How irritated would you be if the vacation you have been planning for a long time gets dropped due to cancelled flights?
Very much I assume.
But wouldn’t it be a lot worse if you had less to splurge on your long awaited vacation? And if you are a sales rep then your “luck” can swing a lot depending on how well you made your quota.
With most tech startups shooting for a 50/50 split between base compensation and commission, not hitting quota can significantly affect the total annual compensation for a sales rep.
Most tech companies fix an OTE compensation for sales reps which consists of base pay and a variable pay based on how much quota a sales rep is able to achieve. OTE means on-target earnings which is the expected total pay, if performance matches the expected targets.
So, if your OTE compensation was fixed at $100,000 with 50% of it in commission, missing your quota by even 20% can make you lose $10,000. Here's how it works, 50% of $100,000 is $50,000 and 20% of $50,000 is $10,000. So miss your quota, take home less pay.
Undercut your quotas for two quarters and you might also be placed under a performance improvement plan. And with that, you are staring into a possible firing.
But we all know that whether a rep hits his quota or not in a quarter, the same amount of hard work goes in, it is just that they didn’t have the right conversations. If we were to draw an NBA analogy, one quarter a rep probably feels like the Celts, the next like the Timberwolves.
So what is your natural instinct when you don’t hit your numbers? I am guessing, you prospect more, or maybe you get more people on your team. That might not help.
This might come as a surprise but if you aren’t hitting your quota I suspect that your lead generation process is flawed. In fact, more than 65% of sales reps in a Value Selling survey said that not having enough opportunities in their pipeline was the major cause of missing quota.
The outbound pipeline is one that you can impact by using the latest strategies and tools. In this article, I will share some of the outbound strategies that can help you book 3x more meetings from your outbound sales machine.
Before I dive into the strategies, let's look at some of the challenges outbound sales reps face.
Ever heard of sales without leads?
Selling without leads is like your car running low on fuel, you have just two options - refuel or abandonment.
Most sales postmortems are centered around weeding out bottom-of-funnel inefficiencies and figuring out “why aren’t deals converting?”
Instead, if you were to look at the top-of-funnel you would find a better resolution to your revenue scalability problems.
B2B marketing and sales teams simply don’t have the time and resources necessary to ensure the quality of all the leads they pump into their marketing databases. And poor quality leads and not having enough leads in the pipeline are the two most cited reasons for low quota attainment.
A study by Integrate points out that nearly 35-45% of all top-of-funnel leads generated from demand gen programs are unmarketable. In short, all the time spent on generating those 35% of unmarketable leads could have been saved.
Not only do top-funnel inefficiencies constrict pipeline and revenue by blocking good leads from getting into the funnel, they also waste a large portion of money budgeted for demand generation.
You make all your calculations and sales forecasts assuming that 100% of all leads that enter your pipeline are marketable. While the truth is 35% farther away.
With bad leads, you end up wasting the time of your sales reps and also hurt their chances of hitting their quota.
So, for all practical purposes, you never hit your lead targets and that is why you're not hitting your sales targets.
Lead generation is tough for the layman
You will often hear complaints from new SDRs about how tough it is to find leads in their domain. Well, it actually is for the uninitiated but even the more experienced reps can find lead generation difficult.
Most prospecting tech stacks include a sales intelligence platform like ZoomInfo or Apollo, basic prospecting on LinkedIn Sales Navigator and some backup intelligence tools like Lusha or Lemlist.
Reps use a combination of tools because they can’t trust one tool to find accurate information on a prospect. Using multiple tools also becomes a necessity because every tool has different and multiple sources of data.
Thus, a rep ends up spending a lot of time on searching for accounts and leads and then collating all the information for an account or lead they prospected.
A typical prospecting session would look like this -
Rep decides on criteria for account from the ICP definition.
Rep searches for accounts matching criteria on Zoominfo.
Rep tries to find decision makers for the account on LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Rep gets email from Lusha because deliverability is higher than Zoominfo emails.
Rep starts outreach.
So, if a lead churned out from this arduous process turns “bad”, it is going to be very costly for the rep. And using multiple tools is always going to take time no matter how much you try to tie them up.
A rotten apple spoils the bunch
Lead generation is like playing the guitar. You play a lot of traditional chords before you can get to the riffs and solos. And if you end up losing your rhythm somewhere in the middle, it can be difficult to catch up with the rest of the band.
Similarly, if you introduce one bad lead in your system it can drive down the quality of the subsequent leads that enter your funnel. By introducing a bad lead in your system, you effectively downgraded your funnel quality and make it ok for similar poor quality leads to enter your funnel.
Now, if you have a 5-member rep team it can be very difficult to ensure the quality of your leads in the pipeline. That is where the manual lead generation process of tying up tools breaks down.
First you can’t control the output of your SDRs with a loosely tied lead generation process and secondly a few bad leads in the pipeline create a cascading effect where more bad leads are qualified as prospects.
Regardless of whether a lead is “good” or “bad” SDRs will need to spend time on researching the account and the lead. Time is also spent on researching personalization points and referral opportunities. This adds to the overhead cost of generating revenue opportunities.
In short, you are at least wasting 6-12 hours on bad leads, and the problem could be worse if you are getting an average response rate from your sales outreach.
The best days are ahead for outbound prospecting
According to research from The Bridge Group, outbound B2B campaigns generated a 147% better lead-to-close rate and generated $24 more revenue per dollar than inbound campaigns.
Now, if you dream of hitting your quota and making an impression on your manager, you know outbound can contribute significantly to your chances of that promotion. In fact, outbound is the one channel where sales reps have the most say.
But what is driving outbound is technological change. Today, we are seeing the development of AI-based prospecting tools that can do the prospecting for the reps while reps focus on core selling activities.
As you are well aware, AI has already taken over your shopping(in Amazon), your entertainment(in Netflix and Spotify) and your commute(your Lyft or Uber). AI has also moved into the everyday lives of professionals.
A case in point, just look at how often you use the smart compose feature in Gmail. Or how blindly you trust Netflix to watch a 2-hour long movie because you trust Netflix to know your likes and dislikes.
On a similar line, how long before we see an AI do the grunt work in sales prospecting for reps?
Let’s explore how you can use AI to automate prospecting work for your outbound process:
AI can research leads at scale
The first problem that AI solves for reps is finding prospects. AI based prospecting is built on machine learning which is a discipline of computer science that is concerned with self-learning of computing systems.
In plain english, think of a person who has been taught basic multiplication. Now with practice this guy can learn multiplication of decimals, large numbers and fractions without being taught additional steps. That guy on steroids and at lightning speed is “Machine learning”.
AI can collect public and 3rd party data at breakneck speed and analyse it in fractions of seconds to produce actionable insights and patterns. So, if you have a criteria for prospecting accounts, AI can find accounts that match those criteria under minutes.
The same process for a human would take hours because it would involve the reps doing a manual search for a piece of information. Then comprehending that amount of information would take another few years.
Consider this, a human doctor can make a diagnosis in 10 minutes, an AI system can make a million in the same time. By finding patterns in text and other unstructured data, AI can reveal things about accounts and leads that aren't humanly possible.
Close better with personalized prospecting
You need a consistent pipeline for supporting your email and cold calling campaigns. With each cycle of prospecting you need to identify accounts, find decision makers and verify contact information.
Instead of starting from scratch in each prospecting cycle, AI can learn from your previously prospected leads and from leads that converted from your campaigns. By analyzing hundreds of data points and finding similarity between leads, AI can find leads that best match your ICP and converted leads.
AI can learn from your reps every time they prospect and make prospecting a truly personalized experience. It can be personalized to the rep level so that the suggested leads best suit their outreach behaviour.
This speeds up the prospecting process while increasing the efficiency of your outbound prospecting. With prospecting sorted, your reps can focus on activities that help closing deals like personalizing cold emails and multi-channel follow ups.
Constantly redefine your ICP
Outbound leads can convert across a variety of channels. You might set up a demo over email, a cold call or from your LinkedIn profile. Alternatively, you could also target prospects using emails on an Ad network.
Traditional prospecting values all such prospects as the same and doesn’t account for the differences between channels. AI-based systems understand that there are subtle behavioral differences between a lead that converts in a cold email versus the one that converts with a Facebook Ad.
So, if you feed the learnings of your Ad campaign into an AI software it will learn from your campaigns and suggest leads that are most likely to convert from an Ad campaign.
By learning from your campaigns AI automatically redefines your ICP and suggests leads that better fit your updated ICP. Thus with an AI software you don’t have to worry about updating your ICP because it is always happening in the background.
Since AI can collect updated information from the web about accounts and leads, you can also be certain that the information provided is latest and trustworthy.
With an updated ICP, all your reps will have the right answer to “who should we go after?” and then there will be no “bad leads” in your funnel.
Find personalization for your cold emails
Personalization for cold emails is the latest craze in sales. And, yes, it works. From personalized video templates in cold emails to Facetime cold calls, reps are trying to stand out from the crowd.
Your prospect will know in a second whether you have used a template or not. They get 100s of emails every day, so show that you have done your work.
The first challenge is to find relevant pieces of information that can ignite a conversation while making sure that we don’t sound like a douche. And the next challenge is to scale personalization so that you can generate enough leads for your pipeline.
Be mindful though, being lazy in personalization isn't going to help. You will end up wasting time. Demonstrate that you can provide value in your personalization bit. If you do, no one can stop you from winning.
Of course, you need to invest time to find the relevant information but if you are using AI lead generation then you can also surface personalization points for your prospects.
In short, AI can find prospects that are most likely to convert and find you relevant information about prospects that can be used to personalize your outreach. A true win-win!
Run truly multi-channel campaigns
It's all about running truly multi-channel campaigns. This means that you do not let outbound activities stop with cold emails/SMSes/calls - it needs to be followed up by engaging in touch points from other channels like social media, etc.
Some outbound teams include outbound one-to-one LinkedIn invites after sending out each email campaign. Yet others also have LinkedIn Inmails and Inmails to Open LinkedIn profiles after cold emails.
With multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns you can optimize your top-of-funnel to go through the entire awareness and outreach funnel. With increased presence of your reps across channels that your prospects spend time on you can share your message in a timely and relevant manner.
An AI lead generation software can help you a lot in such cases. For example by suggesting whether a prospect is most likely to reply if you send them a LinkedIn Inmail or a cold email.
This allows you to further get into conversations with outbound leads and engage with them more personally.
Find warm introductions to prospects from your network.
There is a saying that "it's not what you know but whom you know." And it is doubly true in B2B sales. We can capitalize on this by finding contacts of warm prospects in our professional network and getting introductions from them.
In fact, B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage when they've been introduced to a salesperson in advance. Ignore warm introductions at your own peril!
Finding warm introductions and sending cold emails to prospects can make your outbound campaigns stand out from the crowd. An AI sales prospecting tool can also find warm introductions from your various professional handles like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Contacts, and others.
Truebase can supercharge outbound lead generation.
Using AI, Truebase can help sales reps boost their outbound lead generation with automated prospecting campaigns. By learning from your prospecting style and from leads that converted from your outreach campaigns, Truebase keeps your pipeline full with leads.
Truebase also surfaces opportunities for warm introductions to prospects via email, LinkedIn messages, and more from your entire teams professional network
And with outbound activities being fully tracked, there's no better way to measure campaign effectiveness than by using AI technology that helps you create personalized emails relevant to each recipient. That's precisely what Truebase's AI engine does!
Truebase uses machine learning algorithms to find the best-fit target accounts and leads within those accounts. With AI-powered prospecting, reps can focus on strategies and spend less time searching for leads.
Want to crush your sales quota? Start by spending less time on prospecting. Sign up for a Truebase account and change how you prospect today.