Admit it, you hate getting emails from strangers. In fact, a recent experiment showed most people do. While cold outreach can have impressive open rates, the reply rate is less than 2%. So, what does this tell us? Cold outreach might be salespeople's past, but it's not their present or future. And it's not the only way to source new leads.
Building a relationship with prospects -- before reaching out over email -- allows you to foster trust, provide value, and ask for their email personally, which skyrockets your chances of a reply.
Need more convincing? I've rounded up a few reasons why you should kick cold outreach to the curb, and how to responsibly find almost anyone's email address -- because buying lists is so Glengarry Glen Ross.
Why You Shouldn't Conduct Cold Outreach
There are a host of tools available to help you find any email address you wish. And, who are we kidding, we've all looked up the email address for someone at Company X and replicated the formatting to reach the person we have in our view.
But is this really the best way to reach prospects? You only have one chance to make a first -- and possibly only -- impression. To avoid the open > blank stare > delete cycle, consider how to earn your prospect's attention. Create content, useful materials, and videos targeted toward their unique needs.
How not to find email addresses
Think buying emails sounds like an easy way to infuse your pipeline with new leads? It is, but it also comes with some big downsides.
One of which is that you may buy a list with spam traps, which are fake email addresses that have never been used and are included with the purpose of trapping spammers who buy robotically harvested email lists.
These email addresses have been gathered without user permission. If you're caught in a spam trap, your sender reputation can be damaged causing bounce rates to increase, your IP address can be blacklisted, or your sending domain can be blacklisted.
What to do instead
If Mary works at a manufacturing company you'd like to do business with, find or create a piece of content that speaks to how your product has reduced widget machine mistakes by up to 45%. Share that content with Mary over LinkedIn, a professional group you're both active in, or Twitter.
Once you've provided value and engaged in casual conversation, gauge the situation to discern when to ask for Mary's email. For example, you might send Mary a LinkedIn message saying:
We've been exchanging comments about my article on error reduction for widget manufacturing machines for a while now. I'd love to tell you more about how our product works, because I think we could produce similar results for your company. If you'd like to share your email, I'll follow up with you directly.
If you've provided enough value to Mary and you have a product she's interested in, she should be open to sharing her email address with you. If not, Mary might need more time interacting with you and your product from a distance -- or she might not be the right person for you to speak with at Company X.
How to Find Someone's Email Address
- View the "Contact Us" page of their company website.
- View their author page.
- Use LinkedIn to build rapport.
- Reach out on Twitter.
- Subscribe to your prospect's email list.
- Use HubSpot's CRM and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
- Pick up the phone.
Of course, there are times when all you need is an email address. You might have lost a prospect's contact information or you might be conducting warm outreach to a prospect you've made initial contact with already.
Regardless, there are appropriate ways to access a person's email address that won't make your skin crawl.
1. View the "Contact Us" page of their company website.
Every company has a "Contact Us" page. Use the contact information listed there to call the company directly or send an exploratory email to their main mailbox. With either approach, try a message that goes something like this:
My name is Meg and I work with XYZ Widget Solutions. I wonder if you could help me? I'm hoping to learn more about how you manage your widget manufacturing machines, would you be able to connect me with the right person to talk to about that?
People love to help other people. And, chances are, the administrative coordinator monitoring this inbox or voice mailbox will have no problem connecting you with the appropriate stakeholder. Plus, because you've kept your email vague and non-salesy, you should pique the interest of your audience and earn a reply.
2. View their author page.
Has your prospect written for their company blog? View their author bio and check for "contact me" information. At the very least, you'll learn more about them and perhaps gain access to their LinkedIn or Twitter accounts to begin relationship-building. At the most, they'll include their email address or other contact information, making it easy for you to reach out and share just how much you've enjoyed their work.
3. Use LinkedIn to build rapport.
As a writer for HubSpot, I get lots of LinkedIn spam I open and immediately delete. The messages I respond to are not necessarily from people I know, but are thoughtful, personalized, and don't include a pitch.
If you're asking to connect with a prospect on LinkedIn, include a message that tells them why you're a fan or their business or work, share a valuable piece of information, and tell them why you'd appreciate a connection. Here's what that looks like:
I'm a big fan of the work you do with Company X. I saw your recent comments on an article about widget machine errors and they really resonated with me (I've seen my fair share of terrifying widget errors).
Just wanted to say hello and that I'd love to connect here. Thanks for the work you're doing!
You've flattered the prospect's work, asked for a simple "close" (i.e., "Can we connect?"), and left things friendly and balanced. Once you've connected, share articles you know are relevant to your prospect and continue to engage with the content she shares. Once you've built enough rapport, reach out and close for Mary's email address.
4. Reach out on Twitter.
Does your contact have a Twitter handle? Google search: "Mary Smith Twitter" to find out. Then, check out Mary's Twitter description for clues to other websites she may be active on -- in case you want to engage with her there. If that doesn't work, follow your contact and tweet at them directly.
A simple introductory message like, "@MarySmith, I Loved your recent post on widget error reduction. Do you have any other posts to share on the topic?"
You've flattered your prospect (in a non-creepy way) and asked for them to share more information with you, thus engaging them in casual conversation. If Mary replies with another article link, it might be time to share a few of her most salient points through a Direct Message.
If that conversation goes well, consider popping the question: "Mary, could we continue this conversation over email?"
5. Subscribe to their email list.
Most companies today send a daily or weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to these emails, read them, and reply to the authors via email, Twitter, or LinkedIn with your praise, thoughts, and questions.
They might not be the prospect you're trying to reach but building a relationship with these company employees can help you get your foot in the door. Once you've built rapport with the authors, it's easy to ask for an email introduction to key stakeholder(s).
6. Use HubSpot's CRM and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
For every CRM record pulled, you need a tab to track down that lead or LinkedIn profile. And is the answer to any of life's problems ever "more tabs?" No. LinkedIn Sales Navigator now lives directly inside contact and company records in HubSpot's CRM which means no new tabs, no hassle, and less time wasted.
Track related leads, mutual connections, common interests, and -- yep -- email addresses without ever leaving your CRM. It keeps data entry at a minimum and ensures you're sourcing quality leads responsibly and efficiently.
Once you've set up the integration, navigate to any contact or company record in the CRM to see the person's job title, company, time in role, location, and industry. You'll also have access to three additional tabs (in this case, a good thing) including "Icebreakers," "Get Introduced," and "Related leads."
The "Icebreakers" tab highlights shared connections, experiences, and interests and includes a link to the lead's recent activity stream. "Get Introduced" makes it easy to ask a mutual connection to make a quick introduction. And "Related Leads" allows you to find and save other leads at the company to your leads list.
7. Pick up the phone.
Before you try this strategy, make sure you've tried all the methods below to get in touch with someone electronically. If you're not getting responses through this manner, and you have reason to believe the person you're trying to reach hasn't received those messages, you can try picking up the phone. However, if they've expressed that they're not interested in your outreach, or if they've read your emails or social media messages and haven't replied, this is probably a sign that you should continue outreach.
If not, contact the main company line, and ask if you can be connected with the person you're trying to contact, or if you can leave your email address for them to reach out to you.
How to Find Company Email Addresses
If you're trying to catch the attention of a specific company, consider account-based marketing (ABM). For this approach, you'll work with your marketing department to create a personalized outreach strategy for specific companies you wish to reach. This is especially helpful if your addressable market is small and you offer a highly specialized or enterprise-level product. Here's how it works:
1. Identify relevant accounts
Sales and Marketing should work together to identify and select relevant accounts. Company size, number of employees, location, and annual revenue help you decide which accounts to target. Buyer personas are also great for determining what type of content and channels to use to approach them.
2. Expand your content
When making account-based sales, buying decisions are often made by numerous stakeholders in the company. The expand stage allows you to create unique, company-specific content that speaks to each stakeholder you'll be selling to. If finance is concerned with pricing and Operations is focused on user access, you'll create targeted content that speaks to each person's unique concerns and goals.
3. Engage with your stakeholders
If one stakeholder prefers email, marketing should equip salespeople to provide helpful, relevant messaging through the channel. The engage stage is all about getting to know your prospects and developing valuable relationships with each one.
Modern buyers don't need you to drone on about your product -- they have the internet for that kind of research. Instead, the advocate stage is about providing value to the prospect and discussing the product/service only when necessary.
For example, if I'm a salesperson for XYZ Widget Solutions, I might focus my messaging on how much time and money my prospects will save by experiencing fewer widget machine malfunctions -- instead of listing out a roster of features XYZ Widgets can offer.
5. Measure your results
Reporting is crucial to understanding what's working and what's not. Reporting on company growth, revenue, job titles, and engagement at the account level gives you important insight into whether ABM is working.
Tips for When You Just Need to Fill Your Pipeline
And if you're just trying to fill your pipeline, turn to good ol' inbound prospecting. The steps are as follows:
Determine the quality of your lead by reviewing qualifying dimensions (a set of criteria used to evaluate how probable it is this lead or prospect will become a customer), and enter the information into your CRM.
Connect with your leads by identifying and making contact with the gatekeeper and decision maker at your prospective company. The gatekeeper is generally the person in charge of communication or preventing information from reaching the decision maker -- most likely, this person is a receptionist or executive assistant.
Close for that next meeting. You want to set up a discovery call, which is the first contact a rep makes with a prospect to qualify them as a lead for the next step in their sales cycle -- usually, a demo.
4. Educate and evaluate
It's time to evaluate and qualify needs by identifying your prospect's pain points and business goals. This information allows you to tailor your sales approach and communication to provide value to your prospect. This is also the stage in which objections begin to arise.
Objections often sound like, "We just don't have the budget," "I don't have the time to implement this," or "This isn't a priority right now." Your job is to answer and counter those objections and provide value to your prospect in these areas.
Turn your opportunities into customers by asking for your prospect's business. The outcome will be one of two possibilities: Closed-won is when the buyer purchases your product/service, and closed-lost is when the buyer does not purchase the product/service. If your prospect doesn't close, it might be time to walk away from the deal and consider revisiting it when the company is in a better place to buy.
There's a type of virtual currency that's highly guarded, rarely provided, and coveted by all. And it's not bitcoin, it's the email address.
It seems like it will solve all the salespeople's problems -- but it will only create more if you attain and use it in an unprofessional way.
Do the research, build the relationships, and ask for the email. The results will speak for themselves and your sales career will be built on a strong foundation of honesty, trust, and sweat.
To learn more, read how to improve your email prospecting strategy next.
Originally published Sep 4, 2019 1:12:00 AM, updated April 16 2021