Hey, I’m Kosta the founder of Web for Realty a SAAS tool that helps real estate agents improve their online presence.
In this article, I want to break down the playbook I used to get my first 500 clients using outbound sales techniques. Yes, that’s right. I used cold calling and email marketing to get 500 clients. I’ll debunk some of the misconceptions you have about cold calling here too.
These methods are aimed at early-stage founders and startups but can be applied to almost any company that wants to improve its outbound sales efforts.
A warning – if you want some secret formula for getting your first 500 clients without any hard graft, you won’t find it. This process requires time commitment and dedication. So if you’re up for the challenge, you will be able to succeed.
Get 500 Clients With Outbound Sales
Before we get into the playbook, let’s first look at the essential criteria you need to be successful with this.
You Need a Big Enough Market Size
For my company to get its first 500 sales we entered a market of 30,000 potential clients. I would recommend this is the minimum market size needed to get 500 sales.
Always Get Hold of the Decision Maker
Being in touch with a key decision-maker is critical for outbound sales. You don’t want to be fighting through gatekeepers or relying on them to pass on your message to the key decision-makers. Get talking to key people from the get-go.
Be Prepared to Have a Thick Skin
People will tell you that they aren’t interested. A lot. They will let you know your product sucks amongst other negative feedback. Remember that not everyone will have a need for your product, even if you think they should! Don’t let their feedback deter you.
Don’t give up too early in the sales process. If you’re committed to getting your piece of the market you will get it.
Just remember it can take 7, 8, or even more touchpoints to close a sale. So be patient. Unless someone tells you straight up they aren’t interested, assume they are and be persistent.
Provide Amazing Service to Your Early Clients
Your very first clients will almost be like part of your sales team. They are the ones who will rate you, give you feedback, and give you referrals. If you are bootstrapped, they are also your investors, providing your business with revenue.
Look after them, and provide them with exceptional service, they are crucial for your success.
There’s No Plan B
There is no option for failure. You need to be fully committed to making your business successful. A backup plan already plants a seed of doubt in your mind. This increases your chance of failure.
Elements for Success in Your Outbound Sales Flow
These are the things I learned over the years through trying and testing new strategies. If you know these three things, you can get ahead of the game.
Understand Human Behavior
Let’s be honest. Cold calling has a bit of a bad rep. Do you know why? Because people don’t put enough time and thought into it. It isn’t that outbound sales don’t work; it’s that the content and execution sucks.
Understanding the reason people behave in certain situations will help you excel at outbound sales. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and think about the way they think. Get into their head if you want to be successful.
Write Like You Talk
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s that. When you send emails write like you talk.
Follow this principle as it will ensure you sound authentic and natural. Proper formatting is also important. You don’t want your emails to look like a clean-cut essay that is obviously a cold outreach email.
Use proper sentences and pay attention to your formatting to make it easy on the eye of the reader.
Watch this cold email writing workshop for more actionable tips.
Don’t Rush the Process
Think deeply about the content you put out and whether or not it truly provides value. If the answer is no, rethink your content. It’s all about value. Tell your prospects how they are going to benefit in a simple, straightforward, relatable way.
The 9 Step Playbook
Let’s get into the playbook and how you can actually get those first 500 paying clients.
1. Narrow in on a Defined Specific Niche
In my case, my customers are realtors. But not all realtors; that would be way too broad. I target Toronto realtors that are part of REMAX that don’t have a website. VERY specific.
There are three attributes that are very personal to my target customer:
- Fact they don’t have a website
2. Use Your Niche to Personalize Your Outreach
Your niche doesn’t have to stay so tightly defined forever. But if you pick a tightly defined niche and then attack it, you can grow revenue fast.
The niche helps you with your communication. It enables you to personalize your email and phone script and make it sound like you are reaching out directly to that person individually. It makes them feel less like they are part of a mass outreach campaign.
Here’s an example of a personalized phone script:
“Hey Susan, This is Kosta from Web for Realty. I have been helping a few of your colleagues in REMAX set up their real estate website; I noticed you don’t have a website, is there any particular reason for that?”
It’s a very specific, personal opening that engages the prospect in a conversation. If I were to target all realtors, it would be impossible to have an impactful script like that. This is why many people think outbound sales aren’t effective- they are going too broad. Get creative with your defined niche.
3.Scrape the Leads
You could do this yourself using a tool like Hunter.io, but that may not be the most efficient. Hire someone on Upwork who is skilled in finding quality leads. You want your leads to be high quality which means accurate and relevant.
One of the pitfalls that outreach campaigns can suffer is poor quality leads. If your leads are rubbish, you aren’t going to get many conversions.
4. Write a Sales Script
You need a great sales script to succeed with cold calling. Sales scripts can get a bad rep as they make you think of credit card companies doing telemarketing (which, by the way, was me in my university days).
The most effective way to do cold calling is to make sure it doesn’t feel cold. Write the script, so it sounds like the way you talk. This will make it sound way more natural when you read it.
Perfect the script by doing some practice and making some mock calls before you start calling for real.
5. Start Calling
Introduce yourself and capture just enough of the lead’s attention to give you a few seconds of their time. Ask them if you can send a quick email. Once you have that permission, the sales process begins.
It is unlikely you will close a sale on your first call. You are just starting the sales process. All you need to do on that first call is get that permission to send an email.
To get started with this, you need a phone and a CRM system. For my company, we use aircall.io, which is a cloud-based phone system. You want a CRM that has email marketing integrated; platforms like HubSpot, Customer.io, or Close.io are great for this.
6. Activate the Email Sequence
After making hundreds of calls a day and getting consent to send emails, you’ll have lots of leads for your email campaigns. This will give you lots of great information to make follow-up calls more efficient.
What you should write in your sales emails is a whole topic by itself for another time.
Use the engagement metrics from your emails to follow up with the leads who are most engaged.
If you use this strategy, just knowing that the lead is engaged should make your marketing calls more natural. You can target people who are most engaged with your campaign rather than just wasting time on random leads.
A little hack for this and something I did was activate notifications to see that someone had opened an email. If I saw that notification, I would instantly call them as I knew they were at a computer and likely to talk to me. The lead will think it’s a coincidence that they just opened your email and get a call from you.
8. Keep Feeding the Pipeline
Just because you have a lot of hot leads doesn’t mean you should stop finding more. Stay motivated and dedicate at least two hours a day to cold calling and prospecting.
Keep feeding and refreshing the pipeline to keep sales steady and consistent. Your list of leads is like a machine you have to pump into continually. Don’t let it stop, and keep finding new leads.
9. Capitalize on Referrals
If you are providing exceptional service to your earliest clients, then referrals will start to trickle in.
These are the easiest sales to make and will help contribute to your first 500 sales.
Start Your Outreach Campaign
So there you have it—my playbook for making your first 500 sales.
It’s all very logical and straightforward to follow; you just need to apply the principles to your business. The reading and understanding is the easy part; it’s the application people struggle with the most.
Think about it, if everyone could just apply straightforward advice, then speakers and motivators would no longer continue to make money dishing out simple advice.
Execution is the biggest challenge and not giving up. With sales, people are trying to get fancy with paid ads and go down the route that everyone is suddenly an expert on.
Outbound sales don’t cost you anything; you just need some grind, dedication, and commitment. If I can get my first 500 customers this way, then so can you. Work hard and commit, and you will gain traction with outbound sales.
I hope this helped debunk the myth that cold calling and outbound sales don’t work. I’m living proof that it does, and I know many other successful companies who effectively use outbound sales too.
Want 1-on-1 mentorship on getting your first 500 customers?
Over a decade growing a SaaS company from the ground up, I’ve done it all from sales, marketing, accounting, design, support, and everything else in between. If you’re looking for an unfiltered and real conversation, I would love to chat!