Forget about all the articles with the best subject lines. Ignore the posts about the perfect time to send an email. And don’t get caught chasing the next new sales tool. Those lists are useful for only a short period of time before everyone catches on and starts using them, at which point their effectiveness drops like a lead weight.
What’s more important than any specific tactic is the overarching process and strategy. I want to cover how you can set up and start executing an effective outbound sales plan immediately.
A powerful plan starts with having a solid outbound sales platform like PersistIQ. A lot of people try to use a marketing tool for this step, but there’s a huge difference between marketing automation platforms and sales automation platforms.
Marketing automation is perfect for nurturing campaigns and email newsletters. It’s all about pure automation. But when it comes to sales, especially if you’re doing targeted account selling, pure automation is dangerous. There’s a lot of moving pieces that go into top-of-funnel sales, and if you mess them up, you instantly lose the trust of your prospects and will be condemned to the spam folder.
You can’t afford to have missing variables and send out an email that begins with, “Hi [first_name].” You can’t afford to accidentally send the same email to a person twice. You can’t afford to send the next touchpoint email if someone has already responded and booked a demo or consultation.
Using a platform built specifically for sales will solve these issues for you. The system will never send out an email with a missing variable. It will check for duplicates. It will pull someone out of a campaign after they’ve responded. It will give you an opportunity to add the most important piece of the equation: personalization.
You can hack the system when you couple an understanding of the dangers of too much automation with a powerful platform to help streamline the “personal” elements of your outbound efforts.
Here’s how to create the perfect outbound prospecting strategy, in five steps.
1) Create your email templates
For your first cold outbound email, follow these guidelines to boost your chances of getting a reply.
- Keep it short: People don’t have much time to read, let alone respond to your email. Aim for three to five sentences and no longer.
- Open strong: Mention a common professional connection or interest, offer congratulations on a new job or award, or send a relevant piece of content.
- Offer a compelling value proposition: You should be able to distill the value of your product into one sentence. This is different than your company vision and different than your slogan. It’s really hard to do, but take your best shot.
- Include a call to action: What action do you want your prospect to take next? Ask a specific question or give them instructions on how to follow up.
- Sound like a real person: Remember, people want to connect with people. Buyers are much more inclined to answer an email along the lines of "Hey prospect, Did you have a chance to check the whitepaper I sent? Let me know!” versus “Dear Mr. Prospect, I would like to cordially invite you for a brief demonstration of our product. Sincerely, Mr. Salesman.”
- Choose a relevant subject line: Don't slap on a completely irrelevant subject line.
Here’s a template you can use for your first outbound cold email.
Subject line: <>
I saw on LinkedIn that we’re connected through .
Given your position, I think you may be interested in what my company does. .
What does your schedule look like in the next few days? I’d love to jump on a quick call and see if it’s something that would be useful for you.
Subsequent touchpoints should not be “Just checking in,” or “Wanted to follow up.” This gets old really fast.
Instead, formulate a legitimate reason for following up. Here are four great reasons to follow up that will make you a welcome guest instead of an annoying pest.
- Re-emphasize business value: It’s all about what you can do for them. Find a different way to show value. Talk to a different pain point.
- Offer insights: Share a different perspective to approach their problems or a novel idea for how they can reach their goals.
- Educate: Not every follow up should be a pitch. Instead, offer a piece of valuable content, whether it’s a whitepaper, ebook, webinar recording, case study, etc.
- Share news: Why do you think social media is so addictive? Many reasons, but a huge one is that people want to stay up on news. They don’t want to miss out on anything. Follow up with news in your industry, product updates, or news about their competitors.
After some time has passed and you haven’t received a response, a big mistake is thinking the lead is now dead. But that's not true -- it might just be a matter of following up a few more times. Here's one of my most effective follow up emails for 30+ days out.
Subject line: Quick question about
Are you still interested in ?
It gets great responses. Some people thank me for reaching out, others politely say no. Both are valuable answers because I now know the status of that lead.
2) Set up your campaigns
Here is where you’ll apply a custom cadence for each touchpoint in your campaign. For more on cadence, refer to this Hubspot article.
Set up different campaigns for different segments of your list. The more you can segment your list and speak the language of each segment, the better your chances for a reply.
If you have a large list, start A/B testing different aspects of your campaign to really discover the best outbound plan. Strive to choose an outbound sales platform that includes analytics and reporting to make this possible.
Here is a list of variables you could test:
- Number of touches
- Time between touches
- Subject lines
- Social media mix
- Calls to action
- Top-down vs. bottom-up approach
- Language and tone
3) Add your leads
It’s time to start importing your leads and dropping them into the appropriate campaigns. If you’re using the right platform, at the end of each working day, you can drop the newly discovered leads into ongoing campaigns without having to start a whole new campaign.
The trick here is to make sure you don’t have the same leads in different campaigns. Depending on what system you're using, it might be wise to double check.
4) Launch your campaign
Make one final pass through your list and your templates to ensure there are no missing variables and everything is smooth. PersistIQ and platforms like it make this step very easy. The system will notify you if you’re missing a variable. You can also preview every message in the batch and edit any individual message on the spot.
Now, the only thing left to do is hit send!
5) Analyze and adjust
After you’ve given your campaign enough time to run, it’s time to take a step back and see what’s working and what’s not. Hopefully you have benchmarks to compare how each touchpoint and each campaign is performing. If not, don’t worry. Start tracking now.
A cautionary note: Beware of “industry averages” because they are often inflated. The companies that report their benchmarks are usually the ones doing well. Furthermore, many of those companies are going to be much further along in their testing programs. Sure, those are good numbers to aspire to, but it wouldn’t be fair to make a direct comparison (unless you want to feel depressed).
Stay tuned for more of the latest in outbound sales best practices and methods.
This post was brought to you by PersistIQ. Our software empowers salespeople to easily convert prospects into a qualified pipeline and create personalized outbound campaigns at scale. See how PersistIQ can help you make your own sales efforts more effective today.