While much of our effort at Austin Lawrence is focused on Inbound Marketing, I thought I’d share some of our best practices for outbound prospecting. We use these for our own firm’s sales prospecting and recommend this kind of outreach for client campaigns. Below is an outline of how we organize outbound prospecting:Group firms that share similar characteristics into their own campaigns (size, vertical market, etc.). This enables you to create a multi-step outreach that can be automated through your CRM or email service. Having an ideal client profile is important in making these groupings as tight as possible.
Build a series of outreach steps that, taken together, enable you to make a favorable impression. It can take seven, eight or nine steps to be effective. And there’s no beating the old-school phone call (or a few) to make it clear to your prospect that you’re interested in building a relationship with them.
Offer “semi-customized” recommendations if possible. If you can learn qualifying facts through news, public filings or the prospect's website, you can offer value in your outreach, creating initial interest and trust in your firm and its reps as advisors. Obviously, this adds some manual labor to the process, but greatly increases the value of your outreach to potential clients and serves to make your cold contact more receptive.
Share resources that will help your prospects do their jobs better. It’s likely that your marketing department is creating downloads that are keyed to the sales journey. Your emails, LinkedIn connect requests and post-connect LinkedIn messages are the perfect place to offer these resources. If you’re using HubSpot marketing automation, when your prospect clicks a link you’ll be notified, helping you to prioritize follow-up calls.
Use multiple channels to get on their radar. Some people live on email, others on LinkedIn. Still others are responsive to phone calls. We use all three in our prospecting to increase connect rates and cut through the clutter. Plus, using LinkedIn Connection Requests (vs Inmail) adds to your network, even if the prospect never buys, they may engage with your future posts. Top salespeople I know call this, “changing the channel,” and it’s a very effective tactic.
Make offers that make sense. If your sales process includes a consultative step, make sure it’s relevant to the prospect and is clearly explained. Once you’ve established yourself as a trustworthy outsider through solid observations, you stand a good chance of being taken up on this offer.
Script voicemails and live calls. Having a solid script increases the likelihood that each member of your team will perform at a similar level and enables you to analyze results more effectively as you implement changes.
Use sales and marketing automation to enable scale and provide reporting. We’ve seen companies that sell automation themselves rely on manual processes in sales (spreadsheets - yikes!). The HubSpot CRM has a feature called “Sequences” that does a great job of automating outreach, while allowing you tailor individual messages. Salesforce workflows provide a similar capability. If you have a high-volume operation, consider additional automation like insidesales.com, a smart dialer that increases calling productivity and connect rates.
Buy good data to enhance lead quality and increase ROI. Rep time is too valuable to have them messing about trying to guess email construction or find main phone numbers on their own (from which they’ll still need to navigate phone directories or get past receptionists). We’ve found that services like Relpro that rely on multiple underlying data sources are best, and with Relpro in particular, its search and screening functions allow you to build target lists that closely match your ideal prospects.
Iterate and optimize for best results. With automation in place, you can review results and tune your tactics to improve ROI. Meet frequently with the sales reps to get their feedback on the campaign and integrate the best of their ideas to keep them motivated.
I'll bet you already have some of these in place today, but I hope you’ve found something new here to integrate into your outbound sales campaigns.
Want to dive a little deeper into LinkedIn best practices for sales outreach? Watch a replay of our recent webinar, “Leveraging LinkedIn for Business Development with Brynne Tillman” by clicking the button below.