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Outbound Prospecting

What would life look like for salespeople without Linkedin’s Sales Navigator? It’s hard to imagine. Sales Navigator brings a lot of value for prospecting purposes, lead list building, research, etc. as it facilitates the process of finding new leads, making connections, and driving conversions.

I always have the feeling that we are not using even half of the capabilities of this database. This is because the search criteria are still a bit limited and subsequently the results are not always accurate. 

Nevertheless, sometimes when you experiment with the Sales Navigator’s filters and you are thinking outside of the box you may discover useful tricks & tips that you cannot keep to yourself. Hopefully, one of them will be useful for your own prospecting issues and can give you an alternative perspective. 

 

The 4 Sales Navigator Hacks

1. Custom lists – track people you have done business with in the past

As a consultative salesperson, one of your main job tasks is to build relationships over time, across different businesses. The personal aspect is essential in doing successful sales. You build rapport, work on developing a trustworthy relationship, and then sell your services. By following this process it is 6 times easier to sell to these customers. 

So, why not benefit from these relationships?

A powerful tactic is to add each person that you collaborated with in the past to a custom list. This list can be also integrated into Sales Navigator. 

In this way, you take the advantage of keeping track of their career path. Thus, a previous customer’s job-related change can eventually lead to new opportunities automatically. Having built interpersonal relationships with customers can help you to approach them, in a completely different manner; more easily and more effectively.

Thus, having a list of all of these customers can make your life easier as you can track their movement. If you want, you can also receive notifications for any change, such as a prospect’s job change or location. This brought me a lot in the past.

 

2. Custom lists – creating a list with ex-employees from current customers

Another effective tactic is to connect with people who already know your company or even better have experienced your services. 

For instance, for one of our clients, we added all of their customers in a search, we deliberately selected the criteria; “worked at this company in the past” and then we added the specific function titles we were looking for. 

In this way, we created a list with personas that were matching the function titles we were searching for and at the same time knew the company’s services.  

This knowledge can be used as a good reason to reach out; it is beneficial if the people you contact were working for this company and even more powerful if they have experienced the company’s services. 

 

3. Language limitation 

Slightly different use cases in this third tip. In Sales Navigator, there is not an option to filter based on speaking language. The majority of people’s profiles are in English and less in individuals’ native language. For instance, the fact that someone’s profile is in English doesn’t prove his/her country of residence or place of birth; it is just a setting on the profile settings. 

But what happens if, for example, you are searching for people from the United States that live in the Netherlands? Maybe because of recruiting purposes.

In this case, an effective tactic could be to select the biggest universities in the United States and the Netherlands as the region and then add the function titles you are searching for. In this way, you can get a list with almost only people coming originally from the United States. Of course, there is a possibility to be included exchange students or people who studied in the US and returned, but you can exclude them easily.

 

4. Exclusion

An important step when you start creating your lead lists is to exclude certain accounts, prospects, but also current clients. For many companies, this can be a difficult and time-consuming task because they have a huge amount of clients. 

Nevertheless, Sales Navigator has a handy feature that allows you to directly upload your own excel list to exclude from searches at once. Trust me, it saves a lot of manual labour.

 

In the past few months, I have been asked several times how it’s possible that we have grown so rapidly during the last year, and specifically how we found such wonderful people.

A great compliment to our people but also completely true. Last year we hired 24 new people with different levels of experience (0 turnover): junior, medior and senior sales roles. As we pay a lot of attention to the recruitment process, we hire two people per month on average.

Practice what you preach: Outbound sales strategy

The same strategy we use for our clients to make sure they get in touch with their ideal prospects (outbound sales strategy), we also apply it for our recruitment strategy. We create different contact moments through different channels with relevant content. By sharing knowledge, inspiring people, and showing something of ourselves, we try to get in touch with the right individuals.

We pay a lot of attention to building the right strategies for our clients in order to appear on the radar of their potential customers. This same attention should also be given to finding and recruiting new people. Working solely with an external recruiter and creating ads occasionally is not enough. So, if you want to stand out from the crowd and hire skillful employees, be personal, and relevant, and at the same time try to get on their radar.

How we help our clients find the right candidates is not for us to share here, but we can tell you something about our approach.

Outbound recruitment strategy – Saleslift Studio

Initially, we define the ideal candidate profile and then we proceed very systematically to ensure that we get in touch with these people. Usually, we prefer to get in touch with SDRs who have a certain level of experience, around 1 to 2 years. We do not (only) look for candidates who have already mastered their sales skills 100%. Our supportive and inclusive environment combined with our deep knowledge about sales enables them to become better in their daily activities. Furthermore, we look for candidates of different nationalities, as our company’s culture embraces diversity.  Based on these criteria, we create candidate lists in Sales Navigator.

The second step is to define how we can approach them. There are multiple ways to approach candidates such as email, LinkedIn message, etc. However, a creative and engaging way to approach these people could be with relevant content for them; a webinar for example. In this way, you make a connection with potential candidates and at the same time, you add value to the first contact moment smoothly and discreetly.

Webinar approach

An indicative example is the case of a webinar. We organize an event on LinkedIn: “Special edition of how to build a modern sales machine for SDRs only”. We invite the people we are considering to sign up. Sign-ups are pouring in, you can share information on your event page, and then you have a list of people interested in the topic. This is a good sign about their willingness to learn.

After the event, you immediately have a reason to contact them personally. You can also share the recording, thank them for being there, or to share the recording in case they missed it.

Following this process creates automatically conversations about the topic or questions that come out of it. It is an opportunity to tell a bit more about Saleslift Studio, but also to show a little bit of our culture. The goal is to give them a positive impression of our organization. We don’t dive right into job openings; after all, we come to bring value first.

A week later, you can follow up with a personal message via email, Linkedin connection request, or in-mail. After all, something of a relationship has now been established. From this moment, you can easily indicate in an accessible way that they have an interesting profile and ask them if they are open to a further acquaintance since there are open vacancies.

Additionally, all of these contact moments come from me or my colleagues, Terry and Daniëlle, and not from an external recruiter or the HR manager. In this way, communication is more personal and people are more likely to respond positively.

(If you want to know more about building modern sales development machines or are looking for a new challenge, click here)

We create these recruitment campaigns in Salesloft, the tool we also use for our sales campaigns. We also use metrics to accurately map the process, measure if candidates meet the requirements, and have a holistic perspective of each candidate. This is also the way we build our community for the future.

The right fit

Although this strategy has been proven really valuable and effective, it works because there is a match between the content and the profile. We are a sales organization, and we are looking for sales professionals. So, we have the relevant knowledge to share with people in this sector. Thus, if you are looking for people who specialize out of the field of your expertise, your approach should be slightly different. For example, if we are searching for a CFO, we couldn’t apply the above strategy, because we don’t have enough expertise in that.

Below there are some examples where the outbound recruitment strategy applies:

  • The Big 4 looking for accountants
  • Advertising agencies looking for creatives
  • IT managed services providers looking for developers
  • Design agencies looking for designers
  • Sports Clubs looking for trainers
  • Banks looking for finance experts

So, if you happen to work at one of the Big Four or have trouble finding the right candidates, please let me know.

An outbound sales campaign is not always the solution for your empty pipeline issues. That sounds weird from someone whose job it is to sell outbound sales campaigns, don’t you think?

Well, let me phrase it this way; I am a big fan of outbound sales campaigns but there are cases where you should approach your prospects without focusing solely on sales.

Sales campaigns can help you to have a clear product-market fit, achieve organic growth for a while, establish a steady client base, etc. However, there are several situations where you may need to do some sort of outbound campaigns but a direct sales approach is not suitable. Such typical examples are:

  • When you launch a new product in a new market
  • When you enter a new country for the first time
  • When you are a start-up and haven’t built yet brand awareness
  • When you offer very complex or innovative products or services

If your company deals with one of the above examples, you must know that the gap between prospecting and scheduling a business meeting is hard to cross without a step in between. In this crucial step, you should get in touch and start a conversation with your potential customer first. 

Luckily, there are plenty of alternative methods to apply at the initial stage rather than focus on new business meetings directly. For instance, “research” campaigns, “networking” campaigns, and “knowledge sharing” campaigns are some powerful techniques to approach your potential clients and can eventually make the business meetings a natural part of the communication process. 

 

“Research” campaigns

Example: You want to launch a new product/service in the market

When you launch a new product or service in a new market or enter a new country your target is to validate the feasibility first.

The “research” campaign’s purpose is to get in touch with experts in your field and ask them for their input for research purposes. This approach could be beneficial for your company as you get the opportunity to pitch your proposition and presume upon feedback from experts. Their opinion is of great value to your company. You can also offer them a stage to let them shine and share their knowledge. In this way, it’s easier for you to create awareness and build a strong engagement with them. Consequently, if there is a product-market fit, it often turns automatically into the next meeting. 

Don’t forget to stick with the initial goal of the meeting which is mainly informative and don’t try to turn it into a sales meeting. You can follow up later or they will do it by themselves. 

 

“Knowledge sharing” campaigns

Example: You are a scale-up without brand awareness

Sometimes it’s hard to stand out from the crowd in a well-established market. Using Call To Actions (CTA) for an introduction meeting often does not match the expectations of your prospects or even worse can also be annoying. Again the gap between the meeting and the first contact with your company is huge. 

Thus, if you want to overcome this gap, you should change the purpose of the outbound campaigns. Specifically, at this initial stage, an effective tactic is to first expand your network through webinars, masterclasses, (online) client events, etc.

This tactic can be beneficial as the prospects stay anonymous to each other since they are part of a broader audience and simultaneously you can easily monitor which of them show interest in the topics that are presented. Then, you can use these insights in your next contact moment. 

 

“Inspire” campaigns

Example: You provide complex/innovative products or services

There are several innovative and complex products/services in the market. If your company deals with one of them, you may know how difficult it is to penetrate the market even if you have determined the right target audience. You have to educate them first. 

For instance, we work with a company that builds metaverses that can improve the customer experience. The problem here is that the meaning of the metaverse itself is complicated and many people are not aware of it. 

Thus, before starting thinking about sales campaigns, you have to explain what metaverse is, which is its use, and how they can benefit from such technology. An effective way to create awareness for your service is to invite them to an (online) breakfast session, relevant webinar, or share a related video. Keep in mind the customer journey and try to move them to the next stage in your sales process by highlighting your competitive edge or specialty.

 

To conclude, regardless of your industry and expertise, the most important learning is to find the balance between what you offer and your prospect’s needs in a timely manner. It’s a matter of patience to guide them through your funnel. 

Be creative and experiment with your channels, contact moments, and CTA’s all the time. 

 

Think prospecting as a technique to fill your future business pipeline by pursuing leads that you hope will evolve into clients. While existing clients create revenue today, a salesperson must always be thinking about where the business will come from next week, next month, and even next year. In selling, prospecting is not a haphazard or part-time operation. All great salespersons are always engaged in prospecting in one way or another. They are continually focused on where tomorrow’s business will come from.

Now you may be thinking: if we’re truly involved in relationship selling, shouldn’t we be able to rely solely on prospecting? 

Admittedly, doesn’t building long-term relationships with our consumers ensure that they will remain loyal for years to come? Why do we have to be concerned with gaining new customers all the time?

These are important questions with critical responses. Of course, building long-term relationships with your clients will help you keep your firm more steady and sustainable. Also, it’s usually less expensive to keep your existing profitable consumers than to find new ones.

On the other hand, all sales organizations are constantly attempting to recruit new clients, keep consumers away from competitors, and increase their market share. Growth, from both current and new consumers, is the core of business success. So, we should not underestimate the importance of focusing simultaneously on retention techniques of existing clients and best practices for finding new ones, as both contribute to the business growth. 

Apart from this broad perspective on growth, several other factors may make prospecting for potential clients an even higher priority.

  • Your main contacts in the client firm quit or change positions. In this example, the relationship might change as a result of this. Thus, if the outcome isn’t positive, continuous prospecting can minimize any losses from that customer.
  • Your firm needs to increase revenues to pay for expansion or other expenses. In such cases, your company’s compensation and rewards system may be modified so that salespeople are compensated more for prospecting and obtaining new clients than for retaining existing ones.
  • A customer relocates to a new location outside of your area of sales responsibility. In this scenario, the business may simply be transferred to another salesperson within your company, but you will be responsible for finding a replacement. Prospecting ensures that a ready pool of potential new customers is available.

The above-mentioned examples can be considered red flags. Understanding the potential risks can help you to focus on both existing client retention and most importantly on applying effective prospecting techniques that can constantly enter new clients into your sales pipeline. In sum, prospecting is a key activity of successful selling.

 

How to stay in control after your new business meeting?

Business meetings are an integral part of the sales process and are therefore of great business interest. Salespeople usually make a great effort to make business meetings meaningful and productive, provide a constant flow, and eventually close the deal. 

But what happens next?

The next step is crucial. Having applied the right processes before and during your meeting, your goal is to continue the collaboration by keeping the channels of communication open, even when your meeting is over. So, If you want to increase your potential to close the deal with your prospect, keep in mind that you should:

🎯 Stay “In Control” 

🎯 Follow an Action Plan 

You can watch the full webinar with Terry van den Bemt and Davy Guijt below. 

Business meetings are an integral part of the sales process and are therefore of great business interest. Salespeople usually make a great effort to make business meetings meaningful and productive, provide a constant flow, and eventually close the deal. But what happens next? 

If you want to increase your potential to close a deal with your prospect, it is essential to understand that each step in the sales funnel is important. Having applied the right processes before and during your meeting, your goal is to continue the collaboration by keeping the channels of communication open, also when the meeting is over.

Two of the most powerful tactics that can help you achieve this goal are to stay “In-control” and have a concise Action Plan with the following steps.

Stay “In Control” 

The most successful salespeople take control of the whole sales process and constantly try to be precise and adaptive . But what can you do to apply this tactic? 

The “in control” definition basically boils down to some traits of human psychology; your attitude and your ability to lead and simplify the process. 

Attitude

In fact, If you are willing to stay in control after your meeting, your attitude plays a key role in the way you approach and communicate with your prospects. Naturally, this falls under three categories, passive, assertive, and aggressive. Below are some key phrases that represent each of the categories. Nevertheless, in most cases being assertive is the most beneficial for both you and your prospect.

Lead & Simplify 

Another key tactic that will help you to stay “in control” after your business meeting is to take the lead in the process. This is the moment, you should be confident to guide your prospects through the next steps. At the same time, don’t forget to simplify the process. In other words, make each step accessible, easy and short. 

Useful Tips 

  • Add value in the process (Make sure that you add value in every step of the process).
  • No commitment, no party (equality in the relationship between you and your prospect)
  • Make them participate (although you are the one who leads, make them also contribute)
  • “This is how it always works”

 

Action Plan: “Control after your new business meeting”

The second key step after your business meeting is to follow an action plan. This method is similar to the playbook and each step will help you come closer to your ultimate goal which is to close the deal. Initially, you must create a storyline, use a variety of media, and adapt the steps below to your needs. 

 

Why do you need an action plan?

-Collect more actionable information 

-Possible higher conversion rate

-Prospects are moving faster through or out the funnel 

-Pipeline is more predictable/accurate

-Greater influence in the decision-making process

 

To learn more, you can watch the full webinar with Terry van den Bemt and Davy Guijt here.

Good luck!

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