When it comes to sales outreach, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every rep will have their preferred methods, and every prospect will require a different approach in terms of cadence and outreach type.
Even though there is no formula for success, there are guidelines and tips that can be used to maximize the effectiveness of your own system. I spoke with Inside Sales Manager Beth Abbott about what some of those sales outreach best practices are.
Understanding Your Lead
Before even considering reaching out to a lead in your system, the first thing you should do is consider where the lead came from and how they got into your system in the first place. The way you should go about engaging with the lead is going to be completely different depending on where they originated from.
At New Breed, we have a few different ways that we categorize the leads in our system. The lead can either be an inbound lead or an outbound lead, and it will either be warm, cold or hot.
An inbound lead is any lead that has reached out to us or converted on our site. You could call these the “hand-raisers” because they came to us on their own will. These contacts already know who we are.
An outbound lead was added to our system manually by a rep. This may have been sourced from a personal connection or an event like a trade show.
Cold leads are prospects that have little to no interest in engaging with sales or haven’t yet indicated if they want to speak to anyone from your company.
Warm leads have expressed some interest in speaking to or needing your company but are not necessarily ready for a sales conversation. This lead will typically need some type of nurture campaign or assistance from marketing to move down the funnel.
Hot leads are prospects who’ve explicitly said they’re ready to speak to your company or have taken actions to indicate that’s the case.
Initial Outreach: Inbound Versus Outbound Leads
When you reach out to a cold lead, you are essentially creating interest where it doesn’t exist. You are going to need a strong point of connection to engage the prospect enough to garner a response.
According to Beth, there are many different ways you can go about your first email or call to a cold or outbound lead.
You could use some type of connection you have with the prospect, like a common hometown or a shared friend in the industry. You could take a look at their website and leverage something you learned that your company can help with, like the fact that they don’t have a blog set up and reference that during your initial call or email.
“When you reach out to an outbound lead, it is fit first and then interest, versus inbound which is interest first and then fit. There is less qualification necessary when you are reaching out to an inbound lead,” says Beth.
You still need to establish rapport and connection with an inbound lead too, but that can easily be done with something along the lines of “I see you downloaded this whitepaper…” which serves as a comfortable and warranted first message.
“It always comes down to timing,” Beth says. “If you are overly aggressive and it’s the wrong time, you are just going to make them mad, as opposed to being that constant resource and touchpoint over an extended period of time until the timing is right and they think of you immediately.”
Using Video in the Sales Process
We have seen a lot of success with using video in emails as your very first touchpoint — especially with a cold lead. Video lets you make a human connection in an unexpected place, a prospects inbox.
“It just depends how you are using video and what step you are on,” says Beth. “If you’re not going to use video as your first touchpoint and you do send an email and then a call, maybe your next email you send has a video in it. You can say something like ‘hey I wanted to put a face to the name. I sent you an email last week and I gave you a call … my name is Beth and this is what I was hoping to talk to you more about.’”
Video can be a great tool, but that doesn’t mean it is a fit for every customer or every sales rep. If you have tried to integrate video into your sales process and it doesn’t feel right for you, that’s ok. Sales is all about finding what works for you and what feels natural.
Not All Leads Need Equal Amounts of Attention
Being in a sales position requires a lot of time management and prioritization.
It’s important to read your leads and put your time where it is most likely to garner a response or ROI. If you haven’t heard from a prospect in your last four emails, don’t spend a ton of time customizing and getting creative with the fifth.
Instead, put that energy into the first email for a new lead that has just come in where there is a greater chance of getting an email back and your efforts paying off.
Beth also suggests pre-writing your second or third email to a prospect right after you write the first in order to be more efficient.
“Make it easier for yourself to draft emails to reduce time. If you have to re-learn what you have researched about the company and get back into that headspace every time you write an email, you’re going to waste so much time,” Beth says. “Get as many of those touchpoints completed in one go and save that time for the rest of your day.”
Guidelines are Suggestions, Not Rules
When it comes to the structure of your sales outreach, it’s all about what feels right to you as a rep and what feels like it best suits your prospect’s needs.
“We talk a lot about reactive sales,” says Beth. “We have the guardrails in place. We have prospects put into a sequence where they have a task to call tomorrow and an email to send the next day. But, if that lead opens your email within five minutes of sending it, don’t wait until the sequence tells you to email them. Do it now.”
Sales reps should be careful not to fall into too much of a routine regarding outreach language and the timing of emails and calls.
The sequences you use and processes built out for you should serve as reminders so that none of your prospects slip between the cracks. But, ultimately the lead’s behavior and actions should dictate the language and time frame you use to reach out to them.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for success when it comes to sales. Every sales rep is going to have their preferred methods and strategies because every sales rep has different personalities and experiences that they leverage. And, just like your sales team all has different preferences, remember that so do your prospects and customers.
At the end of the day you are reaching out to humans, and they should be treated like such. Don’t get too buried into the routine of your day-to-day life that you aren’t customizing your outreach and making the interactions as human as possible.