An ultra-competitive, over-saturated marketplace is causing sellers to turn up the volume of their outreach — and causing buyers to tune them out. Meanwhile, companies are shrinking their budgets due to economic uncertainties. These cutbacks impact team size, retention, and the way prospects make buying decisions.
Personalized sales outreach can help sales teams overcome these obstacles. Here’s why that’s the case — and seven tips on how to make it work.
Why Personalized Prospecting Matters More Than Ever
Good prospecting matters more than ever because the buyer’s journey is more complicated than ever. Team sizes and structures are shifting, and more people are involved in each decision. Completing a sale these days involves anywhere from six to 10 decision makers — each with different pains, needs, and priorities.
A more complex buyer’s journey means more work for sales teams. It takes at least 18 touches to connect with a buyer, and sales reps have only 5% of a buyer’s time throughout the B2B buying journey. These higher stakes drive buyer expectations to a new level. Anything less than thoughtfully considered and personalized content will be ignored. Worst-case scenarios include your company being blacklisted or sales reps becoming the victims of social shaming. Identifying the right prospects, crafting messaging that resonates with each one, then sending those messages at the right time is necessary for prospecting efforts to succeed.
The good news? Prospecting is way more strategic than it was in the past. Data-driven insights and technology can empower teams to craft effective outreach. Here are seven tips to help prospectors create personalized content that reaches the right people at the right time.
Seven Prospecting Tips to Level Up Your Outbound Sales Game
Best practices are always shifting within an organization and industry. However, these seven tips are tried and true ways to make your personalized outreaches more effective.
Tip #1: Enrich your lead data for better outreach
One of the biggest challenges with prospecting is data decay: the quality and accuracy of data worsen over time as employees change roles and companies, which results in email addresses and phone numbers becoming outdated. A recent study found that 55% of its participants lack trust in their data assets and estimated that 32% of their data is inaccurate.
Lead enrichment is vital to overcoming these deficiencies. It nips data decay by providing up-to-date contact information for a prospect. It also includes finding out relevant information on an account, such as company size, job title, and geography. An up-to-date and correct database leads to on-point outreach that is, as a result, more effective.
Accompanying tools: LeadIQ recommends that teams start with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which acts as a source of relatively pristine data. Vetted contacts are uploaded to a CRM such as Salesforce. LeadIQ connects these tools, simplifying the process with its data-capturing abilities.
Tip #2: Consider account-based prospecting tactics
Account-based prospecting occurs when sales and marketing work together to find target accounts, then create content that reaches the responsible individuals in those accounts. Broken down in content speak, account-based prospecting looks like:
- Find creative ways to make employee introductions within target accounts: When sales and marketing work together, you can craft way more impactful outreach than a lone SDR struggling to make a connection. A practical example of this collaboration is a brainstorming session with sales and marketing that: a) pinpoints the right people to prospect, and then b) utilizes everyone’s talents to craft a creative campaign.
Take, for instance, this campaign by the company Docusign. When they wanted to increase traffic, they created a targeted ad campaign for over 450 enterprise accounts, with messaging that was personalized to the buying stage and industry. The results were a drastic boost in prospect engagement and sales pipeline activity.
- Target specific accounts with customized content: When Docusign designed their successful campaign, they didn’t rely on one-size-fits-all messaging. Instead, they named six industries that they wanted to reach, and made content specific to each, including images, logos, and testimonials.
Accompanying tool: Demandbase is an account-based marketing tool that provides sales reps with strategic insights into accounts, buyers, and the best way to reach them.
Tip #3: Be intentional about prioritization
Prioritization is simple enough in concept: it’s the process sales teams use to organize their outreach according to what accounts are most likely to engage and have the highest value. In practice, prioritization requires more than good organizational skills. Every team member should be aware of how to engage in prioritization, which relies on a combination of best practices and data-based research.
On the strategy side, team members need to know what leads matter most and have a protocol in place for handling them. A website visitor that downloads an asset, for instance, will rank as a higher priority than completely cold outreach. Research tools include lead management software that can rank which prospects matter most.
Accompanying tool: Hubspot
Tip #4: Get Creative
We can’t stress this point enough. Creativity is a cornerstone of personalized outreach. It overturns the outdated approach of using templates and allows sales reps to connect with prospects on a more authentic level. For example: a poem that mentions a prospect’s favorite hobby and ties it back to the product is going to be way more effective than a standard email that doesn’t take its personalization efforts past a prospect’s name. Creativity gives reps more room to play, since they can incorporate different mediums such as video, a gif, or even a gift.
Accompanying tool: Vidyard is a great tool for making videos that can be shared on relevant channels including social media and email. Video works well for creative prospecting efforts because it breaks the mold of the cold email, is engaging, and can be highly personalized.
Tip #5: Follow up — and Then Follow Up Again
Did you know the average SDR gives up on trying to make contact after 1.5 touches? Considering that the minimum recommended number of touches is six — and that it can take 18 or more touches to actually connect–SDRs need to pin “perseverance” to the front of their goal list. Sales reps can engage prospects through multiple channels — such as social media, email, and phone — to make sure outreach isn’t repetitive and is also more effective. A LinkedIn post that tags a prospect is more likely to result in engagement than leaving yet another voicemail.
Accompanying tools: Outreach is a leading sales execution platform that can help you create cadences, among other capabilities. MixMax is another sales engagement platform option that empowers users to automate and personalize their cold email outreach.
Tip #6: Understand that Sales is Iterative
Just because SDRs repeat the same processes over and over again doesn’t mean that the processes themselves never change. Fluctuations in the marketplace, customer behavior, and business structures are a given, meaning that sales teams are going to need to adapt along the way in order to maximize their outreach efforts. The crux of that agility lies in information.
Sales teams should actively seek out feedback, as well as incorporate any that is freely given, in order to improve their sales process. This iterative process includes pattern recognition: for instance, if SDRs repeatedly have a problem with data acquisition, sales teams should flag that as an opportunity to find a tool or strategy that improves their process.
Accompanying tools: Gong
Tip #7: Engage in Social Selling
Sales is a people-oriented industry, and sales teams should treat it as such. That means every member should actively strive to have a voice in the conversation. Salespeople are going to prospect better if they’re connected to relevant industry information and people who can support them, even from a distance; leaders are going to lead better if they know which direction the sales winds are blowing in. Lastly, prospects who are familiar with a salesperson because of a social media connection are far more likely to engage with that person.
That said, companies (and their sales reps) should strive to have a social media presence that allows them to engage with prospective companies. Writing posts on LinkedIn, and engaging with other people’s content, will let sales teams make an impression (and possibly a connection). Social media also allows sales teams to learn about industry trends and adapt their outreach accordingly.
Other online communities include forums and professional organizations, such as Sales Hacker and even Reddit, can help with social selling too. These outlets can deliver the scoop on the industry’s latest trends, news, or insights. On an emotional level, they can boost morale by allowing salespeople to connect with others in their industry. Reading relevant content is another way to help ensure that your outreach is timely and accurate. Finding people that engage with the same struggles as you can empower you and help you find solutions. Sales teams should strive to read a variety of publications, such as customer blogs and/or newsletters, as well as online news sources.