Make a List and Check It TwiceMatt Wigler’s company outsources fractional business development representatives (or SDRs) to help build awareness for larger marketing agencies. In other words, when companies need to supplement their inside sales team or don’t need a full-time team, Matt’s employees act as that company’s inside sales team for a fraction of a week. One of the most critical drivers of whether or not Matt’s team is successful is whether or not the agency has done its homework. “I see two problematic scenarios. One is where the company hires a bunch of SDRs internally, and they, ‘Good luck,’ without giving the SDRs direction on how to meet their goal. The second scenario is a company that blasts untargeted messages out to try and make up for lack of research with a high volume of activity. Neither of these scenarios works well. The first step of any outbound strategy should be defining your target market. This should happen well before you go out and start hiring people or paying for advertising.” Defining the ideal customer profile is an exercise a lot of businesses perform. However, it’s not uncommon for these businesses to fall into the trap of confirmation bias. People are more apt to remember the most negative experiences first, and then they’ll remember the most positive. We’re really bad at remembering what’s in the middle, even if the majority of our buyers fall into the bread and butter category. For example, the sales manager helping define an ideal customer may only want to target the profile of customers associated with the largest deals. If 80% of your revenue comes from sales that fall within $20K of the average deal size, profiling for that median audience probably makes a lot more sense than the few outliers.
Pro Tip: When building a target list, you’ll also have to consider whether the data supports your team’s hypothesis. This can be done by seeing which values are associated with higher deal close rates. Make sure also to check whether you have enough data to incorporate the field into your scoring model. Finally, check to see whether your highest converting values exceed the average associated with null or blank values before using it in your scoring model.“Identifying your target audience is the first step, but you also need to understand which pain points you resolve for the customer. And then there’s a third thing, which is how you can pitch your product to these people in such a way that it’ll get them interested. “Salespeople tend to joke that they’re getting leads from marketing, but if they’re not qualified, then what’s the point? So perhaps this foundational work of creating a definition of who’s in your target market either wasn’t done or wasn’t done with the level of care that it needed to be.” You’ll also need to evaluate whether your goal is to get a meeting or close a deal. Your inside sales team should be given goals that tie out to pipeline and revenue. If sales cycles are long, it also makes a lot of sense to compensate on meetings set as long as a quality measure is incorporated into your payment model. Rewarding someone for volume may generate a lot of bogus or unqualified meetings. Adding the qualifier that the field salesperson has to accept the meeting or the deal must progress to a particular stage will help check the impulse to schedule a meeting with anyone willing to talk.
Nail the MessageWhen your product meets a niche need, it’s easier to develop a target audience and message. For example, suppose you had a hand cream that worked well for surgeons because it hydrated well but didn’t leave an oily residue that makes it difficult to wash away before the next surgery. In that case, you have your target market (surgeons) and pain point (before the product, you had to choose whether you went with cracked, dry hands or spent a lot of time trying to scrub off an oily residue). Things can get a lot harder if your product appeals to a wide range of individuals, industries, and use cases. “We’ve worked with clients that were generalists and said they could do anything and everything. They have endless capabilities. They have many years of experience. That’s great, but it doesn’t give us a very compelling message. “Companies that either have a unique specialty or can support a unique specialty are much more likely to get a meeting. The prospects reach out and say they’d like to learn more because this company has some knowledge or expertise about what they do in their industry. If you’re a generalist and have a wide variety of services that you can provide, make sure your messaging is catered to each vertical. Don’t just send out one generic thing to the whole world. Segment your collateral and personalize your website so that a prospect understands that you have the desired expertise in their specific field.” Understanding target markets, their pain points, and then dialing in a message are difficult. You can outsource to a research company if nothing you try is working to see whether it’s a target audience problem or their needs are misunderstood. If success is hit or miss, use analytics to see what’s working and listen to your sales team when they have feedback about what’s resonating and what isn’t. Even if everything is going great, listen to sales feedback. “We have two gears or dials. You have to set them at exactly the right frequency to produce the result that you want. That’s why marketing is challenging. Because if any of these variables are just a little bit off, you don’t get results. Maybe you have the perfect target market, but the message won’t resonate if you’re not using the terminology your prospects use. For example, we’ve noticed that our clients use the word ‘categories’ instead of vertical or industry. Our response rates dramatically increase if we use the language they prefer.”
Ditch the Gimmicks“I won’t name the company, but I had somebody reach out to me a few months ago, and they said if I attended an introductory sales meeting, I’d get a pair of Beats headphones. Those are $250 a pair, and I figured that in exchange for 15-minutes…. I mean, my time isn’t worth $1,000 an hour yet, so I couldn’t turn them down. “They didn’t tell me anything about the company. They didn’t know whether I was qualified to be a client of theirs or not. They’re just blasting out automated offers. “I showed up at this meeting with the salesperson, and I told them, ‘I’m in a similar business to the job that you’re doing—booking sales meetings. I don’t really think I’m a good fit, but your marketing team made an offer. And Id to take it. And now my wife is very happy with those headphones she’s using.'” Matt said he may be old-fashioned, but they have better results if the targeting and messaging is dialed in. They don’t send out gifts. “A lot of this boils down to common sense. Take the time to imagine yourself in the shoes of the prospect. It helps if you know a thing or two about what it’s like to be in their industry or get feedback from people in their position. Ask yourself if you would respond to the message If I were in their position. View it as a meditative exercise, close your eyes, sit there for a few minutes and think about if I were on the receiving end of this, would I respond? “I think if a lot of people were more honest with themselves, they would say, ‘No, I wouldn’t respond to that.’ Or ‘No, that wouldn’t be a good fit for me.'”
For more on what Matt sees working in the market and how to work better with inside sales, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.