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Building an Effective Outbound Sales Campaign With Outreach

Originally posted on the Outreach.io blog

We build a lot of outbound sales campaigns. Often we’re starting from the ground up with nothing but a list of prospective buyers. We utilize Outreach to go beyond basic “spray and pray” tactics and generate 3-4X more sales opportunities consistently in the same period of time.

Building this outbound campaign all starts with our understanding of the perfect prospecting equation:

Assuming you know who you want to work with and can build a list, Outreach makes the rest easy. Here’s how we take advantage of the unique features inside Outreach to efficiently handle the other three components -- crafting the right message, utilizing the right channel, and finding the right timing. Once we nail these elements of an effective outbound campaign, we can focus on the follow up and make sure our sellers spend more time selling by leveraging automation to our advantage.

Crafting the Right Message
We start by building snippets and templates we know we’re going to want to use throughout our campaign, so we can ensure we’re consistently using the right language. Here are a few examples of content that’s been key to our success:
  • Snippet: Short value proposition
    This is how you would tell someone what you do when you’re standing in line at the bank.
    E.g. “We help B2B companies double sales without doubling their headcount.”
  • Snippet: Longer value proposition
    If that same person said, “Tell me more,” this is how you’d respond.
    E.g. “The average SDR has 5 quality conversations a day. To get 10 conversations a day, conventional wisdom teaches you to crack a whip or hire another SDR. We give you a third option.”
  • Template: “No Interest, No Reason Given”
    This is the email we send if we call someone and they say “Not interested” right away.
    E.g. “Jim, I appreciate you taking my call this afternoon. I reached out because I saw that you’re starting to build your SDR team, and I wanted to show you how we help companies at your stage double sales without doubling your headcount. When is a good time to show you how we do that?”

The key to ensuring we’re using the most effective version of each of these pieces of content is that we actually create multiple versions of all of these to test against each other. That means we’re constantly iterating on our message to generate the highest, most consistent degree of success possible.

Utilizing the Right Channel

When we say that it’s important to send our message in the right channel, we don’t mean the channel that makes us most comfortable. It’s the channel that will get through to the prospective buyer. Our preference has nothing to do with how our buyer will respond.

That means we’re building sequences in Outreach that have various kinds of touches across all different channels: email, phone, social, and even offline interactions, like sending a gift or stopping by their office in-person. Over time we can look back at the various channels an interested buyer went through to assess where our message got through to them, and if that’s consistent across many prospects, we can double down on that channel.

Here’s a quick example: A lot of the people we talk to believe their clients “can’t be reached over the phone.” For some industries, breaking in with a cold call is very difficult. But when we show them reporting in Outreach indicating that we are actually reaching, engaging, and converting their ideal clients over the phone, it’s no longer a matter of what they think will work.

(Pro Tip: We use the ConnectAndSell + Outreach integration to complete hundreds of call tasks in our sequences every day with the click of a button, to scale up our work on the phone. You can reach out to me if you want to learn about how we do it!)

Finding the Right Timing

Timing can be the most challenging component to nail. If someone isn’t coming to us, raising their hand and shouting, “I’m interested!” then we really don’t know what they’re thinking.

We’ve tested a few strategies and have found the following are really helpful for gauging timing:

  1. Set Outreach to automatically create a high priority call task any time someone opens an email 3 or more times. When a prospect opens our email once, it could be a mistake. But if we can catch them while they’re reading our email for the third time, we know they’re highly engaged.
  2. Create follow up sequences, not just cold outreach sequences. This way follow up isn’t just a single event on the calendar - it’s a series of events, and the sequence ensures none of these events fall through the cracks.
  3. After a positive or neutral interaction with a prospect who isn’t currently interested, send an email and set a follow up sequence to begin in 2-3 months. If a prospect is in our swimlane and doesn’t have a significant reason not to buy, it’s worth following up with them regularly to try and re-engage. Often their situation has changed and what wasn’t a priority the first time we reached them now is.

Focus on your four buckets of communication:

Now that you’ve nailed your outbound sales campaign, that’s where the work starts in ensuring you’re using the right parts of the campaign with the right prospects at the right time. My co-founder, Ryan Reisert, and I published a book on outbound sales last year, and in it, we shared what we call the “bucketing leads” strategy. Basically, you put all workable leads into the following buckets:

  • Bucket 1: Uncontacted - you’ve never tried reaching them before
  • Bucket 2: Working - you’ve tried to reach them & verified the data is good, but haven’t had a conversation
  • Bucket 3: Priority - you’ve had a conversation, email reply or high email engagement, but haven’t set up a meeting
  • Bucket 4: Meeting Scheduled - you’ve scheduled a meeting with them (hint: these are the most valuable)

Once you’ve established your buckets, you prioritize by working them backwards; that means starting with the prospects who are closest to generating revenue for your company. If all we do is set more meetings that don’t hold, nobody wins.

We use Smart Views to make sure we hit our tasks in Bucket 4 first, then Bucket 3, and so on. If a prospect agrees to a meeting, we send them a thank you email and add them to a follow up sequence called “Meeting Scheduled.” There’s an email task due the day before the appointment so we don’t forget to remind the prospect about their meeting.

Follow up generally yields much stronger results than initial outreach so we spend more time investing in a follow up sequences and calling on a number we know will pick up. Even a “not interested” has a better chance of converting than someone who has never opened your email. The follow up is where we invest the most time.

Let reps spend time doing what they do best: Selling!

Most sales reps spend hours finding, verifying, and dealing with contact data. That’s not a selling activity, it’s an activity that leads to a selling activity. Taft Love from SmartRecruiters mastered this and shared it all in a recent post on the Outreach blog. We have a very similar mindset when it comes to how reps can best spend their time.

We use Outreach’s triggers and tags to automatically provide us a list of all bad data and what’s wrong with it. That means we can quickly pull up our “Bad Email” smartview and find all leads that need a new email address. We can do the same for invalid phone numbers, and even when we have the wrong person at the right company. We can now easily send that bad data off for updating. That’s a management task or a sales operations task. It’s just not worth a rep’s time!

Similarly, we don’t leave messaging up to the individual sales rep. Of course they can customize it to their style and personality, but we provide everything they need to succeed right out the gate. Salespeople are here to sell, not write content! We use Outreach’s snippets and templates to make all the messaging consistent and easier to learn. That means no salesperson has to spend half an hour crafting a custom email - they start with a strong, approved base copy and add modifications to personalize it to their prospect.

We believe that sales should start with an intelligent process, enabled through technology, and carried out by salespeople. Outreach has made this easy - our clients are able to generate 3-4X more sales opportunities without additional hiring.

But you don't have to do this...we'll do it for you.

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