Outbound sales is never easy, but in the COVID-19 era, it may seem close to impossible. How do you get replies to cold outreach? Build a relationship with a prospect? Understand their pain points?
In this episode of The B2B Rebellion, Andy speaks with Michael Hanson, Founder of Growth Genie, to discover his top five tips for outbound sales.
He’ll dive into how to:
Bonus tip: 💡 If you want better alignment between sales and marketing, they need to be focussed on the same KPI — revenue.
Andy Culligan: Okay. So, hi Michael, great to have you here again today. Michael Hanson from Growth Genie. I wanted to have you on because we're doing this video series around different tips that we can give sales teams to start implementing immediately.
I think at the moment, generally across the board it's always good first for advice, but I think things that people can really take away and start implementing from today onwards is really helpful. Especially things that don't need an awful lot of resource, maybe it's some suggestions on which tools they should use.
But first and foremost, thanks so much for coming on, Michael.
Michael Hanson: No, likewise Andy, always a pleasure to be on.
AC: So in terms of what you're offering to your customer base at the moment, is there anything, like any insights that you can give us, a couple of tips that sales teams can take away and go and achieve and do right now Michael?
MH: Yeah, for sure. And I think some of these tips may seem quite obvious to very good sales people but based on some of the training and coaching that I give salespeople, I've noticed these are very common things that people aren't doing, which is why I wanted to prescribe these particular advice
So the first one is I always recommend to be a sales doctor, you may ask, "What do I mean by a sales doctor?" It's like when you go into a doctor they'll always diagnose before they prescribe you anything. They'll ask you, "What's wrong with you? What are your symptoms?" etcetera. And one of the big mistakes I see salespeople making is that they're not doing that. They're always talking about the prescription before the diagnosis.
So it's all about asking questions to understand what are the pain points of your potential prospects or customer, and then after that talking about your solution because you won't actually know about how your solution fixes their pains obviously until you understand the pains, so that's one.
The second one is related to that. So you may be asking, "How do I understand the pains? How do I uncover those pains? What kind of questions can I ask?" So I always recommend to ask open-ended questions that can uncover those pains.
What can be quite a good thing to do is look at your ideal customer profile, what are the top five challenges they may have. And then try to write questions around those challenges.
So I thought I'd give an example just based on the fact that I know Leadfeeder, so in your field one of the pains may be the companies spend a lot of time researching who are the companies who are in the market for them.
So something you could ask is, out of interest, how much time does your marketing or sales team spend on researching the ideal accounts versus actually reaching out to them? And that's a good question cause they could say, "40% of the time is spent on admin and 60% of the time is spent on selling." And obviously you want 100% of the time spent on selling, right?
AC: Of course. Yes.
MH: So, third one is something Andy and I discussed recently, was about outbound calling.
So we were actually talking about it in the sense of prospecting, but the biggest area of opportunity I have actually seen with salespeople is that closing part, so if you're an account executive salesperson who is actually taking it through to the end and is using outbound calling once you've actually had a demo or a consultation of your service.
Because the big mistake I see with salespeople is they just send a few follow-up emails. And their first email will be sending a proposal. Second email, "Did you see the proposal?" Third email is just a chase, where actually if you're using an omnichannel approach, the same as like an SDR does, as an account executive, that's very useful because you can call them, have a more interactive conversation, really see what their objections are.
That's why I recommend if you're an account executive, people you have already gotten in a pipeline, actually pick up the phone and call them as well.
And then just in terms of calling, so this counts as a fourth one, if you're either an SDR account executive wherever you are in the sales process, one of the most difficult things nowadays with calling is getting someone to pick up the phone because we're becoming more and more digital, it becomes harder and harder to actually get someone to connect to pick up their phone.
So one of the ways I recommend to get around this, especially if you are targeting someone quite senior in the company, like a VP, C-level, etcetera, is to call them early in the morning, so around 8:00 o'clock. And that means they should be awake, maybe they're having breakfast, but they're not in the nitty-gritty of their day where they've got a million people actually trying to contact them. And then same contact them maybe at like 5:30-6:00 PM, and that's when their day is finished, they're winding down, they're a little bit more relaxed.
So those are a couple of things that I'd recommend in terms of times to actually pick up the phone and call people.
And then the fifth one, I think Andy will like this as you all know he's big on marketing and sales alignment, I have quite a lot of marketing in my background as well, is align with marketing a lot, like speak to marketing the whole time.
I'm same as Andy as in I think sales and marketing should be one engine. And then a big thing is ask them about the content that's been successful, because you may have seen a lot of stuff online recently, people like Josh Bronze talking about deposits. They talk about giving before you take. And it's like what I was saying before about diagnosing. You don't wanna, on your first email or first LinkedIn message just be talking about you.
Maybe you can share content that's related to some of those challenges earlier, that's a really good way. And a lot of the ways I start sales conversations, I have two or three bits of content that I know that really resonate. And I just send them to people and often they'll reply and say thanks and that will start a conversation.
So if you can speak to your marketing team and say what are the bits of content that you know are getting lots of clicks, an email, or videos that are getting lots of views, podcasts that are getting lots of listens, ask them about those, and those are great things to then sent to your prospects, if you're in sales. So that would be my last tip.
AC: Yeah, they are great tips Michael. I think, just on your last point there in sales and marketing alignment, as you said, this is something that I specialize in, but mainly because I've been in a sales background myself before. I've also been an SDR, I've been an account manager, I've managed an SDR team, and when I managed the SDR team I actually brought them under the marketing umbrella.
So I was the VP of marketing, and marketing and SDRs both reported to me. And I think the number one thing that I find across a lot of people that I know that are in marketing and also in sales is that that alignment thing isn't a given, it's not just... It doesn't just happen, there needs to be somebody that's orchestrating it. I'd always be the orchestrator of that, I'd always be the conductor between sales and marketing to make sure that they are speaking to one another. And like even before I joined Leadfeeder, they were of the opinion that they were aligned, but their KPIs weren't aligned.
So when I joined I started pushing more, "Okay, let's get marketing really focused on the revenue side of things." And that automatically, once you start putting revenue targets towards a marketing team you're gonna have to get the sales and marketing team aligned. They're gonna have to do it themselves because anything anywhere that you spend, the money needs to make sense because if it's not bringing back revenue, then it's gonna be seen as a failure.
So you need to be making sure that the marketing team are then discussing that with the sales teams and saying, "Hey, if I bring in leads from this specific base, are they actually converting to business?" even if you don't have a good way of tracking that, the best way to find out is to go and ask the sales team. And these conversations maybe hadn't have happened before in the past, but that's where you start, and my opinion is with making sure KPIs align, and it's normally around revenue.
And if you're promising from the marketing or back to the sales, we're being like, "Okay, my content can help you bring an extra X amount of pipeline that you're gonna have to go search for anyway yourself, then you're gonna be pretty sure that the marketing and sales team are going to be pretty well aligned." And it's good from a sales perspective as well to push, based on what you just mentioned there, having content which you can push out to prospects now that it resonates rather than just going straight in with an offer or something.
Salespeople know that works. And what you need to do as a salesperson is say, "Go put pressure on the marketing team." If they don't have that content there start putting pressure on them to get them to create that content, if they're not creating that content for you create something yourself and push it across to the marketing team. And I guarantee you, there's nothing worse than getting some of the piece of contents being written by a salesperson if you're marketing because you're like, "This is supposed to be my job, and sales shouldn't be doing it," right?
MH: Yeah, totally. One of the things I didn't mention actually is related to one of the points I was talking about, the follow-up. Once you had a meeting to help convert a lead to close one, and that's another point where you can use that content. I was talking about it from a prospecting perspective, from an SDR first or second touch using content.
I found that a lot of deals that I've closed is, I sent a proposal and I got next steps in the diary. They may not turn up for that call, I'm like, "What's going wrong? I can't get a hold of them." And then I share a piece of content on LinkedIn, no CTA. Let's get another call, "Have you seen the proposal?" And I know it's super relevant to them.
And actually at that point, not, "Have you seen the proposal?" They'll say, "Oh, I love that piece of content, let's get on that call." So that's another good way, even like account executives, they can be using content to nurture leads as well.
AC: It's an easier foot in the door and it's not such a hard sell. Recently enough, we had a big deal close, and it closed because of an effort that we dawned actually from the marketing side, an account-based marketing campaign which we had.
We've been speaking with this specific company, an enterprise company, actually the biggest deal that we've closed in the company's history, would you believe? And it had gone quiet for about two months. So, our contact person there had gone a bit quiet. And then what had happened is we did an ABM campaign which focused on a different person in the organisation that was already aware of us, that we'd already been speaking with, but their user role was a little bit different.
That person downloaded an e-book and then the salesperson then just followed-up with an additional piece of content saying, "If you enjoyed the e-book, here's some more information or another blog post around that specific topic. Have a read, if there's anything more that you need, let me know." And like a day later, "Hey, yeah, we're interested in pushing forward, we really need this solution, by the way."
It was a very soft touch, but that soft touch then turned into our biggest deal ever. So it goes to show that the power of content and the power of not being too salesy.
Okay, Michael, look, thank you, that's all the time we have for today, but really, big thank you, and thank you for putting those couple of tips out to people. And I really enjoyed it and I really look forward to speaking with you again.
MH: Likewise Andy, I hope we'll be chatting soon. And anyone who's listening feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
AC: Cheers, Michael.
MH: Thanks, Andy.