Cold Outreach Strategy – Get More Leads Than You Can Handle
Need More Qualified B2B Leads?
Meet decision makers at funded companies that need your solutions
In this article I’m going to show you how to get more qualified leads than you can handle. And do it in as little time as possible.
So get ready to raise your prices because a month from now you’ll have too much business coming in.
Be warned, this process takes some effort, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. When cold outreach fails it’s almost always because we skipped a few of the steps below. So take your time and make sure you do every step fully and completely.
Cold Outreach Isn’t Complicated
There are about 3.6 BILLION results showing on Google for ‘cold email’. That’s insane. With that many results, you’d think we were trying to do something impossibly difficult.
In this article I’ll break down the steps required to get the word out about a solution. And bring home some interested leads.
I’m just about to launch a new product so I’ll use my own example of building an effective cold outreach strategy. In this article we’ll explore:
- How to prepare for cold email campaigns
- How to distil your value proposition
- How to define your ideal customer profile
- How to find your potential customers
- How to combine cold emails with LinkedIn outreach
- And how to iterate as needed
Let’s get started!
Prepare Your Cold Outreach Campaign
I know you’re anxious to get started – me too!
But before we contact anyone, let’s consider what our target audience sees and experiences.
For example, does your email signature include your website (it should)? So if your prospect is interested, they’ll probably check it out. What will they find? Is it a clean, professional looking site?
What about your mailing domain? Does it redirect to your website? Or does it go to a blank page?
If your prospect looks you up on LinkedIn (and they will!), what will they find? Does your profile tell a compelling story? Do you communicate competence and professionalism?
This past week (when I wrote this) I met with a guy who offers multiple semi-connected services. When I looked at his website I had NO idea what he did. He does so many different things, it doesn’t make any sense.
So review everything your prospects will see from THEIR point of view. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but your visible collateral should tell a simple, compelling story.
Add Social Proof
Another consideration is social proof. If you’ve got some successes under your belt, be sure to make your testimonials visible so your prospects are likely to see them.
There’s nothing more powerful than an unbiased person sharing a transformative experience they had while working with you.
If your prospect wants to experience the same transformation your past clients enjoyed, they’ll act on your sales emails.
This review process is an absolute must before you send any sales emails. You don’t want to get your prospects part way through the sales process only for them to leave because your collateral doesn’t support your ability to deliver on the transformation you promised.
So I did a quick review of our website and LinkedIn profiles. Here’s what I found:
Objectively speaking, the website is in need of a redesign. That’s not something I can handle quickly so I’ll leave it ‘as is’ for now. And get a site refresh in the medium term.
We’ve got some great testimonials on the website. But we could do with more reviews, placed in more strategic places. For example, right before and after someone fills out a form.
We don’t have a meaningful presence on 3rd party review sites like Google My Business. Moving forward, we’ll ask clients if they’d like to share their testimonials on Google, too.
All our email domains are redirected to the main website. Which is perfect. Someone who checks out saleshigherdata.com (one of our email domains) will be automatically redirected to our homepage.
The company’s LinkedIn profile doesn’t have a lot of content, but it’s semi-active. We have over 10,000 followers, which makes us look established.
I don’t post very often on LinkedIn, so effective immediately I’ll start posting more consistently.
My personal LinkedIn profile is incomplete so I’ll start making incremental improvements. Over the past few days I’ve updated my photo, added a new banner, and turned on ‘Creator Mode’.
Now it’s your turn! Review the different channels where your prospect will engage with your brand. What’s their impression? Do you instill 100% confidence?
Your Cold Outreach Strategy Revolves Around Value
Outreach emails have one job – to communicate value.
That sounds pretty easy, and it is.
But we need to be clear about how we define value.
For the purposes of this exercise, value is defined as a transformational outcome. In other words, what will change when the prospect uses your solution? How will their lives be different?
What changes for the better?
If you’re not sure, then here’s a helpful exercise.
Start by making a list of everything that’s positive about your product or service. Don’t think about it too much. Just jot down everything you can think of as fast as possible.
When you’re done, review each point and decide whether it is ‘transformative’. Which points did you list actually change the prospect’s life?
Our new solution is a complete list of CEO’s at companies that received startup funding. Every week we send an updated list to drop into your CRM. Beyond that, we do MANUAL checks to see if the companies are a good fit for your solutions
So the transformation experience is clear. Our clients get 100’s of prospects every week who need their services. And have financial resources at their disposal.
And the cost is about 10% of doing the same work in-house.
The more value your product or service offers, the easier it will be to communicate that value. Always start with the product.
So here are some positive points about our solution:
- Save up to 30 hours a week on research & email validation.
- No need for expensive data subscriptions.
- Can sort by type of funding – seed, A series, etc.
- Startups are decisive – they NEED to go quickly.
- They have a recent cash injection so you KNOW they can afford your solution.
- Less than 10% of the cost of doing the same work in-house.
- Startups are growing and there’s a very good chance they’ll need your solution now or in the near future.
That’s a good start.
The first thing I want to do is separate the features from the transformational value.
Features refer to what you can do with the product.
Transformational value refers to what changes for the prospect.
Looking at the list above, most of them are features, not transformations.
Look at the first point.
- Save up to 30 hours a week on research & email validation.
That’s an attractive value point if they’re ALREADY doing research. But my potential customers may not be contacting startups, yet. So this point probably won’t resonate.
Of course if they’re already spending hours every day researching startups, our solution will save them 10’s of hours a week – which is a REAL transformation.
Similarly, ideas like…
- You can sort by type of funding
…are just features. They don’t suggest a CHANGE in the prospect’s circumstances.
But the other points I listed hint at deeper value. Using our database, sales teams can build a growing pipeline of prospects who have funds and need to spend them efficiently. And there’s little to no effort required.
That’s pretty compelling!
Now you try. List out all the great things about your solution and divide them into features or transformation statements.
Remember, value refers to things that make a positive CHANGE to your prospects’ situation.
Define Your Ideal Customer Profile
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve heard it a MILLION times already. You should define your ideal client profile.
It makes sense, but creating avatars feels kinda dumb. And I imagine a lot of people just skip this step.
A better way to think about it is, ‘who needs the value you defined above right now?‘
If you can answer that question, you’re golden.
Let’s look at Sales Higher’s startup data as an example.
We decided the value is, “Sales teams can contact prospects who need your solutions and have a budget, with zero effort.“
So who would benefit most from that? Off the top of my head I can think of several target audiences that would be a good fit.
- Venture Capitalists / Angel Investors need an updated list of companies and contacts.
- Marketing agencies want to get their foot in the door in growing companies.
- Some SaaS tools will definitely want to offer a free trial.
- HR service providers.
- And lots more!
Your list of potential customers might be more focused. Look for prospects who will get the most value from your solution in the least amount of time.
For example, say you place software developers in growing IT companies. Instead of contacting everyone, it would make more sense to focus on companies that are trying to hire IT staff. You KNOW they can use your solution with immediate effect.
Find Your Potential Customers
Finding solid prospects to focus on is pretty easy and there are many tools available to help you.
Here are three main methods to find your ideal prospects:
1. We’ll Build Your Custom List
Sales Higher specializes in custom list building. It’s literally what we do all day, every day.
With the high cost of specialist labor, getting a custom list built is WAY more cost effective than doing it in-house.
Building a B2B database isn’t difficult. But it’s REALLY time-consuming. Every line in your spreadsheet needs to be checked and validated by a human. You’ve got to check each website to make sure it’s working ok. And independently verify the emails and other information.
It’s HARD work. And a trained virtual sales assistant can do it 3x faster than someone new to the role.
Your sales reps should be focused on high value activities, not doing data improvement.
2. B2B Databases
There are several stand-alone database tools you can access. Most are affordable and generally cost less than $100 per month.
For example, with a tool like Clodura you just enter your target audience and it spits out profiles that match your search criteria.
As easy as it sounds, just keep in mind you need to clean the data export. Up to 50% of the data won’t be a perfect match for your ideal client profile. So you’ve got to review it all manually.
And be sure to verify the emails, too!
As I mentioned above, it’s a lengthy process when you do it properly. Which is why companies use lead generation specialists like Sales Higher to do the heavy lifting.
3. Scrape LinkedIn
Finally, there are lots of tools that enable you to scrape LinkedIn.
To get maximum value from these tools you’ll need to combine the scraping tool with a Sales Navigator account. Combined you’re looking at about $125 – $150 per month. Plus additional costs for separate email verification. All in, you can do the job for less than $200 a month. The REAL cost is your labor.
One of the best tools in this category is Get Prospect. It enables you to review each profile you’re interested in, and add them to a custom list, one by one.
Sales Navigator’s top results are usually a very good match for your search query. As you get further down the results, the relevance to your query starts to deteriorate. A typical Sales Navigator search result is about 60% accurate. So be sure to review your results manually. And also verify the emails with a separate tool.
Our Cold Outreach Strategy
A best practice with cold email is to treat every outreach campaign as an experiment. At inception, I have no idea whether it’ll work, or not. So before the experiment begins I need to define what constitutes a successful result.
I’ll be testing 93 new venture capitalists (& angel investors). I think there’s a clear use-case for this group to get value from our database. So I want to see whether there’s any interest in our solution from this group. Note: I typically recommend doing tests in batches of 200 to get more definitive results.
The results I achieve (or fail to realize) will determine how I proceed.
- If there is 0 interest and no purchases, I’ll move on to testing another group.
- If there are 2-3 expressions of interest, I’ll ask for more feedback. There may be opportunities to strengthen the copy. Or further refine the sales targeting.
- If we get a subscriber, I’ll count the campaign as a preliminary success. We’ll expand the copy and double down on this demographic
To create my list I scraped new VC’s from LinkedIn. I started with 287 results. But after manually scrubbing the list we ended up with only 93 contacts. This highlights the importance of manually verifying outreach data. Two-thirds of the initial list was garbage!
From 93 contacts we received an 8.6% positive response rate. One of whom became a client.
Overall the campaign was a mild success. We’ll follow up with a larger test to further explore this segment.
How to Combine Cold Email With LinkedIn Outreach
If you want to combine cold outreach with LinkedIn outreach, it helps to use the right cold outreach tools. Some outreach tools focus on doing cold emails really well. Others use a multichannel outreach approach to connecting with prospects.
Lemlist, for example, allows you to incorporate LinkedIn outreach with cold email, calling, and other manual activities.
Just as we clean our data for email, I like to carefully review LinkedIn prospects before connecting.
The first thing I do is review each profile one by one. Yeah, it takes a while!
I’m looking for people who post on LinkedIn regularly or semi-regularly. This will give me the opportunity to nurture a relationship with them over time.
Regular Poster IMAGE
In the VC example from before, I found that only about 15% of this target audience (29 people) are regular posters on LinkedIn.
So the next thing I’ll do is split the regular posters into a separate list.
The non-regular posters get added to an email outreach sequence. I’ll start contacting them right away.
For the prospects that post regularly on LinkedIn, I’ll add them into Breakcold. This enables me to see every time they make a post. Which in turn means I can comment and build awareness of myself and our solutions before I reach out via email.
The nice thing about this approach is that prospects who post regularly on LinkedIn tend to have some followers and lots of connections. So take the time to add valuable comments to their posts. And you’ll also get engagement with some of their community, too.
For prospects that use LinkedIn regularly I’ll wait for a while before I reach out via email. This will give me a chance to build a bit of trust and recognition before they hear from me via email.
This is a MUCH slower approach. But usually the results are worth it. Since you participated in their LinkedIn posts they’ll be far more open to your cold email – especially if you remind them you’ve been contributing to their posts.
Connecting with your prospects for an extended period across multiple channels builds name recognition. And ensures you’re top of mind when a need for your solution arises
Iterate Your Outreach Campaign As Needed
The thing about outreach campaigns is that they often don’t go as planned. Sometimes you get wonderful, positive surprises.
Other times you get bupkis.
So before you start your campaign, define the metrics you will use to define success.
For the original campaign I defined 2-3 expressions of interest as a reason to continue. We got a subscriber so I’ll continue adding new contacts to this campaign.
In the meanwhile, I’ll also start testing other ideas to see what works well. And what has little chance of working.
Had the test campaign not done well, I’d do a post-mortem.
I’d begin by deconstructing the assumptions that went into creating the campaign. Is the solution valuable? Does it have value for THIS group of prospects? How do we know that to be true?
The more you challenge your own assumptions, the stronger your cold outreach game will be.
Cold Outreach Strategy & Best Practices
So there you have it. Building a cold outreach strategy isn’t especially difficult.
Treat it like a science experiment. Begin with a hypothesis. In this case, your value proposition will be attractive to your target audience.
Use cold outreach via email and LinkedIn to test your theory. You don’t need a lot of contacts to see if your hypothesis is mistaken or correct.
If you achieve positive results, then scale that audience segment.
If not, figure out why your messaging isn’t working. Ask yourself how you can add more value, and who can benefit from it.
Do you have any tips for creating an effective cold outreach strategy? Got any questions you’d like me to answer? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You can contact me on LinkedIn or send me a note on our contact page.