Some B2B licensing professionals seem to think so. On the internet and in certain circles, outbound selling is as good as dead. Instead, marketers have swarmed to glitzy new digital marketing techniques in an effort to stay current. And while inbound marketing has been fruitful for many companies, outbound selling has remained effective, especially for companies selling expensive or complex products or services.
Successful licensing executives know that inbound and outbound selling tactics are two sides of the same coin - they work together to create a holistic sales process. To achieve perfect harmony, you must first know how to refine your outbound marketing strategy.
Some licensing executives make the mistake of relying on old customers for new business. It's common for licensors and agents to receive requests from licensees who offer their services or products for licensing purposes. This approach presents two fundamental issues.
First, this method may leave your product out of key categories in the territories in which it is sold. On the other hand, your licensing team members may not be up to date on industry trends, especially if they have been absent at industry events and expos.
The second problem is the lack of future opportunities. These may include technologies or even entirely new product categories that brand owners fail to see opportunities in. The reason, again, is simple: technology providers or new product innovators don't consider their products “licensable.”
It is important that you seek out new prospects, even when your business is experiencing a healthy flow. If your prospective client is like most consumers today, they will have educated themselves online about you and your competitors.
To start, you will want to keep a close eye on the trends taking place in the marketplace, especially those impacting your product category. Understanding what end consumers are looking for will help you identify which perks to highlight or angle to lead with as you prep for your outbound sales call.
Your ability to pick up the phone and have a personal, professional conversation may set you apart from the rest. During your call, make sure to ask questions that qualify the lead, set the foundation for a relationship and help you get to know the person as well as their needs and concerns.
Brand licensing expos are another excellent opportunity for licensors and licensees alike to network with potential customers and land new partnership opportunities. Unfortunately, most brands make their stands look unwelcoming, deterring interested clients. I recommend having at least one salesperson present at the stand to capture the ideas of your “walk-in” visitors. Doing so will increase your chances of catching on to fresh trends and finding partners with the knowledge to execute these trends.
Licensors who choose not to seek out licensees systematically miss out on key opportunities. If a licensee has a presence in a growing market and strong performance sales, they might also avoid outbound sales efforts.
The retail market has also become more complex, with new distribution and sales channels emerging more frequently. While the rapid growth has presented an exciting challenge to some, others have found it harder to calculate their financial costs and benefits. As a result, some licensees have become more cautious when selecting their brand partners.
Outbound selling is key to building trust with your potential clients. The personal touch will make your clients feel secure as they move from prospect to customer. The right combination of inbound and outbound selling paired with an omnichannel presence will set the foundation for a successful brand licensing strategy.