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Creating an outbound B2B sales pipeline

B2B Outbound Sales Pipeline
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If you’re starting up your business, you need a method to quickly find leads and validate your hypothesis.

Whether you’ve already built your product or you’re testing your idea, you need to choose a traction channel. 

If you don’t know the 19 traction channels, take a look at Gabriel Weinberg’s work on the subject.

Two channels are very easy to test and scale: email and Facebook ads.

In this post, we’ll only talk about emails.

Mastering this process will allow you to close 1 – 50K value deals (if not more) pretty quickly, and help you raise a round: mastering a channel makes a huge difference in your go-to-market strategy.

Framework

I definitely agree that frameworks have their flaws. 

But if you’re starting up and have no idea where to begin, it’s always a good idea to start with a simple framework 😀

B2B Sales Pipeline Messaging Framework
Source: The Marketing Playbook

This framework is very easy to work with. No fuss, straight to the point.

It will help you a lot in defining how you position your company and how you approach your targets. 

Metrics 

You should aim for the following metrics:

  • Target 70 – 80% email open rate
  • 20 – 30% reply rate
  • 10 – 15% meeting

It takes a lot of time and practice to reach those numbers. 

The best way to reach these metrics is to operate sequences in small batches, e.g. ~100 leads / sequence would be a good start. 

We’ve written a Comprehensive Guide To Outbound Email Sales Automation to help you get started with email sequences.

Anyway, always remember that quality > quantity. 

Your ideal customer

Ask your salesperson

If you’ve already sold your product and are looking to scale, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and talk with your salesperson/team.

You should be able to answer these questions:

  • What are the main characteristics of the target people / companies that we’ve closed? 
  • What triggered the sale?
  • Can we define common job titles to target?

Take the time to go through your data.

Interview current hero customers

Interviewing your “hero” customers is one of the best methods to correctly identify future clients.

If you’re starting up and do not have a lot of customers, it’ll be easy for you to identify them.

If not (e.g. you have a lot), you can always run NPS (net promoter score) surveys and look for grades of 8-10 grades (out of 10). 

If you don’t have any customers, you should make assumptions and reach out to your targets.

Write down their answers and use this content in your copywriting for your email templates.

Then ask them for referrals: if they really are heroes, they will recommend you naturally, or will immediately think about a company that could benefit from your solution.

Some example questions:

  • Before we started working together, what were the challenges you had? 
  • What was the most important factor for you when making a decision to hire us / buy from us?
  • What did you fear most when going forward with us?
  • What problems do we help you solve in your business? Or how do we improve your business?
  • Based on what you know about us, do you know anyone else who can use our product/service?

Always think in terms of value, not product features 🙌

Fill the framework

By now, you should have everything you need to build your ideal customer profile and the framework above.

Make sure to repeat this process every 1 to 3 months, while reviewing your campaigns.

It will enable you to reach higher metrics as you send more and more emails.

Finding leads

First, remember that you will at least need the following data: full name, title, company name, location, company size.

You probably also will need a company domain name to find emails – more on that below.

This data will enable you to create highly targeted lists and personalize your campaign. 

It even works at scale, if you want to send 500 emails per day.

Now, there are basically two ways to find leads:

  • LinkedIn
  • Specific websites like Tripadvisor or Yellow Pages for local/small businesses

At Captain Data, we built an API Store that enables you to extract data from LinkedIn or Sales Navigator with the click of a button.

Even if you are not a developer, you will be able to extract leads from a Linkedin search, for example.

There are a lot of different ways you could use to extract data, but that would require an entire post 😅

To find emails, you have two options:

If you use Captain Data, you don’t have to worry about it – we integrated an email finder for you to use, right out of the box.

Copywriting and email sequences

The interviews should be your best source of content.

Based on the framework, you can draw out your personas. Do some manual research, about a hundred LinkedIn profiles should do the trick. 

Write down their habits, how they communicate and interact (or not) with others. Try to be as close to them as you can.

Then your sequence should have at least 4 or 5 steps:

  • Email 1 (day 0): reach out to open up the conversation;
  • Email 2 (day +3/4): gently ask them if they had the chance to read your previous email;
  • Email 3 (day +10/12): this step is pretty important, here you should share something valuable to your lead, like a free eBook on sales if they are SDR or a customer success story. This step can be quite decisive, especially if you’ve researched your target well;
  • Email 4 (day +15): ask if they liked the content you shared;
  • Email 5 (day +20/22): last call, tell them you won’t bother them after this for a while.

If they don’t respond to email 5, wait 2-3 months and relaunch via a new campaign. 

There’s a large chance they clicked on some link in your signature or on the content you shared. 

If you set up a Facebook pixel, it means that you will be able to re-target them in a custom audience later on: enter the realm of cross-channel.

Remember that you should always adjust the days between your emails: some targets might not appreciate receiving emails every 4 days, some won’t mind and find it useful. 

There’s a lot of great content out there, like Good Email Copy.

You could also test alternatives techniques, like targeting three people in the same company, mentioning each of them in each email, and asking something along the lines of “If you are the appropriate person to discuss this with”.

Chances are they will talk amongst themselves about you, which increases your reply rate.

The more you practice, the better you’ll become: vary your approach and keep track of every change. 

Always measure everything: opens, clicks, replies, conversions.

Focus on the best outcomes and eliminate the rest from one iteration to the other. That’s how you nail 80+% open rates. 

Sending emails

Setting up your emails correctly is VERY important:

  • Use Mail Tester to check if your domain settings are correct (DKIM, SPIF etc.). You will probably need help from a tech person;
  • I strongly advise using Gmail/Gsuite, since it integrates very well with a lot of tools and is very easy to set up & maintain;
  • Regarding sending tools, you have lots of options. At Captain Data we use prospect.io, but we’ve heard good things about Reply or lemlist;

If you’ve never sent emails before, start gently, like 20 emails per day. It’s fairly acceptable and will get you results pretty fast. 

When getting replies, try to be super-responsive. This way, you don’t lose momentum. 

A good technique (that can be a bit pushy but that can work extremely well on some targets) is to call your lead 30 seconds after they open your email. 

If the person is receptive, you’ve probably saved weeks of discussion. 

Conclusion

Creating an outbound B2B sales pipeline is not that hard. 

All it takes is a lot of time and dedication.

You should not be afraid of getting harsh responses like “Leave me the hell alone”, you’re playing a tough game.

Keep going, you’ll sign some nice deals 👍

Astronaut

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