Professional Ice Breakers: How Outreach SDRs Execute 75 Cold Calls Per Day

Collin Stewart, CEO
11 July 2018
Editor’s note: Last week, we chatted with Mark Kosoglow, VP of Sales at Outreach, about how their Account Executives execute the company’s detailed discovery process. This week, we sat down with Steve Ross, Outreach’s Director of Sales Development, to learn about how their SDRs initiate prospecting, and book those high-quality meetings. Ain’t no party like an Outreach party!
As an SDR, is there anything better than calling a prospect, having a great conversation, and booking a meeting?

After all those hours building lists, pounding the phones, and sending emails (all while managing the very real pressure of hitting your monthly quota), getting a high-quality prospect to talk to you is very satisfying.

Exciting, even.

But having a great call is a very different thing than just getting a prospect on the phone, of course. You have to be ready to have that great chat.

And that takes preparation.

“Here, we make a lot of calls – 75 per day. So, you have to be prepared to go right into a conversation. How do you open? And, how do you handle objections?,” asks Steve Ross, Director of Sales at Outreach, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“For me, it boils down to two things: gathering detailed account information, and deciding how to use it.”

Do your research

Let’s start with gathering detailed account information. At Outreach, that means understanding what industry is a good fit, what size of company typically uses Outreach, and what roles or titles to reach out to directly.

Once they establish those initial parameters, then Outreach SDRs try to determine what email platform the account uses (Gmail or Outreach), and whether or not they use Salesforce because Outreach offers an integration.

From there, they turn to the sales department to establish how many salespeople work within the organization, and which of them are sales leaders (Directors of Vice Presidents). Outreach doesn’t sell to individually contributing, or bag-carrying reps.

Having all of this information collected – and, most importantly, digested – before reaching out will arm the SDRs with the basic data they need to open a conversation with a prospect.

“It’s more than just gathering the facts. It’s having them to apply in a situation where the prospect isn’t ready for you,” says Ross.

“Remember, they aren’t expecting the call.”

How to have an exceptional call

Once you’ve gathered and reviewed your information, it’s time to put it to work. To ensure nothing slips through the cracks – cold calls, as we all know, can be fluid experiences – Outreach provides its SDRs with a call script.

“We want them to open up strong, and not even have to think about it,” says Ross.

“And that script is always going to get to the purpose of the call – we want to set up a time to meet. No matter what.”

Outreach SDRs do very little discovery. As such, the script they work from is short, but includes targeted questions about the performance of the prospect’s sales team. For instance, Outreach SDRs ask questions such as ‘how do you grow your business today?’ or, ‘is your sales team hitting their quota / metrics?’

By asking these questions, Outreach SDRs are able to get the prospects talking (what sales leader doesn’t like talking about performance?) and isolate the pain Outreach solves: not having enough pipeline.

“If they answer no to either of those questions, that allows us to paint the picture of how Outreach can help them get there,” says Ross.

“At Outreach, we deliver pipeline.”

Once they paint that picture, and illustrate that pain, Outreach SDRs work to immediately book a meeting with an Account Executive. According to Ross, a good initial call should only take between 3 – 5 minutes. Longer than that, and you run the risk of saying something that will diminish the excitement you’ve worked to build.

“We want to keep it tight, this is important,” says Ross.

“One of the mistakes people make is having SDRs talking too much. We want the AEs on a call ASAP.”

Common objections

Of course, not every cold call goes as planned (surprise!). Prospects are busy, they don’t want to be bothered, or they don’t think they need help. Luckily, Outreach SDRs have a response ready for common objections as part for their script.

For example, if a prospect tells a rep they don’t have time to talk, Outreach SDRs respond with a simple, but shrewd statement: “give me 27 seconds to describe what we do.” By giving the prospect a time frame for how long it will take to share an Outreach value proposition, most prospects agree to the short chat.

“If they say they don’t have time, it’s usually right out of the gates and it’s a blow-off. But, when we follow through with our promise of being brief, we have earned respect,” says Ross.

“This is the most common objection we get. Remember, they aren’t ready for us, they don’t know who we are. We are cold calling.” 

Other times, prospects say they they aren’t interested, or they aren’t the right person to speak with. In those situations, Outreach SDRs either promise the prospect they will be brief (and then jump right in to the value prop), or they ask for a referral to the right contact.

As mentioned above, a cold call is a fluid thing, fraught with unexpected diversions. But regardless of what objection they face, Outreach reps are always focused on the end goal of booking meetings, says Ross.

Sure, they have to respond to each roadblock, but that’s all part of the gig. That’s why they do their research, that’s why they have a script, and that’s why they illustrate the pain they solve for each prospect.   

It’s a recipe for great calls.

“It’s a dance, for sure. It won’t always go the way you think,” says Ross.

“So, be ready for the objection, and handle it.”

Here you can download the Cold Call Handling Objection guide/worksheet by

For more on Outreach’s sales development tactics, including their CRM processes, check out Ross’ full interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.