Tools and Tips for Outbound Sales Prospecting
In my last blog, I explained why account-based marketing is important in outbound prospecting and how it should be used for account profiling and prioritization. In this blog, I’d like to take it to the next level and touch on the importance of adding outbound prospecting into your sales development structure and processes.
At Marketo, my team is responsible for our most important enterprise accounts (which we define as organizations with 750 employees and more). We’re tasked with uncovering quality opportunities for our sales team and are 100% focused on outbound prospecting into these accounts. We do everything with that in mind.
Each day, the sales development team will focus their outbound efforts on targeting and profiling new accounts. Within each account, we target anywhere from 3-5 different personas and decision-makers. This includes account profiling, email personalization, and maintaining follow-up tasks. A busy day indeed, but at the end of it all, we are driving significant pipeline contribution to the bottom line. In 2016, we added a 65% year-over-year growth in pipeline. Ultimately, we are making inroads with our top prospects using our outbound prospecting process.
Below, I’ll share the tools we use as well as some best practices and “out-of-the-box” tactics for outbounding. Let’s dive in:
Tools of the Trade
Each SDR’s bag of tricks should include the right amount of prospecting and automation tools to help them do their day-to-day job and target the right individuals from the top target accounts. At Marketo, we use some of the best and most efficient technologies in the market:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A CRM system is the main database for all your information about accounts, contacts, and opportunities.We start our outbound prospecting with our CRM as it allows us to research any existing/previous/lost opportunities as well as the contacts associated with the account. Paired with an account-based marketing tool, you can prioritize your accounts with the highest account score that have the propensity to purchase.
Marketing Automation Platform: To track each account’s activities and see the different channels and campaigns that they’ve engaged with. We use our own marketing automation platform and Marketo Sales Insight application. We leverage everything we learn about a prospect to personalize our outbound emails and phone calls. Because we have an ABM tool that is native to our platform, we can glean insights on our target account activities across all touchpoints, enabling us to have more relevant, effective conversations.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator: One fundamental of both sales and marketing is to be where your prospects and customers are. With the rise and adoption of social media platforms, we would not be able to prospect into our top target accounts without using a social platform that is geared towards sales. In our case, we use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to personalize our outreach.
For those not familiar with Sales Navigator, it allows sales professionals to tap into the power of LinkedIn for social selling, with features like lead recommendations, CRM integration, lead builder, and prospect/customer updates. At Marketo, we use the tool to look for mutual connections, promotions, funding, and most importantly, school alumni affiliations. We also use it to send a more direct email with InMail and keep track of news and updates from our target accounts and key contacts. Let’s face it, everyone is always updating their online resume (i.e. LinkedIn), so you can feel confident that most of this information is correct and will be valuable for your outreach.
Sales Intelligence Tool: We also utilize a technology that provides intelligence and analytics on business leaders who make buying decisions. This data includes contact information, organizational charts, spending initiatives, budgets, current products and services used, and much more. A tool like this is extremely valuable in understanding reporting structures and also current projects and initiatives. It also provides a direct link to our CRM tool to eliminate the need for manual data entry and streamline our account profiling.
Sales Communication Platform: This is a big piece in ultimately executing our email sends and automatically tracking all activity associated with our outbound process. In this platform, we utilize, customize, and personalize our email templates along with specific and targeted working cadences to ensure each prospect is receiving the right amount of information in a timely fashion. Of course, this tool is also integrated with our CRM and marketing automation systems to provide real-time activity and task tracking.
Tips for Outbound Prospecting
There are definitely right and wrong ways to prospect. Here are some best practices and out-of-the-box tactics that have worked well for us:
- Set a cadence for reaching out and following up. It’s paramount to make sure you have the right amount of activity in the right amount of time without pestering your prospect. Regardless of what you may have heard about cold calling, it still remains the best way to actually connect and speak with a human being. Not making dials is not doing your job. There are days and times that work best for cold calling, and you should ask your SDR team to schedule calls during those particular windows. At Marketo, we deploy a full 25-day outbound cadence that includes a series of pointed and personalized emails along with calls, voicemails, and social connections.
- On LinkedIn, quote anything on a prospect’s profile that directly ties into what you do. It’s hard for a prospect to not respond when you directly quote them. For example, if you come across a prospect’s job description on LinkedIn that says “My task is making the digital customer experience as personal, innovative and seamless as possible”, then you could reach out, quote him, and add to it with a comment like “We couldn’t agree more. Have you seen our webinar, Talk to Me, Not at Me: Testing for a Better Customer Experience?”
- Look for relevant and recent news about a prospect/company on their activity feed. Employees often post news about their organization, so it’s easy to find one to comment on and build somewhat of a warm connection.
- Do research on their company website. Scour their pages to understand what they do and how you can help. You can also look at specific job openings on their website that are relevant and may contain your product name or product use in the descriptions. This will easily tell you whether they’re utilizing or evaluating your products or service.
Ultimately, outbound prospecting is about making sure that your outreach is professional and that you are providing value to the prospect immediately. Try not talking too much about your own product and how great you are. That is an immediate turn-off and will not earn a response. To solicit a better response that will lead to more quality sales opportunities for your sales team, use timely, valued-based outreach to connect with your prospect on a personal and social level.