The Art of the Cold Outreach

‘Thank you for the flowers. By the way, what does your company do?’ I heard this and many other stories while hanging around the office after hours with some of our Sales Executives. In this conversation, I learned a lot about cold outreach from Mitch Jean-Milard who leads sales for the e-commerce/retail sector and Charles Driza who leads sales for the tech sector. 

A successful salesperson cares about the product.

Charles: No matter how experienced you are as a sales person, if you don’t know your customers or your product, that first call is always a challenge. If you don’t like your product, you’re gonna default to a generic message. But if you care about your product, it’s so much easier to sell.

Mitch: The reason I joined Bond is that I’ve always cared a lot about stationery and the art of handwriting. Handwritten communication has always been a big part of my life. I lived in Haiti in the ’90s and early 2000s. Text messaging and emails were not a thing for me because I was just a kid and my parents tried keeping me away from online predators. I was 7 or 8 when my mom enrolled me in a pen-pal program and I was writing letters to friends all over the world. It became a routine.

Now that I’m an adult, and ironically, selling a handwritten technology and service, I use it in my professional life every chance I get. It’s a way to bypass the thousands of emails and less personal forms of communications people receive every day. If I look at my phone at any given time, I have at least 100 unread text messages, and who knows how many thousands of emails in my personal account. When I get a handwritten note, I know it’s important because no one will waste 5 to 10 minutes of their day, spend money on beautiful stationery just to write LOL or reject me.

Charles: I care about the product but I also I understand my product and the market fit. The best candidate for Bond Business Solutions is a company with access to their customers’ names and addresses, and the business is something that is personal, that people care about.

I recently found a pet services app and I knew that they had their customers addresses. Also, people care about their pets like they care about their children. I emailed the Head of Growth a specific use case that was unique to her company. It showed that I understood my product and that I understood their product. She responded and went from not knowing about Bond to becoming a paying customer within ten days–all because I really know my product and how it benefits others.

Closing the deal took a few steps: a couple of emails, a sample, and then she emailed me and requested a phone call. The biggest challenge is getting people to respond. If you can get a response, then you can get them on the phone and that’s where the sale starts.

Without personalization, cold outreach is guaranteed to fail.

Charles: Regardless of how much technology is involved, there still has to be a human element. If you feel like a real person is making an effort to get a hold of you, you’ll be more likely to respond, even if it is just to say no. However, If you’re just emailing and you put them on an automated email program, your strategy becomes pretty obvious and nobody is going to reply.

Mitch: We actually ran a campaign recently to a few thousand people with generic messaging. That really killed me inside. And the response rate, unsurprisingly, was incredibly low. That’s why my outreaches are always personalized to the person and their brand.

Charles: You can’t send anything generic. The likelihood of getting a response goes up significantly when the content of your cold outreach is more targeted and applies to your prospect. Assume they are receiving a lot of emails and calls from other providers. Also assume those calls and emails are generic, because they likely are. Put yourself in their shoes and ask what will make me care about this message/call?

I start by looking up the human, the person. Once I find the right people at a company, I’ll research them and find out what makes them tick. If I find someone who is into cycling, boom, that’s the first thing. I cycle, so I understand what it’s like. If you can relate to them on a personal level, it’s way better than relating to them on a professional level. Most people care way more about their personal lives than their professional lives. People want to talk to someone who understands them.

Cold calling is not the only cold out reach method.

Mitch: I always have multiple touch points. Handwritten notes, emails, calls. I hate when sales people call me because I may be expecting another call, or I may be doing something else more important and they’re distracting me. I rarely make a cold call unless someone gives me the number or if we scheduled something. At that point, it’s technically not a cold call anymore, which I like because I don’t want to invade someone’s space, as I know what it feels like.

Charles: The majority of people you cold call are going to hang up on you. You never know how busy another person is. But think about what Wayne Gretzky said you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If you don’t make the call, then you’re definitely not making the sale. And if you’re more afraid of the no’ than not making the sale, you’re in the wrong field.

Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Mitch: At my first sales job, I was in a training period for about two months and there were five prospects that I knew I wanted to pursue. After my training period, I decided to send them all flowers. Now that I think about it, it was a huge mistake because nothing came out of it. I probably spent $600 on the flowers but didn’t get one hit. Flowers are a nice touch, but I didn’t know these people. I didn’t know what type of flowers they like or if they were allergic. I’m also sure other companies were sending flowers as well to win their business.

Another time, I was looking for more information on the co-founder of a target company, and I came across his Twitter account. He had posted a picture of tomatoes that he was growing in his backyard and said that he couldn’t wait to make fresh tomato sauce for pizza this summer. He is in Chicago; I’m here in New York, and I got a tomato tree delivered to his office. I sent him an email a few weeks later, not asking him to buy my service, rather if he had used my tomatoes for pizza. I got a reply saying Haha! Thank you for the tomatoes, but not interested in your service at this time. All I needed was a response. I’m sure he’ll think about me next time he has his tomato sauce because I doubt anyone else sent a tree to his office.

Charles: I’ve certainly questioned if I can get too personal, like, I’ve looked way too far into your personal life that it’s creepy. I had an account that I wanted to land so I looked up the founder and came across his personal website. He had written a story about living in DC and hanging out at his grandfather’s grocery store. The customers always came back because his grandfather treated them so nicely. The article was about how important the personal touch is even though things are getting more digital. So I wrote him a note saying you may have come a long way from the store, but you haven’t come that far. I touched on something really personal to him and it worked. He came to visit me at our office.

Master the art of the cold outreach

Cold outreach can be scary at first, but if you care about your product and if you care about the person on the other end, it can be very exciting and very rewarding 

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