried away with automation

While putting your whole outreach on autopilot might be tempting, 100% automated sequences are typically less effective than those using an effective mix of automated and manual touchpoints.

Manual tasks include hyper-personalized emails (ones that feature custom videos or snippets), direct calls or voicemail, voice messages on LinkedIn, or more traditional interactions like sending a handwritten note by mail. These help you make your outreach feel more humane and relevant.

Automated steps in the sequence, on the other hand, allow you to scale your outreach. A degree of automation will free up some time to do additional research, test assumptions, polish your sequences based on their performance, and communicate with engaged prospects.

Our Go-to outbound sales tactic — intent-based outreach

While personalizing messages is key, it’s not always enough to scale your cold outreach effectively. Hence, our sales development representatives (SDRs) have adopted an intent-based sales engagement approach.

In essence, this approach targets individuals who’ve shown interest in what you offer. Indicators of interest could include:

🔸 Website visits (dark funnel leads)

🔸 Technographics—the specific technologies or tools they use

🔸 Growth signals—like new funding rounds, acquisitions, or mergers

By utilizing social listening tools, you can track relevant signals like mentions of competitors or pertinent keywords. For instance, if a prospect expresses dissatisfaction with a competitor, it’s an opportune moment for outreach, as it makes your message timely and appealing.

Our team has leveraged hiring intent signals to target sales leaders looking to expand their teams. We position our product as a cost-effective, simple solution to scale efforts without additional SDR hires. Here’s our process:

1️⃣ We scout for companies hiring SDRs on platforms like Glassdoor or LinkedIn Jobs.

2️⃣ Then, we identify the  person who matches our ideal customer profile (ICP) and acquire their contact details.

3️⃣ Once we have the necessary information, they’re added to the sequence, and the initial email is sent:

Hi {{FirstName}},

I’m reaching out to you because I noticed on {{Company}}’s {{Job Site}} page that you’re hiring {{Job Openings Title}}.

Reply is designed for sales teams and helps Account Executives and SDRs automate communications with your existing or potential clients and put email outreach on autopilot while keeping communication personal.

Would you be open to a call to see how we could help {{Company}}’s sales team?

Including a personalized image of their job listing adds a unique touch and enhances engagement. With precise targeting and personalization, such emails have yielded high open and reply rates and generated numerous quality opportunities.



In a landscape increasingly tilted toward inbound marketing, the notion of cold outreach might seem obsolete. Yet, this shift makes cleverly crafted outbound tactics stand out by serving as a refreshing interruption that can capture a lead’s attention and accelerate their journey down the sales funnel.

Reflecting on the strategies we mentioned above, it’s clear that modern outreach is anything but “cold.” By gathering intent data, retargeting your efforts, engaging through touchpoints, and adding hyper-personalization, you can transform your outreach from cold to warm, which makes it feel more genuine and lets it resonate much louder.

The fusion of inbound and outbound strategies, when tailored to your audience’s behaviors and preferences, paves the way for a robust, reliable pipeline and fortifies your business’s foundation for growth.

Elevate your outreach game and experience the magic of hyper-personalization with a free trial of Hyperise today.