From the Outbound Assist Team and Friends
At Outbound Assist we provide fully-managed email outreach campaigns for our clients, so we write a lot of emails and get a lot of questions about writing cold emails.
Below are a few guidelines we use for our emails that have proven successful.
But first, in the interest of full disclosure, we believe in a hybrid sales development approach that combines cold-emailing and warm-calling. We cold-email first and then our clients’ sales development teams warm-call interested prospects. We don’t buy into the argument that emailing and calling are mutually exclusive.
Our cold-email guidelines:
We try to keep our cold emails under 200 words. We state the problem that the prospect is likely encountering, how our client’s product/service can fix it, and then a closing statement like: Let me know if you have any questions. You can learn more at Client’s website.
In the first (introductory) email, we do not include a strong call to action or request a meeting. We simply try to draw the prospect to our client’s website and offer to answer any questions.
We follow up with 5-7 educational emails, each highlighting an aspect of our client’s value proposition and including a clear call to action — meeting request, demo request, etc.
If the prospect doesn’t respond, we send several short final follow-ups that effectively say: Hey you’ve been reading my emails, but I haven’t heard back from you. Are you interested, or should I call it quits?
All of this might sound a bit overwhelming if a sales development rep were to do it on her/his own, but we use a sales automation platform to manage most of this activity. It manages the emails, builds an activity feed for each prospect, and uses AI to identify interested prospects.
It enables us to automate most of the early sales development activity so that we can focus on providing a human touch in campaigns, setting up meetings, and enabling our clients to make warm-calls.
Which outbound B2B lead generation strategy is the best?
When I ask the cold-callers, they reply that cold-calling is the best B2B lead generation strategy and that cold-emailing is a waste of time. When I ask the cold-emailers, they say that their method is the best and that cold-calling is dead.
Clearly there is some confirmation bias in play, and everyone I’ve asked seems to believe that emailing and calling are mutually exclusive.
But at our company we use email and the phone together to create very effective sales campaigns.
We use multi-phase, behaviorally responsive email campaigns to create product awareness, get attention, and educate targeted decision-makers. Our software tracks all prospect activity and uses AI to tell us which prospects are interested. Then our sales development reps use the phone to warm-call the interested prospects.
Using the two methods together drives down customer acquisition costs and drives up lead generation. We don’t need a lot of costly sales development reps to research leads and make cold-calls.
Our software finds the leads, sends the emails, and tells us who is interested.
We have a small sales development team that spends 90% of their time warm-calling prospects that are already educated and interested.
So perhaps the cold-callers and cold-emailers should get together, because the best solutions come when you use all available tools to focus on the task at hand — generating leads.
AI and machine learning are completely changing how complex B2B products are sold. Just a few years ago B2B products were sold by sales execs that managed the complete sales process from prospecting through closing.
Then the prospecting function was separated, and the concept of a Sales Development Rep was born. The SDR prospected for interested leads, qualified them, and handed them to the sales exec for education and closure.
The sales development role involves a lot of repetition and pattern recognition — things that computers are good at. Software developers recognized this and built sales automation platforms. Now the sales development function is being taken over by machine learning and AI.
We are already using a sales automation platform that finds decision-makers that match the ideal customer profile for our products, finds their email address, engages them in an email campaign, and monitors their behavior to see if they are interested.
All of these things were done by our sales development reps before. Now all our SDRs do is make warm calls to interested prospects that were identified by our software.
Now we have 1 SDR instead of 9, and we see this trend accelerating across many of our clients. I suspect the relatively new role of an SDR will be short-lived as sales automation platforms proliferate and supplant this part of the B2B sales process.
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