by Jacob Turner
Working in my family’s barbeque restaurant, I learned about lagniappe: giving a little unexpected, extra something to your customers.
You may not see the connection between BBQ and ROI (not yet, at least). But long before I was building high performing sales campaigns, I was learning about authentic connection through southern cooking.
Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the customer journey, humanizing the sales process, and providing the customer with a little extra.
In a recent webinar poll, the audience responded that the biggest obstacle to creating new sales campaigns is lack of confidence in strategy. This makes sense, as outbound marketing is increasingly becoming more difficult. It takes twice as many attempts to connect with a prospect as it did 10 year ago. From tech innovations to GDPR, the environment itself is creating more obstacles to connect with your perfect prospect.
I think I can help with that. In this article, I outline 7.5 strategies of creating a winning sales campaign. It’s easier than you might think.
#1: Know Your Audience
By now, we all know the importance of directing our sales campaigns towards a targeted audience.
Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue. Rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach when designing your sales campaigns, utilize the channels where your audience spends the most time. If you’re targeting restaurant owners, for example, you might not have the best luck on LinkedIn. Cold calling may be a better strategy. Your campaigns should be designed around the life and habits of your buyer.
While your buyer persona acts as your north star, you shouldn’t overlook the nuance of the human experience. Your buyers will shift, their struggles will evolve, and their habits will change. Keep a regular pulse on your audience to not only stay up to date, but to predict trends before they come to fruition.
Simple: join the conversation. Not sure where to start? Your audience likely contributes to a micro-community. Whether that’s on LinkedIn, Facebook groups, or professional organizations, find the places where your buyers congregate and be ready to observe.
After monitoring conversation topics and emerging trends, bring your ideas to the table. This isn’t the time to mimic influencers; this is the time to find your point of view. Find new angles to interact with your audience, position your solution, and solve their problems.
#2: Create Killer Content
Only 23.9% of sales emails are even opened. Effective content is what moves the needle from ‘opened’ to ‘replied’. So what does it take to create killer content?
It takes being obsessed with relevance.
74% of online consumers get frustrated when content appears to have nothing to do with their interests. (Again, keep a pulse on the conversation). To incorporate relevance into content, empathetically address your consumers’ pain points. “I believe we’d be a good fit” simply won’t cut it.
To create effective content, put your customer’s needs before your own. Your content should reflect their pain and their interests; not your own desperation to book a meeting. Consider making a smaller ask. Rather than always prompting to take a prospect’s time with a meeting, consider a softer introduction. Even requesting an email reply can go a long way.
Relevant content is created with an understanding of your consumer. In a recent Sales Hacker podcast, Sapper CEO Jeff Winters discusses tools and strategies for developing effective content:
“You need folks that are either on the front line or have recently been on the front line, who are not writing in the theoretical. They’re writing in the practical, which is different from marketing messaging. That to me is the difference. It’s the who, not the what.”
Finally, take your prospects on a hero’s journey. Share experiences of similar customers overcoming the very obstacles your prospects face. Be specific, be concise, and let your prospect feel seen and heard.
#3: Follow up
We all consume content within the (often chaotic) reality of our lives.
Just because a prospect doesn’t reply immediately, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of prospects appreciate the extra effort. Following up builds credibility and removes the obstacle of having prospects put forth the legwork.
It takes an average of 6-8 sales touches to generate a viable lead and follow-up emails are typically more likely to be responded to than an initial email. Put simply: follow ups pay off.
Just make sure you put in some effort. In the same Sales Hacker podcast, Jeff Winters mentions, “No lazy bumps.” If you’re following up with a prospect, get creative and add value. Consider attaching a relevant article or white paper, but it has to be more than ‘circling back on my last message’.
Keep in mind that this is not an opportunity to guilt your prospects. Following up with a “I look forward to a positive response from you soon” can read as presumptuous and off putting. Instead, position your follow-ups as a simple reminder of who you are, why you’re reaching out, and what makes you valuable.
Following up is the art of nurturing your prospect. Understanding not only your consumer, but their journey through your sales process is key to delivering the right message at exactly the right time.
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#4: Get Personal
A customer’s buying decisions are emotional rather than rational. An effective campaign speaks specifically to the pain of your audience. An understanding is created that the discomfort of change is much smaller than the pain of staying the same.
For this kind of personalization to work, segment your campaigns. Generalizing pain or duplicating messages for different personas won’t be effective. Remember to not confuse personalization with relevance: ‘I see that you went to Miami University’ is less compelling than ‘I understand that the pandemic has led to a decrease in new clients’.
When personalizing emails, it’s vital that the content doesn’t feel automated. Something as simple as “I was just picking up the kids from soccer and wanted to shoot you a quick note” can catch a prospect’s attention. Prospects want authentic interaction with real people.
By keeping up with the conversation, understanding your relevance, and creating credibility in solving the pain, you can humanize your sales conversation.
#5: Utilize the ‘Stacking Effect’
It’s not always an individual intro email or follow-up sales call that converts a prospect.
When it comes to the highest performing sales campaigns, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By designing touches around your ideal customer, you can ensure that your sequence or cadence builds familiarity, ensures consistency, and leverages reciprocity.
The ‘stacking effect’ is simply adding phone calls, emails, LinkedIn messages, comments and more to your campaign.
When you utilize the stacking effect, you avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket. You’ll want to utilize the channels that work best for your audience, but make sure you are embracing multiple channels.
For instance, there is a 93% reduction in replies in phone call-only campaigns, while 80% of top performing campaigns include a call and email on the first day.
In the story of your outreach, you have the opportunity to become a trusted advisor. Provide insights, point out trends, and celebrate successes in solving the pain of your clients.
#6: Follow the Numbers
Data has taken over sales. Intuition, habit, and bias have been replaced by measurable insights and every modern sales organization is embracing the data. In your own marketing efforts, utilize reporting to optimize campaigns and strategies.
Most reporting platforms give you access to a multitude of data — but not all of it is your friend.
Don’t get distracted by vanity metrics. Open rates and reply rates are great but they only tell a fraction of the story. Always come back to the metrics that indicate your success: MQLs, sales meetings, or new clients.
Use data to guide your iteration through A/B testing. Slowly, you’ll learn what incremental upticks you can accomplish. Subject lines, CTAs, and channels are just a few of the variables to experiment with.
Don’t be afraid to A/Z test, or to scratch your entire approach.
Alter your approach, tweak your segmentation, add new channels. This can be an amazing opportunity to think outside of the box. From utilizing FaceTime in your campaign to creating custom sales videos, your creativity can take your data to the next level.
#7: AI is Your New BFF
If we don’t start from where our predecessors left off, we won’t evolve. Utilizing (and fully leveraging) collective knowledge of campaign performance, industry data, and AI is the new table stakes of outbound.
That said, many companies become so absorbed in the operations of a campaign, they forget about the bottom line. Automating a broken process won’t get you ROI, and an iterative approach takes too long if you’re starting from zero.
Instead, use AI to start from a high performing baseline. By utilizing technology, you can lower the time to value and opportunity cost.
#7.5 Just Start
Don’t let lack of confidence stand in your way of a winning sales campaign.
Just start, be willing to fail, and repeat.
You could research and plan for years; but implementing intentional action (as listed in the steps above) is the only thing that will move you forward.
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