Are you having trouble scaling your sales outreach? Looking for advice to help you develop a strategy guaranteed to drive sales?
I’m sure you’ll agree with me on this: Running a sales outreach strategy often feels like a catch-22.
First, you set up the strategy to help you catch as many prospects as possible. And then, you waste so much time sorting through them all to find the handful of promising leads.
It doesn’t make sense, does it? But is there another way? Can you set up an outreach strategy to deliver only the best prospects?
Well, that’s exactly what I will show you in this guide. We’ll discuss what sales outreach strategy is, look at both types of outreach strategies, and go through the process of developing a sales outreach plan for your business. Finally, I’ll share with you some tips for making the strategy a success (and what tools you’ll need to do it.)
It’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.
What is a sales outreach strategy?
An old mentor in sales once defined the outreach strategy to me as:
A set of sales tactics that you use to attract new customers for your business.
I love it. In a single sentence, my mentor included everything there is to know about sales outreach.
First, the definition makes it clear: Sales outreach is not a single strategy. Instead, it comprises various tactics. And depending on factors such as the size of your company, the complexity of the product, and the sales process, you might need to use one such tactic or combine several of them into an outreach plan to achieve your objective.
(Sidenote: We’ll go through all these tactics in detail shortly. But to give you an indication of what they are, these tactics include cold calling, email outreach, and more.)
Also, the definition tells us that the goal of sales outreach isn’t to reach and engage a person. It’s to find new customers. Granted, outreach and engagement play a role in it, but they are nothing more than parts of the process.
There is also another thing we can deduct from the definition. You see, it clearly states that sales outreach strategy is a combination of various tactics. This suggests that there is no single and uniform strategy or outreach plan. Instead, you tailor it to your company, the nature of what you sell, your target audience, buyer personas (or the ideal customer profile, if you prefer to use that term,) and so on.
In general, however, you develop a strategy to help you achieve several objectives:
- Some of your outreach will aim to initiate new relationships with potential customers,
- Other strategies, however, will help with engaging leads,
- You might also run direct outreach targeted at closing deals,
- Or have a strategy to reach decision-makers, educate them about your product, and more.
(Don’t worry if this still sounds cryptic to you. Later in this guide, I’ll show you exactly how to put it together and develop a sales outreach plan for your company.)
Two types of sales outreach strategies
When we talk about sales outreach, most of us immediately think of phone calls, cold calling, or email outreach. These are all valid outreach channels. However, they aren’t the only ways to reach and find new customers with the strategy.
In fact, there are two different approaches to outreach – inbound and outbound.
Inbound sales outreach
Inbound sales strategy works in opposition to what we normally consider outreach. In this strategy, it’s the prospect who indicates their interest in your product or service. This usually happens in one of two ways:
- The prospect gets in touch with you directly. They find you online and either call or fill in the email form on the site.
- They visit the site and convert via one of your lead generation strategies (i.e., download a lead magnet, fill in a lead capture form, schedule a consultation, engage with you via live chat, etc.)
As a result, in this approach, you’re dealing with prospects who are aware of your brand already and consider you a potential solution to their problem.
One other thing to note about the inbound outreach is that developing and implementing this strategy often requires full collaboration between sales and marketing. Sales teams provide customer data, information about pain points, etc. Marketing teams then use it to create relevant lead generation strategies to convert those prospects into leads.
Outbound sales outreach
As you may have guessed – In this type of outreach, your company (usually a sales rep) identifies someone as a prospect and reaches out to connect, engage them, and initiate the sales conversation.
With the outbound strategy, however, you’re dealing with prospects who are less aware (or even completely unaware) of your brand. They aren’t engaged with your brand either. As a result, your major task is to connect with them and then attract them to your brand through engagement and education.
(A quick note – In this guide, I’ll be following mostly on the outbound sales outreach.)
How to develop a sales outreach strategy for your business
So, let’s put what we’ve learned so far and go through the process of creating a sales outreach plan.
Now, before we begin, I need to reiterate this – There is no single, uniform outreach strategy. Every company is different, after all. So is every product and how you sell it.
But there are certain steps that every such strategy must include, and that’s what we’re going to focus on below.
These steps include:
- Researching the target audience
- Learning more about your potential customers and developing buyer personas
- Selecting sales tactics that offer you the biggest opportunity to engage with those people
- Crafting outreach messages
- Scheduling the outreach cadence
- Integrating the results into the CRM to act on.
Let’s see how it all works in practice.
Step 1. Research the target audience
Based on the definition we’ve discussed above, you know that there is no such thing as a typical sales outreach strategy. It’s a custom process instead, one that you develop to target a specific audience with an equally specific message.
And so, the first step in defining the process is to find out as much as you can about your target audience.
This involves researching both the specific customer segment you’re trying to reach and the actual people you’d like to target.
At the end of this step, you should have a solid ideal customer profile that includes such information as:
- The type of companies you want to pursue
- Their size and revenue
- You should also know their structure to understand whom you should be reaching out to in those companies, specifically.
- If you’re targeting companies within a specific industry or location, include that information in the target audience profile.
Next, evaluate whom in those companies you’d need to target to kickstart a sales conversation. In this case, you should be looking for people within the company that, typically, would be responsible for initiating purchasing products or services like yours.
Find out their demographic characteristics, research what jobs to be done get them to think of solutions like yours, their needs, problems, etc.
This brings us to the next step…
#2. Create buyer personas
This step is all about using the information you’ve collected so far to create a fictional representation of the ideal buyer that you’d like to engage with the outreach strategy.
We typically refer to these representations as buyer personas, and we create them to better personalize the outreach.
You see, with a persona, you no longer write your outreach messages to a nameless and faceless idea of a buyer. Personas allow you to have a real person in mind. With them, you understand who that person is, what they seek in life or in their professional lives, and their needs, desires, and challenges.
Actually, with a solid persona, you can practically put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
That’s why your buyer persona should go beyond just the obvious. Granted, it’s good to know your audience’s age, income, livelihood, or social status.
But go further:
- Think about their responsibilities at home and work. Research what projects they might be working on, typically. Perhaps there are ways that your product helps them with those, and you could use that information to further personalize your outreach.
- Find out what goals these people might have. Again, this could help you create a more focused outreach message.
- Their routines can help you decide what the best time to send them outreach is and so on.
#3. Select sales outreach tactics
Look – If you’ve done the research well, then completing this step should be dead easy for you.
Why? Because at this stage, you should have a pretty good idea about your target audience’s routines and the best ways to get in touch with them.
For example, if you aim to reach SaaS founders, then, most likely, you can skip cold calling.
Focusing on this tactic would be a waste of time.
Many SaaS companies do not have dedicated offices. These founders work remotely and might not even reside in a single location.
- But they check their emails like crazy.
- SaaS founders are known to love Twitter too. Most of the ones I know engage with others on Twitter every day.
- These people also log in to LinkedIn regularly (even if to engage with potential investors.)
By understanding the target market so deeply, you can easily identify what channel will deliver your outreach message the most effectively.
It’s that simple.
#4. Build a prospecting list
Quite an obvious step, I’m sure you’ll agree. You’ve researched the target audience and learned all that there is to be able to personalize your outreach.
It’s time to build a list of people to engage with.
There are several ways to build prospecting lists, of course. You can use lead generation tools, forms and surveys, research potential customers on social media, or even ask existing customers for referrals.
But in this guide, I want to show you a much simpler method. One that can help you build prospecting lists at scale.
The method is about using dedicated sales outreach tools like Postaga (disclaimer: I’m the founder of the tool.)
You see – Postaga allows you to quickly input various search parameters that describe your buyer persona and retrieve a list of relevant contacts, including their email addresses!
Here’s what the setup screen looks like.
As you can see, you can select a type of campaign (in this case, Sales), input a search query, specify the target location, and more.
Based on these simple parameters, Postaga will generate a prospecting list. It will also validate those peoples’ email addresses.
#5. Write outreach messages
From what I hear, this is the step salespeople find the most difficult.
I’m not surprised.
To engage potential customers, people who might have never heard of your brand or products before, you need a truly attractive and compelling message.
That’s not something you can whip out in a matter of seconds, unfortunately.
We’ve written quite a lot about crafting strong outreach messages. Take a look at these guides to master outreach copywriting:
- How to write a perfect outreach email
- How to write follow-up sales outreach emails
- How to personalize cold emails
- Sales breakup email templates
#6. Set the follow-up cadence
Ask any seasoned salesperson, and they’ll agree:
Follow-up is the key to successful outreach.
There’s plenty of research data to prove it too:
- According to this source, for example, high-growth organizations set up an average of 16 touchpoints in their follow-up cadence.
- According to InsideSales, 50% of sales happen after the fifth touchpoint. (source)
- HubSpot reports that you need to cold call a prospect eight times to even reach them.
Once again, we’ve shared quite a lot on the subject here on the blog. Check out these guides to understand the importance of following up and how to set up your follow-up cadence:
#7. Integrate the data into the CRM
It’s an unfortunate aspect of selling – Data entry.
In fact, according to research, many of us spend no more than 40% of our time actually selling. The rest goes towards administrative tasks.
But doing so is enormously important to our success.
On the one hand, we need to outreach to as many people as possible. But on the other, we also need to keep track of what happens with each prospect, our engagements with them, and our conversations.
It’s the information that helps us guide the person closer to the sale.
Luckily, outreach tools like Postaga offer a built-in CRM that allows you to keep track of every prospect engagement.
With the CRM, you can track each contact’s status, stage, opportunity type, and more so that you never miss out on an opportunity.
How to measure your sales outreach success?
It’s a harsh truth, but I need to say it:
I rarely see companies hitting the bullseye with the very first iteration of their outreach strategy.
But it makes sense.
Sure, you collect a lot of information about prospects when planning the strategy. However, a lot of it is based on assumptions or third-party data.
It’s only when you launch the strategy you collect real data on how prospects react to your outreach, whether you follow up enough, and if your messages manage to engage them.
That’s why you need to continuously monitor and measure the campaign’s performance.
And that you do by monitoring various KPIs and metrics. Here are the most common ones:
- Email open rate
- Response rate
- Prospect to lead conversion rate
- Click-through rates, etc.
Each of these metrics reveals performance levels of specific aspects of the strategy.
A low open rate might suggest that some of these factors need improvement:
- Timing of your emails
- The subject line you use for the intro email and follow-up messages
- The number of emails you send per day, and more.
A low response rate might suggest that your email copy fails to engage recipients, etc.
3 factors that will make your sales outreach strategy an absolute success
To close this guide off, let me share with you three factors that will help you increase the effectiveness of your email outreach.
#1. The right prospects
Ok, this goes without saying – Your chances of outreach success get significantly higher if you try to connect with relevant people.
Not all prospects can buy from you. Not all of them are even interested in what you’re selling. Going after those people, therefore, is just a waste of time and effort.
Unfortunately, I see many sales reps doing just that. Because various sales outreach tools let them scale campaigns and send practically unlimited outreach emails, these reps think that more is better.
As a result, they “loosen” their prospecting and include less relevant names on their lists.
The result, unfortunately, is always the same – Burning through many contacts but with little or no additional gain.
Don’t make the same mistake. Research your target audience, create the ideal customer profile and buyer persona, and use prospecting tools like Postaga to find the most relevant potential customers.
#2. Be consistent with your outreach
This is another mistake I see reps make. They run a large outreach campaign. Then, their entire focus goes towards processing those leads.
But once they’re done, they face having no new leads and have to start the process anew.
Here’s what you should do instead – Run outreach campaigns consistently. Once one campaign approaches its final stages, launch another one. This way, by the time you process leads from the first campaign, you will have a new list of leads to work on and so on.
#3. Use dedicated tools to scale outreach
It’s a fact; a good sales outreach takes time and effort. It takes even more if you want to do it manually, of course.
A solid sales outreach tool, like Postaga, for example, will help you automate many critical aspects of the campaign:
- Building prospecting lists
- Validating those people’s email addresses
- Setting up sales cadences
- Sending outreach messages at a scale and without the risk of being penalized or your emails ending up in spam
- Managing responses and keeping track of each engagement with a built-in CRM and more.
Want to see how Postaga could help you run better sales outreach campaigns? Try it out for free. No credit card required.
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