cold calling businessman

By Kathleen Robida

Have you ever had a Kitchen Sink Cookie? There’s a chain eatery known for its bread items

that make a version of this calorie-rich delicious cookie, and they put everything in it; chocolate, pretzels, caramel, and more.  It’s about a day’s worth of calories in one swoop, and it reminds me a bit of what it takes to obtain meaningful conversations with prospects these days.  

There are so many “ingredients” required in 2023 to build a scalable, repeatable pipeline.  Let’s look at one possible “recipe” for optimizing your outbound efforts.

It is important to note that the following assumes; you have onboarded Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) with a comprehensive program that includes a partnership with a mentor, clearly defined monthly or quarterly goal expectations (opportunities created or meetings booked), and ideally, the team has completed formal sales training such as; Sandler, MEDDIC, Challenger, Tenbound. 

Once you have well-trained SDRs, we begin with…

Clean data. A founder I once worked with said, “it all begins with the data.” Yes, SDRs should clean a certain amount of data daily or weekly. Finding new contact information for decision-makers is a great indicator that you have an SDR willing to put in the effort to find the right decision-maker to reach out to.  That said, it’s pretty expensive to have SDRs cleaning data for large amounts of time. If it’s more than an hour a day, look to purchase a clean data set.

To optimize for outbound, segment your prospecting lists. Sorting by

most likely to buy based on who has purchased from you in the past. Which title most often

signed a contract or engaged? What size organization? What financial attributes were most

common? Any particular region?  Review your current client demographics to help you prioritize prospects.

Next up is equipping prospectors with the characteristics of three or four Buyer Personas.  A matrix often works well.  This could include;  Job titles, responsibilities, common goals, and initiatives they have.  Highlight for prospectors how your offering has helped others in that same role.  You need to first understand your prospect so that the language and topics you use are relevant and of interest.

Where can you find your perfect fit buyers?

In addition to the above list, savvy SDRs will begin creating their future pipeline of leads

to nurture.  Nurtures are folks who express a temporary objection due to timing.  The key is to not drop the ball on this; find a system to track “nurtures,” noting what piqued this prospect’s interest when you connected, and a reminder to get back in touch. 

Pro tip: always begin to re-engage one month earlier than the prospect suggested; things change quickly, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to partner with the prospect.

Effective outbound includes providing Sales Dev teams with a rich tech stack. This includes; a CRM like Salesforce, a Sales Engagement Platform like Outreach or Salesloft, a calling software like Orum or RingCentral, a Video Prospecting tool like Vidyard or Drift, and, if you can swing it, a software solution that provides buyer intent data like 6Sense or ZoomInfo.

Prepare the Sales Engagement Platform for SDRs by creating persona-based sequences they can utilize.  Sales Engagement Platforms like Outreach are game changers. Back in my day, and I’m sure at some companies where the budget is tight, relying on google sheets or excel spreadsheets is common. If SDRs manage hundreds or thousands of prospects, it will be difficult to keep track of the prospects, the stage they are in, what task type needs to happen next, and when.

Outreach has a suggested “Agoge” sequence; for this kitchen sink outbound cookie recipe, you’ve got to find what works in terms of the number of steps and spacing and how many sequences your folks will require to be successful. A/B testing and monitoring for engagement rate success regularly is critical to iterate and improve results.

Sequence step thoughts. Consider starting with an automatic email for step one; you may glean out-of-office contact data or a referral quickly. The Phone is still the number one way to obtain that meaningful conversation with a prospect. So a call task on day 1 or 2 is ideal. Of course, this requires SDRs trained to make cold-approach calls; it’s so much more than the intro. I have found the first investigative question to be the most important. Beyond email and phone,  LinkedIn connect & voice/video messages (keeping messaging consistent across all delivery systems) can be valuable – depending on the industry. 

Focus on building the relationship by sharing value-add content for the prospect.  

Finally, Modern sellers, whether an SDR/BDR, AE, etc., should use video in their sequence. A 30-60 second Vidyard or Drift video. Custom videos are a great way to put the face with the name, stand out, and reinforce the other methods of communication in your sequence.  Most sequences I’ve created are 9-11 steps over 35 days or so. Remember that Sales/Biz Dev Teams should practice an ABM method of reaching out to three or four folks at each account, putting them in their assigned persona sequence so your messaging is relevant to the title.

Over time reps should uncover how many prospects they need to sequence each day/week to achieve the meaningful conversations that lead to meetings booked, demos scheduled, and opportunities created for that pipeline.

Obtaining meaningful conversations with prospects is just the first part, significant time should be spent training reps not only on qualifying a prospect but conducting discovery conversations so that both the prospect and the rep walk away with what they need but also have had a positive experience that is professional and begins to build a relationship of trust. More can be said about securing the next step (demo), the process of passing leads to sales partners (closers) and the critical importance of the SDR & AE relationship.

A few final points.  The importance of creating an atmosphere of authentic care and collaboration amongst the team is an ingredient that cannot be substituted. SDRs should feel they can freely share their struggles, strategies, fumbles, and successes. Learning from each other, not only provides actionable, timely tips but opens up a window of creativity.

A word about maintaining momentum: constant rejection, ghosting, and the volume of effort can take a toll on an SDR.  So incorporating team (especially when remote) continuous improvement and learning sessions, and prospecting challenges will help build confidence and turbocharge the pipeline.

Finally, Sales Dev isn’t on an island alone. Partnership and collaboration with Sales, Marketing, and Sales Enablement colleagues are much-needed ingredients to be successful.

Now, take a bite of that cookie, and let’s go!!

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