LeadIQ’s Ryan O’Hara Shares His Thoughts on the Future of Prospecting

Collin Stewart, CEO

10 August 2017

In the varied and exciting world of creative industries, it’s fair to say that sales (and sales development) isn’t often listed among its ranks.

Writer? Singer? Artist? All died-in-the-wool creative pursuits.

Even more technical gigs, like software development and front end design have obvious creative aspects.

But sales? That’s just sending emails, talking on the phone and closing deals, right? Where’s the creativity in that?

Well, according to Ryan O’Hara, VP of Growth and Marketing at LeadIQ, sales is an intensely creative job. In fact, he thinks the future of the job lies in sales professionals embracing their creative side to stand out from the crowd.

“I’m always asked about this – people think they aren’t that creative. But we have to take the time. Approach the job like a marketer. I think this is the future of prospecting,” says O’Hara, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“Ask yourself ‘how do I show that I care about this person?’ People will be strategizing in this way, more and more. The benefits of this are huge. For those that think they can’t do it, take a Friday once a month and do a creative day and see where it goes. Or, try it with a small team. Instead of doing another call blitz, take a day to be creative.”

That said, creativity at LeadIQ isn’t a once-a-month initiative – it’s baked into every bit of prospecting they do.

For example, O’Hara has written short songs based on select accounts he’s worked. He’s also sent pictures of himself to a lead because they wore the same style of glasses and written emails in the voice of Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World. His colleagues, on the other hand, have drawn comics and used sports as way of connecting with leads.

You do whatever it takes, adds O’Hara, because there isn’t one way to personalize prospecting. The only trick is not sending the same simple message to everybody on a huge list.

“I’m not a good singer, but that didn’t matter. I used my creative talent for piano and songwriting to write little jams for their company,” he says.

“People loved it, Said it was the best sales email they ever got. This is using personal stuff to connect. And, when you do this, you won’t have to cold call. You can call and follow up on what you’ve done – whether it’s the song or a video, whatever.”

Part of the reason O’Hara’s team is able to take so much time to be creative is because their reps are only working 40 accounts at a time. Free from the burden of hundreds of accounts to contact, O’Hara’s team is able to craft creative initiatives for one lead.

O’Hara likens this style of prospecting to actually being a marketer. But whereas marketing leaders are focused on producing content and other projects for a large audience in the hopes of converting some small percentage of those people, prospectors have the luxury of focusing on a specific company.

For example, O’Hara says his team will pitch a webinar tailored to one account.

“Instead of having 200-300 people sign up, we’ll reach out to a prospect and offer to do a webinar for their sales team. Those are the people we sell to, but we also want to be friends and understand how you prospect,” says O’Hara.

“All we ask for is 5 mins to show them LeadIQ, the other 55 minutes is go through their emails and make suggestions. In account based sales, you have to give more than you take.”

So, what effect has creative prospecting had on LeadIQ?

Thus far, the results have been staggering. O’Hara’s team is averaging a 30% response rate (one SDR is even seeing more than a 40% response rate). The team has a target of 15 new opportunities per month, of which about 80% move down the funnel to AEs.

But, unlike many companies in the tech world, handing off a qualified lead isn’t the end of the road for SDRs at LeadIQ. Their prospectors remain a part of the sales cycle in order to get referrals for their prospects.

After all, by that point, the SDR has built a real connection with the lead, and people love helping those they have a relationship with.

And creativity is a sure fire way to show a prospect, whether they end up buying or not, that you took the time to craft a message for them. They weren’t just a name and an email address on a list.

“People like working with people they like,” says O’Hara. “They want to work with you if you’ve helped them.”

For more on O’Hara’s views on the future of prospecting and tips on being creative, check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.