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How to Adjust Outbound Sales to This Challenging Professional Climate

Apr 16, 2020
Author: Collin Stewart

To say we live in surreal, challenging times is to do our current social and professional climate a disservice. For many (nearly all) of us, life has been turned upside down. Schools are closed. Airports are empty. And, of course, offices are closed.

But, work, for the lucky, has continued. Companies are still operating, teams are still shipping products, and salespeople are still trying to generate revenue. 

So, how does one marry that reality – that companies are still trying to sell and grow – with the fact that society has been effectively turned upside down and prospects may not be as interested in buying?

By doubling down on focus, care, and being consistent, says Jason Bay, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Blissful Prospecting, 

“So much has happened, but outbound hasn’t necessarily changed,” says Bay, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

To do it well in our current situation, I think, we need to focus on the right things and do them well.

What does outbound look like today?

At Blissful Prospecting, Bay and his team are calling that new focus, that new outbound framework, Prospecting 3.0. It consists of three basic rules:

1. Taking a quality-first approach: this is all about finding the right balance between personalized copy and using a template (prospects, today, should be spoken to directly, as if you’ve reached out intentionally)

2. Engaging with purpose: this is all about rethinking cadence structure to reflect the current appetite for being prospected to, and updating messaging to reflect the current landscape we’re navigating.

3. Teach – don’t take: this is all about exercise empathy and care. For example, now is the time to give even more insights to help people make decisions because prospects are likely feeling an increase in risk aversion.

“People are wondering how to keep the team motivated, save pipeline, and avoid layoffs. Make sure you understand that things have changed, and people need a different kind of support,” says Bay.

For some people, that might mean shifting customer segments to avoid highly impacted industries like the recruiting space, or airlines, for example. Leadership is critical now as well – help lead and support your prospects whenever you can.

(Editor’s note: we had Keith Cordeiro on the pod a while back to discuss how meditation and mindfulness can help improve prospecting. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the entire in-depth interview here)

Identify, engage, and convert

The second layer of Bay’s prospecting framework consists of these three concepts – identify, engage, and convert.

At a high-level, these three concepts have always applied to outbound: you need to identify good fits for your product or service, you have to engage your prospects in a meaningful way to start a conversation with them, and you have to convert them into an opportunity. 

But, what makes this different for the current sales landscape, says Bay, is the aforementioned “teach-don’t take.” That’s because sales must be even more supportive at the moment. We just can’t operate as we were even 6 months ago. That’s how much things have changed – for everyone.

“We have to be helpful now. But, what is empathy in current prospecting? If you’re just sending emails with “Hey! Hope all is well. Anyways, I’m with Blissful Prospecting…” then that’s not good enough,” says Bay.

Of course, you still have to understand why your customers buy, but that may have shifted as well. So, where I think you can start messaging is at the pain points they’re feeling, and how you can help. For example, people want to save the pipeline right now – that’s something that I’m talking about. That’s definitely a challenge faced today. So I’m being very specific about that, and how that is a product of a situation we are all trying to get through together.

The REPLY method 

All of Blissful Prospecting’s outbound thoughts, philosophies, and tactics – including prospecting 3.0, as well as identify, engage, and convert – are all wrapped into the company’s REPLY method. Think of it as the company’s outbound umbrella term.

And it consists of 5 core concepts, that have all been adapted to make 

  • R – relevant results. This means we have to craft tailored messaging that makes sense. For example, don’t sell to small businesses with references to your work with Google. Show them that you understand who they are, not that you have worked with “impressive” names. 
  • E – empathy. Show your prospects that you know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. For instance, if you sell outsourced outbound sales, use the example that Bay provided up top and discuss the fact you know the importance of saving pipeline at the moment.
  • P – personalization. To be more concrete, personalization and context work together, so show that you have done your research and that you understand the context your prospect is situated in. For example, you can lead with “here’s what our company does” but you should immediately follow it with “let me calibrate it for you as an individual.” The goal, again, is to show the prospect that your outreach was intentional.
  • L – laser focus. For instance, peep your email short – they should be no more than 120 words. As for voicemails, they should be no more than 30 seconds. Videos messages should be no more than 60 seconds. And, finally, cold calls should have an opening that is no more than 15 – 20 seconds.
  • Y – you-oriented. Your messaging should make the prospect the hero. Try and limit how many times you use “I” in your emails. 

“Just think: why do you buy products, and why do your customers buy products? Then, ask yourself ‘how does that map to our current landscape?’ says Bay.

Remember, you are still trying to start a conversation and hoping to get people to take action. That is the same, you just need to adapt it to suit our current situation.

Fore more on Bay’s thoughts on modern prospecting – including his thoughts on how to effectively use different channels, as well as his own sales journey – check out the rest of his interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

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