You get a new lead and you can tell immediately by the @domain.com name that it’s at least a good firmographic prospect.
Your boss tells you that they read a stat saying that if you don’t reply within 5 minutes they are 100 times less likely to engage.
So you rush to reply and “statistically” the odds should be in your favor, right?
This is so wrong and here’s why
(The pre-context here is that I’m assuming you’re in b2b selling something that is at least $500/mo, meaning you need a salesperson to close it.)
What I have personally found to be effective with my own sales and sales teams is to always engage with Quality. Take 10 minutes and put a mini-strategy together. This doesn’t mean that you do this for EVERY lead, but you know there are always a few that just look better.
Scenario (slightly modified real example): Inbound lead from firstname.lastname@example.org who just signed up for a Whalr pilot.
Reaching out haphazardly will immediately kill this deal because it’s at the wrong level. We’d be stuck in the abyss of a middle/low level prospect trying to work up the org.
Ideally let the low/mid level prospect gently float into the product/experience, “dodge low,” and then initiate outbound first with the VP, “punch high.”
The reason is that if you initiate the discussion at this mid/low level, you will trap yourself at this level of conversation. Trying to sell upwards in an organization is close to impossible. Ideally you’ll want to align the seniority level of your org w/ the prospects. In this case, a lower level resource (ie SDR) should initiate & engage in parallel with an experienced AE (or DIR/VP) reaching out to the VP. Typical b2b behavior is that a VP will have an initiative and then task their team to research and come back with viable options they can review.
Dodge Low : Punch High
Or you’ll be stuck because you’ve initially engaged at the wrong level.
How not to get stuck:
In this example FIRST we would research and reach out to the VP Sales Ops at Couchbase with the following:
Hi X, I’ll be brief.
Every open source company struggles with identifying the groups of users in the community who are actually enterprise-grade targets. That’s the problem we solve in a very unique way.
I can send you a real customer example where Whalr identified the hidden prospect and they closed them at the Enterprise level. Interested?
Slightly tangential, one successful ‘best practice’ our customers are leveraging is implementing SMS as a communication channel with Engrs. Experimented with that?
THEN, before the end of the calendar day, we would email the user who signed-up:
Hi Martin, Thanks for signing up.
- Which one of our customers pointed you in our direction?
We’re big fans of NoSQL here you must have a massive user community which makes me very jealous!
Typically the highest value place to start is with a simple test by adding in a sample of your inbound leads. We hopefully can surface some hidden gold immediately. What % would you guess? (I’ll tell you my guess.)
Any hiccups just let me know,
The order is important since once we engage directly with the person who signed up, we need to ask their permission to engage others on their team. We are at their mercy. By reaching out to the VP first, we’ve opened up that communication channel prior.
Tip: guess what, it also shows up without scrolling when we test this on our iPhone. I’ll wager you don’t test your email format by device.
Quality is the ultimate differentiator, so slow down slightly and use this 5-10 min of research time to figure out the likely most compelling thing you can teach that person in their specific role. Our email to Martin (ops and likely power user) is going to be very different than your value point to the VP.
Tip: Check their job listings to see what technologies or problems they are trying to solve. Then you can lead with a thoughtful, concise, high-value teachable point about what you assume is their problem and how best you solve that.
Teach the VP something and you’ll earn the respect to move the conversations forward. Customer Stories ideally that are closest to their role or vertical so they can identify or worse-case you can even add in randomly useful things you’re seeing/hearing about in the market. Find some way to be helpful in any capacity and even think outside of your solution if needed.
Remember, you’re likely going to need to get to the VP for ultimate sign-off anyway so don’t take the low level bait.
Dodge Low : Punch High
Each opportunity to engage with a prospect is an opportunity to teach and establish yourself as a domain expert. Take the time to deliver quality at every point of your sales career and you’ll be very successful, regardless what the industry stats say.
If you don’t, you’ll just be an “order taker” and never figure out why you don’t excel at Sales. How do you become a Domain Expert? It’s not that hard really, but that's for another post.
I’m always interested to share tactical learning over a pint and can be reached here.