In B2B sales, personal networks are a great place to start when looking to grow your customer base. However, in a fairly short space of time, you’ll find that you’ll reach the limits of your network and that outreach via your contact network is time consuming and not particularly scalable.
You have two routes for generating B2B leads in a scalable way:
- Inbound marketing
- Outbound demand generation
When done right, inbound marketing can provide you with a strong funnel of warm leads. It does, however, require significant investment, and takes a while to ramp up (up to 2 years for you to really start seeing the benefits).
Outbound demand generation is a far quicker route to market, is easy to do yourself, and doesn’t require the same degree of initial investment before you start seeing results.
This post provides an outline for how to go to market using outbound demand generation, and the tools, assets and collateral you should have in place for this to be effective.
Building an outbound email prospecting campaign
Like cold calling, outbound email prospecting is a form of cold outreach. But, if done right, you should find that this effectively becomes warm outreach and you’ll see good conversion rates for your efforts.
For this to work, you need to truly understand your prospects problems, have a well defined value proposition, target the right personas and deliver meaningful messaging to them about a problem you have the solution for.
Here’s a process for building and executing your outbound campaign:
- Build a target account list of prospective customers (companies) in your chosen territory.
- Develop buyer personas for each of the roles that you are targeting at prospective customers. Most organisations will have 3-4 different roles that will be part of the buying decision. Create personas for each role that describe their responsibilities, the pain they experience and how you solve it. Initially these personas will be based on informed guess work, but over time you’ll refine them as you start meeting prospects. For further info on creating basic personas see this article and this article as a starting point.
- With your prospective customer list and buyer persona’s developed, it’s now time to build your prospect list of contacts at companies. At a minimum you need to collect first names, last names, job title and email addresses in a spreadsheet. You can do this yourself using a combination of prospecting tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and LeadIQ or you can get a lead gen specialist off Upwork who has access to all these tools to do the heavy lifting for you.
- Create email templates specific to the different personas in your segments. There are many articles online that will give you good advice on how to create emails that will get you the most opens and responses.
- Run an outbound email campaign for each segment to get meetings. You can use a specialist outbound tool like Klenty, which includes drip campaigns and cadences. As an alternative you can use CRM’s like Pipedrive which support email templates, merge fields and can track opens and link clicks.
Qualification and moving leads through your funnel
Once you’ve run your initial outbound campaign, you now need to qualify the leads you’ve generated and move them through your sales funnel. Here are the basics of what you should have in place for your discovery calls and initial meetings:
- Select a sales qualification framework that you’ll use when you meet with prospects. Read this guide on the different methodologies and this explanation of why you need a qualification framework
- Using your chosen qualification framework, develop a standard set of qualification questions (essentially a script) that you will ask in every meeting. In particular you need to focus on the identification of pain. Read the relevant section of this blog post by Steli Efti on qualification and diagnosing pain.
- Create a customer-facing slide deck that you’ll use in presentations to prospects (spend some money getting a designer to make it look good once you’ve developed the content) Watch this video from A16Z, particularly from the 5:34 mark for a great explanation.
- From the results of your outbound campaign, book discovery calls and/or meetings with prospects. Utilise your slide deck and qualification questions, and move them through your sales process. Remember to ask your qualification questions and then sell—find out about the customer first, then tell them about you and your product.
- Over time, as you improve your sales process, iterate and refine your buyer personas, email templates, slide deck, and qualification questions
…find out about the customer first, then tell them about you and your product.
As a final note, make sure to track your activity on a CRM such as Pipedrive or Salesforce. To build a scalable sales function, you need to collect activity and conversion metrics that you can use as a baseline for your future sales team’s activity.
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