“Cold emails, cold calls, and cold messages are dead.”
How many times have you heard this? Recently in particular, everyone in the B2B world seems to be talking about demand generation, brand marketing, and storytelling.
But when cold channels are dead, all marketing channels are dead. Because every relationship begins “cold”.
When you introduce content to a new audience for the first time, it’s cold. People don’t expect to receive content from you. They don’t trust you. They are often suspicious (is he trying to sell me something?). Who likes “being sold”?
The real problem is how cold sales outreach works today.
The “salespeople” on the other side of your screen are self-focused. All of their behavior shows that they don’t care about you. They just want a currency exchange to take place as soon as possible.
Modern Cold Outreach is similar to what we see in Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street: scratch the contacts. Set up automation. Spam them all. Pray for someone to answer. Rinse and repeat.
Let’s be clear: this is not a sales performance; it’s spam. And that approach is dead.
To be successful with Cold Outreach you should …
- Make your ideal customer profile (ICP) clear., including the structure of the purchasing committee and how the customer typically buys products like yours.
- Warm up and turn on entire purchasing committee.
- Use intent data seize the moment and reach the right people at the right time.
- Master of Social Selling by connecting and engaging with your target audience on social media, learning more about their needs and helping them (through consultations or content) by sharing your experiences in solving the same challenges.
- Personalize your reach by explaining how you can help solve the specific challenges of your target accounts and achieve their strategic goals. Each member of the purchasing committee has different needs, goals, and reasons for whether or not to buy your product.
In this article, I’ll focus on the first three steps and provide practical examples of steps 4 and 5 in those three steps.
1. Ideal customer profile (ICP)
An ideal customer profile is a list of attributes that your best customers from a particular market segment have in common.
You need to create separate ICPs for each market segment you are looking for. Otherwise you fall into the trap of confusing your customers’ data and getting a “one size fits all” solution.
How to create an ICP in seven steps
1. Select a market segment.
2. Select the top 10 clients from this segment.
3. Fill out an ideal customer profile template.
4. Define the members of the purchasing committee and collect public information about them. The easiest way is to collect demographic data such as gender, age, location, job role and industry. You can access this data from your customers’ LinkedIn profiles.
In addition, I strongly recommend data such as …
- Websites that your customers share on LinkedIn posts. They show where you can apply for guest contributions or collaborations.
- Influencers whose content your customers are concerned with. They show who to build relationships with.
- Communities that your customers belong to. Just like with websites, you can use these communities to collaborate, post, and distribute content.
5. Analyze the buying process.
Interview your sales team and ask questions like …
- What goals did each member of the purchasing committee try to achieve with our product?
- What concerns or objections did you have during the sales process?
- At what stage did the objections arise and why? How did you deal with it?
- What other factors influenced each member of the purchasing committee’s purchasing decision?
Then, analyze emails and sales pitches to check sentiment.
6. Enrich each ICP with in-depth customer interviews.
Here are some sample questions:
- What makes them buy products like yours?
- Which factors influence your purchasing decisions?
- What social media do they use?
- Which industry blogs, websites or influencers do they follow?
- Who else is involved in the negotiation process or who do they consult with before buying products like yours?
- What would they be looking for when researching your product or service?
- What was the problem they wanted to solve before they stumbled upon your product or service?
7. Define the ICP with all your data.
Your end result should look like this:
Here is a template, checklist, and survey questions that you can use to create an ICP profile.
2. Cooperation with the entire purchasing committee
People buy from people they know, like and trust. Whenever I discuss this inevitable marketing law with my clients’ marketers or SDRs, they always nod in agreement.
But my next question usually makes her numb:
If you know and accept this, why not warm up and develop a relationship with your target accounts before reaching out to them?
Here are seven ways to warm up. You can skyrocket the response rate to your outreach campaigns.
1. On LinkedIn, connect with the entire buying committee (or any other channel its members hang out on), engage with content, and start conversations.
A practical example: Connect with the champion first and give an “added value”, not just a generic connection.
Set up a call to learn more and how you can help them.
Help create more value and build a real relationship. Don’t just sell them.
Follow up via email and confirm that the relationship is established.
Finally, connect with the decision maker.
Now the most important people in your target organization are aware of yourself and your product. They have built trust and a relationship, and when a need arises you are the first company they look to.
Of course, like any relationship, it has to be nurtured and nurtured.
2. Invite your prospects to an interview (podcast, YouTube or written interview).
This part is a great time. You kill two birds with one stone:
- You deliver value upfront by giving PR to your target account.
- You will build a relationship and learn more about the goals and needs of your target career role.
Analyze whether there is a match between your product and its requirements. Introduce your product and ask your prospect if someone in their network might be interested – so you get priceless intros.
I learned the process from James Carbary, the founder and CEO of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. We recorded an episode where he captured the entire process. You can listen to it here.
3. Target your prospects with your best TOFU (top of funnel) content (if you have the budget).
4. Realign them with bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) content (if you have the budget).
5. Post content on the channel that is relevant to your target accounts and try to incorporate it into the conversation.
6. Before doing a sale, try to hold an event where you can showcase your product (not advertise) and get your audience aware of the ways you are solving their challenges.
7. Set up outreach triggers.
We’ll discuss this in detail below.
3. Using intent data to achieve the right moment
Have you ever bought a high ticket price product or service by cold call or email?
Neither do I.
The worst way to have a sales pitch is to message anyone who might ever be interested in your product. Just because a company fits your ICP doesn’t mean they need your product. It is annoying to reach them and it creates 0 meetings.
To significantly improve the positive response rate of your outreach campaigns, you need to use intent data and set up outreach triggers.
The three most efficient ways to use intent data are IP identification, manual research, and engagement caused by interacting with content:
1. IP identification
The IP identification software shows you which web pages your target accounts have viewed and how much time they have spent on your website.
You can use this data to determine what stage of the buying journey your prospect is in so you can personalize your contact message with the right call to action:
- Share educational resources like case studies or articles with people in the awareness phase and ask if it helps. Try to build a relationship, warm up, and learn more about their needs and goals (e.g., why did you search for this item or product?).
- Share comparison reports, webinars, market research or case studies for those considering alternatives.
- Share case studies and encourage your prospect to call for free to learn more about those who are in the decision-making phase. These are usually the people who have visited your product / service page multiple times and spent some decent time on it.
Here is an example of an outreach trigger you can set up.
If a company has visited your product page multiple times and spent 30 minutes on your website, this is a good signal that they are doing some research and may be interested in chatting with you.
A practical example is shown below.
A target account meets your engagement criteria: it has spent more than 30 minutes on your website and visited your product page multiple times.
- Find the contacts of your target job role.
- Connect on LinkedIn or any other channel and send an email.
You can access this intent data by installing IP identification software such as Albacross.
2. Manual research
Intent data isn’t just limited to website visitors. Providers like Bombora can help you identify the topics your target accounts are looking for. You can also do your research manually.
To do this, analyze the product roadmap of your target account, check the press releases or read / listen to the interviews of the executives on strategic goals and initiatives.
Once you see the match between their goals and your product, you can get in touch with a personalized offer.
3. Commitment to the updates of your team or company
When the members of the purchasing committee of your target accounts are busy with your updates on LinkedIn or other social media, this is a perfect trigger to start a conversation, define their challenges and current status, and find a match.
Many B2B marketers have talked about consistently sharing content on LinkedIn, building a network, telling a story, and engaging with influencer posts in the hopes that “the leads will come”. Unfortunately, most B2B marketing and sales teams are time-limited and need quick results.
You don’t need a large network, hundreds of likes and comments, or thousands of views of your posts to consistently generate high quality leads. First you create a document and assign all the questions that your target accounts will have in different phases of the customer journey.
The next steps are straightforward:
- Connect with the entire purchasing committee.
- Take part in their updates by commenting and sending private messages.
- Post answers to their questions as posts, mark them up in the comments, and share your posts via private messages asking for their opinion.
When they engage with your content by replying to your message, visiting your profile, or leaving comments, you have endless ways to start the conversation.
Here is a typical process we use with our customers:
One caveat: don’t focus on vanity metrics like likes, views, or comments. Your most important key figures are:
- Number of sales calls your teams have started
- Number of incoming requests
I don’t get hundreds of likes and comments under my posts, but I keep getting incoming requests.
Bottom line: A sales deal based on intent data shouldn’t be an easy pitch. Your goal is to open a conversation. Otherwise, your reach remains just a “numbers game”.
* * *
Cold outreach is not dead. What is dead is the way many B2B companies do it: spamming or cold calling anyone who might be interested in their product.
Your goal is to start a conversation and learn more about the requirements of your target account. If there is a match, suggest a call to discuss a possible collaboration.
More resources on sales outreach
What B2B buyers want: sales outreach and content preferences
How to Create Outreach Emails That Convert
The optimal turnover rate: frequency and duration benchmarks