Connecting with prospects is probably one of the hardest and most disliked aspects of sales.
Reps typically go in with guns blazing trying to sell, instead of building a relationship with someone they want to work with in the future. The results are easy to anticipate: They're rejected or ignored. A lot.
But prospecting doesn’t have to be like that.
Recently, I sent a personalized outreach email to 27 CMOs I barely knew, and in less than 48 hours, almost half booked a meeting with me.
I’m going to share the secret to getting these results again and again.
My 5-step process for building relationships:
Carefully select your target audience
Use personalization at scale
Be helpful and empathetic
Give them a good reason to connect with you
Build a repeatable, efficient process
1) Carefully select your target audience
Knowing your customer is key to success.
In my case, the people I want to work with are C-level executives. They are busy -- and constantly being “pitched.”
They’re what some people call a tough audience.
If you are casting a wide prospecting net (“net fishing”), chances are you won’t catch many fish. But if you focus on a short list of individuals who are a great fit for your business, and you craft a message that is focused on them and not you, the chances they’ll respond increase substantially.
Whenever I start a new outreach project, I open HubSpot CRM and build a list of prospects. Next, I use templates with personalized messages to increase my odds of getting prospects to say yes to a call.
2) Personalize the message, but be efficient
I know some people say personalization takes too much time. I say sending mass broadcast sales pitches is lazy and guaranteed to earn you a spot in the “delete” folder with everyone else.
It is very easy to start with a template and personalize the essential details for each contact.
I created a list of CMOs I wanted to connect with. My goal was getting an interview to talk about two articles I’d read about the role of today’s CMO. I’m writing a blog post series on the topic and wanted to incorporate their point of view. At a minimum, I wanted a quote from each.
I created two templates in HubSpot Sales with different subject lines that included a personalized message referencing how I found each person’s name. My email was not a sales pitch.
In fact, here is one of the template messages I created:
Why CMOs Never Last -- your perspective on 2 recent articles on the topic?
At the same time, a July Harvard Business Review article said CMOs don't last and revealed many CMOs often do not get the recognition or credit they deserve.
I plan to write a blog post about the topic and would love to get your perspective on both articles. Perhaps you'd be willing to give me a quote? I'd be curious to know what you've experienced.
I’d love to chat personally with a call. If you are open to that idea, you can schedule one with me here [I use the meetings tool in HubSpot].
I look forward to talking to you!
I sent this email to 27 CMOs, many of whom I barely knew. In less than 48 hours, almost half booked a meeting with me.
3) Focus on being helpful and empathetic
Prospects will talk to you if you demonstrate value and bring fresh business insights to the table. If you come at them like your competitors do with a boilerplate sales pitch, they will not pay attention to you.
As you draft your template message, think about the person who’s going to open the email. Give them a compelling reason to talk to you.
Ask yourself, what business challenges are they facing day-to-day? What top initiatives are they focusing on? Can you provide them competitive intelligence? Which trends might they not know about? What would help them in their career?
In other words: What can you do that gives first? That’s how you build relationships that lead to opportunities down the road. Stop wasting time trying to pitch what you are selling in the initial interaction. When you do, you only slow your progress down.
4) Give them a good reason to connect with you
As you can see from the template I shared above, I was not making a sales pitch. I said nothing about my company or our services.
I wanted to solicit these CMOs’ points of view allowing me to showcase them not only in the posts but in our social media marketing.
I know, I know. You are thinking: “But Barb, I have to make quota! If I’m not pitching in every interaction, I’ll be in trouble.”
I’m here to tell you that when you shift your approach, you reach your sales goals more quickly.
In 48 hours, my email generated 50% of those CMOs booking a meeting on my calendar. In the next few days, the number of meetings continued to increase.
5) Build a repeatable process
Try to keep your contacts and communication in one place, and once you have a successful outreach experiment, save your templates and “recycle” them for future projects.
For example, my CMO outreach campaign took about 45 minutes to create and execute. That includes the initial homework, writing the two templates, and then sending the 27 emails.
Having a tool like HubSpot helps, since you can save templates and personalize and send them within your CRM. And every time you email someone new, HubSpot Sales automatically creates a contact record for them.
Prospecting is tough, but with the right expectations and process, it can make a difference in your business. Try the five steps I’ve suggested, and use my template example as a guide for creating yours. Track your results. In a few weeks or months, you'll be surprised at how you are able to connect with more prospects and schedule more conversations all because you ditched the pitch and focused on relationships first.
Originally published Nov 3, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated June 10 2021