I was once swept up in the sweet promise of easy sales victory. I believed that I could write one message, blast it to 1000 people, and rely on the “law of large numbers” to carry me to quota. It’s a fantasy a lot of us tell ourselves when we are required to do our own prospecting.
And it’s actually not so far from the truth.
In reality, you can find scaled prospecting success through email and other communication without researching your prospects to death, but it takes a lot more work than you might want to believe.
What are the critical components of great outbound selling at scale?
- Viable comms
I’ll break these down for you:
If you shoot a basketball a thousand times, the law of large numbers indicates that you should make at least a few baskets.
But not if you’re shooting at a soccer goal.
And that’s the classic mistake most of us make when we try to scale up the quantity of our outreach. We aim for the wrong targets.
We buy a cheap list, or we buy the biggest list we can, and we go at it like a Tyrannosaurus chasing his next meal, without giving a thought about who gets injured along the way (including our brand).
We’re shooting basketballs at soccer goals, and nobody wins.
Hyper-targeting means we get really serious about who we are trying to approach. That means we really need to lock down our value proposition and our target market parameters.
When we define our value proposition, we need to be as specific as possible.
Look at the difference between a basic value proposition and one with the appropriate level of detail:
(A) “I provide accounting software for enterprise-level accounting teams with multiple departments across multiple countries.”
(B) “I help Fortune 1000 companies with departments or divisions outside the US to roll up all accounting numbers easily and remain 100% compliant with local laws.”
This matters in prospecting because it tells us how to focus our targeting. In this example, we need to build a list around accounting teams responsible for looking at the company’s total profits and losses, not just one area.
Imagine the difference in conversions with that improved level of targeting: now we’re not irritating every accounting manager, we’re actually helping the ones who need our product.
The clarity in your value proposition leads to increased accuracy in defining your target market.
You’re now better prepared to define the industries, regions, and other indicators that make a company the right fit for your product.
That’s what hyper-targeting is all about. You don’t want to waste any effort, even minimally, on accounts that don’t need you. And you don’t want to damage your brand with lazy outreach. It’s not worth it!
Up to this point you’ve probably nodded your head as you were reading. Hyper-targeting is pretty logical (even if a lot of sellers aren’t doing it right or at all).
Now I’m going to propose something that may upset you:
In most cases, researching the specific person you’re trying to reach is a low-value activity.
There, I said it!
Here’s what I mean: A lot of sales reps fly the flag of “personalization” and think it means the same thing as “quality.”
But what makes a quality conversation between a vendor and a buyer?
- Vendor has a product that solves the buyer’s problem.
- Vendor understands the problem enough to help the buyer identify it.
- The vendor can clearly explain how the product solves the buyer’s problem.
- Buyer understands the value of the product as a solution to his problem.
Notice how I didn’t list things like…
- Vendor mentions that she knows what school the buyer went to.
- Vendor knows the buyer’s favorite Spice Girl is Scary Spice (duh).
- The vendor cyberstalked the buyer’s Instagram feed and knows about his recent trip to Paris.
Value is all about a mutual understanding between buyer and seller that a problem exists that can be solved by a product.
Yet these ridiculous details are the sorts of things reps have learned to look for. Because for all the “stuff” we post on social media, even on LinkedIn, very little of it relates to our functions within our company. Almost none of it talks about problems we are having at work.
Now that you get it, let’s uncover the truth about how to correctly personalize.
It’s all about the buyer persona.
If you understand the types of people involved in a purchasing decision or who are experiencing the problem you solve, personalization becomes easy.
You build your messaging (phone scripts, email templates, even website copy) around the buyer personas.
This way you know you’re relevant. You know that if someone says they’re not interested, it’s not because you didn’t start your email with “Go Cougars!”
If you’ve correctly targeted business you can truly help, and you’ve crafted your messaging around the buyer persona, you’re halfway to success at scale.
But you need to have an offer that is truly tempting.
Even if your product solves the problem, you have to remember that the prospect didn’t ask you to cold contact them. They need a really compelling reason to do anything at all about your message.
Some pretty common offers include free trials and lowered fees. All offers are not created equal, though, and you need to understand your buyer to know whether one of these will work.
Consider the following:
Do you require the prospect to make a major shift in order to take advantage of your offer?
If they have to switch to a new technology or platform that takes a lot of migration time or effort, a free trial just won’t cut it.
Is the value of the offer significant enough to make the uncertainty of the outcome worth it?
Buyers often put their head on the chopping block by supporting an unknown vendor or solution. This means the proposed value needs to significantly outweigh this risk.
Can they negotiate the same offer from another vendor (including their current vendor) if they use yours as leverage?
What you think is a major incentive to switch may just be a great way to get a discount without switching.
If you can’t provide a tempting offer, you’re going to need to educate your buyer into working with you. That’s nearly impossible to do at scale through outbound prospecting, and will likely fit more in marketing’s wheelhouse.
Disruptive startups are known for “growth hacking” their way to success. The most common component of these campaigns? An irresistible offer!
#4 Viable comms
The final part of the formula is a viable communication channel.
Viability is equal parts efficiency and effectiveness.
Efficiency, for our purposes, simply means you can execute a lot of an activity in a short period of time. Technology has enabled an unprecedented level of efficiency in everything from cold calling (a la ConnectAndSell) to emailing (a la Yesware) and even the full stack together (a la InsideSales.com).
In terms of communication channels, effectiveness simply means that you can generate a response from a high number of potential buyers in that channel. When I ran a team that sold to independent insurance agency owners, we found that email was a largely ineffective channel. Phone calls, on the other hand, generally got us to the prospect.
Please note that viability has nothing to do with how much you or your reps like to sell in a given channel. To reach successfully scaled prospecting, we can’t concern ourselves with personal preference.
It’s exceptionally difficult to live at the intersection of quality and quantity in outbound sales.
But that’s what makes it so valuable.
If you can master this formula, you will…
- Stand out from your competition
- Drive more pipeline and closed deals
- Have more fun in a very challenging role
If you’ve already tried to scale your outbound efforts, use this as your guide for assessing where you went wrong.
If you were trying to figure out how to get more than a handful of good conversations out of all that prospecting you’re doing, now you know.
Looking to learn more about selling? Check out my book on Amazon: “Outbound Sales, No Fluff.”