The Modern Prospecting Initiative with Collin Cadmus
Author: collin stewart
Do you feel that your company could be better at prospecting? Are you keen to establish an effective and sophisticated approach to sales? If so, the advice and guidance of Collin Cadmus will be invaluable to you and your team.
The founder of Collin Cadmus LLC, he has over a decade’s experience in building and leading high velocity SaaS sales teams. Collin also works as a Consultant, Strategic Advisor, and Executive Coach to top SaaS companies around the world. Additionally, he is a highly respected thought leader in the sales space, providing regular sales and leadership tips on LinkedIn and through his popular podcast.
The Problem With The SDR Model
Collin’s experiences in sales led him to the conclusion that the widely used SDR model is, in fact, broken. “About two years ago I started to notice that the SDR process was just not working the way that it originally did 10 years ago,” reflects Collin. This recent gradual decline in the model’s efficacy is, somewhat paradoxically, partly a result of its earlier successes. As Collin explains, “when something good comes along and people start doing more of it, it’s no longer as good because it’s not as interesting. It’s not as new.”
Additionally, the growth in automation technology that is used to support this process has also had the unintended result of decreasing the model’s potency. This is because it provokes a concomitant growth in technology designed to shelter people from these automated outreach efforts. “So we have things like technology that’s blocking your cold calls,” explains Collin, “and tech that blocks your cold emails.” In short, as the SDR sales model has proliferated and automated, it has become less and less effective.
Accordingly, it is important for salespeople to reassess how they approach their craft, in a similar fashion to Collin. “As I’ve started consulting and working with other companies, I’ve been focused on how we fix this problem,” describes Collin. As a starting point, he observed the high volume of messages he was receiving that contained a pitch as well as a scheduling link. “These salespeople are literally trying to complete half the sales process in one cold message and it’s insane,” exclaims Collin. “I believe that if we keep abusing the privilege to reach out to people cold, it’s only going to get harder to do and they’re going to do a better job at blocking us.”
The Solution: Reclaiming The Lost Art Of Prospecting
To help, Collin has developed a course to help salespeople approach prospecting in a more sophisticated and effective manner. Here, Collin shares some of the content of that course with Predictable Revenue.
Firstly, Collin urges salespeople to avoid excessive automation and to engage more on a human level. “We’ve gotten so far into automation that we’ve moved too far away from actually being humans,” reasons Collin, “and that’s where I think we’re going wrong”. The aim for all salespeople needs to be finding the right balance between automation and the human touch. “I’m not saying get rid of automation,” clarifies Collin, “but we’re using it wrong and we’re using too much of it. We’ve removed the human.”
Neither is Collin suggesting that people should completely stop their current operations and start from scratch. “What I’ve put together is a program in which you can take 10 to 20 of your top accounts, and you can delay putting them into your regular process for 30 to 90 days,” explains Collin. During this period, the aim is “to try to humanize the prospects, warm them up, and get them to become a little bit familiar with you.”
There are three parts to this:
- Create awareness.
- Generate engagement.
- Align on a problem.
Collin’s model is based on achieving all three of these goals before doing a cold outreach or suggesting a meeting or demo. When someone receives an email from an unknown salesperson out of the blue in the current climate, often they are not going to be inclined to respond.
However, when a salesperson has had some interaction with them on social media, perhaps some social non-sales related conversations, they are in a much better position. Following this, when they do reach out to them, it’s not a cold message.
Even if the conversations between the salesperson and the prospect have been unrelated to the pitch, this can still be beneficial. “This is because their guard is down,” explains Collin, “and you’re not a salesperson, you’re just someone talking to them.”
“Creating awareness is allowing you to subconsciously remove the fact that prospects have no idea who you are, or why you’re reaching out. It’s about making you familiar,” expounds Collin. This is an area in which every major brand spends millions of dollars.
The lowest hanging fruit in creating awareness is social media. “So first and foremost – when you’re looking for prospects, you really want to be trying to find people or companies who are active on social media. It’s going to make this light years easier and light years less expensive,” Collin describes. If you have the option of doing so, it is highly beneficial to partner with your marketing team on this initiative.
Nevertheless, it is entirely possible to use your creativity to develop effective offline methods of generating awareness. Collin describes an example of when his team mapped out the physical locations of their prospects across New York City. They discovered that there’s phone booths outside of the subway station that these prospects used while commuting to work. These were extremely cheap to place adverts in, which Collin’s team did for 60 days, increasing familiarity with their brand as their prospects went to and from work. “So that’s an example of getting creative and thinking outside of the box,” adds Collin, “we were not using social media, this was an idea that we had and it fit within our budget so we did it”.
Once you’ve managed to create awareness for your brand, your next step is encouraging engagement. “The objective now is to just figure out a way to get them to react to something,” states Collin. This can be something as upfront as asking them a question on social media or tagging them in a post on a topic that they are passionate about. As long as you are sparking positive interactions and developing a rapport, you can approach this however you feel best.
In doing this, you are opening the door to this prospect. “I’m not saying it’s going to work every single time,” warns Collin, “but if you can get this to work on a handful of your top accounts each quarter it can make a big difference, and it allows you to stop driving people crazy.”
This was the methodology used by Collin to get Jason Lemkin to appear on his podcast. Having reached out cold several times to no avail, Collin started engaging with Jason’s social media posts. “I generated the engagement and then, when I reached out to him it wasn’t a cold message, and he said ‘yes, let’s do it!’” This example might not be of a sale, but it’s the same principle: it is still prospecting.
Aligning On A Problem
Now that you’ve created some engagement through interaction, you may well be keen to press ahead with the sale. However, Collin argues that this still isn’t the time. “I’m going to be very clear here: this is not where you’re trying to schedule a meeting.” Your focus should not be on trying to schedule meetings, but rather should be on finding people who acknowledge that they have a problem that you can solve. Put simply, your only objective should be to find people who align on a problem.
To achieve this, you’ll need to make use of the rapport you have developed thus far. “You can ask them how they’re currently handling x y and z” suggests Collin, “or you can tell them that you’re having a problem and ask for their feedback on it. Find alignment on a problem. Then, and only then, does it make sense to schedule a meeting.”
In fact, if this process is handled correctly, you should find that the meetings schedule themselves. “If they’ve aligned on a problem you could potentially solve, you’ve built rapport, you’ve generated awareness. At this point it’s just kind of a no-brainer to sit with you and hear out what you have to say about that problem,” explains Collin.
If you would like to hear more advice and guidance from Collin on how to prospect more organically, then watch the full video with Predictable Revenue here.
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