Building a Successful B2B Outbound Sales Strategy From Scratch
Author: collin stewart
Business to business (B2B) strategy has seen a tremendous shift in recent years, with the previous ‘sales at all costs’ mindset being replaced with a more subtle marketing approach. The general consensus of outbound sales was to push your product, service, or brand, regardless of whether it benefited the client. However, with the financial crash of 2008 came an onslaught of unprecedented changes, which reshaped the nature of outbound sales and turned the focus to building a stronger customer-seller relationship.
Since then, customers have gained control over the once sales dominated landscape of B2B, with a rush of online information allowing consumers to educate themselves on their position within the marketing landscape. As a result, the race to sell has been kicked into hyperdrive, with competition between brands increasing tenfold. A recent study conducted by Forrester revealed that the B2B market is set to reach an estimated value of $1.8 trillion dollars in the US, a likely consequence of this recent marketing shift.
Building Your B2B Strategy
Typically more complex than business to consumer (B2C) sales, B2B demands that sales reps negotiate through layers of departments within a company before they can close a deal. In order to be successful, B2B companies need to foster strong customer relationships and their products or services must significantly boost the customer’s business performance.
The network of stakeholders B2B companies need to keep in mind will usually include:
- The User – Despite having little to no influence over the decision-making process, the user is your true target audience. End users are the ones to interact with the product, and as such, should be deeply understood by you and your sales team.
- The Navigator – The navigator will be your initial point of contact and will eventually connect you with the network of stakeholders.
- The Decision-Maker – Usually residing at the top of the chain of command, decision-makers have the last word when it comes to purchasing your product or service.
- The Protector – The protector will assess any threats you may pose to the company and will usually come from a legal or IT position.
- The Saboteurs – These are the people who can obstruct or slow down the sales process, often assuming the role of CFO or purchasing agent.
- The Contributor – Any consultants, advisors, or trusted peers of the decision-maker fall under the title of the contributor.
When conceiving and maintaining a successful outbound B2B strategy, you should consider the motivations of each of these stakeholders. Ultimately however, the needs of your consumer will be the main driving force behind sales.
Defining Your Target
Crafting a reliable B2B strategy requires a considerable amount of forethought and research to see any kind of reward.
Defining Your ICP
In a recent interview with Predictable Revenue, Lemlist co-founder and CEO, Guillaume Moubeche highlights the importance of finding your ICP, stating, “it is the most important thing to consider when growing a company. Once you have that, your conversion rate will increase, and you will potentially drive more sales.”
When identifying your ICP, there are a few things to consider including consumer goals, initial contact, and any possible purchasing reservations. It’s best to develop a personal consumer profile, containing their name, position, age, hobbies, and country of residence.
Getting to Know Your Customer
If you do not yet have any customers, a bit of research will point you in the right direction. Knowing your target is the easy part but finding individuals and organizations that fit that mold is an entirely different ballgame. Fortunately, the rise of technology has brought with it several tools to help B2B salespeople identify opportunities.
”LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great way to segment your targets by adding as many filters as you can. It could be their industry, geography and location, or company growth,” Guillaume explains.
If LinkedIn isn’t turning the results you’re seeking, you can also employ the reach of Facebook. “By running multiple ads, you can determine which one is performing the best towards your value proposition and generating the greatest audience response.”
You can also harness the information from relevant communities to drive sales. ”For example, I use a SaaS community on Facebook called ‘SaaS Growth Hacks’,” says Guillaume. “Here I can target SaaS companies, watching the community to see how people interact with each other, what they’re saying, and how exactly they respond to one another.”
Another great hack for learning about your customers is to check job descriptions on job advertisement sites. “If you are targeting VP of Sales, for example, you can go onto Indeed (or other job site) and check the job requirements. Here you can identify potential challenges a person in that role may face and that is something you can leverage into your value proposition.”
It all boils down to making the sale. “If you know their challenges, you can offer the right solution. And if you offer the right solution, it will be easier to build the relationship and close the sale,” Guillaume asserts.
Building Your Own Community
”Once you grow, you can build your own communities” Guillaume suggests. ”That’s what we did with Lemlist, and now we have the biggest community around sales automation. Here we can pose questions to our audience and get to know them better. So whenever we develop new products, we have direct insight into what’s working well and what isn’t”
Ultimately, the goal is to build a product or service that will enhance the consumer’s business in some way. By starting online communities related to your product and service, you have the opportunity to farm information and data from prospective consumers, which allows you to strengthen your B2B strategy and increase your chance of success.
Growing Your LinkedIn Profile
The beauty of LinkedIn is its ability to connect you with professionals across the globe. It helps you to build relationships and, in turn, drive sales.
Connect With Your Target Audience And Users
“In order to grow your LinkedIn profile, you need two things. Connect with both your target audience and product or service users,” advises Guillaume.
The best way to connect with your target audience is through a tool called ‘Phantom Buster’, which allows you to automatically send invites to relevant people that are part of your target audience.
Additionally, prompt your product/ service users to connect with you on LinkedIn, whether through your website or through e-mail marketing.
“By doing this, you bring together people who know you and who don’t know you. The people who know you, your users, will cheer for you so that you are more credible to those that don’t know you, your target audience.”
Expose People to Your Content
People need to know you exist and that you have something to say. However, when putting out your content on platforms like LinkedIn, you should make sure you’re offering your audience valuable information, answering their questions, and establishing yourself as an authority with a reliable source of information.
Writing LinkedIn Posts
When writing posts to promote your content, there are a few things to consider:
- Is your question/title engaging?
- Does your image draw attention?
- Are you writing about topics that showcase your expertise?
By generating posts that your audience finds fulfilling, you can drive interest, website traffic, synapse, and an improved customer-seller relationship.
It’s also good practice to harness the ‘bandwagon approach’, which essentially means you will ask your audience to do something in exchange for an exclusive benefit e.g. ‘comment here and receive a 10% discount’.
The Best Cold-Email Practices for B2B Sales
The mistake often made by novice B2B salespeople, is to focus too heavily on the ROI, when really, cold emails are about creating a dialogue and relationship with your potential customer. With patience, you will eventually get the sale.
The process of sending cold-emails and networking is simple, and when executed effectively, can be hugely rewarding. Here are some key tips that Guillaume has successfully employed:
- Find your target on LinkedIn. Guillaume suggests using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to refine your search. Find their email address and any other useful data
- Begin the cold-email sequence
- Use a casual subject line to encourage people to open your e-mail
- Your intro sentence should clearly state why you are reaching out to them
- Add an attention-grabbing, personalized thumbnail that links to a landing page for booking meetings
- Finish off the e-mail with a simple question e.g. ‘What do you think?’ This triggers curiosity and encourages the reader to click the link.
Getting in Front of Your Audience
Although podcasts are a great way to access not only your audience, but that of the podcast host, it can be difficult to get on one. To maximize your chances of featuring on a podcast and exposing more people to your product or service, a similar approach to LinkedIn cold emails must be taken.
Utilizing a combination of intriguing subject lines, concise text, and a sprinkle of personal data can significantly increase your chances of featuring on a potentially career-boosting podcast.
Should You Pay to Promote Your LinkedIn Content?
One of the main points of contention for B2B salespeople using LinkedIn to further their sales, is whether or not you should pay to promote your content.
”We don’t pay, and have never used paid ads, what we do is organic,” explains Guillaume.
The problem with paid ads is that the automated system doesn’t always target your ICP, instead pushing your content to a vast number of LinkedIn users. This means that a majority of the money you invest in a paid promotion will likely do nothing to help push your sales further.
Keeping Things Personal
At the end of the day, an effective B2B outbound strategy relies on the relationship between customers and sellers. Most clients prefer to buy from a trusted source, and rightly so. If you want to drive your B2B sales and ultimately your revenue, it’s best to focus on creating a dialogue and leveraging the challenges of your ICP to improve your services and goods.
To hear more insight from Guillaume on successful B2B outbound strategies – take a look at his whole interview at the ‘Own Your Growth’ live summit.
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