The Importance of Channel Preferences in Outbound
‘Don’t call me on my personal mobile again.’
‘I prefer text over email.’
‘I prefer a LinkedIn message.’
We’re guessing these are probably all familiar phrases your sales team has heard. And they’re important to consider.
Because they’re a reflection of how buyers like to be contacted. In other words, their outbound channel preferences.
Now, here’s the truth.
There is no clear playbook that states which channels work and which ones don’t. Instead, it comes down to an understanding that every buyer is different.
Now, you might be wondering:
‘How can I come to this conclusion? And why is this an important conclusion to consider?’
Well, you’ll find out in this article, featuring insights from a wide range of sales leaders.
On that note, let’s go! 👇
Why are channel preferences important?
‘Do channel preferences really matter? Can’t I just send emails, make calls, and hope for the best?’
Here’s the deal.
This mindset would have worked five, even ten years ago. But outbound has changed. It’s not as simple anymore.
Now, that’s not to say email and phone don’t work. That would be an extreme viewpoint to have.
But what we’re getting at is we’re in a digital age, more than ever before. So digital forms of communication, like LinkedIn, Zoom, even Slack, have become paramount.
Jonathon Ilett, Cognism’s VP of Global Sales, explains more in the clip below ⬇️
In other words, there isn’t such a thing as a ‘one-size fits all’ buyer anymore. So, sales teams have to get ahead of the curve and meet buyers on their preferred form of communication.
That’s the secret to getting higher response rates.
“As the mechanisms and channels of outbound sales continue to evolve rapidly, it has become imperative to reach out to prospects through their preferred channel.”
“It helps establish a better connection rate with prospects and create a healthy pipeline that closes faster.”
This is especially relevant in today’s era of outbound. It’s a huge concern for many sales leaders, that the time it takes for deals to close has increased.
For example, in a recent Gong study, the % number of deals that closed by the end of the year had decreased from 69% to 61% between 2020 and 2022.
So, what does this mean?
Leaders need to understand how buyers like to be contacted.
That’s how they can reach them in the right place and close deals faster.
This has a long-term impact on the quality of a team’s ability to multi-thread, especially in the post-demo stage.
Think about it for a second.
Most sales reps adjust their pitch when selling to different job seniorities or personas. But not many reps adjust the channel.
“When reps engage customers on their preferred channels, they’re more likely to initiate meaningful conversations that lead to successful outcomes. And from a leadership or wider team perspective, valuable insights into customer needs and preferences can be enhanced even further.”
Finally, think about the fundamentals of sales. It all comes back to building relationships and being human.
When your team is interested in channel preferences, they’re putting the buyer first.
“It can impact the quality of conversations. Customers are more likely to engage in meaningful conversations if they’re contacted through preferred channels. It’ll lead to stronger interactions and relationships.”
So, what is the key takeaway from these insights?
Invest in understanding channel preferences, inside and out. Because it’ll lead to a positive domino effect 🚀
What channels can sales teams use?
Okay, we’ve established why considering channel preferences are key for outbound.
What happens next?
You need to understand the channels that are at your disposal. And think beyond traditional methods of communication.
Here’s a list of channels available for your sales team:
The emergence of new channels from that list, like WhatsApp and Slack Connect, are especially important. It gives your team more scope to A/B test and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
How to determine channel preferences (efficiently)
Arguably the hard part.
How can you ensure sellers meet buyers in the right place? 👇
It's all in the data
It’s probably no secret to you, as a salesperson.
But the stats and figures are going to be your best friend here.
Morgan J. Ingram explained why:
“The data will tell you what’s working and what’s not.”
“If you identify one channel that’s doing really well, because the response rates have been super higher, amazing! Double down on that channel.”
For Jon, customer data has been vital:
“Collecting and analysing data on customer preferences can help inform which channels are most effective for each customer. Sales leaders can work with their teams to gather data on preferred communication methods and develop a strategy to optimise outreach.”
Thomas agreed, saying:
“We understand our ICP, and choose the most efficient channel for communication based on their preferences.”
“Cross-channel analytics can help to uncover trends and insights into customer behaviour. This can help to identify which channels are most effective in terms of conversion, engagement, and revenue generated.”
“A great way to start is by looking at the customer journey - what does it look like for those in your target demographic? What channels and platforms will customers likely use during their buying process, and how can sales reps engage them on these different channels?”
We get it.
As a sales leader, your number 1 priority with anything that you’re testing or implementing is whether it will be an efficient use of your and your reps’ time.
The good news is sales tools can do the work for you.
“To consider channel preferences without a detriment to overall efficiency, sales teams can use technology and automation tools to streamline communication across multiple channels.”
Diana agreed, saying:
“Automation can help with outreach efforts by providing personalised messages and scheduling follow-ups on different channels.”
Now, automation tools have caused a debate. Some believe they’re dying out because they create generic templates. Whereas others think they still have a place in outbound.
But at the end of the day, they will help your team come to conclusions quicker.
Rory Sadler, CEO and Co-Founder at trumpet, gave his two cents into this:
"Tools have a significant role to play. But there should be more manual steps in the sequence.”
“So, even though it's an email, you need to go to that email, do the 5 minutes of research, and then personalise it. Not just filling the template in with names and hitting send."
If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the full episode below 👇
All you have to do is ask!
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
If anything, asking your prospect how they like to be contacted shows an understanding. It humanises the SDR and makes them stand out from the others.
Here’s an example of how your reps could ask if WhatsApp is a preference:
Thomas reminded us of something important when it comes to using channels like WhatsApp:
“It’s crucial to follow basic etiquette such as keeping conversations within office hours when reaching out.”
The bottom line?
When asking permission, make sure you’re not messaging at ridiculous hours of the day.
To finish this article, we wanted to summarise and remind you why considering channel preferences are important.
“Choosing and operating the right communication channels for your sales efforts is incredibly paramount and requires a strong understanding of the customer you are selling to.”
“Without testing and adapting to how your customer responds to messages, you’ll never unlock the right playbook for increased response rates.”
Listen to Redefining Outbound
We’ve touched on how outbound has changed in this article.
If you’re curious to find out more, check out our sales leader podcast called “Redefining Outbound”.
Cognism’s sales leaders sit down with some incredible guests and discuss how and why B2B buying behaviour has changed. And why this shift matters for sales.
Click 👇 to listen.