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How to Put the ‘Person’ Back Into Outbound Personalisation

10 years ago, no one was thinking about sales personalisation.

Cold emails like:


I saw you were the [JOB TITLE] at [COMPANY NAME]...’

Used to be fine, but now, it won’t get your sales team anywhere. It takes much more now to be recognised by prospects, whether over the phone or in an inbox.

So, what does it mean to personalise your sales outreach?

How can reps reset their focus and put the person at the forefront of their outreach?

You’ll find out in this article, featuring a range of personalisation tips from expert salespeople.

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The importance of outbound personalisation

Outbound personalisation is becoming increasingly important in today’s competitive business landscape

It’s simple.

Response rates will drop if sales teams don’t provide personalised outreach for their prospects.

And where’s the proof?

In a recent study by Gong, only 25% of customers felt that sellers understood their role within their organisation.

Furthermore, only 9% of buyers felt sales personalised their messaging.

This is a BIG problem.

Remember: lack of personalisation means lower response rates!

Lower response rates will mean sales teams won’t reach their target. And we’re pretty sure all sales leaders know what that means…

Low-quality pipeline (AKA your worst nightmare 👻)

Ultimately, outbound personalisation is about putting the person at the forefront of your outreach efforts.

By taking the time to understand each prospect and tailor your messages to their specific needs, you can create more meaningful connections and drive better results for your business. 

This personalised approach helps companies stand out from the noise of generic mass email marketing campaigns and allows them to connect with customers more meaningfully.

Now, why is sales personalisation more important than ever in today’s era of outbound? 

Jen Allen-Knuth, Community Growth at Lavender, said that it comes back to understanding that buyers want to be seen and heard:

“One thing that has stood out as a differentiator is when sellers take the time to care about the person’s business that they’re emailing.”

“If I think back fifteen years ago when LinkedIn wasn’t what it was today, we didn’t have as many podcasts and webinars; I could understand someone making their best guess.”

“But today, it’s inexcusable. If I’m targeting a top-tier company, I can Google the CEO’s name from a podcast interview and listen to the person list what’s important to them and what they’re trying to achieve.”

Jen summarised her thoughts by offering a word of warning:

“If we as salespeople don’t take the responsibility to take the time to learn and come up with a point of view or with some kind of hypothesis, I just think it’s lazy selling.”

Sales personalisation: the fundamentals

We’ve established why it’s crucial to create personalised outreach

Now, how can you or your team get the basics down?

Well, we’ll cover four ways, starting with:

1. Get your timing right

To truly stand out with outbound personalisation, sales reps should also consider the timing of their outreach. 

Sending a personalised message at the right moment can make all the difference in capturing a prospect’s attention. 

Pay attention to when your target audience is most active and receptive, whether during business or after hours.

You can also invest in intent data to pinpoint when your ideal customers are in the market to buy. This way, you’ll reach out at the optimal time and can increase the likelihood of getting a response or starting a conversation.

2. Use personalised language across channels

Avoid generic email templates and instead use language tailored to each recipient.

Address them by name, reference specific details from their LinkedIn profile or previous interactions, and show that you value their time and attention.

But don’t stick to cold outreach like email and phone calls when doing this. 

Personalise your outreach across social media channels, phone calls and in-person meetings. 

Sales reps leveraging account-based marketing campaigns will already understand how vital this type of sales personalisation is.

Take inspiration from these ABM examples to get started! 

3. Focus on the pain points and the problems!

This seems obvious. 

But the core of personalised sales is being relevant and timely. 

Here’s a post from Kyle Coleman, SVP of Marketing at Clari, to explain more ⬇️

Kyle also said:

“Buyers expect more these days. And you - the seller, have way more information at your fingertips. You’ve got to research and have a reason to go beyond ‘I see you’re in the marketing department at Clari, and I thought I’d drop you a note’. That’s not going to work anymore. So tie pain points BACK to the solution - succinctly in 50 to 70 words. That’s the key to success nowadays.”

Kyle offered a sophisticated approach for reps to ensure personalisation is at the forefront of their outbound:

“Research someone’s pain points on the personalpersona, and account levels. Understand all three pillars to explain how your solution will solve these pains fully.”

Then, instead of focusing on your product or service features, highlight how your offering can solve the prospect’s specific pain points or challenges. Tailor your pitch to address their unique needs and show them you understand their business goals.

Alex Olley, Co-Founder and CRO at Reachdesk, agreed with this. 

He said that reps should take a genuine interest in your ideal customers’ problems:

“Someone cold-called me a while ago, making me stop and think. Because they said: ‘How are you giving your board confidence that you’re going to hit your goals?’ And I thought this was very good because it was super relatable.”

“CROs have to stand in front of a board. And if they say they’re at 90%, it’s not considered good enough. It needs to be 100% and above. So it returns to giving the board confidence that the gap will be closed.”

“Trust me when I say that this is something that keeps myself, and many other CROs, up at night.” 😅

4. Understand if your prospects have decision-making power 

Depending on whether the prospect is a decision-maker or not, the outbound personalisation research phase will be very different.

Kyle recommends that teams categorise their reps into ‘above the power line’ and ‘below the power line’ prospects:

“Prospects that we reach out to are in two main camps. Above the power line, prospects hold budget or decision-making authority. And there are fewer of them at the accounts you’re contacting. Therefore, you can and should spend more time researching that person.”

“On the other hand, prospects will be your product’s users below the power line. And there are more of them. The research is going to be more persona-based.”

Kyle provided an example to help picture this concept:

“If I’m reaching out below the power line to individual AEs, I kinda know what’s going on with them, day-to-day. The same is not true when reaching out above the power line to twenty different CMOs at twenty different companies. They’re all going to have different focus areas.”

Personalised sales at scale

The question on every sales leader’s mind:

‘How can I make this scalable?’

Well, we’ll share two ways you can make sales personalised outreach a repeatable and efficient activity.

Starting with: 

B2B data for more personalised sales

There’s much you can’t do with quality B2B data.

B2B sales data provides valuable insights into your target audience’s behaviour, preferences, and demographics, allowing you to tailor your messaging and approach accordingly.

Use sales intelligence tools and customer relationship management (CRM) software to track customer interactions, preferences, and behaviours.

This sales data can help you create more targeted and personalised email outreach campaigns that resonate with each recipient., allowing you to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

By leveraging B2B data, you can segment your prospects based on various criteria such as industry, company size, or job title.

Additionally, B2B data vendors, like Cognism, can help you identify key decision-makers within a company, allowing you to direct your efforts towards the individuals who have the power to make purchasing decisions.

This targeted approach can increase your chances of success and result in higher conversion rates.

Cognism is the leader in B2B data! Click to find out why.

Sales automation tools

We’re pretty sure sales reps could debate this topic all day.

Some would argue that sales automation tools are killing quality and personalised outreach.

Whereas others would say, they continue to be relevant.

Now, here’s the thing:

It’s no secret that automation speeds things up. But it comes back to the intent with which your sales teams use different tools.

Jen said:

“There’s a place for outbound sales automation when used responsibly. Irresponsible usage, meaning that you’re just going to blast everybody about who we are and why we’re number one, is not the way forward. It’s self-obsessed.”

She offered a useful dating analogy to explain this further:

“If I went on Tinder or Bumble and I just blasted every connection with how many sit-ups I can do or the fact that I won the fifth-grade spelling bee, nobody would want to talk to me.”

“It all comes down to this. Are we saying something that matters? Are we saying something helpful to someone who’s struggling? OR are we just going to talk all about ourselves?”

Rory Sadler, Co-Founder and CEO at trumpet, agreed:

“Automation tools will always play a part in sales personalisation. The value they’ve created, you can’t emulate it.”

“BUT, just creating a ten-step email sequence with a couple of LinkedIn connection requests with the first name and the company name - that’s when it becomes a problem.”

“There should be more manual steps in there, so even though it’s an email, you need to go to that email, do the five minutes of research, and personalise it. It’s important to be diligent and take the time to look at leads that come in.”

The rise of ‘SDR Researchers’

Now, if you think the research process should be its own, you’re not alone

Tom Lavery, CEO and Founder at Jiminny sees prospect research as its own role:

“We live in a world now where people generally do specialist jobs. I don’t think everyone needs to wear ten hats anymore.”

He added:

“I see the researcher as a separate job from the SDR or BDR because it’s a different skill.”

And how does the role work in practice?

“Have one researcher for every two SDRs or BDRs. And ask them to collate background on events where ‘x’ (your prospect) spoke or what they’re posting about.”

“Or it could be the other way round whereby the researcher might reach out to the AEs in a company and find out the tools they’re using.”

“Researchers should be asking themselves: ‘How are we getting into that account in the smartest way, and then how am I finding the research about the person?’

Where does the efficiency play come in with sales personalisation?

Tom said:

“It’s about being smart with your time and money. It’s much easier to coach and train someone to do that one role constantly, so they can be good at it.”

So, next time you reach out to a potential customer, remember to research, use personalised language, offer relevant solutions, leverage technology, and personalise across channels.

These sales personalisation tips can make a lasting impression and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Outbound sales personalisation: closing thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve better understood what it means to get personalised in this new era of outbound.

We wanted to end this article by spotlighting an insight from Tom:

“Salespeople have to fish with a spear - not a net. I don’t think volume works anymore. We live in a noisier world, more than ever. So spraying and praying with whatever tool you use doesn’t work.”

“This is especially the case today, when companies have ten, even one hundred pain points. But they’ve only got one or two priorities they can focus on.”

Outbound personalisation is crucial for success in B2B sales.

By incorporating manual research, utilising the expertise of SDR Researchers, and leveraging B2B sales data, you can create more personalised and effective outreach efforts that resonate with your prospects.

This targeted approach increases your chances of closing deals and helps build stronger relationships with your customers. Investing in sales personalisation allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

So, consider implementing these strategies into your outbound sales efforts and watch as your success rates soar!

Listen to the ultimate sales podcast

For more on how you can personalise outbound, feel free to check out our podcast Redefining Outbound, hosted by Cognism’s sales leaders: David Bentham, Jonathon Ilett, and Frida Ottosson ⬇️

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