It seems like everyone is looking for a one-size-fits-all strategy for outbound. And unfortunately there are plenty of sales experts encouraging this idea by claiming that they have ‘the magic formula.’ With multiple variables like a prospect’s vertical, state of the market, target buyer personas, etc. a company must consider many factors before selecting which initial approach is best suited for their business.
There are several distinct prospecting methods to choose from: mass, customized, personalized or enterprise strategy. It is easy to understand how companies can get off on the wrong foot.
The following three steps (along with potential obstacles) will help you stay focused so you can determine the most effective initial outbound strategy for your business.
As my mentor, author of Predictable Revenue, Aaron Ross says, you’ll want to focus outbound efforts “on the largest deals that have the highest probability of closing.”
#1: Define your niche by focusing on the types of deals where you have had the most success
Zero in on specifics including vertical, size of company, buyer personas, key indicators and various technologies used. Generating conversations with net new prospects will be easier if you’ve already closed a handful of deals with recognizable competitors.
Companies often make the mistake of making their niche too broad, lumping together a wide range of different sized companies into one campaign. Early stage companies will have unique problems and concerns compared to later stage companies in the same vertical. For example, a Medical Device company of 10 people has very different objectives than a 100 person Medical Device company. The messaging in an outbound campaign selling quality management software will be different in early vs. later stage companies even though they are in the same vertical. Thus the more narrow the niche, the better you’ll be able to position your solution in a meaningful way for your key stakeholders.
#2: Apply this same level of focus to building your list
Whether you’re buying lists from data providers, have the prospectors creating their own lists, or outsource the list building– expect to keep a laser-like focus on building out one vertical at a time.
More often than not, companies tend to lose focus when it comes to list building. Companies make the mistake of building their prospecting list including several verticals instead of one. Even though your unique value proposition remains same, the keywords, positioning and proof points will vary with each vertical. For example, you may be selling a website optimization solution. Your campaign’s messaging will differ if you are reaching out to retailers, publishing companies, or financial service companies. Every vertical has its own nuances. It is most effective to tackle one vertical at a time.
#3: Determine the size of your total addressable market within your niche
Does your market represent tens of thousands of ideal prospects or a couple thousand?
A common mistake I see with companies launching outbound, is assuming their ideal market is bigger than it actually is. As a result these companies may select an ill-fitted approach to reach their ideal prospects. For example, a recent client wanted to launch their outbound program with 3 prospectors. They were certain their market consisted of endless retailers and wanted to use a mass approach. However after we zeroed in on their first vertical and list building criteria, we discovered their ideal list was actually about eight hundred companies. With that small of a market, the content needed to be thoughtful and engaging. Thankfully we had already begun crafting a customized content strategy. Otherwise we would have needed to recreate our content, potentially delaying our launch date further.
Both the ‘size of your niche’ and ‘state of the market’ are great indicators of the level of customization needed in your outbound approach. In both small and highly competitive markets, every touch matters. It becomes critically important to create compelling content tailored specifically for your key stakeholder’s needs. The noisier the market, the more personalization becomes a ‘must have’ in order to stand out from the hundreds of competitors attempting to connect with your prospects.
There are many paths to building a successful outbound sales machine. Each approach whether mass, customized, personalized or enterprise involve a process of testing and iteration before you’ll be able to establish a repeatable process for generating consistent qualified opportunities. The most essential component to constructing your unique outbound formula will be maintaining focus.