The Importance of Relevance and Trust in Outbound Sales

Author: Kenny MacKenzie

This article is for Sales Leaders selling B2B offerings, with an average first year contract value between $10k and $1M, who want to learn more about maximizing effectiveness of Outbound Sales Development

The mighty spear of outbound sales development is built upon relevance and trust.

Relevance is how your product or service can help your prospect, and trust is the degree to which they believe you. When these elements are working in unison, they become a powerful force – the aforementioned spear – in starting sales conversations.

Breaking down the challenge of successful sales development, then, starts with separating the activities that contribute to mapping relevance between your offering and your prospect, and the activities that contribute to your prospect trusting you.

To separate these interrelated concerns, let’s begin with a bit of a thought exercise. First, imagine one of the most pressing business challenges you are facing right now – something that has been bothering you for, say, a couple of months and you haven’t yet found a compelling solution to resolve it.

Now, imagine these four scenarios.

1. Someone you don’t know, representing a company you have never heard of, emails you to let you know about all the different software languages their team can program in. There are some grammatical mistakes in the email and you quickly get the impression that the writer has a weak grasp of English. It looks like they are based overseas, but they don’t include any address so you can’t be sure. Of course, they want to get on a call with you to talk about your software development needs, but you are pretty sure you received the exact same email as a million (maybe more!) other people.

What are the odds you’ll agree to hop on a call with them?

2. A close friend of yours, someone you have known for years, emails you out of the blue asking if you can schedule a quick phone call. This is someone you know well and, generally, like and trust. You don’t know what the call is going to be about, but you feel like declining their offer would be betraying your friendship.

Now, what are the odds you’ll agree to hop on a call with them?

3. Someone you don’t know, again representing a company you have never heard of, emails you about the same pressing business challenge that’s been bothering you. They describe it in a way that feels relevant, and they claim they have a solution that could solve it for you and your business.

Again, what are the odds you’ll agree to hop on a call with them?

4. Someone you know well and trust reaches out asking if you have the exact business problem that’s been bothering you. They mention that they vaguely remember you mentioning something about it a few weeks back and that they have found a solution that they believe will help. Of course, they want to schedule a call so they can talk about it in more detail.

Finally, what are the odds you’ll agree to hop on a call with them?

When conducting outbound sales you are, by default, at a disadvantage when it comes to trust. If you’re lucky enough to work for a big company with a well-known brand, that visibility can help. But, of course, not everyone has that advantage. This is why nailing relevance is so important – and why being thoughtful about establishing trust can significantly increase your results.

These four outbound scenarios testify to that.

Nailing Relevance

When we talk about relevance, we specifically mean: relevant to what your prospects already want.

That all-important want can be articulated either as a goal such as “booking more outbound meetings,” or a job to be done such as “inviting potential customers to a meeting with our Account Executives.”

Getting this right isn’t easy, but when you do, people engage with you even if they don’t know you or your company. The trick is to tie what you do (or sell) to what they already want. That’s nailing relevance.

At Predictable Revenue, we lean heavily on the Jobs To Be Done Theory, which defines “job statements” with an explicit structure of verb, object of control, and context (thanks Anthony Ulwick). 

Here are just a few examples:

The trick is to find just the right statement that articulates the progress your prospects already want to make – in exactly the way they want to make it. Just don’t be too generic. Usually what’s most obvious won’t work, instead you need to dig deeper into the specific context and way your would-be customers are thinking about it. The best way to figure this out? Ask them. Do customer discovery interviews, starting with your existing customers. Once you have a hypothesis from some interviews – test it at scale with outbound campaigns.

Nailing this framework isn’t easy right off the bat, but it’s well worth your time because once you figure it out, your prospects will, without a doubt, start engaging with your reps exponentially more often. Learn how Predictable Revenue built its innovative Outbound Validation program. 

Establishing Trust

Building trust, too, can be done in numerous ways and is, interestingly, rooted in some of the oldest known rhetorical conventions.

For example, let’s examine the ancient conventions of logos, pathos, and ethos.

Logos is a way of persuading a reader using logic (typically supported by a particular data point). In outbound sales, this can be accomplished in an email that logically describes why you can help the prospect because of the cutting edge technology your product encompasses. Generally speaking, this is what most outbound emails default to – an explanation of a product’s features and their power. While in some cases this strategy can help, it should almost never be the core message of your outreach.    

Pathos, on the other hand, is an emotional appeal, typically buoyed by building some level of kinship with the prospect. In an outbound sales framework, this can be accomplished by commenting on a post your prospect wrote, or doing a favour for your prospect such as sending them an e-book, swag, or introducing them to someone that you think can help them.

Finally, ethos is an ethical appeal, built on the credibility of your character. For example, Aaron Ross is widely considered an authority in outbound sales, so if you had a company that, say, specialized in getting companies leads, leveraging Aaron’s notoriety may help. Someone, one of these days, should really consider doing that.  

As you can see, this email uses three appeals to trust while also nailing relevance. It won’t always be possible to use all three, but do your best to leverage at least a couple while keeping your message succinct. 

These are powerful rhetorical elements, rooted in inherently human psychology. Couple that with a keen understanding of how to nail relevance, and your outbound prospecting will take off as a result.   

So go on, sharpen those spears and get hunting! 


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