How To Warm Up Cold Leads With Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation

Warm leads are often more ready to set sales meetings than cold leads. Explore ways to warm up cold leads to reduce their time in the sales cycle.
Reading Time: 11 minutes

Imagine you just went to get your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant. However, you were so hungry that you filled up on appetizers before the main course hit the table. Since you filled up on all the complimentary bread or chips and salsa, you couldn’t eat all of your meal. So, you decided to take it home, put it in the fridge, and take another stab at it later. 

Okay, you gave your stomach some time to settle, and now you’re ready to bash on your favorite entre. Are you going to take it straight from the fridge and stuff it in your mouth? Or do you want to get the full experience of the meal and heat it in the microwave first? Since it is your favorite meal, you probably want to have it in its second to best condition, right? The first best condition being straight from the restaurant’s kitchen, of course. 

We like to think of cold leads and warm leads in a similar way. While you can just contact a sales lead without any prior contact, you’d probably have a better lead generation experience if you warmed up the cold leads first, right? We like to think so.

So let’s pop out that microwave (metaphorically speaking, of course) and explore how you can generate warm leads for a sustainable and effective sales process. In this blog, we’ll cover:

Difference Between Cold Leads and Warm Leads

Cold leads are prospective businesses in the sales pipeline that have not voluntarily given their information to be a part of the sales process. When people think of cold leads, their mind automatically goes to the lead generation practice of cold calling.

A study conducted by Baylor University shows that one sales appointment is set for every 209 cold calls made. While cold calling tends to get a bad rap, it can be incredibly effective if done correctly. By implementing a variety of lead generation tactics, your sales development representatives (SDRs) have the opportunity to cut the cold call and only make warm calls to find high-quality business opportunities.

Warm leads are prospective businesses in the sales pipeline that have either voluntarily provided your company with their information or previously talked with a sales rep in response to cold calling efforts. Connecting with warm leads in the sales pipeline increases pitch and response rates, getting your sales and marketing teams one step closer to setting sales appointments and closing deals

As you practice lead generation efforts, it’s important to remember that a sales process is much more effective when SDRs connect with warm leads over cold leads. When SDRs contact cold leads via phone call, valuable key decision-makers (KDMs) can be caught off guard and feel like they’re simply another name on a call list. However, there are many ways your sales reps can convert cold calls into warm calls, and that’s by implementing a variety of lead generation tactics before making the first phone call.

How To Get Warm Leads Without Cold Calling

If you’re looking to get warm leads for your sales pipeline, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you choose to practice outbound or inbound lead generation (or both), there are ways for you to get warm leads without cold calling. Consider implementing the following lead generation methods to get sales leads without cold calling:

Practice Email Marketing

Every sales and marketing team has this dilemma when they first think about how they want to approach their lead generation efforts—email marketing vs cold calling. Which strategy yields the best and most sustainable results?

If you’re looking to generate leads without cold calling, email marketing may be your saving grace. When you practice email marketing over cold calling, your SDRs have the opportunity to briefly introduce your company without the risk of being hung up on by a KDM.

Many people (especially busy KDMs) can be hard to reach over the phone these days. KDMs typically wear a lot of hats and have a lot of responsibilities they need to prioritize over taking a phone call from a company they’ve never heard of before, which is what makes outbound email marketing so effective. 

Email marketing gets your brand in front of the eyes of potential buyers. If they like what they see, your sales reps have the chance to correspond with them over email. If a qualified lead says they’re interested, but the sales rep has a hard time reaching them toward the end of their sales cycle, the SDR can warm call the lead to set the sales appointment.

Contact Client Referrals

A SEMrush study shows that 64% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing. While there may be a variety of ways sales and marketing teams can generate leads for the sales pipeline, nothing is warmer or more reliable than referrals that come from a trusted personal source. 

Contacting referrals given by clients is a great way to get warm leads because you already have a common denominator with the lead. During the first conversation, your sales and marketing experts can mention the referring client’s name and discuss how your company has been able to help them with their B2B product or service needs.

Attend Local Networking Events

If you want to go the traditional route of outbound sales, attending local networking events and meeting potential buyers in person may be ideal for generating leads without cold calling

When internal sales development reps attend networking events, they can speak face-to-face with business owners and other KDMs to learn about what they currently have in place regarding their B2B product or service. This could also be a great time to learn about the potential pain points of your target market and explore what your business can do to stand out among the sea of competitors.

During these networking events, if a potential buyer is interested in learning more about your company or the products and services you offer, they can sign their name on a sheet or scan a QR code that integrates them into the sales pipeline. This allows them to receive email marketing assets until they’re ready to make financial moves.

Optimize Your Digital Presence

While each tactic above falls under outbound lead generation, optimizing your digital presence is an inbound lead generation strategy that marketing teams can practice to generate new business opportunities. Many B2B companies optimize their online presence by building a user-friendly website with SEO-focused content that aligns with their target market’s interests. 

Another way that B2B companies can optimize their digital presence is by creating social media content that aligns with the buyer personas of their target market. For instance, many B2B companies take advantage of LinkedIn’s capabilities because it’s a professional-based social media platform where business owners can connect with KDMs in their sales pipeline. However, an Instagram or Twitter account may not be as effective for B2B business growth efforts because it doesn’t align as well with their buyer personas.

Best Tips for Warming Up Your Sales Leads

Research, Research, Research

Before you start calling or emailing leads in the sales pipeline, it’s essential that you research your target market, a specific prospect’s company, and their list of decision-makers. It’s vital to have a firm grasp of your target market because it allows your SDRs to pitch to the audience’s buyer personas, resulting in higher quality pitches. When it comes to email marketing, your marketing experts can send sales emails that align with your target market’s buyer persona, boosting open rates and overall lead engagement.

While it’s important to have a thorough understanding of your target market, it’s crucial that your sales and marketing experts don’t treat each lead in the sales pipeline the same. Every lead is unique in their wants and needs, which is why your team needs to cater to their specific business and industry. 

For example, let’s suggest you’re a software company. The pitch or sales email you’d present to a nonprofit lead should probably be different than what you’d share with a manufacturing company because their processes are vastly different from one another. Taking the lead’s industry into consideration is vital because it enables your sales and marketing specialists to accurately and personally showcase your software and its alignment with their business procedures. 

Lastly, when it comes to research, it’s crucial you know who the best key decision-maker is for your company’s product or service. Once you discover who the best KDM is, your SDRs can call or email the prospective business and ask for that particular individual. This makes it easier for SDRs to get past gatekeepers and pitch to the right person. Additionally, it’s more effective for marketing specialists to ensure that their emails are directed to the right inbox.

Customize Your Opening To the KDM

When it comes to pitching KDMs, customization and personalization are key. When you deliver the same pitch to each lead in the sales pipeline, you’re not treating each lead like they’re unique, making them feel like another business on your call or email list. 

Customizing your pitch and email to the lead’s specific needs is essential. It provides the KDM with more value, encouraging them to listen intently and feel like they can’t live without your company’s product or service offerings. This starts the potential business partnership on the right foot, treating them as a customer, even if they haven’t signed on the dotted line yet.

Don’t Be a Sales Robot

While content customization is essential for adding personalization to your message, so is the tone of voice an SDR has on the phone and the verbiage marketing specialists use on sales emails. 

If you want to use a bunch of corporate sales jargon like “bandwidth,” “circle back,” and “per my last email,” be our guest. However, don’t be surprised if a KDM hangs up on an SDR or they direct the sales email right into the trash folder. 

As your SDRs pitch leads in the sales pipeline, it’s essential that they use a relatable tone of voice and present a personality that relates to your target market’s buyer persona. When your marketing experts craft emails, it’s vital that they present KDMs with an email that they want to read. Add some flair and make your sales emails different from the rest of them.

Prep the Conversation Ahead of Time

SDRs are the leaders of the conversation when it comes to warm calling and emailing since they are asking something from the KDM. While SDRs and email marketing experts should sound more casual with their conversation, they should still prep what they’re going to say in the meantime, making this call and email warmer than any other sales conversation they’ve had before. 

Remember the importance of research we talked about earlier? When SDRs have a better understanding of the business they’re contacting, they have the opportunity to prepare for the conversation ahead of time, delivering value to the KDM. Research allows the SDR to learn about the company, the KDM, and the industry they serve, giving them the ability to craft their pitch, so it presents value to the lead.

Ask Relevant Open-Ended Questions

Asking relevant open-ended questions during the initial sales call is essential because it allows your SDRs to make each call or email after the first conversation warmer the next time around. Asking questions allows your sales and marketing teams to qualify leads and discover pain points in their current B2B product or service solution. 

Since most leads aren’t ready to set a sales appointment after the first cold call or cold email, it’s crucial to gather as much information as possible while you have them. Gathering information about their current B2B product or service solution enables SDRs to pitch them the right products and services for the next phone call. Additionally, it allows your email marketing experts to send KDMs the best sales enablement assets in their sales emails, guiding them closer to the end of the sales funnel.

Leave Messages

Even if a KDM is unavailable, it’s essential your SDRs leave a message. SDRs can leave messages through various avenues, including a written message with a gatekeeper, on the KDM’s voicemail, or a follow-up email explaining why they were trying to reach them. 

Leaving messages is essential for a sustainable lead generation process because it gives the lead awareness of your brand name and what your SDRs would like to speak with them about. Even if they don’t respond to your first message, at least they’re aware of your brand.

Define Your Next Steps

With every conversation your SDR or email marketing expert has with a lead, they must define the next steps. Defining the next steps lets the KDM know what you’d like them to do with the information provided to them and that they should be expecting another conversation in the future.

Depending on a lead’s stage in the buyer’s journey, the next steps look different for every prospective business. For example:

  • If a lead is in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, a call to action may be to check out your company website or review sales enablement materials.
  • If a lead is in the consideration stage, present them with case studies of clients you’ve worked within the past who have experienced similar pain points.
  • If a lead is in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, ask them to take a look at your proposal and explore the benefits your company has over competitors.


Key Takeaways

Like leftovers from your favorite restaurant, sales leads are better when warmed up. While most prospective businesses start in the sales pipeline as a cold lead, there are various ways to warm them up, reducing their time in the sales cycle.

At Sapper Consulting, our B2B lead generation experts are trained to warm up cold leads in the sales pipeline through email marketing efforts. If you need a hand generating qualified leads for sustainable business growth, contact the email marketing specialists at Sapper Consulting!

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About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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