Lessons Learned Sending A Million Emails
Author: collin stewart
Justin Michael is an award-winning sales expert and bestselling author with over 20 years’ experience as a technologist and consultant. Having worked as an advisor for many leading companies including SDR League, RevGenius, and Time Advisors, Justin is an expert in strategic sales and operations leadership.
He recently shared some of the lessons he has learned throughout his career with Predictable Revenue, reflecting on how sales teams can maintain effective targets amidst the current global pandemic, and answering questions from business professionals who have been struggling in recent days.
Is digital selling still an efficient channel?
Since the Covid-19 global pandemic, there has understandably been a stronger emphasis on digital selling than previously, as we all have to find ways around face-to-face engagement. With everyone working from home, there has been a necessary surge in using emails to contact prospects.
However, the corollary of this is that people are being inundated with sales emails, meaning that it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd, be innovative, and integrate all your channels effectively.
“So the big thing for me is pattern interrupts and developing those effectively. I think the phone is really critical” says Justin, “for the signals coming out of digital, because not everybody can be closed just purely through email.”
Importantly, you shouldn’t be looking at this in terms of whether, for instance, social selling is better or worse than email. Rather, you need to be thinking “about your entire stack, including you yourself on a phone” argues Justin.
It pays to be innovative
A good way of closing prospects is to come up with innovative, engaging and memorable approaches. Justin remembers how one of his reps sent Justin Bieber’s ‘What do you mean?’ lyrics in full to a client with nothing else, and it closed! “They thought it was hilarious, they came in, it was like a major deal.”
Other interesting approaches taken by Justin and his team have included sending a piece of cake or offering a drone as a prize. “At a conference, I was raffling off a VR drone, and I walked around with a fishbowl and got like 900 business cards. I’m a big fan of stunts.”
Be persistent in the Triple Touch approach to sales
The Triple Touch sales method – where reps engage with their potential customers through email, phone, and on social media all in a day – is an effective tool, when used properly. “It’s about tight touches: call, email. The purpose of the call is to get to the voicemail. The purpose of the voicemail is to tell you that I’m going to email you. And then I’ll email, and when they receive that they’ll go back and check their voicemail. So, it becomes this virtuous cycle.”
The aim here is to stand out to the prospect. Other reps will be contacting through single channels, for instance, email sequencing. But when you are employing an assertive multi-channel approach you will find it much easier to engage with clients and to capture their attention.
Is the phone still an effective channel in the COVID-19 era?
With many people working from home and not spending time in their offices, there is a concern that the phone is becoming a less effective sales channel. “I have found that when you add the phone to these touches, you will see three to five times the response rate, by leaving the voicemails. So, I always do,” explains Justin.
In short, you want to ensure that you are employing a multi-channel strategy, otherwise, you run the risk of missing potential sales opportunities.
How are email open rates if you’re sending them outside of working hours?
There has been a significant volume of questions around the issue of deliverability in recent big data studies, and yet these have often provided inconclusive answers. Justin argues that people need to address the issue themselves with their own analytics. “I think you need to test it. A/B test everything.”
Try sending out at different times of the day, e.g. 8 – 9 p.m., 9 – 10 p.m., and then assess what is most effective for you. Even during periods which may not initially seem like intuitively effective times: “I would just test all times” reiterates Justin “actually, e-mail campaigns performed really well on Saturday and Sunday when it’s hyper-relevant because people are sitting at home with coffee and they don’t mind.”
Tips for email strategies for recruiters
One of the key things to think about is why the prospect should want to receive and read your email. For instance, just blanket emailing a group of people out of the blue whose contact details you have harvested is unlikely to engender engagement. “We all know that there are recruiters that email everyone on their LinkedIn even though no-one asked” explains Justin “the prospects just get annoyed and don’t do anything.”
Rather, you need to consider how you can benefit your prospects so that they have a reason to engage with you. “Enable and offer, give to get” Justin avers, “write a ‘best practices of recruiting’, and give that away; don’t gate it. A white paper, one-pager or case study. Something of value that you give away.”
Another strategy to think about is sparking a conversation with a potential client so that you can draw them into a professional relationship organically. “Go for a dialogue. Send some statistics and ask, ‘what do you think of these statistics?’ I’m not asking for a meeting, I’m not asking for time, I want your opinion. Start a conversation.”
Sequencing and how to implement it
“The category is now defined as ‘sales engagement’ describes Justin. The two major sales engagement platforms that are available are SalesLoft and Outreach. ‘Sequences’ is a term related to the Outreach platform while ‘cadences’ is the word used by SalesLoft. “As far as setting it up” Justin explains, “what you’re doing is getting email addresses and you’re building out emails in advance. A certain amount of touches over a certain amount of days, and you’re pre-programming the sequencer to send out the emails for you”.
Justin warns that companies need to be aware of the legislation that exists in different countries regarding the use of this channel, particularly around the issue of privacy and data such as with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.
“I’ve found Shakespeare to be right” asserts Justin, “brevity is the soul of wit”. It’s important to be as concise as possible and to avoid lengthy verbose messages. In general, having a one to three-word title and a two to three sentence body is the length that seems to perform the best.
“Think about it on an iPhone or an Android” suggests Justin “you’ve got the title and the preview text, and that’s the litmus test for whether they click.” You need to aim for an engaging and succinct message that draws the reader in quickly.
Best approaches for A/B testing
A major strength of sales engagement platforms is that they will allow you to employ variance. So, a good way of utilizing this would be to send variations of the subject line and of the email out to experiment and see what is most effective. “With SalesLoft and Outreach” explains Justin “there are ways to automatically place A/B tests inside the tooling, and there are ways to distribute that across different segments”.
Channels outside of America
One of the most efficacious channels for sales globally is WhatsApp, states Justin. “WhatsApp really came to the fore with me because there’s about 100% adoption in Tel Aviv, in Israel.”
Throughout the early 2000s it was prohibitively expensive for many people and companies throughout Europe to have broadband Internet, so they focused on mobile as a channel first. Because of this, chat platforms are where a lot of deals are getting done.
“My thing with this platform is they are a little more personal” opines Justin, “so I like to have a cursory introduction first.” This is a method, which more and more people are now exploiting. “I’ve been watching people recently running their entire business off a phone, off of text message,” describes Justin.
To learn more about Justin Michael’s experiences and gain further insights from his stellar career, including topics such as how to integrate tech with sellers and the exciting new technologies which are on the horizon, then listen to the full video here.
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