Early-stage companies often cast too wide a net when defining their target customer base. They believe the more prospects, the better — but pursuing the wrong types of prospects wastes precious time, cash, and sales resources. There’s a high opportunity cost to chasing someone who won’t buy (or buys and quickly churns).
All the while, your competitors are entering the market and making contact with large and enterprise clients, which is why having an outreach strategy is critical. In this post, we’ll define outreach strategy and explain how you can create your own.
What is outreach strategy?
An outreach strategy is a specific set of tactics intended to attract new customers. Depending on the complexity of your sales organization, your outreach strategy can consist of one action or a combination of multiple tactics.
The goals behind your outreach strategy can vary depending on your business needs. Still, common objectives include finally closing out a deal, initiating new relationships with consumers, building trust with your audience, educating leads on your business offerings, or simply making contact with a suspect for the first time.
In terms of conducting this outreach, you may think of traditional modes like cold-calling and door-to-door visits, but today’s sales teams often use diverse channels like email, phone, social media, and marketing campaigns.
The teams that are the most involved in sales outreach are salespeople and their managers, and sometimes additional insight from marketing teams.
I’ve now helped three early-stage tech companies go from zero revenue to cash-flow positive. Honing in on the most valuable accounts and customer stakeholders has helped me accelerate B2B sales at each of these. In fact, the company I currently lead, Spotted Media, used these tactics below to acquire our first set of customers before we even had a fully functioning website.
Sales Outreach Strategies
- Create a persona map.
- Prioritize your personas.
- Determine the best outreach channel.
- Personalize your messaging.
- Schedule a follow-up.
- Record all information in your CRM.
- Align with marketing teams.
- Automate whenever possible.
1. Create an ideal customer profile.
An ideal customer profile (ICP) should consist of five strict bullet points that you will not waver on. These bullet points will be your guide, and you should aim to discount any prospects that don’t check all five boxes of your ICP.
An ICP might consist of the following:
- Revenue size (e.g., more than $200 million in annual sales).
- Employee count (e.g., no fewer than 1,000 verified LinkedIn employees).
- Organization’s employee structure (e.g., the brand must have an in-house media team).
- Type of product sold (e.g., a direct manufacturer).
- A mutual goal (e.g., a manufacturer that cares about increasing brand awareness).
Once you’ve created your ICP, the next step is to think through the people who work for this ideal customer. Stop asking yourself surface-level questions like, “Are they in marketing?” and instead ask in-depth, meaningful questions about these professionals’ motivations.
That leads me to the next step.
2. Create a persona map.
Choose the three primary roles that you sell to (e.g., the VP of Advertising, the VP of Media, and the VP of Brand Marketing) and identify the following for each role:
- The buyer’s two to three primary daily responsibilities, like projects they work on and think about each day.
- Two to three ways your company can help make their day-to-day tasks more manageable.
- Two to three of the buyer’s long-term goals.
- Two to three ways your company can help further the buyer’s longer-term goals.
This approach will save you and your team a great deal of time in the future when you’re at your laptop thinking, “What messaging and language should I use when reaching out to this person?” By filling in the five points above for each of your target roles, your outreach messaging will practically craft itself.
When conducting email outreach, you can repurpose points two and three for targeted messaging. Here is an example:
You’ve mapped out the specifics of your ideal customer, the stakeholders’ motivations, but where do you go from here? To focus your outreach on the right people, you have to prioritize.
3. Prioritize your personas.
Prioritize the personas you create by ranking each buyer on a scale from one to five on the following metrics:
- Alignment with your solution.
- Size of their budget.
- Level of influence within their organization.
Once you’ve calculated the scores, lay out a strategic plan for your outreach that begins with buyers with the highest totals. This process is sometimes called Account-Based Selling, and the strategy focuses on bringing in the right clients instead of the most clients. The email below is an example of an outreach email to a VP of media, a high-ranking lead.
This exercise will drastically reduce wasted time and optimize your outreach while allowing you to get in front of the right people faster.
4. Determine the best outreach channel.
Not all outreach channels are created equal. If possible, aim to reach out to prospects via the channel they are most engaged on. For example, have you noticed that your prospect is especially active on LinkedIn? That would be a good platform for initiating contact.
Is your prospect on your company’s email list, and do they open every email they receive? This tells you their inbox is active, and they consistently engage with emails from your company. In this case, email outreach could be a good fit.
The channel you use to reach out to contacts will vary depending on the prospect’s preference, the information you have available, and the nature of the sale. All the while, you shouldn’t be afraid to meet customers where they are — it should be a priority.
5. Personalize your messaging.
As you know, landing a sale with a new customer largely depends on your ability to build trust with them. Few things build trust with a new customer like a tailored message that makes them feel seen, heard, and understood.
When conducting outreach, customize your message with the prospect’s name, company name (if selling B2B), and relevant context you have about the recipient and the problem they are trying to solve.
While using templates or scripts can be a good way to keep your messages structured and improve efficiency, avoid coming across as overly-scripted or generic. Thoughtful, personalized messages will feel less sales-y and are more likely to receive a response.
6. Send a follow-up.
You successfully contacted a prospect and had a great consultation — congratulations! When is the next time they can expect to hear from you? If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to send a follow-up message so your conversation stays top of mind.
Here’s an example:
This message recaps the conversation you had with the prospect and establishes your willingness to answer any questions they may have. It also serves as a reminder about the agreed-upon time and date for your follow-up conversation.
7. Record all information in your CRM.
A critical step is to make sure all of your outreach efforts are documented in your preferred customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Storing all of your prospects’ data in a central location makes the rest of the sales process easier because you can pick up right where you left off without searching for information. If a team member has to take over an account for you, everything they need to know to finish the sale right there for them to see.
While the above steps are baseline processes to include in your sales outreach strategy, there are potential bonus steps to consider that only make your methods easier.
8. Align with marketing teams.
Sales outreach bears similarities to marketing, as salespeople are essentially advertising themselves and their business to leads. Like marketing, these customers can be entirely new to your business or known clients hoping to re-purchase. Given this, it’s essential to work closely with your business marketing teams and align your efforts.
Marketing can review the copy you create for email, social media, and call scripts to ensure that it is on-brand with your business tone and style, or they can even supply you with branding copy that you can incorporate yourself.
Analytics are also important drivers of marketing operations, so you can ask them to give you the data you need to decide on the channels you’ll use to conduct your outreach. For example, maybe you’ve initially planned on making phone calls, but analytics data shows that emails with CTAs are the most effective for driving conversions. Your marketing team can help you craft the right approach to get the most out of your emails.
9. Automate whenever possible.
As technology becomes more commonplace in sales, it’s worth integrating new tools into your processes. The right automation tools can enhance productivity and save time, as technology can take over for repetitive, rote tasks while you focus on the most critical aspect of sales outreach — building relationships with your customers.
There are various routes you can choose to take based on your individual business needs, but standard tools help with email automation or sending meeting reminders, as well as pipeline analytics to help you understand how leads engage with what you send them.
If you’re looking for a full-service option for your entire sales sequence, GetAccept is worth considering. It’s a feature-rich tool, giving you the ability to automate conversations with leads through live-chat, send personalized and secure documents, and even receive notifications when prospects interact with your sales assets, helping you follow-up in a timely manner. If you’re a HubSpot user, GetAccept can integrate with Sales Hub.
Your Strategy Will Help You Meet Business Objectives
What’s the result of this upfront investment in strategy? Efficient outreach that specifically addresses the needs of your various buyers. Your messages will resonate more, and your prospects will respond more frequently.
Say goodbye to the typical results at early-stage companies, and say hello to more calls, meetings, and closed deals.
Originally published Mar 24, 2021 1:30:00 PM, updated March 24 2021