As buyer behavior constantly changes, salespeople have to adapt their sales outreach best practices accordingly. You cannot rely on traditional sales outreach methods anymore. Today, B2B decision-makers are flooded with messaging from all channels, and it’s become increasingly difficult to break through the noise and reach out to these people.
For those reasons, being successful in sales outreach is becoming harder and harder.
But don’t get it wrong. It doesn’t mean outbound strategy doesn’t work anymore. It is still an important part of your sales strategy. You just have to learn how to do it correctly. If you want to drive results from your B2B prospecting, you have to build a consistent and personalized outreach strategy that increase sales engagement.
But how can you do that and become super successful in sales outreach? Keep reading.
What Is Sales Outreach?
Let’s start with a definition. Sales outreach is an outbound sales method where salespeople are actively contacting prospective buyers in the hopes of generating new business. It covers both the earlier (i.e. for prospecting) and the later stages (i.e. for following up) of your sales process. When you use it for prospecting, often times this outreach is cold (inbound outreach is an exception), meaning that the salesperson has had no previous contact with the prospect before.
What Are The Different Channels?
In the past, outbound sales meant door-to-door sales, in-person meetings, and cold calling. With technological improvements, it shifted toward heavily relying on email and other digital channels. Nowadays, there are several channels you can engage with prospective buyers. On the one hand, this is beneficial because you can reach more people, faster. But on the other hand, for the same reason prospects are flooded with sales messaging. And it has become more difficult to get your message to stand out.
Probably in the last 5-10 years, email has become the most common way of doing sales outreach. It’s much less intrusive than calling people. In addition, without the added pressure of having to deliver your pitch over the phone, you can take your time to communicate your message better. As Sujan Patel suggests, choose email when you:
- are following up,
- need to have something in writing,
- have a quick question,
- need to send the same message to more than one person.
In today’s world, prospects don’t generally like being called (especially cold called) and their reactions are unpredictable. For this reason, a lot of salespeople shy away from it. However, with practice, sales calls can prove to be extremely effective. When you call a prospect, you have a real, authentic human interaction with them. And this enables you to build trust and establish a connection with them. Choose phone calls when you:
- are trying to build the relationship,
- have something complicated to explain,
- need to make an apology or deliver some bad news,
- need an answer fast or a quick turnaround,
- are looking to close the deal.
Social selling is a relatively new and modern way to develop meaningful relationships. It’s the act of using social media (like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to find, connect, and engage with prospective buyers in a more authentic way. It’s about listening for the right moment to join the conversation so you can present yourself as a solution to a problem. According to HubSpot, instead of a hard closing tactic, social selling more closely resembles lead nurturing. Therefore, it isn’t for sales reps seeking quick wins or a silver bullet.
According to Wistia, including video in their outreach efforts led to a 140% higher click rate. Video is not a channel per se, it’s rather a medium that you can share from other channels like email, live chat, social selling. Video is being consumed more than ever. And, because it allows information to be delivered more quickly and with more color than plain text, it has grown into an unstoppable medium. Video outreach enables your sales team to be more personal, more visual, and it humanizes your team. It’s obvious you haven’t automated that email. Learn how to use personalized video with your proposals.
Direct mail is a marketing and sales strategy—both for B2C and B2B selling—that involves sending a physical letter, package, mailer, brochure, postcard, gift, etc. to your prospects. You might be surprised but direct mail is back! The Direct Marketing Association found direct mail’s response rate is 4.4%, compared to 0.12% for email. You can incorporate direct mail to any stage of your sales process. But typically, sales organizations use it to kick off a prospecting campaign. For example, once you send a book with a handwritten note, you can follow the book send with an outreach campaign. Direct mail provides brand recognition and goodwill before delivering the phone, email, and social touches thus increasing conversion rates. Read HubSpot’s guide to learn more about how to use direct mail.
Live chat is a technology that provides companies with a way to interact with users when they visit an organization’s media properties, including but not limited to your website. It can be used by different departments (marketing, sales, or customer support) for different purposes, typically during the consideration and decision stages of your buyer’s journey. It allows you to engage users that might need a little more help in making their purchase. 61% of shoppers say they're likely to make a purchase after a live chat. Read our article on how to use live chat to boost your sales.
Prospect coming to town? You might invite them to a business dinner, live event, or in-office meeting to impress your prospect and show them how much their business means to your company. An April 2017 study from Cornell University found in-person requests are 34 times more successful than those made over email. You can use face-to-face meetings when:
- It’s a much larger deal than normal
- It’s an average size deal, but there’s a big opportunity for expansion
- It’s an important deal and you think it’s in jeopardy
- It’s a normal deal but you’re going to be in the area
- Your champion wants to introduce you to other potential customers
- Your prospect is going to the same event
For more information on how to improve your face-to-face meetings, you can read HubSpot’s guide.
How To Choose The Right Channel
Now that we have discussed the major outreach channels, we can move on to how to choose the right channels in your outreach program. In short, you should be focusing on the sales outreach channel, medium, and method that achieves the best response from a prospect. Throughout your sales process, you can use each method at different stages. Determining when you need which one is key to achieving success in sales. Here are four criteria to assess the situation before reaching out:
- Your Objective: If your goal with that outreach is to close the deal, don’t go with email, instead choose in-person or phone call. But for simple goals, you can use email.
- Urgency: If you need an answer fast, nothing is better than speaking directly to the prospect. But if you don’t require a fast response, email is fine.
- Prospect’s Preference: There are a number of factors that could influence the prospect’s preference, including age, gender, position, job level, industry, stage at the buyer’s journey, etc.
- Timing: Day of the week, time of day and even time of the month and year could affect response rates for your outreach. Depending on your cadence, you have to choose the right channel.
Best Practices, Tips, And Strategies
Optimize Your Program
1. Target The Right People
Make sure you have a clear and accurate picture of what your ideal customer profile is and focus your efforts only in areas where those prospects are likely to be found. If you show your product or services to people who will never actually buy, you’re wasting precious time. Never fall into the trap of going after anyone who is willing to listen. It will take time and patience, but it will pay off in the end.
2. Have A Sales Cadence
A sales cadence is a scheduled sequence of touchpoints created to establish a connection with potential buyers. Following a cadence allows you to structure your outreach in a way that helps you become more efficient and keep everything organized. Each day you come into work, you know exactly how many emails, calls, and social touches need to be crossed off your to-do list. You can always experiment with different cadences and make adjustments once you get an idea of what will be the most successful. For further information on how to build a great sales cadence, read Freshworks’ article.
3. Follow Them Up
On average, it takes anywhere from 5 to 15 total touches to make contact with a prospect. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get a response right away, so always be sure to follow up. So you have to find new and creative ways to provide value and tell your brand’s story. You have to show that you truly believe in what you do. This persistence proves what you’re selling will your prospect solve their business problem.
4. Leave When They’re Not Interested
No matter how hard you follow up, not every prospect is going to become a customer. You have to learn to identify when there's potential and when it's a lost cause. As a salesperson, you should be looking to qualify or disqualify opportunities as quickly as possible. It is not worth the time—for you or your contact—to pour hours of work into a prospect that will never be interested in using your product or service. So how can you do that? One tip is that if you get a quite negative response to an email that normally gets a very positive response, that’s a strong signal.
5. Collaborate With Marketing
Sales outreach often blurs the line between marketing and sales, as if salespeople are doing marketing. You have to ensure you keep a consistent voice and you are aligned with your buyer’s journey from start to finish. You can ask your marketing team to review your strategy, emails and sales content. To create your content, you can ask them to share resources.
6. Balance Your Research Time
Yes, it is important to research your prospects so you can learn what their needs and preferences are. But if you spend too much time researching, at the end of the day you won’t have much to show for it. For instance, you might set a goal to find three facts about each prospect in just three minutes. This will ensure that your outreach is relevant enough without wasting too much time in the process.
7. Leverage Out-of-Office Situation
Whenever your prospect is out of office, they will leave an OOO email response. And most of the times, this response includes your prospect’s direct dial. Use it to your advantage in follow-up calls. And don’t forget to pause this prospect in your outreach program until the day after they are back in the office.
8. Be Yourself
Today authenticity is probably the number one factor in building trust. Never try to show yourself as something that you are not. For instance, if you are a small business, never act like you are an enterprise. Connect with your customers in an accessible, humanistic way. You have to show your prospect that you genuinely care about them. If they buy your product or service, will they be able to speak to a human if they have any problems in the future? That’s what they want to know.
9. Personalize Your Outreach
Whether you’re calling your prospect, sending an email or video, make your outreach so hyper-personalized that they can't ignore it. You should make your prospect feel like they’re the most important customer. Follow these steps:
- Never use a generic greeting like “Hi there”
- Recommend pieces of content based on what they share on social media
- Recommend they join forums or groups based on their interests
- Go above and beyond your daily job to make them feel valued
- It’s all about them, not you. Don’t sell your features right off the bat.
10. Stay Relevant
Being personalized and being relevant are related concepts but they are not the same. Being relevant is to use the right sales content that will likely engage your customer, based on where they are in their buyer’s journey. You might not always be fully personalized, but you always have to stay relevant!
11. Speak To Specific Pain Points
General statements never resonate with prospects. Instead, make empathy and identify a specific pain point that applies to them. You can then point out how your product or service addresses that pain point and the benefits for the prospect – this might not be applicable depending on where the prospect is in the buying journey so use discretion on when to speak about the product/service.
12. Add Value Early And Often
Many SDRs make the mistake of using the dreaded “just following up” or “just checking in” to try and keep a lead warm. Unfortunately what these types of messages do is to annoy people. Remember, reciprocity is one of the most powerful forces in communication. It's an incentive-based behavioral equation: I want something from you and I offer something in return. It’s even more powerful when what you offer is actually given in advance instead of afterward. Before asking for their time, always make sure you provide a value accompanying your request. For god’s sake, please stop sending those “Just checking in” or “Do you have 15 minutes?” emails or phone calls. Instead, you can send them a relevant article, white paper, or business book. Or invite them to lunch or an event. Or you can introduce them to a similar customer or third-party expert that can help them.
13. Establish Credibility
Your prospects need to feel like they can trust you and you aren’t just another salesperson trying to pitch them something they don’t need. Try to incorporate existing customer stories or case studies to help establish trust. Bonus points if you can include something that relates to their company/industry. This also helps to provide proof of the benefits you mentioned.
14. Use Referrals
The ultimate way to usher your message directly to your target buyers is through a referral from a happy customer or mutual connection. According to a research from Salesforce, lead-to-win conversion rates for leads coming through referrals 50X higher than leads coming from email campaigns. It’s not hard to understand why. With the proliferation of peer reviews on sites like G2Crowd, buyers are becoming more and more wary of vendor-generated content.
15. Send Something Outside Of Work
From time to time, everybody wants to take their mind off work, and give a break from the day-to-day grind. Throughout your sales process, once you have built a certain level of trust and rapport, you can send them something based on their interests outside of work. You have to make sure your prospects feel like they are replying to a person, not a sales pitch.
16. Add Humor
Most outreach messages are straightforward, serious, and boring. Adding a fun twist to your outreach helps you distinguish yourself from the competition and make your pitch more memorable. It might not be easy, but make your prospects laugh! You can use sites like Giphy and memes.com to find funny stuff to send to prospects. Or you can take it even further and send them a funny picture or video of yourself! Check out HubSpot’s funny email templates.
Optimize Your Messaging
17. Perfect Your Subject Lines
Email subject lines can make or break opportunities to connect with cold and warm prospects. They have to have enough reason to click on that email. Depending on your audience it might be a statistic that will grab their attention, or in some cases, an emoji will do the trick. Either way, always use personalization when possible and take a few minutes to really think about what’s going to grab the prospect’s attention. For example, you can use breakup email subject lines like “Did I fall through the cracks?” or “Should I stay or should I go?”.
18. Keep Your Messages Short
This goes for calls, emails, video, social, everything. Keep it short and sweet! Respecting your prospects time will also help to build trust. Make sure your message is comprehensive enough but doesn’t include unnecessary fluff. If you are reading an outreach email out loud with a timer and it’s longer than a minute, you need to cut it down. A great tip for calls: write an outline of what you want to say – it’s the best way to make sure you hit the right points during your call, and you can get an idea for how long your message will be.
19. Provide A Clear CTA
Never send cryptic emails or puzzles! Be very clear about the action you want the prospect to take and make it simple and easy for them to say yes. If you want them to download an asset that you think would be valuable to them, then say just that! Don’t try to over complicate it and avoid multiple call-to-actions. You don’t want to give your prospect too many things and take away their attention from the main objective.
20. Talk About Them
It’s never about you, it’s always about them! With your customer-centric messaging, you have to speak their language and disrupt their inertia, the tendency to keep doing what they’ve always done. Your language should be bold, polarizing, and educational. Don’t tell your customers something they don’t know about you. Teach them something they didn’t know about themselves. For example, before reaching out to an executive buyer, try sourcing some insights from lower-level team members or even publicly available insights or statistics.
21. Use Sales Automation
To put time back into your day, you have to automate your sales outreach work as much as possible, like using email templates, and sequences. This will allow you to gain an accurate picture of how your outreach is being perceived, how engaging your content is, and how compelling your call to action is. But you have to learn to keep the balance of how to automate but stay away from being impersonal. If you want to learn how to keep personal with automation, read our article.
22. Track Engagement
With today’s technology, you can track not only the emails but also the documents you sent. Tracking activity such as views, clicks, time-spent and replies are critical to staying on top of hot prospects and measure the success of your outreach. There are many amazing tools on the market including GetAccept that can turn your current outreach activity into an efficiency machine. Learn how to use email and document tracking together.
23. Use A Power Dialing Tool
A power dialer handles the dialing process while your sales reps deal only with speaking to your prospects. There are many dialers on the market but the key is to find one that seamlessly integrates with your sales stack. As you prospect and call, make sure to track calls, voicemails, and conversations to better determine the minimum number of activities to attain an appointment or demo.
24. Change Your Timing
Again, this is valid for all communication channels. Change your regular timing and try something new. For instance, try emailing your prospects on the weekend, and see if that gets you a response! Because typically people don’t get many emails on the weekend. So you can hit them when they don’t expect it. This is especially effective for executive-level prospects. Or with your social outreach, try early morning or late evening times and see how it works out.
25. Try A Different Channel
Personalized video, live chat and social selling are relatively new outreach channels. If you haven’t been using them, today might the right time. Maybe you have been using all the channels we have listed. But even so, change your cadence and try something new. For example, instead of sending your third follow up email, reach out from LinkedIn. Or if you have been using direct mail at earlier stages, try using it at later stages.
26. A/B Test Everything
Whichever method you use (call, email, video, social, etc.) always keep testing. You can test your script, content, subject line, image, cadence, timing, etc. What has worked before may not be working today. Make sure you test against a large enough sample size so that you can obtain significant results.
27. Measure Your Results
What gets measured, gets improved, and you know that! And when it comes to sales outreach, there is no silver bullet. You need to always be testing, innovating, and developing new strategies to keep your sales outreach methods and tactics fresh and your prospects hot. And it all starts with measuring your results. Stop procrastinating and just do it now!
28. Be Creative
Never write boring and dull messages. Put your own creativity and flair into your follow-ups to grab your prospect’s attention. Sending someone a coffee, gift, or lunch helps you appear more human and not someone who is just trying to sell them another solution. You begin to build a relationship with them. For example, you can do like what we do. Dress differently at conferences and pull your leads like a super-strong magnet!
Low-tech ideas like engaging your prospects with a Piñatagram or a good ‘ol fashioned handwritten note work as well. Or you can do your pitch by singing a song and recording your video. Or if you’re good at Photoshop, you can Photoshop yourself into the prospect’s LinkedIn photo. Just go for it!
29. Go Against The Grain
Take all of these tips and adapt them to your own needs. Every industry and every business is unique. So what works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Nobody knows your business as you do, and that will follow on to you knowing your market really well and being able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Above all, use your common sense and think about what your customer truly wants, because the customer is always right.
Alright, there you go! These are the 29 tips to get super successful in sales outreach. Try some of them and let us know how it went. And watch our demo video how we can help you use personalized video with your proposals.