Inbound marketing tactics - like blogs, webinars, and SEO - are more popular, but outbound sales are still essential for early-stage startups.
That’s because startups need to move fast and acquire as many sales leads as possible to test their MVPs. After the early stage, some teams have to continue the outbound sales depending on the type of business, ACV (Annual Contract Value), and customer relationships.
The key to successful sales lies in knowing your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and acquiring the contact information of relevant decision-makers. Once you have this information, you can reach out to them through various channels with appealing messages.
Prospecting aims to determine if a potential lead intends to buy your product.
Here’s what you’ll learn about in this post:
- Inbound vs. Outbound Sales
- Defining Ideal Customer Profile
- Running Cold Email Campaigns
- How to Qualify Prospects
- How to Prospect Using Apollo and Relate CRM
What's the difference between inbound and outbound sales?
First, it is essential to understand the difference between inbound and outbound sales. Inbound sales are when customers are first exposed to your product through marketing channels like content, SEO, or social media. They then reach out to you to start the sales process.
On the other hand, outbound sales happen when the sales team contacts potential customers through cold outreach. Cold outreach includes cold calls, cold emails, social selling (LinkedIn and Twitter), trade shows, and industry events.
Although outbound sales could be challenging, it has some advantages compared to inbound sales. Outbound sales lets you have faster response time and feedback, and you can apply the feedback you receive on both sales and product strategies. Also, you can highly target prospects and control the pace and results of the outbound sales process.
This post focuses on the outbound sales process. You can find more details about the difference between inbound and outbound sales here.
Here are the three steps to successful prospecting:
Step 1. Define your Ideal Customer Profile
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a sum of characteristics that define customers who would get the most value from your product. Without ICP, your sales team can waste time closing the wrong customers. If you work with the “wrong” customers, closing will be more challenging, and you will likely lose them later even if you close. The successful outbound sales motion starts with ICP, so it is the essential step in prospecting.
Properly identifying and defining an ICP can be a big challenge for early-stage startups due to the lack of information. Despite this, you should still spend time working out these characteristics:
- Company size
- Annual revenue
- Decision-making process
- Ideal contact, title, and department
Then, as you learn more about your customers, you can update your ICP. You can target them better if you have a better understanding of the ideal customer profile. Let’s assume you had it wrong the first time. As you fine tune your ICP, you will be able to better gauge customers that are likely to convert.
Once you define ICP, you must acquire contact information, including the name, title, phone number, and email address. Using lead generation tools such as Apollo.io and logging them in a CRM tool such as Relate can significantly help you search and obtain contact information. (more on this below)
Step 2. Run a Cold Email Campaign
After acquiring contact information, you can start the outreach. There are many tactics to use in outreach, including cold calls, cold emails, social selling, trade shows, and industry events. One of the most common tactics is cold emails.
Cold emails are considered less intrusive than cold calls, and cold emails do not require extensive resources. Also, mixing cold calls and cold emails can increase the chance of connecting with prospects.
Here are things to note when creating a cold email campaign.
- Try to be concise and clear on what value you can deliver and call to action (CTA).
- Sending follow-up emails significantly increases the reply rate. Usually, 3-4 follow-up emails are recommended.
- If prospects do not open your email, then it is likely that the subject line isn’t appealing enough.
- If prospects open your email but don’t respond, then it is likely that the content has some issues.
- 60% Open Rate & 10% Reply Rate are industry benchmark metrics (Source: Woodpecker). They may vary depending on the type of customers or products.
Step 3. Qualify Your Sales Prospects
If prospects responded to your outreach and showed interest in learning more about your offer, it’s time to qualify prospects. The purpose of qualifying leads is to determine whether they fit the ICP criteria and whether they can buy your product.
Here are the most common qualifying questions, and you develop your own. BANT is a popular sales lead qualification framework you can use as well.
- What business problem are you trying to solve?
- Have you tried to solve this problem before?
- Why are you trying to solve this problem now?
- What are the top priorities in the ideal solution?
- Is there another solution you are evaluating?
- What is your budget?
- Are you the decision-maker?
- What is the timeline for making a final decision?
- What are potential objections?
If a prospect is disqualified, your sales team should not focus on them. Qualification lets your sales team only focus on qualified prospects.
Use Apollo.io and Relate CRM to Prospect
Using Apollo.io and Relate CRM together can help you source high-quality prospects and efficiently track and manage them.
What is Apollo.io?
Apollo.io is a sales tool for B2B companies that lets you search for potential customers, acquire their contact information, and then build automatic outbound email campaigns.
What is Relate?
Relate is a simple sales CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software for B2B startups to manage customer data, communication, and deals.
Using tools like Apollo.io and Relate helps you to prospect more effectively because they save time and energy when searching for potential customers, planning your outreach, and managing customer relationships.
1. Find Potential Customers in Apollo.io
You can use filters to reflect the characteristics of your ICP, and find your potential customers.
2. Automate Contact Creation in Relate When Adding Contact in Apollo.io
If you integrate Apollo.io and Relate, you can automate contact creation in Relate when you add a new contact in Apollo.io. You do not have to create a new contact in Relate manually. It will create a new organization, people, and a deal so you can manage them in Relate.
It is crucial to have the context of each customer, so the sales team should store as much customer information as possible in a CRM tool. When you're trying to win over new customers, it's important to keep track of your interactions with them.
Use a CRM tool to take note of when you reached out, what you said, and how they responded. Also, the sales team can look back through these touchpoints and messages to identify strategies that work to scope out future initiatives.
3. Build an Effective Cold Email Campaign in Apollo.io
You can build an effective cold email campaign with the Sequence feature in Apollo. Adding a customer to a Sequence will automatically send pre-configured emails until the customer responds or the campaign is finished.
Prospecting Increases Sales Efficiency
Prospecting is the first and most important step in the outbound sales process. If prospecting is done inappropriately, your sales team might waste time and resources working with the wrong customers. Thus, you must invest in developing prospecting practices, and using tools like Apollo.io and Relate will help you do it effectively.