* Aaron’s Note: Max Altschuler founded Sales Hacker Inc, and I got to meet him by keynoting the original Sales Hacker Conference (my daughter Aurora and I wrote a post about it, How To Make A Boring [To a Kid] Conference Fun). Previously he was the first sales hire at Udemy, and the VP of Business Development at AttorneyFee (acquired by LegalZoom). His new book Hacking Sales is available on Amazon and waiting for you to read it right now.
Sales is becoming increasingly more automated, especially in building an outbound machine. Over the past three years things have accelerated faster than ever before. Processes that were in place in the past like the one’s made popular by Predictable Revenue are still incredibly relevant however, many parts can almost be fully automated.
Let’s take a ride through the outbound process and go over our favorite technologies that fill in the gaps for each section.
Finding and Building Lists of your Ideal Customer Profile + Contact Info
Building strong lists to generate leads at the top of the funnel is arguably the most important piece of your process. Without leads, or Nets as Aaron Ross calls them, you have nothing. So start where your customers are. This is also called finding your ideal customer profile.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself to jump-start this process:
What products are my customers using that I compete with, complement, or might translate to interest in my product?
o E.g. If you have a Mailchimp-style service, you want to speak to Mailchimp customers.
o E.g. If potential customers are running Facebook Ads, they might also be interested in Ad Optimization or Analytics software.
Where are these people living on the web?
o E.g. Someone interested in your E-commerce service might have a store hosted on Shopify or built with Magento.
o Eg.. If you want to find people to create courses online, go find people who have already created content on the subject in book form and are selling it on Amazon. Then convince them to try video content.
What do I consider my low-hanging fruit?
o These are the people already doing what you want them to do, just somewhere else.
o E.g. Someone buying or selling a service on Craigslist that your company provides. It’s easier to get the person to use you over Craigslist than to create a new buyer/seller from scratch. Pinterest has emerged as another way to source potential customers that are already playing ball.
o E.g. You’re going after their budget focused on ad-spend and you see that a potential buyer has a testimonial on a competing company’s website. You know they have budget and are already spending it somewhere else. Time to go get your slice or even the whole pie!
What can I decipher from my previous closed deals that I can use in new ones?
o You keep closing deals with companies, so take a moment to ask yourself, what do these companies have in common and how can I apply this when speaking to companies with the same common variables?
Some good places to look for information about potential buyers are:
- LinkedIn and Facebook groups
- Industry conference websites
- Trade association forums and directories
- Job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.
- Public Legal Filings
- Any company database or marketplace
Once you have this information down, you finally know where to start looking for leads. We’re going to start with getting company information first.
1. Datanyze fits into this part of the sales cycle by helping sales development teams find out which companies are using to which software. For example, maybe you have a product that competes with or complements Mailchimp. Their current customers are your potential customers. You ICP could be, “companies that use Mailchimp” Datanyze helps you uncover these opportunities.
2. SalesLoft– SalesLoft is great for prospecting directly from LinkedIn, which means you have a target individual in mind and grab his or her full contact information. I find this most helpful when I have a company list and job titles but I don’t know the people’s names that I’m looking for. Using LinkedIn’s new Sales Navigator, I can now easily search LinkedIn for these contacts and simply export them using the SalesLoft Chrome extension. SalesLoft will show me my lists of exports and, to their best guess, the full contact information for my exported leads. SalesLoft’s data is usually pretty accurate.
Reaching Out and Build Relationships at Scale
Outbound emailing is finally transparent. This allows salespeople to be scientific by building, testing, measuring, and optimizing their outbound campaigns.
Test things like:
Using the person’s name or the company name in the subject lines. This makes the e-mail look more personal before they even open it.
Different locations and languages for your call-to-action, using either links or attachments. Try to make sure your e-mails look like casual e-mails and not marketing e-mails when you do this.
The body of the message. It should be short and to the point. Don’t give too much information. Provide value for them, feel their pain, talk about them—not to yourself. If you did your research and you are reaching out individually instead of mass-e-mailing, then you should know what their initial problems might be.
Always go into this opening e-mail with the goal of setting up the first call. Do not aim too high or ask for too much. Be strong and lay out a certain time to speak.
Even though you are collecting information on Open, Click-through, and Response Rates the only thing that you need to worry about in your pipeline is number of meetings that you set up. You are using all of these e-mail metrics to make your e-mails better so that you set up more meetings.
The numbers will vary by who you ask and the type of business, but you’ll want to aim for numbers like these:
- Open Rate: 30 to -50% of 100%
- Click Through Rate: 20 to 35% of 100%
- Response Rate: 15 to 30% of 100%
- Meetings Setup Rate: 10 to 20% of 100%
There are many other variables at play here that could lead to skewed numbers. Some of the variables are:
- Poor performing lists
- Server or sending issues
- Rep sending the e-mails
- Time of day/date
There are many smaller apps that provide nice little dossiers for reps that come right to the rep’s inbox or phone before a meeting.
Things you might want to know are:
- Previous job history
- College or hometown
- Social media news
- Company information/recent news
- Competitors information/recent news
- Their social links and events they attend
- Their recent posts on their blog, LinkedIn, etc.
- Previous conversations
Maybe you share a common interest or know the same people from a previous or current job or location. Explore anything you can uncover that you can use to bond or facilitate the meeting. Again, don’t be a stalker! Keep super personal things and accounts like Facebook and Instagram out of it. They don’t need to know you saw the picture of them and their significant other frolicking on the beach in Aruba.
These new apps pull information from hundreds of thousands of public sources. The most important feature is that your one-pager can be personalized by connecting your social networks. Once added, they will tell you all the things your prospect and you share in common: whether it’s people, sports teams, or hobbies. Each social media account you connect makes your one-pagers more personal, and helps you be more effective at building rapport.
Just connect your calendar to the app and it will automatically research the people you’re meeting. It will even send you a push notification a few minutes before your meeting reminding you to prepare; a full set of insights is then just one tap away. You can even set it to Auto Hide meetings with co-workers, so you’re only shown external events.
Before getting on a call, always make sure you’re prepared and know whom you’re speaking to.
9. Connectifier is also a handy Chrome plugin for getting more info off of an individual’s social profiles which you can use in your pre-call, pre-meeting, or pre-email research.
Outsourced Lead Gen
Looking for something to do a mix of the above for you? 10. Carb.io, also known as Carburetor, is the new kid on the block and is modeled after Aaron Ross’s Predictable Revenue process.
They help you fill the top of the funnel by figuring out your Ideal Customer Profile and then set out to find those leads and other low-hanging fruit across the web. They have an internal sales team that reaches out on your behalf and activates the prospect. Once the prospect replies, they introduce you.
Think of it as Sales Development as a Service.
To watch: For a next act, Carb.io is releasing Pipeline Automation Software to help automate all this with one system, as well as outbound workshops (often led by Aaron Ross, such as the “Nail Your Niche” workshop).
[Aaron] Max’s new book Hacking Sales is available on Amazon and waiting for you to read it right now. My quote on his site: “I’ve been a fan of Max’s and Sales Hacker since he started. Max’s sorted through the maelstrom of sales & marketing apps out there to cut through the clutter and show us some creative & practical ways to automate sales drudgery. Well done sir!”