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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Rate My Pitch Event at the Improv Asylum in the North End of Boston, MA. The event was hosted and led by John Barrows, Ryan O’Hara, LeadIQ, Sendoso, Salesloft and Costello Inc.

The Rate My Pitch event was an opportunity for salespeople to send in their “cold” emails to be critiqued and graded by some of the sharpest minds in the industry. Between laughters, free beer on tap and the slight ping of anxiety as you waited to see if your email was up next to be discussed in front of the crowd, overall, the event was extremely valuable. Here are some key takeaways that will hopefully increase your open rates and earn responses from prospects you haven’t been able to reach. 

cold email
Rate My Pitch Event, Boston

1. Personalize Your Outreach

Although this may seem obvious, we are in the age of marketing automation platforms that can send out hundreds of the same emails to a pool of prospects. Be sure to be creative when reaching out to your top accounts. Everyone is using similar triggers these days (e.g. funding, an office move, growth, etc.), so think out of the box and reference a personal experience you’ve had with the company, or with the prospect (e.g. point out a time when you saw their ad somewhere, or if you’ve used the product).  

A sales director mentioned at the event that he took pictures of every ad at Fenway Park and sent them to the BDRs who worked those accounts. That way, the BDR could break the ice and lead with “Saw your ad at Fenway Park!” 

2. Humanize Your Outreach

As a BDR, I definitely have run into prospects responding to my outreach with “unsubscribe” or “remove me from your list” despite the fact that we actually use an ABM model and target our outreach to their industry and company size. 

Alas, as the panel said, “everyone watches Netflix and eats Ben and Jerry’s. When you can, be sure to reference that stuff to humanize yourself.” Make yourself sound approachable and not robotic when reaching out to prospects. How annoyed do you get when you answer a call to hear a recording on the other end? Or, when you get an email that is clearly from a machine that failed to auto-populate your name, so you’re referred to as “{insert.first.name}”? 

Technology is obviously powerful and something we use in our day-to-day. So utilize it, put a face to the name and send a LinkedIn video to a prospect, send a gif, or a meme to poke fun at yourself (when appropriate, of course). Try and differentiate yourself and come off as relatable and someone a prospect can trust.

3. Storytelling 

Prospects don’t like when salespeople tell them how to look at their business, or that the product they are usingmight very well be your competitoris insufficient, especially with cold outreach. It’s important to understand what challenges are faced by the specific personas you are reaching out to. Having a solid understanding of your buyer personas and which business problems your product can solve is key. 

Become an industry expert and a trusted advisor so that you can tell a character-driven story that will legitimize the challenge in your prospect’s mind and show how your product can help them overcome it. 

It’s The Little Things… 

There are a lot of things that go into creating successful cold outreach that will warrant a response. I want to leave you with a few actionable tips that are quick and easy (and you don’t have to change your selling philosophy!) to complete. 

  • Don’t directly call out competitors. 
    • There is a chance you name a competitor that they aren’t actually using, or the person you’re reaching out to could have brought on that competitor and may be insulted you’re discarding the tool they chose to implement.   
  • Avoid assumptive closing it’s overused and people generally do not respond well to it 
    • LeadIQ found that when reps asked open ended questions instead of close ended questions, their response rates increased by 5%.
    • When taking over a new territory, don’t do what those before you did
      • Be sure to look at the activity history and don’t repeat the same methods if they weren’t successful.  
      • Make a joke (humanizing yourself!) about prior outreach, or send them a video. 
      • If you are speaking to someone about a piece of content, read or watch it! 
        • Something that was said at the event that stuck out to me was, “You wouldn’t recommend a song to your friend without listening to it first!”
        • Include page numbers or time stamps if it’s a video that you think would be specifically relevant to the persona you are reaching out to. 
        • If you get an objection over email, pick up the phone and call them to overcome the objection 
          • Picking up the phone and putting a voice to the text on their screen not only humanizes yourself but also allows you to get a better understanding of the objection and a higher chance of overcoming it.  

         There’s a Science To Most Things, But Learning the Art Allocates Better Results 

        With so many organizations using basic triggers and sequences, a non-personalized email about funding, headcount growth, or a new office location is not enough to get through to your prospects. Every company’s product is “the best in the industry” or “the next best thing,” so differentiate yourself to avoid overstuffing your prospect’s inbox with another mundane email. Have a deep understanding of the industry, the competitors in the market, and the underlying challenges your personas face so that you can create targeted, personalized outreach. 

        Don’t get me wrong, there are unavoidable things in a sales role that are closer to science (e.g. cold calling, researching accounts, overcoming objections), but once you master the art of personalization, the open rates and reply rates will follow. 

        Like what you just read? We have more. Check out our blog for more sales tips and advice

        mm
        Senior Business Development Representative at InsightSquared
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