outbound sales covid19 webinar header

Outbound Sales During Covid-19: How to Adapt to Yield Long Term Success [Webinar Recap]

Outbound sales is never easy, but in the current climate, it may seem close to impossible.

As more companies freeze budgets, how do you still do cold outreach without banging your head against a closed door?

Andy Culligan, CMO of Leadfeeder, is joined by Aaron Ross, Co-Founder of Predictable Revenue and author of Predictable Revenue, also known as “The Sales Bible of Silicon Valley”, to discuss this topic. Aaron is a keynote speaker and bestselling author who created the outbound sales systems for Salesforce and other companies, which have created billions of dollars in value.

Aaron discusses his observations from the past few weeks and how he sees the current crisis impacting outbound sales.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Strategies you can start implementing today to adapt to the new normal

  • What’s changed in outbound sales over the last month

  • How to make a lasting impression on your employees during these times of crisis

Note: Sign up for Leadfeeder’s free 14-day to sell more, more often, with one of the most powerful intent data tools on the market.

Andy: (00:02)

Hey guys, and welcome to another Leadfeeder webinar. First of all, before we start this one today, anybody that was on the webinar last Friday, just like to apologize. We had some technical issues, and so that's why we're running through the content again today. Myself and Aaron were speaking about it the other day again, but it's actually good to have been able to have had a practice run-through last week, and then this week, we're able to do the real show. You guys are probably luckier than the guys last week in that respect.

Aaron: (00:28)

Definitely.

Andy: (00:30

So let me just start by introducing Aaron. So, people that don't know Aaron, Aaron is the founder of a company called "Predictable Revenue." And something that Aaron, I've gotten a lot of inspiration from Aaron in the past is from his book "Predictable Revenue," which he penned right after he finished up with Salesforce. Aaron was with Salesforce during the time when they rose from 10 million in revenue to 100 million in revenue. And during that time, he was running the PDR function there, basing things off of a very data-driven approach in terms of what type of email outbound cadence will work within that PDR function as well as any type of outreach cadence they were doing. And as I said, this "Predictable Revenue" book is known as the sales bible of Silicon Valley. And it was introduced to me earlier in my career, and it's really been a big inspiration to me in terms of how I'm a data-driven marketer and how I work together with sales teams. So I'm really excited to have Aaron on, and for him to be able to show people what his view on things are at the moment.

Andy: (01:37)

There's myself, Andy, so Andy the CMO here at Leadfeeder. We've been doing weekly webinars now over the past couple of weeks. So people that have been on from the past couple of weeks have probably got to know who I am. But yeah. Well, let's go through what we're gonna be focusing on today. So I'll just bring people through really quickly in terms of what we've seen from Leadfeeder's side. So what's been our reaction to the current situation and how we pivoted or changed how we're doing things in order to address this. Aaron will then go into what's his view on things currently and what are the ways forward, and then we probably have 15 or 20 minutes towards the end where we'll have an open floor where people can ask some questions. I've seen there that Daire just shared in the comments box there just, or in the chatbox, mentioning that. Any questions, please if you could put them into the questions tab, you'll see it there on the right-hand side of your screen, that would be great. And in the end, what we can do is we can try to get through as many of those questions as possible.

Andy: (02:36)

So just in terms of what we've seen from the Leadfeeder side, I think the reaction has had to be both from the marketing and sales org, and it's had to be together. So I've been doing a fair bit of research on this over the past week and just seeing what people are posting about on LinkedIn and whatnot. When people are talking about account-based marketing at the moment, it's been really interesting to see how the account-based marketing approach has really enabled people to pivot quickly. But also at the same time, it's really helped sales and marketing organizations come together to be able to hammer down the same message rather than sales reacting one way and marketing reacting another, and then not really meeting each other in the middle.

Andy: (03:14)

So from a perspective, from our side of Leadfeeder, what I can say is that the sales team and the marketing team have been working very closely together to react to the current situation at hand, and sales being very reliant on the marketing team in terms of content, and marketing being very reliant on sales from a feedback perspective in terms of what they need in order to start engaging with people that are already in the pipeline or in the sales pipeline versus the completely net new stuff. So the marketing and sales team have had to really react together, and work together to make sure that we're actually hitting home our message.

Andy: (03:47)

So I see it the way that we've done it is in three steps. So, we've reviewed our buyer personas or the things that are already open pipeline. So has the buyer changed, or has the person within that company changed in terms of who we need to be convincing that our product is a right fit? The second part is, is that, what's the prospect situation? So in the existing pipeline, for example, or even new pipeline, what's going on in their world right now, whether it be personal or whether it be professional, what are the things that are problematic to them right now, and how can we change that? Like, how can we go ahead and focus on one of those issues that they may have and help them out with it? And I'll bring you through some things now in terms of what we're doing to help that.

Andy: (04:33)

So, from marketing's reaction, I wanna just focus on the two different departments. My initial reaction, if we look here, around March 16th time, that was the week when Trump had announced that there would be changes in the US. So I think it was around March 12th, March 13th, when there were travel restrictions announced. And within that sort of weekend, so 14th, 15th, I've been speaking with a couple of people about, "Okay, what type of reaction are you seeing in your marketing numbers at the moment?" And I had anticipated that things will go down slightly. So the corresponding week starting March 16th there, we can see that this is the lead generation numbers for Leadfeeder here. And I'm starting to see things go down a little bit. With that, I know that "Hey, our sales team are gonna struggle probably in the next six weeks, if our numbers start going down now." It's a lagging thing because we have a sales cycle of maybe 45 days or so.

Andy: (05:32)

So I started thinking, "Okay, how can marketing react to help the sales or to make sure that their pipeline isn't dropping." So the first thing is I start speaking with people. Then say, "Okay, what are the things that I can do with potential partners to make sure that we're still engaging with people and enabling the sales team to engage with people?" So what we've started to do is create sales fuel. So what does sales fuel actually mean? It's very focused content, which is enabling the sales team to reach out to people that are either in an existing buying cycle that they're already in a pipeline opportunity with, or they're completely net new. So Aaron will bring you through some of the net new stuff that he sees being very worthwhile at the moment, in a couple of moments. But things that you should be giving your sales team in order to start reaching out should be things like webinars like what we're doing right now. So we've got three webinars in three weeks. Our last webinar before now was around Christmastime last year. But now, we're rolling them out on a weekly basis because we see that people are hungry for the information and hungry for content.

Andy: (06:33)

Blogs. We started to really blog about things that we see are issues to people that we're doing outreach towards. Now, it's not necessarily keeping our products on top of, in the main message that we're pushing out to people. So one thing would be, for example, how to get better or how to react in terms of paid marketing at the moment. So what are we doing from a Leadfeeder perspective, from our paid marketing efforts, which could help our prospects? Now, that's not necessarily 100% directly linked back to our product, but it's a helpful piece of information to people that are currently going through the same things we are.

Andy: (07:10)

So ABM workshops. An additional thing that we've done on top is inviting people off the back of webinars like this, and if people are interested, please let us know afterward. You can reach out to me directly on LinkedIn if there will be an interest in participating in an ABM workshop. Again, this is together with Alex Olly from Reachdesk; he's a customer of ours. But it's not a focus on Leadfeeder product; it's a focus on how can you shift the momentum slightly towards your favor by implementing some easy ABM steps right now? And a small part of that is Leadfeeder, but the overall piece is more to help people learn, and create value for people through teaching.

Andy: (07:52)

So from a sales perspective, I've mentioned it a couple of times, you've got your net new, so things that you're doing cold outreach towards, and then you've got your existing. So your existing is your pipeline that was created pre this COVID-19 crisis. And there's a couple of different approaches that we've been doing based on what are some of these net new versus existing. So for a net new perspective, and I can only speak for Leadfeeder here, but what we've seen is if you could pivot to industries that are less affected, you will be more successful. So from our perspective, we started thinking, "Hey, what can our outbound team be looking at that people are still willing to put their hand in their pocket right now because, for example, they do need to be recognizing the companies that are visiting their site? And in addition to the ones that are already in our pipeline right now?" So things like video communications are still booming right now, so Zoom, for example, e-learning, pharma companies. They're the type of companies that it's not business as usual, but they're less affected than others. And you'll find it easier to break down the door and actually manage to have a connect or a meaningful conversation with.

Andy: (08:58)

Somebody in environmental opportunities. So based on the current situation, does your USP open up any new doors? So from our perspective, there is one particularly interesting use case that we see right now is around events. So salespeople would typically, between March, April, and May, have a full events calendar. So they would be going to a lot of offline events and creating pipelines via those events. Now, for the, at least for H1 2020, so up until the end of June, it's gonna go on longer, we're certain of it. There won't be any offline physical events globally. So that leaves another opportunity for us to look at, "Okay, how can we build further pipeline?" And one of the messages we're pushing at the moment is really, look at your first-party data. So you can recognize your first-party data via Leadfeeder. So, i.e., Understand which companies are visiting your website that is not converting, perhaps, so you haven't recognized them through your marketing automation platform or form fills. See what they're interacting with and maybe score them. And then based off of that, do your cold outreach.

Andy: (10:03)

On top of that, one of the most important things, and I can't stress this enough, is reacting very quickly and immediately to the world around you. So things are changing almost daily right now. From our perspective, we can see different trends happening in different markets, and we're having to jump and chop and change things daily. From my perspective in the marketing team, the guys are. They're flat out doing different things, and it seems like we're jumping around quite a bit. But at the end of the day, we actually are managing to get good results out of things because we're chopping and changing. It's a little bit whirlwind, but at the end of the day, it is making a difference.

Andy: (10:41)

So a couple of tips that we've seen from our side. So one of the things that we got last Thursday across from somebody that we were speaking within Denmark was that in Denmark, in particular, there was some government subsidies being given to companies that were appearing to not be, I think, sending emails via their work network. I think it's something to do with if employees, I guess it has to do with the furloughed staff. So a lot of companies would be looking to maybe call back on their staff, but at the same time, use the government subsidies and try to keep people involved within the workforce. So it's important to bear in mind what's happening in each different country and what are the changing regulations because every country is doing things a little bit slightly different. And in this case here, we can see that by reaching out to this person via email, then we'll get very little to no response, but focus on another channel, such as LinkedIn or maybe pick up the phone, would work better there.

Andy: (11:42

Events. So there's a big opportunity now, and I mentioned events a couple of minutes ago. SaaStock, for example, is an event, which was supposed to be happening for 3000-5000 people in San Francisco in June of this year, one of the largest events in SaaS. And Alex is the CEO and founder of SaaStock, actually pulled the event probably three weeks ago and said, just announced there last week that they'll be moving it to a digital event. So my thinking on digital events pre this COVID-19 crisis was that digital events were a bit naff, and they weren't great. They were basically like a glorified Zoom meeting.

Andy: (12:26

Now, however, vendors haven't had the chance or haven't had the choice but to make sure that these events are successful. So that does mean for the technology vendors, the guys that are offering the experience for the event themselves, they've had to up their game. So I'm super interested to see how these digital events are gonna play out. I would suggest to any sales team or any marketing team that they should invest in at least one to two of these events in the coming months, and attack this event like you would any other event. So make sure that you're getting meetings booked prior, make sure that your follow-up is solid, and making sure that you're getting meetings completed during the event. So there are a number of different tips and tricks in which people have used to drive people to a boot or to drive meeting numbers at a boot at normal events, or done it before with SDR teams or sales teams. This shouldn't change just because it's digital, but maybe things will be slightly different. So, it's important now that we start trying to rewrite that playbook in terms of driving meetings and confirm meetings and completing meeting at these events in order for us to grow this pipeline. Another example that came across my desk actually on Friday before we first did this webinar was actually funny enough; I'm not getting too many cold emails or cold calls at the moment.

Andy: (13:46

I've had a couple of bad cold emails, but a very few cold calls, and this is one cold call that actually lasted for about 30 seconds, and I agreed to a meeting, okay. And the reason why it was so good to me and my apologies here for my handwriting. It looks like a doctor wrote it with his foot. But, first of all, the first. If we read through, we're helping Albacross, and Lead Forensics get in front of target customers at this difficult time, okay. So two things in there relevant to me because it mentioned two competitors in the first sentence as soon as I picked up the phone. "Hi Andy, we're helping Albacross and Lead Forensics," okay, so I'm automatically listening.

Andy: (14:26

First of all, that person's done their homework, they know exactly who our main competitors are, okay. They've recognized the situation, they know it's a difficult time, but they haven't gone into too much detail because I'm a bit sick and tired of hearing about it, to be honest. And they think everybody else is. They've also said, again towards the end of it, "Let me show you how we're helping KickFire," another competitor of ours, "Create pipeline at the minute." So, creating pipeline obviously to most people and we're not alone in this, is a pain point for everybody at the moment. So I'm listening. They've already mentioned three of our main competitors, and also then addressed one of our pain points. And that conversation lasted 30 seconds, and there's a meeting booked in the calendar for tomorrow. So it's about being relevant. It's about doing your homework and making sure that you're presenting the right information, and that's exactly what this person did.

Andy: (15:20

So, from an existing pipeline perspective, I've mentioned this already is, what's the challenges that they face? So you need to look at their business and see, "Hey, is there anywhere within that business that's really struggling right now where you or somebody else on your team can offer assistance?" So, as an example, we've been saying to our sales team, "Hey, if people need help with their marketing, all you need to do is ask." If there's problems with budgets for example, and paid marketing, what are some of the things that we're doing that we're seeing working and we're more than happy to help and more than happy to reach out to our existing customer base as well as an existing pipeline to let them know, "Hey, maybe we can be of assistance here." Okay. The second part is, and again this is about doing your homework, what's happening in their industry right now? So what are competitors doing that perhaps the company that you're doing your prospecting towards isn't doing? 

Andy: (16:10)

And how can you help them actually achieve what their competitors are doing? And again, this reacting immediately thing is very, very important. So, again, I can't emphasize enough from our side is this marketing help to support the sales fuel. So if your marketing team are sitting on their hands right now and not supporting sales with meaningful content and empathetic content, which they can push out to their existing pipeline, then they're doing something wrong. So you need to sit on top of your marketing team and make sure they're doing that.

Andy: (16:40)

And some of the channels that we see are working pretty well at the moment are interesting. So we're seeing things like WhatsApp and Facebook working. And I already mentioned this the other day; these work well after an initial follow-up for sure. So this is mainly within an existing pipeline. Some people that you've already created some form of connection with. So things like WhatsApp and Facebook are typically channels that are private channels, people don't particularly like being contacted on them. However, at the moment, things are a little bit different for everybody. People are working from home, first and foremost. They're probably juggling how they manage their day with their partner, for example, if they have kids, people are taking two to three-hour time slots. They're working at funny times. So at all times during the day though, people have this on them, they have their phone on them. And these are the channels that people are using, and what we started to see good interactions on are just those channels. So SMS, Facebook, WhatsApp. Again, LinkedIn is a very good channel. LinkedIn at the moment from what I can see is getting a little bit crowded, but it's still is a performing channel.

Andy: (17:44

And one thing that's working from an email perspective, that we're seeing as well is videos within an email. So using things like Vidyard, for example, and I'm doing a screen record of that person's website and some tips in terms of what they can. What you can help with, or what you can offer. And also, that doesn't mean to say that cold email isn't working. Cold email is working as long as you put the right information in there. So, just before I hand over to Aaron, I think the most important thing from my side is making sure that we create lasting connections, but at the same time, we need to make sure that we're going the extra mile with them. And I've had this conversation a number of times even today is that, if anybody says at the moment that they're not busy, they're doing something wrong. And with that, I'll hand you over to Aaron.

Aaron: (18:33)

What if I'm not busy? 

Andy: (18:35

You're doing something wrong, mate. You've got 12; you've got nine kids, mate. You got. You're definitely.

Aaron: (18:40

Yeah. I said, "What if?" I'm definitely busy, but the question is, "With what?" Let me just do a quick check-in. I know there are some questions that came through. I think at the end; we'll kinda save them for that unless there's something super relevant, which I didn't see at that point. I know Hannah had a good question, but I think Andy answered around, like which channels are working. There's the big three: Phone, email, LinkedIn, and then there's a lot of others, you can even include direct mail, and carrier pigeon, and door to door. Those are the big three. WhatsApp and text messages are still there, but again, the main thing is, as I actually said: Telephone, email, LinkedIn are still the go-to's, is still the main place to go. That's still it unless you have a special market if you're selling to... A place where the customers are on Instagram, which B2B sometimes if you sold to restaurants, which is probably not a great service right now, a lot of them are on Instagram, so still an exception. Let's just talk about outbound in 2020.

Aaron: (19:48

I think the main thing is if you actually have a program right now if we could run a poll, what I would ask is: How many of you either are dedicated prospectors or there's a dedicated a prospecting team at your company, versus how many are doing it part-time 'cause you're a solo-preneur, a salesperson you have to do your own prospecting? We're gonna start with if there's actually a team. So, for example, if you actually have quotas, and things run outbound, and actually some salespeople do, you can actually prepare to throw those away, maybe. You could be at a segment where the COVID's really helping your business, and maybe the quotas go up. I'm sure it's happening in some places. Zoom. But for a lot of companies, there's really the companies that hit the wall, unfortunately. There's a lot of companies in this middle run like, "Hmm, what's happening? We don't really know.", and for those companies, you can't use last month's quotas unless you hold them with a very light hand. And you might have to get in this place of if things aren't clicking for you the way they were, which for most people they're not. We don't know how long it's gonna last. It could be a month, unlikely. It could be two years, no one knows.

Aaron: (21:07

So be prepared to have a week by week evaluation of what we were able to do this week with results as well as lessons learned. Let's reset a plan for next week, and then just take it week by week. In assessments, there's a lot of this gauge around executives being nervous like, "Hey, we want an answer. How are you going to generate pipeline?" and everyone's scared, you could say nervous, but everyone's scared because there's a lot of companies and jobs at risk and egos at risk. But the thing is, you can't predict, there's no predictability right now. One thing you can predict is that we don't know. One thing you can predict is that it's unpredictable and will be this year. So I think scenario planning, "What if things go well?" The same or worse, not forecasting. Forecasts are gonna be ridiculous. So, here's just some samples of all the stuff going on with outbound, I had this EMEA outbound WhatsApp group, about a few weeks ago, again, no one was picking up the phone, as Andy said there's this time when everything started to go down in the pioneer in the end of March, mid-late March.

Aaron: (22:21)

And everyone at their offices was just no one picking up the phone. Then a couple of weeks later, everyone's at home, and people are picking up the phone. I got a note from someone that, country by country, they're doubling down, in one place like Sweden and scaling back in others, like the Netherlands and UK based on their business, and Sweden has been approaching the Coronavirus differently. So slowing down to really look at case-by-case: What are we doing, where we spend our time, and how do we approach that target? For a lot of people, LinkedIn is performing better than ever. More people are online on LinkedIn, on YouTube, on Netflix, on whatever, so you got to pick your social channels, there's just more activity. I don't have data, but I assume that it's true. Makes sense; I'm on it more. I think the whole point is no one knows what's gonna happen. At some point, there'll be a new normal; we don't know when we don't know what it'll be like. It won't be the same. It might be 5% more virtual; it might be 25% more virtual. No one knows.

Aaron: (23:27)

So we'll just have to wait and see, and day by day, week by week, just kinda get through it. Now, besides throwing away your old expectations on what should be happening, if you've ever heard of or read the book 'Who Moved My Cheese,' this is that perfect time for that book. Another step is looking at, we say, nailing a niche, nailing your niche if you're in the States, and this is the whole section from the 'Impossible to Inevitable book.' I did that book with Jason Lemkin. It's a sequel to Predictable Revenue. And the reason the first part of it is called nailing a niche, and I'll explain if it's unfamiliar. This was the most common challenge for companies trying to grow and struggling. And I learned this because after working with so many outbound teams, and when they struggled, the most common problem was this one; nailing a niche. What does that mean? It really just means knowing who your ideal customer is, which could have changed in the last few weeks, some people could be changing as you go. What do they care about, what's their pain? Again, that could have changed. And then what's your proposed solution and message? What are you offering them that interests them in a conversation? 

Aaron: (24:43)

So where to begin with? You kinda gotta go back to the beginning, because all this could have changed the last few weeks, maybe and maybe not, we don't know. And then, look at for the companies that we've got, and who we have sold to first, "Who needs us the most right now?" versus "When are we a nice to have?", and "If they need us, what do they need us for?" Just going back to the beginning, kind of reviewing and testing this. So, there's a company called Tricres. I might not even be able to pronounce it; Tricres here at Edinburgh, which I moved from Los Angeles to Edinburgh here in early January, and actually really happy to have been here.

Aaron: (25:27)

We have six kids here, three in Los Angeles, which is kind of like a mess in Los Angles we hear, but here in Edinburgh, I met a really wonderful woman named Rebecca Bonnington, and she's this consultant, she's done growth consulting, and she was asking, "Hey, what do I do, where do I start?" And I think, "Well, growth consulting is very broad. So what kinds of. Give me some specific examples of projects and things you do for people." Just growth consulting or growth helping is just too general, too broad, too many areas. "So well, okay, one of the things, like a specialty of mine, is board development." I was like, "Got it. You know what? That makes total sense. And in fact, I actually know someone who's developing their board right now, I'm gonna make an introduction". So it's an example, it's just one example, 'cause there's a lot of ways you can go through this, and in fact, I'll throw in a chat, you can get a free. A whole chapter with exercises on this topic, but it's one example of kinda rethinking who our customers are, what do they need, how can we offer them a solution and also make it specific enough that it makes it easier for them to see how we can be of value to them, right? 

Aaron: (26:38)

Think of yourself as a radio station, most of us, and by the way, as humans, our nature is to kinda do more, and I'm completely guilty of this. If you're a radio station, and you're like, "Well, we do opera and jazz and hip-hop and rock." You end up confusing customers, new listeners. First, you say, "We are the rock station." You broadcast that clear signal, right? That's the idea, it's like, "What are you the best at? What's your specialty"? In these times, you kinda need to go back and triple down on that, to be even more specific, to cut through the noise and paralysis in a more finely sliced way, make it easier for people to say, "Yes." So this is probably the most important part of adapting, or one of the key ones is just rethinking who should you be approaching.

Aaron: (27:36)

Now, part of that is nailing a niche is messaging, and who needs you the most? What's their problem? What are you gonna say to them to get them interested? And I think that there's this other bigger trend around information overload. I'm calling this the end of... It's the beginning of the end of copycat success. And by copycat success, what I mean is, it's easier than ever, 'cause there's infinite information, and there's... Content's a commodity basically, to go copy someone's approach, as everyone publishes it. There's an email template that's working for a bunch of people; I'll copy that, I'll paste it, I'll send it, I'll try it, and you know what? Great. But because the information is starting to spread faster and faster, as it will, did you get the tragedy of The Commons Effect, which means the more successful a technique is, the more it gets around, the less successful it would be. Jeremy Donovan is SVP at SalesLoft, and he put this great note out on LinkedIn, basically says, he's just getting so many emails. Now, they all sound exactly the same.

Aaron: (28:46)

It's like a template. And that means he just tunes them out, right? When everyone is zigging, you gotta zag. So again, it's just rethinking what's our messaging? And part of this, more than ever, it's the need for people to develop as a person, as a team, as a company, your own voice, and style. So copycat, when you're a copycat, and you know what? Everyone does in some way, right? As humans, you can't create everything all the time; it's just draining, so you gotta kinda pick your battles. When am I gonna learn and imitate someone? Like on Amazon, just think, if you didn't have the review system and not that it's perfect, but do you know how draining it would be to go through all the products and kind of and to try to evaluate them and sort them out? So it's incredibly efficient to copy other people until everyone else is doing the same thing and then it doesn't work, so we're getting to that point.

Aaron: (29:41)

And there's always parts in the markets where this is happening, but this is just gonna be a growing trend in outbound especially, which is how to counter this? How do you find your own voice and style as a person, as a team, as a company, right? And I think you can always think of companies that have that like a. They just stand out with their brand, whether. Yeah, okay, maybe it's Apple or Steve Jobs, right? He had a style; he had a way he did it. And an email, or LinkedIn, or the phone call, there's all ways that people stand out in the way they write, the style of their words, the sound of their voice, the pictures, so there's all kinds of ways that you can stand out when you start to create yourself and to practice your own way of say, speaking or writing, really communicating. And a lot of people don't have the courage, 'cause it's hard to do that because you don't get to that unless you do a lot of practice in what works, what doesn't work. Books are a perfect example.

Aaron: (30:43

I have a book agent, so my uncle is a book agent, he said, "Everyone's got a book in 'em, and most of them should stay there." But why is that? It's because everyone focuses on kinda their story, and they don't practice to write the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of words. It takes usually kinda crummy writing to get to the point where they have their voice, and it starts to kind of tune and clarify into something that really resonates with a reader. People and I'm, again, I'm right there with you in a lot of ways, I've done business books, I've been struggling; lately, I'm like, "I kinda wanna write some fiction stuff." I'm really struggling from... I mean, you could call it, whether it's time, and by the way, yeah, I got lots of kids, I got a business, also can do other things, but really, it's usually kinda like a lack of two things.

Aaron: (31:34)

Lack of whether you call it courage or perfectionism, or self-criticism, that's there, and just, it's not a habit. And we all have these challenges. So part of this is if you are reaching out to people as a person, whatever that means. And it could be with a video; it could be the way you write. There's so many ways that you can reach out to people and connect with them, whether it's just the way you speak, visuals, it doesn't have to be visuals, it could be. If you have ever been on my newsletter, which it's been a while since I've done it, or get emails, I like to write all my emails in lower case I just like to. And people respond to people. So here's a simple tip. Imagine you're talking... If you're gonna write an email or maybe even if you're just gonna do a video, you imagine you're talking to someone at the cafe. You kinda wanna get out of the writing style. You wanna imagine communicating to a person, or maybe you're writing a letter to a specific friend or a specific person, like one person. This is an old copywriting trick. Really kinda tunes you into what you're trying to say to a person because what you find this is with people when you start to kind of write to no one, you just get this gobbledygook.

Aaron: (32:50)

So, what feels good to them, what would you wanna say or write to them? And then how do you wanna create it in a way that feels good to you? Well, a lot of people you might love doing video. And by the way, I've been actually having, doing a lot more video on LinkedIn, for some reason I've been... But some of you hate video, and you're more comfortable with the phone or email or something else. So you gotta find a way that you think it's gonna feel good to them and there's some value, but it also works for you. And there are so many ways today to communicate that way. And you've just gotta do it. So if you're gonna write personal emails, try it ten times a day. You can do it one time a day better than zero, but it takes practice. And most people hate the idea that it takes practice. I'm right there with you. I wanna play, I wanna be great at playing the guitar. It's not gonna happen unless I practice, and I don't. There's a lot of reasons for it; it doesn't matter. So it's hard. I wish, in this case, some other tangible ways, maybe I could try to dig up some of my old emails from 10 years ago to current ones, trying to find some more illustrations of style. I don't have 'em this moment. I know it's incredibly important, more than ever.

Aaron: (33:56)

So I'm gonna go back to the messaging examples. Given all that, there's some things that aren't gonna change at all. If you are doing a message, whatever this is, it could be email, phone, LinkedIn. It should be short, easy to read, easy to understand, easy to act on. Because if it takes a lot of energy for me to figure out whatever you're sending me, video, doesn't matter what it is, I'm just gonna ignore it and not act on it. So that's not gonna change. In fact, that's gonna be more important than ever the more content there is. Again, some other tips and tricks to develop this is, again, still you can use the cafe example, but then once you create the thing, let's say, let's stick to email or LinkedIn, written stuff. Write it down, read it out loud, that helps you catch funny, funny way, funny things in your writing. Send it to your phone. Is it legible on your phone? Send it to a Gmail account and see if their little auto-responses work for it. And so again you can test it.

Aaron: (34:56)

And then in terms of structures, I'm just gonna give you a couple examples. Right here, this call, we call this classic. Classic is three parts. In the end, there's so many varieties of this. If you Google cold email templates online, you can get a million things. But basically, you have a bridge, which is like an introduction of why are you reaching out to you at this time. This could be so many reasons like I saw I went to school together, I saw your company announce this, so it's basically why you're reaching out to me now. The second is value. What do you have to offer that's relevant and useful to them? Andy had a great example. Even just mentioning that they're helping competitors could be it. Something to catch their attention that you can be relevant to a problem they've got. And the third is called action. So there's a lot of ways you can move this, but this is a really simple structure whether you're sending. And this could be anything you send. It could be an email to your CEO; it could be an email to a prospect; it could be a LinkedIn message to the... So whatever you're doing, this is a really simple structure. That's what you got to remember. And I think we're sharing the recording, so I'm not gonna go through and read this.

Aaron: (36:08)

I think the key is, if you're not used to doing this, your emails you write will be too long, they will be too wordy, and they'll be confusing. So don't get a teammate to review this. Get someone who's outside your company to take a look at it and see if it doesn't make sense to them. Chances are it won't, and then get on the phone with them, talk about it. So how can I better explain this, so it makes sense? So it's simple. Actually, write a reminder so that, don't ask your friends and family for feedback or your teammates for feedback is a rule in the impossible book, but I think I should put in here 'cause it's another just great tip. This other version is the classic referral. Hey, hope you can help me. Looking for the person responsible for something. Finance, billing, super simple. Again, a lot of times the direct email won't work, sometimes it will, a lot of times this won't work, sometimes it will. There's no single technique that works all the time, so you wanna try some different approaches for your market to see what's gonna work.

Aaron: (37:15)

This one less opportunity to wordsmith and find a voice, however, again, if you find you're asking for things like, "Who's in charge of marketing?" Then it's gonna be too broad. So you wanna again be as specific as possible to make it as easy as possible for the person to receive this to say, "Oh, I know who that is, and I'll forward this on because you don't seem like a scammer." So there's a couple, there's some testing going on, our company and others around Coronavirus and this is changing literally week by week. So again, no one knows what's happening week by week. Some tests, some messaging that was happening a few weeks ago was working; then it stops, starts. So this is just some current stuff, whether you wanna try it or not. For some of you, you just should use regular emails without any mention of what's going on and others it might make sense to try this.

Aaron: (38:13)

It's kinda like diet books and food books, there are a million food or diet books, and probably none of them will work for you, but if you read a few and you kind of adapt the ideas and try them for yourself, you'll find a system that works for you, just by finding your own way. This one, "In my line of work, it's not uncommon to get the cold shoulder. Understandably I'm finding people's inboxes are a little more busy than usual, everyone working remotely," might try one more time, and your little value statement, it's basically kind of having a new bridge. "Would you be interested in learning more?" Right? 

Aaron: (38:46)

And you can try a call to action like, "Are you free Thursday at 3?" People have more time. There are different calls to action. The point is, the call to action, too, needs to be a clear yes or no. What you don't wanna ask is, "What do you think?" 'Cause what do I do with that? Just another version. "It might be hard to consider new investments or vendor relationships you're stuck at home, might as well reach out." This one's a little bit more like, "Hey, I just wanna find out what you're dealing with there." So I do think a lot of people, a lot of vendors are in an interesting position because if you work with multiple clients or customers, you're in a unique position where you get to see what's working and not working for all of those customers and it gives you the position to be able to say, "Oh, okay. For this industry or marketing or finance." You can go back and teach them something because, again, you see more across more companies.

Aaron: (39:45)

A sample LinkedIn connection request, let's talk about LinkedIn. And LinkedIn is a little bit different, but not super different. So I think what we see work best on LinkedIn, and predictablerevenue.com builds and manages outbound prospecting teams, outbound sales teams for companies, and we do a lot of LinkedIn, a lot of email off them. This one, simple like, "Hey, just wanna connect to share ideas," basically. And then if the connection request works, you could follow up with basically another simple one, "Hey, would you like to talk, I just wanna share ideas," or a version, but you're more of an information-sharing approach. And InMails don't work as well it's just connection requests and then a message. Ultimately, you can't go wrong with the Back to Basics. And if you are someone who's prospecting part-time, this would be perfect for you. And I mentioned Rebecca from Tricres is the growth consultant who had a sub-specialty in board development as an example. And really, all I can do is, "I know this works, I've talked to people who do it." Basically, like, "Who's my ideal client?" Go on LinkedIn or someplace to find a mutual connection and then ask them for a referral. And then do it again. And it could be as simple as this one like, "Hey, Jack I see you know Bob or Tom, at some company. Would you mind helping me please with an introduction to them?"

Aaron: (41:08)

And yeah, you might need to add one sentence, one or two about what you do. Maybe, maybe not, depends on how well they know you. But it's that simple, ask for help, people are still in a state of wanting to help others. At minimum, they should respond back to you and say, "Yeah, I'd be happy to. Can you include something like." If they wanna add something, they should maybe tell you, but it's better just to try it. So just to wrap up this section, before we get to the Q&A, I think that a lot of this is practice, and there's a lot of people who are freaked out. When people get freaked out, they tend to get possessive. "What do I need?" And it's a great time to practice generosity and kindness and sharing and helping, whether it's for your family, for your customers, and for your team. It's, "How can you help people without expecting to be paid or get something back?"

Aaron: (42:03)

If you can take that mindset. And again, I'll be the first one to say you do need to. People who sell should ask for the close, which in other words, it's easy to spend all your time helping others and you don't help yourself. But in this case, with all the drama going on, "How can you help others without expectation?" I really like Andy's approach, like going the extra mile. Who out there that you're in touch with, in your team, your family, your customers, or communities are struggling? How can you help them? There's so much fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and really people just want a bit of a lifeline to get through that day, like day by day. So any ideas that you can share with them to help them feel like they've got some clarity or a light at the end of the tunnel or even a step is always progress. And as well, after that, make sure you invest in yourself, right? What are you doing to take care of yourself, your own personal finances, and your own creativity? 

Aaron: (43:05)

We're in this interesting time where because of this global effect, there's more change; it means more opportunity than ever. And everyone's at home, so there's more time than ever to create something or to take something you've got and actually do something with it, whether that's a business, a personal project, or a hobby. And I totally believe that when you're investing in yourself to feel better and be more creative, that'll translate to all the areas of your life. So and that's just a reminder too, all this is going on, going back to your voice. When you think about sharing ideas and helping people, it's easy to hold back, being embarrassed about one thing or the other, right? Especially today, there's lots of embarrassing things going on, people losing jobs, money, titles, companies, so it's a reminder that your successes do make you credible, that's what people like to talk about on LinkedIn, but our failures make us human, relatable. Feel like, "Hey, we're connecting." Our interests make us interesting, our dreams makes us inspiring, and we've got all of these. These are all places you can tap into you, towards what you wanna create for yourself and help your communities with, to develop your voice. Especially again, while. We'll look back, and this will be seen as a transformative time for the world and the economies. Everything is kind of changing; everything's restructuring.

Aaron: (44:26)

And that means there's a tremendous, tremendous amount of creation and entrepreneurialism that's happening now that we may not realize or appreciate for six months or six years, but it's happening. So take care of your business, your money and your food and your family and such, but then practice creating whether it's your voice in cold emails, whatever it is you need to do. I've actually been spending a little more time drawing, and I did some writing, non-work stuff 'cause that's just where I feel drawn to right now, alright? So we've got a few minutes for some Q&A, and in fact, I don't know if, Andy, there are some questions in the question area that we wanna start with first.

Andy: (45:09

There are, yeah. So thanks for that, Aaron. It was super interesting, and yeah, I really liked the creativity piece at the end. I think as a marketer, this was initially why I got into marketing; it was because of the creativity side of things. And then obviously I became very numbers focused and driven there, but I think these times offer a real opportunity to everybody, I think. And you mentioned about the entrepreneurial spirit; you need to be creative. And as I said before, if you're not busy right now, you're doing something wrong. So it's about focusing on the right things, of course, but you need to react. And I think that that creativity piece is something that's. If you have that in you right now, you'll come out much brighter at the end of this, that's for sure.

Aaron: (45:50)

True, yep. It'll help you get through that day. So a lot of people, just if you can get through that one day to the next, that's a win.

Andy: (45:58

Absolutely, absolutely. So let's go to the floor for questions. I know that Dara just posted into the chat there, but if anybody has any questions, please put them into the questions. We have some in the chat, but please, I'm gonna go to the questions tab here, just go through a couple here. So Bob has asked, "Have win rates increased because weaker prospects are not wasting their time?"

Aaron: (46:24

No, but everyone else is slowing down on their decisions.

Andy: (46:27

Yeah, I agree with Aaron there. I don't think anybody's weaker or stronger; I think everybody's... The thing about this current situation that everybody's in it, I don't think there's anybody that's not in it. Some are in it heavier than others, but I think it's a time where win rates, depending on your business model, depending on your sales cycle, will vary. But I think everybody across the globe is gonna be slower now to make a decision, that's for sure.

Aaron: (47:00)

It's a fair assumption.

Andy: (47:02

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Another one from Eric here was LinkedIn introductions. He's trying to solve the problem that most people hardly know connections, so if you're asking for them to do an introduction, how would you do that? He'd usually ask, "How well do you know X, Y, Z?" And that normally takes a bit of time because you don't know all of your connections. Do you have any suggestions on that, Aaron? 

Aaron: (47:31)

Yeah. Well, I know that you can at least go out and typically add more connections, even if you don't know... So even if you connect with people out there who look interesting or relevant to you, you may not know them well, but at least you're connected, it's better than nothing. And then honestly, at that point, if you're connected to them on LinkedIn or some other place, even asking for a favor, a lot of people get in a space of wanting to help. If you sound like you're a regular person and not a hardcore salesperson and not scammy or spammy, chances are that they'll pass you on and help you in some other way. So all you can do is ask, but I think most people, again, are in this place of wanting to help others, and you're more likely than ever to get them to pass you on, so just work on describing what you do in that case. If you don't know them... If they don't know you, you would wanna put a sentence or two about why and just try and make it as simple and relevant to the destination as possible. So don't ask your... And to go back, don't ask your team for advice, get someone who you know who's outside your industry to help you de-jargonize it.

Andy: (48:43

Yeah, I agree. I think right now, in our current situation, I think it's a good time to start creating connections. So a lot of the stuff that I spoke about was creating value for people. So if you manage to get that good alignment between marketing and sales, if you're in a sales role, Bob, or whoever asked that question there, or Eric. If you're in a sales role right now, I would suggest speaking with your marketing team and see what content's coming down the line and see if you're making a connection with somebody, try to add a little bit of value on top. Not in a salesy way, but try to offer an olive branch to be able to try to create that connection 'cause I...

Aaron: (49:21)

By the way...

Andy: (49:21

Go on. Yeah? 

Aaron: (49:22)

Yeah. No, go ahead.

Andy: (49:24

No, no, no. No, no.

Aaron: (49:26)

I was gonna answer a different question. So I thought I was... I jumped the gun. Sorry.

Andy: (49:29

No, that's okay. That's okay. So yeah, go on ahead, Aaron.

Aaron: (49:33)

David, David, has a great question. "We sell to luxury hotels and restaurants, and it's a challenge to go after prospects without being insensitive and out of touch. Should we wait before going after prospects?" So there are two questions here. One is in terms of company pivot, is there any way... Like if restaurants don't come back for a few months, how can you survive? And even when they come back, they're gonna be struggling. It's not like everything's gonna switch back on to the way it was two months ago. So first, do you have a plan? Does the company have a plan to survive? That might be out of your zone, but I would not hold back from going after... I wouldn't go... You're not going after them. So here's the thing, they're not gonna buy anything right now, and that's okay.

Aaron: (50:19)

What I would do, I would reach out to them to start conversations and build a relationship which is along the same lines of, "Hey, do you wanna talk about what's going on with your industry and what else... What we're seeing in other parts of it. We're in touch with other hotels. There's lines along; we're just talking to people and sharing ideas of what's happening and what people are learning and not, what's working, what's not if anything." So start off with more of that information exchange. And do it from a place of honesty. And just remember, they're not gonna buy anything right now, and that's okay. Airlines are not gonna buy anything right now. Hotels, restaurants. There's all these industries that have just been hit the wall. But you should at least start a relationship and see if you can help them, even just have a conversation. Then you have this advantage of being able to talk to multiple hotels and see, gauge what's happening and then go back to each one and say, "Hey, here's what we're hearing from everyone."

Andy: (51:19

Yeah, I agree, I think, yeah, I think...

Aaron: (51:21)

Don't expect much revenue out of it yet.

Andy: (51:23

Yeah, I fully agree. I think it's, yeah. Again, it's about... I wouldn't hold back, but I wouldn't go in too salesy. See where you can help out, try to add value. I think that's all you can really do right now. It's your back against the wall.

Aaron: (51:39)

Make sure you got at least... Yeah, and once you said, you gotta have at least nine months of cash runway.

Andy: (51:47

For sure, for sure. Okay, so there was another question around the LinkedIn automation tool. I'm not sure Aaron, unless, yeah, what do you think of LinkedIn automation tool? Julia, could you maybe just be more specific or Aaron, do you understand that question well? 

Aaron: (52:05)

Like is there one or what do you think of LinkedIn... So there's a few out there. The thing is, I think a lot of them... LinkedIn I don't believe likes them, so they often get shut down. I think you don't have to have an automation tool to start. I think if you're gonna start out, start just doing it one by one manually and then if that works and you're seeing some traction, look at some tools. I used a tool for a while called Linked Helper. I liked it. At our company, we use one called Expandy. So, we've tried some others, there's a lot out there, but I think I would start manually. I mean, I'm just a big fan of doing things first by hand, and once you sort of like, "Oh, is this working?" Then find some tool to speed it up, but don't start from the tool from day one.

Andy: (52:58

Yeah, I'd agree with you there on most things actually. I try to get the process working correctly first and then try to scale it using a tool rather than vice versa. You can go out and spend a lot of money and time researching tools and investing in tools and then end up with something that you can't use properly 'cause you haven't built it on good foundations. And just to reemphasize on Aaron's point there, I think LinkedIn doesn't particularly like those automation tools in terms of automated ways of creating connections on LinkedIn, for example. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is good, so their own product LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a good tool to use.

Aaron: (53:40)

Let's do one more. We're coming up on the hour and I gotta...

Andy: (53:47

Okay. So there's one here just around what sort of content is most appealing to current home workers who are flitting between many things? Articles, white papers, hints, and tips, any videos, e-books, etcetera, what do you think, Aaron? 

Aaron: (54:00)

Content for home workers, like in terms of channels? 

Andy: (54:04

So just general, general content people, people working from home at the moment. What's the best content for them to digest? 

Aaron: (54:10)

Oh, yeah. Here we go, Rebecca's question.

Andy: (54:12

Yeah.

Aaron: (54:16)

I mean, we're all home workers, so I think what's most appealing to you? Everyone's a bit different. I like articles, I actually don't really like videos 'cause I'm just too much of a reader. I feel like I can just scan something and get it very quickly unless it's something you really need to see. So, white papers are not... Videos, e-books. I know I've been posting more on LinkedIn with video, short ones. But I think this is an example where you can be successful at any technique, and your customers, generally, will be across such a spectrum and be absorbed through all kinds of techniques. So it's not about what's the best channel, it's what sort of content is the one that you feel the most confident to create and enjoy creating? And there'll be people out there who will resonate with it. If you just are uncomfortable in video, don't do video. If you're a writer do writing, if you do art, do art. So it's like finding your own way that you can create with the most confidence is where I would start. And listen people like bite-sized chunks, for now, kind of like they wanna see some stuff, "Hey, is this worth my time?" Okay, it's like a sample article or something sample, then sure. "If it's a bigger piece, then I'll go for the bigger thing." So like smaller steps.

Andy: (55:40

I agree. I think one of the things that we're seeing working very well, and I'll finish up on this, is webinars. So webinars, as this one here, for example, like the initial one that we pushed out last week, got nearly 2,000 registrations within four days without very much money put behind it. When I say it was probably about $200 or $300 and that was just testing out a couple of different channels. So I think, yeah, so long as the content offers some value as Aaron mentioned, the medium is not irrelevant, but I think it's...

Aaron: (56:11)

Not as important.

Andy: (56:11

Really, it doesn't matter. Yeah, exactly.

Aaron: (56:16)

This is the world of there's something for everyone. If you want to sing Lord of the Rings songs into your WhatsApp channel, I'm sure there's people out there who would love to hear that. You got the whole world out there now, so what do you wanna do? I'm a writer; I think at heart, I have been... And now I'm a speaker, and I would like to also go back to art, so I think there's the things that you have been confident in and you know you can do. At first, I was a writer, and then I did lots of speaking, and now I'm a speaker, and I can be an artist again, and kind of like a fiction writer, I'm not there yet. So, where have you had the best success in creating, and what kind do you want to get to? And then that's the practice part.

Aaron: (57:05)

I gotta hop off, but I wanna say first thank you, Andy, we really appreciate it. Thanks, everyone here who's been on the call, I hope this was helpful. One last thought is, I know there's a lot of potential drama between spouses, families, teammates, customers, contracts. Just remember that what's really gonna get people through this is working together and building trusts, not trying to enforce unenforceable prior contracts, conditions, or expectations. Kind of like, "Where are you today? What's gonna be the thing that helps that person or company? How can you... " 'Cause if we all just help each other together to get through this, it'll be a lot easier, not easy, but at least easier.

Andy: (57:48

Absolutely, absolutely, and on that note, we'll end it. So thank you so much guys, for attending. And as Aaron mentioned early on, we will be sending out a recording directly after this, and if you have any questions at all, please just reach out on LinkedIn. Thanks guys.

Aaron: (58:04)

Yeah. Thanks everybody.

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Anna Crowe
By Anna Crowe

Anna is the Assistant Editor for Search Engine Journal and Content Strategy Lead at Leadfeeder. Over the last 9 years, Anna has successfully developed and implemented online marketing strategies, SEO, and conversion campaigns for 100+ businesses of all sizes; from the Fortune 500, to startups, and nonprofits. She enjoys burritos and puppies (in that order).


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