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How to Put the ‘Person’ Back Into Outbound Personalisation


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

That’s personalised enough, right? 

Well, no. It’s far from it. 

Here’s the deal. 

10 years ago, this was fine. 

But now, it’s not going to get your sales team anywhere. It takes a lot more now to be recognised by prospects, whether that be over the phone or in an inbox. 

So, what does it actually mean to be personalised? How can sellers reset their focus and put the person at the forefront of their outreach? 

You’ll find out in this article, featuring a range of insights from some STELLAR salespeople. 

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The importance of outbound personalisation

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, they found that only 25% of buyers felt as though sellers understood their role within their organisation. 

Furthermore, only 9% of buyers felt the seller’s message was personalised to them. 

This is a BIG problem. 

Because remember: lack of personalisation means lower response rates. 

And lower response rates will mean sales teams not reaching their target. And we’re pretty sure all sales leaders know what that means…

Low-quality pipeline (AKA your worst nightmare 👻)

Now, why else is personalisation important, more 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 give a shit about the person’s business that you are 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 dude or girl 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 try to learn and come up with a point of view or with some kind of hypothesis, I just think it’s lazy selling.” 

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 two ways, starting with a…

1. Focus on the pain points and the problems!

This seems obvious. 

But at the core of this 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 do the 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 personal level, the persona level, and the account level. Understand all three of these pillars, so you can fully explain how your solution will solve these pains.” 

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

He said that reps should take genuine interest in people’s problems:

“Someone cold-called me a while ago, and it made 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 comes back to giving the board confidence that the gap is going to be closed.” 

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

2. Understand if your prospects have decision-making power 

Depending on whether the prospect is a decision-maker or not, the 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 reaching out to. Therefore you can and should spend more time researching that person.” 

“On the other hand, below the power line prospects are going to be the users of your product. 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.” 

Personalisation 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 personalised outreach a repeatable and efficient activity. 

Starting with…

Sales automation tools

We’re pretty sure sales teams 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:

“I think 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 totally self-obsessed.” 

She offered a useful dating analogy to explain this further:

“If I went on Tinder or Bumble and I just blasted every single 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 one-hundred per cent always play a part. 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 on leads that come in.” 

The rise of 'SDR Researchers'

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

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

“We live in a world now where people generally do specialist jobs. Personally, I don’t think that the idea of everyone having to wear ten hats works anymore.” 

He added:

“I see the researcher as a separate job to 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?’

You might be wondering, where does the efficiency play come in here? 

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 all the time, so they can be good at it.”

Closing thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve got a better understanding of what it means to be personalised in this new era of outbound. 

We wanted to summarise the 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 just 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.” 

Listen to the podcast

For more on how outbound has changed, 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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