Sales January 24, 2021

What's your cold sales approach?

oliphant

Hey all, I'm starting to reach out to some people beyond my network, and I was wondering if people had a suggestion of a cold approach. I don't want to automate things at all, but having some structure in my spreadsheets for prospecting/following up would be good. For context, my product is a community management tool for offline or online communities.

My current steps are:

  1. Doing my research and finding the best person to speak to (right now focused on community managers of physical spaces)
  2. Emailing them a 4 page deck outlining the product
  3. If they don't reply, follow up a week later with a link to try the product out in a dummy community

... and then I'll just leave it.

How can I sharpen this up?

  1. 5

    We've been doing cold emailing for about 2 years now to get our new email tool up the ground (2 years ago).

    It's worked well for us and up till about a year of doing this, another sales channel opened up incidentally for us -- which is word of mouth/referrals. So we currently have these 2 channels for acquisition.

    My suggestion is not to email them a link to check out you offer in the first cold email. Everyone is already doing that, and you'd just be another sales person trying to get their money... at least that's what's in their head.

    Rather, ask them a question that's both related to their niche and your offer. E.g. Are you facing this [niche] problem? This problem is of course something that your offer would solve. You can also ask them for advice to at least get them to notice and reply you... e.g. Can I get your advice/feedback on X?

    Try to also inject a bit of humor in your emails as it makes you stand out from the other cold emails they get. I get replies telling me how they enjoyed and laughed at my email even though they don't have a need for my tool.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the tips @wellymulia - going to put this to practice with OpinionX. Do you feel like there's a big difference between email and LinkedIn for this approach?

      1. 1

        I haven't tried LinkedIn marketing, so can't comment on that.

    2. 1

      Definitely on board with the humour, I get a lot of very bland cold sales emails to my day job and the ones with a bit of personality really stand out.

      I'm doing the whole getting feedback/advice shtick on my actual network (and their networks), IE customer interviews followed up with a here's what I'm building. Did you find much success with that working with people not already known to you?

      1. 1

        Yes, even though people have not who I am and don't know me, asking for advice still work to at least get their attention.

        Most people, in the first interaction with a stranger via cold email, ask for the sale or an appointment. You don't. You ask for advice/feedback.

        Though most that do reply don't give their advice/feedback, at least they stop to read your email and took the time to reply to you. What I get most of the time when they reply is they ask for more info about our tool. In the reply, I then explain the benefits and also ask for an appointment.

        1. 1

          That's super insightful, thank you!

  2. 3

    Are you actually talking to anyone at any point? I can't tell if you're including that as part of step 1, or if you're exclusively reaching out to them by email. If you're not talking to them, you're probably not learning very much from the no's. Out of curiosity, can you at least tell whether they open the deck and/or visit the dummy community?

    I think it would be a good idea to try to set up calls where you drive the demo and share your screen. That way you can tailor the presentation to the lead, and you can get a sense of what's resonating.

    Also, because the call is scheduled for a specific time, they'll mostly actually show up for it. I bet people don't feel a tremendous amount of urgency around checking out your demo link if they believe they can just check it out whenever.

    1. 1

      I'm talking to a bunch of people, but hadn't planned to include calls in this particular channel, mostly because when I receive these emails I'd rather look at a deck/play around with the tool than have a call... I guess I can just suggest a demo call in the first email and if they have time they can book in. Thanks!

      1. 1

        Sounds like a variation on challenge #4 in this post, which explains it better than I can:

        https://www.indiehackers.com/post/tough-love-for-2020-five-mistakes-holding-ihers-back-94dcdd7dd2

        1. 1

          That's a really useful post - definitely feeling the vibe of focusing on my current conversations/network before doing further outreach.

  3. 2

    There is no way I am going to look at an unsolicited slide deck that some random person sends me.

    The only time I will engage with and reply to an unsolicited sales email is when:

    • The sender demonstrates awareness of and interest in what I am doing.
    • The sender appears to be doing something that could be useful for me.
    • The sender seems willing to have a proper conversation about those things without pushing too hard for a sale.

    You need to keep it short. I saw some stats a while ago that said that shorter cold emails had a higher response rate, and although I don't know know if the stats were legit, it seems intuitively true. There's no way I'm reading a scroller from some random person.

    I assume you are trying to sell your coworking community management tool at https://www.getsets.net/

    Try something like this (disclaimer: totally untested):

    Hi John,
    I noticed your blog post/facebook post/tweet/whatever (link) about your coworking space (link).

    I'd love to talk with you about the challenges in your business. How do you create a sense of community among your members? How do you deal with onboarding new members (making sure they know the codes for the doors, etc.) What tools do you currently use and what do you wish existed?

    Hit me up if you want a chat.

    Cheers,
    Oliphant
    https://www.getsets.net/

    1. 1

      I'm a big believer in the short email too, and am generally doing the level of personalisation you mention. In fact my emails I'm sending out aren't far off what you've written, albeit with the deck attached.

      I get a lot of these emails from sales folks and I'm always thrilled when there's a short, clear deck, but I guess different strokes!

  4. 2

    Hey Oli!

    What I’d suggest is to create structure/framework around your cold call approach to qualify your leads so you’re not wasting time. There are quite a few out there that you can Google but here’s an intro to a few: https://medium.com/@billyattar/the-ultimate-guide-to-lead-qualification-for-startups-afa57d41f3c1

    For Enterprise Sales, I’ve used MEDDIC but PUCKKA is also decent for startups. Once you have a framework setup, have conversations with about 30 folks and see how they flow through.

    The first mistake most people make is hoping to sell on the first call/contact. You can get lucky at times but very rare. What you’re really aiming for is getting permission for a 2nd call/contact.

    With a cold approach, the aim is to always deliver some form of value with every interaction. More broadly, it’s called Insight Sales (https://www.richardson.com/sales-resources/differentiation-selling-with-insights/)

    For cold approaches, I’ve also found asking for advice/feedback getting better traction than asking for a purchase.

    The last advice is following up a few times (actual number depends on buyer’s work stack). Even if there’s no interaction, it’s worth noting in your spreadsheet.

    Happy to build the framework with you if you’d like!

    Cheers
    T

    1. 1

      This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you! I'll explore these resources more and let you know about your kind offer to help build a framework.

  5. 1

    I cold outreach to people regularly, but usually not because I’m selling things that they need to pay.

    I’ve been outreaching founders in the virtual event sector for Virtual Mojito for a year non-stop.

    I usually find their contacts on platforms like Product Hunt etc. Instead of selling, I offer free marketing spot and opportunity to feature their product on my newsletter.

    What they need to do is applying via a lead form.

    With that, I managed to get connected with over 200 founders in this space.

    Because of this approach, I gain so much attention to do other stuffs that we can eventually benefits each other such as co-branding, co-promotion etc

    1. 1

      I'm the same - tons of experience of cold outreach when I'm not selling stuff (community building things like getting speakers for events etc.) and that's definitely my comfort zone.

      1. 1

        Here's a really good breakdown of creating your framework:
        https://kazanjy.svbtle.com/sell-like-an-engineer-dont-fuck-your-CRM

  6. 1

    I suggest you make the outreach more personable. People don't like to be sold, they like to buy. Perhaps ask them if they are facing the problem your product is solving for? Ask them how much time they are spending dealing on what you are supposedly automating? Sharing a pitch deck is too early in my view when reaching out to people outside your network.

    Also Your outreach should be limited to 3 sentences max. Who you are? Why are you reaching out to them in particular? What would you like to learn?

  7. 1

    Do you have a product or any customers yet? Also, are the people you are reaching out to on LinkedIn?

    1. 1

      Yes to product, no to customers. They'll most likely be on LI but I'm a one man band so focusing on my network + email to build that network just now.

      1. 2

        I personally use 100% Linkedin and 0% cold email and have a pretty high success rate. Just a thought.

  8. 0

    Chew glass and stare into the abyss

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