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It’s not so complicated: Outbound email and processes
About this episode
A lot of people thing that cold email is about really good email copy, templates, sequences etc
All these are important
But everything starts one step before in the prospecting phase
In this episode, Bill is sharing his best tips & tricks around cold email in less than 20 min
You will hear about:
- how easy it is to get started
- the importance of research in cold email
- what email market fit is and how to write copy that converts
- what to do after a positive response
- what to automate and what to do manually
Bill Stathopoulos: Hey everyone. So my name is Bill. I work with SalesCaptain. And we help B2B, SaaS and service companies get success with outbound sales, whether that’s cold email, building partnerships and doing a lot of amazing things using direct online communication.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Bill, welcome to the GrowthMentor Podcast. I’m excited to host you today and discuss about cold email and outbound sales. So we…
Bill Stathopoulos: Thank you for having me.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Yeah.. We love discussing with mentors from GrowthMentor. So tell us something we don’t know about cold email and outbound sales? That’s the first question that I’m curious to hear from you.
Bill Stathopoulos: For sure, I’d say first and foremost that it’s really easy to get started, like, all you need is a paid email account software to send out emails and just, you know, researching and finding really cool people that you want to connect with. So can be something you can literally start this week with the next one. And then something interesting coming out of that is that you can actually manage to get responses from people really high up, like I’ve gotten responses from the CEO of Microsoft, from a CMOS of companies like Apple like Samsung, and it’s been done through really simple, straightforward, email outbound just reaching out to them, and you get a response. It might not be direct response, like they might forward your email to someone else. But even just the fact that they read your message, and they thought that, hey, this isn’t spam. This is something that has potential value, and we can forward it to the department that deals with that sort of stuff, and then getting a response from them. I consider it a win.
Spyros Tsoukalas: How do you do that?
Bill Stathopoulos: How do you do that? That’s, that’s a really good question. And that’s like, you know, call the more masterclass kind of response. I mean, it starts a lot of people think that cold email is about really good email copy. And they’ll, you know, go in depth researching email templates and trying to figure out, what’s the template you’re using? And what’s the sequence like? And did you reach out every three or four days? And what was the gap? Did you see them? Did you send content? Did you attach content within your message, I would say that, that’s important. But it starts and it has to start a Start step earlier, which is in the research and prospecting or list building phase. I would say that, I would argue that having the right prospects, and having identified the right niche, the right market, with the right problem, and being able to target them, specifically enough, having having good enough data, but the people you’re reaching out to, with some basic, basic to good copy can get you really good results. The first step is always good data, good prospects, maybe even manually recently researching out who they are. And then when you reach out, and you just, you know, send them even like a basic message, you can get responses.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Awesome. So I would say that most startups, especially in the B2B SaaS, when they get started, cold email is one of the first the first settlers that they will that’s, but I guess, that many startups do it in the wrong way. So what are the most common mistakes that you have observed in the field?
Bill Stathopoulos: So there’s, it’s weird, because outbound and paid ads are two completely different things, completely different channels. But I would say that, you have to treat them the same way with regards to if you’ve never run paid ads for your business, and you talk to a media buyer, they’ll advise, you know, don’t try and spend $50,000 a month, the first month you launch your campaign, right? Like start with a smaller budget, start testing a lot of things out and then start scaling from that. It’s exactly the same with cold email. One of the things and one of the principles that we Pete is, we call it like the mom rule, which is trying not to spam people and trying to behave with email, like we would behave with a friend or with their moms. And what you did to your mom is like send really personalised, friendly, simple messaging and you know, not spam or not trying to do any hard sales tricks. It’s exactly the same with cold email. Like if you try to scale and try to send to that 10,000 people or 10,000 prospects on a given month, on the first month of your campaigns, you’re probably going to fail, because we’ve, if you’re a startup, and I guess the term product market fit, resonates saying within like you have to get you have to make sure that there’s no market fit in terms of having the right people with the right message slash offer, and be able to then scale that and have success with that, and then scale. So I would typically say that, if you start by doing manual outreach at first, which is something that not a lot of people do, like they’ll just go ahead and buy a list, or just download a list of prospects. Try and automate the entire thing all the way through 100%. It’s going to end up like this is one of probably the most common mistakes people make. Like they’ll say, oh, yeah, it’s easy. I have access to the tools. I have access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator or database, Zoominfo wherever it might be, and And you know, I can use this cold email tool that can automate everything for me or do the same with LinkedIn. And then the results suck. And then they’re like, oh, yeah, why did we even consider that? Cold email doesn’t work. That’s, that’s, that’s how cold email gets a bad wrap. And that’s how a lot of spam gets sent out in the internet.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Thanks for the very detailed answer. So going back to the basics, what’s the goal of a cold email campaign for starters?
Bill Stathopoulos: Really good point. A lot of people try to overcomplicate that and try to put together like, you know, in length, elaborate messages with different CTAs different hooks, I would say primarily in that and what we aim for. And what I would aim for, is, every email should have the goal to get a response of yes, no, talk to this person. You don’t have to close the sale, you don’t have to include your pitch deck, you don’t have to include every single detail about the prospect about the market about the features of your business about the every last thing you do every you know, social press mention you’ve gotten or anything else like that, it has to be clear, it has to convey the main points for sure. But then you have to ask you have you have to have an ask, you have to have a specific ask. And an ask that resonates with the offer resonates with the market and written resonates with the business. This is probably more important than anything else else in your message. Trying to have one single ask not changing the ask across your sequence. So not reaching out the first time and saying, Yeah, let’s jump on a call, you know, would Tuesday 5pm work? And then on the second method, say, Would you like me to send you a case study or here’s a free training we have and things like that?
Spyros Tsoukalas: Awesome. That’s, that’s something that I hear for the first time as well. So next level would be like, okay, they have set their goal. And then they have to start, like they have many steps to follow. But like one of the most important ones is the copy. So how do you write email copy that converts?
Bill Stathopoulos: Yeah, it starts from knowing whom you’re talking to. When we’re looking at launching a new campaign, I typically recommend that people define two or three, we call them ICP is Ideal Customer Profiles are like two or three different audiences, just for the sake of you know, having a different view either on the same audience or like having different targeting criteria. And then the message has to start from looking at your prospect. So a lot of times, what I’ll do is I’ll open up literally open up the websites, and the LinkedIn profiles of like the three first prospects on the list and try to see, okay, what would make sense for them and to them? And to do that, you have to, you have to have a few things in mind for them. What are their competitors in the market? What problems are they currently facing? What have they tried to do to help to help solve that problem that’s from their side? And what they’re aiming for what the ideal solution would look like? And then from your side? What are some of your accomplishments? Like have you gotten any software mentioned? Is there any instance or mentioning you where you, I don’t know, got nominated as Forbes 30, under 30, entrepreneur or anything like that. Having a clear offer? What is your offering, having a specific solution to a specific problem, and then having a case study that’s tied to that. So for example, for a web developer, it might be you know, help businesses develop dynamic web apps, in the in the software field in whatever, like in the FinTech field. And we just work with Microsoft, and we help them build XYZ. And these were the results, and then having a specific call to action. And this is actually the framework that I use for the email copy as well. It’s like, Hi, this is my name. This is why I’m this is where I’m from, with sunlight social proof, we do this and we’ve worked with companies like X, Y, and Z. We just did this, which is typically like a case study, we just helped Microsoft do this, or we just worked with the Zapier and we help them implement that. We have a lot of ideas for your company. And then the ask, Would you like to jump on a quick call? And how does I don’t know tomorrow? 5pm work? That’s it best, your name, and then a signature?
Spyros Tsoukalas: So let’s say that we get a positive reply. So like one of our prospects, or more of them, like are interested into our ask whatever it was, how do we handle this? I think it’s a special step. Getting both positive responses?
Bill Stathopoulos: For sure. I’d say that the first thing and this is the same if you’re doing leads in or sales is that you have to respond fast. So why don’t we recommend this having your email inbox and the positive responses, or maybe even the tool that you’re using the calling or tool you’re using connected to Slack or something that can give you instant notification so you don’t have to, you know, say check your email inbox every five minutes. And just looking at every every sponsor as soon as it’s coming right off the bat. There’s two types of I’d call them like wasn’t it responses or leads someone booking a call directly, which is also something that you have to follow up on? Or someone responding and saying, yeah, how does tomorrow 2pm work. This is particularly important, responding fast and also being, you know, available and having someone there to respond because people, you know, think that the effort with cold email has to be given the first part, which is the research and sending the email, but it takes a lot of work anything, a lot of effort to have someone 24/7, or even if it’s not 24/7 respond within working hours, if you’re actually receiving 50 responses every day, and 10 of them are positive, because you have to be there, right, and someone might try to book a time, that doesn’t work. So there’s a bit of a back and forth, there’s work that gets added to the process. So it’s, you know, it doesn’t stop at like sending the messages, you have to be there. Because unless you follow up, and unless you make sure that you respond on time that you are available, or you do book them with someone from your team, or the sales team, the leads gonna go to waste. And if you’re doing cold outreach, and if you’re doing outbound, the last thing you want is your positive responses to not get you know, treated right. So that’s it be fast, respond fast, make sure you have someone doing that and have enough availability in your calendar, or being able to recommend alternatives.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I have actually experienced that work. So let’s say that the team or an established company get started with cold email, or they are have ongoing activities. What are what are their roles, the team members that you would expect to meet in such a team?
Bill Stathopoulos: Yeah, that’s, that’s an interesting one. And it dawned on me, because I would also think that oh, yeah, isn’t this like a single person job, like something one person can do. And the more you dive into it, the more you understand that there’s different roles and different functionalities within the same kind of process. So the first one obviously, is prospecting. So having someone do list building, it all starts with having identified, you know, ideal customer profiles or niches you want to target. And specific filters are a targeting criteria, we call them for the businesses you want to target. So you have to have someone who looks at you know, LinkedIn Sales, Navigator, Zoominfo, Apollo, whatever database you’re using, and just pick the companies and then the people that feel like a good fit, and adds them to the list, at least to be reached out to. The second person is someone writing the copy and looking at the strategy, I think these two are actually connected can be separate roles. But the person who’s defining the strategy, and the targeting criteria is probably the best fit to write the copy that resonates with those people. So that’s the second row. And then third one is one that we’ve already discussed, it’s someone managing the inbox. So being there to respond, if a call is booked, maybe even call them and like, ensure that, you know, yes, I am available tomorrow, 2pm. Maybe ask them a few qualifying questions. This is also a really interesting step to be taking, once someone books a call, like engaging them, because at the end of the day, to make a sale, it’s about trust, and it’s about believing that the other person can deliver. And this also comes with building a relationship. So if you have additional touches with them, and touches doesn’t have to be more cold emails to them, right? You can, you can do what I call warming nose, which is reaching out after they’ve booked a call or after they’ve responded. And following up. If you have someone doing that you can maximise the results of your campaigns.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Amazing and my main, like thoughts were naturally like around like afterwards, he just said, like, I started thinking about automation. So where is automation involves, like in this process?
Bill Stathopoulos: Yeah, there’s a lot of things you can try to automate. And you can definitely automate some of them, outside don’t automate the list building for sure. You can automate the sending like you can create, you know, prospect lists in bulk, maybe even personalise them in bulk, like you can have a google sheet, you drop all the contacts, you look at the companies, you have one more column with that, where you write a personalised line for every prospect based on the profile based on their interests, their needs, the status of the company, or things like that. And then you upload that list on Colima tool, and then the personalization line gets added, and you can, you know, reach out to 1000 people in bulk. And you can do that in there in a period of like a week. So that part can definitely be automated. And then a lot of automation happens on the response part. So if someone responds, the first thing you need to do is remove them from the campaign, mark them, you know, as they have responded, and also what we typically do as well is unsubscribe their entire company. So if I get a response from like, [email protected] I’ll unsubscribe Microsoft from the cold email tool, because what we’re doing some cold campaigns is we include more than one people from the same company within the campaign. And if Bill responds, I don’t want to seem like I’m a spammer and keep reaching out to more people within the company because I’ve already gotten responses Whether it’s a positive or negative one. So that’s the first one. Also notifying the team on Slack that, hey, there’s any response, someone needs to respond, whether it’s positive or negative one. And then we keep attracting seed, where we also list out all the responses per campaign so we can look at the data afterwards and be able to judge okay, we’ve got five responses from this campaign, three of them were positive, two are negative versus 10 responses from that campaign, nine were positive, because that at the end of the day allows you to optimise and you want to have enough data to be able to optimise. And then the last part is when someone books a call, you want also follow the same kind of flow, you want to unsubscribe them from a campaign, obviously, you want to make sure you’re notified on Slack that they get added on a Google sheet. And then some bonus points for me are things like sending them an automated follow up, when they book a call with you maybe asking them a few questions or sending them an SMS. We do that a lot as well. Where, you know, you say, Hey, this is your appointment, we’ve confirmed you for tomorrow 2 PM. This just increases, you know, the commitment and the sense that this is a real person. It’s not like someone random that you just booked a call with, because, you know, so operates on demo calls and sales calls are not 100%. And this is something that, you know, we need to be clear about because people might think, oh, yeah, I got a positive response. Like I got I got the sale. No, it’s really, it’s really far from that.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I recently subscribed to Nathan Latka’s one of his services, and I got the follow up email. And I actually answered it, because I noticed like it was part of this strategy. So last thing built from you today, I following all these amazing insights, if you had to recommend a few tools, what would they be?
Bill Stathopoulos: Yeah, so for people who know me, I’m huge in marketing and sales tools. I’ve tried most of the things out there. If you just if you’re just starting out, I would say probably LinkedIn Sales Navigator, as well as a tool like BuildWith can provide you with really good data. LinkedIn Sales Navigator gives you data based on the company and the employees. So you can have filters like industry like region like skills, how many years have been in a company, what titles they have tools like built with allow you to do what we call technographic kind of targeting where we can maybe target all Shopify stores. Or also, if a plus stores, or all Magento stores have like a specific version if you want to target ecommerce stores or target companies who are using a specific CRM. Maybe you want to sell them sell services, or you, you know, look for companies that are using a specific CRM or specific marketing tool. There’s additional platforms as well but these are two of my favourite ones. When it comes to cold email sending, I really liked Lemlists, like it’s simple, easy to use, and they have an amazing email warmup feature, which allows your messages to go to the inbox folder instead of promotions, or the other tab or even worse spam. And that’s really helpful, obviously, because unless it reaches the inbox, it’s not going to be in be opened and read and know that. Apollo.io I also really like it for data. Same with links over here and then Calendly for booking calls. Like it’s really easy. Almost everyone seems like almost everyone in the tech and SaaS industry is using Calendly and are familiar with it. So it’s a really good solution for that and then Zapier to automate your integrations and slack as what we call it a real time communications hub. Like we’ll create a new, a new channel for every campaign every client we work with, and then all the sales notifications flowing through there. And we actually call that like the campaign’s heartbeat because based on how many responses you get every day, positive or negative, once you get a feel you get a sense of okay, this campaign is going well. If you know the flow of responses starts being zero or close to nothing. You understand that you have to do something you have to change something gives you like a feeling more of a perception on how things are going.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Bill I think that you have summarised like tons of value in like 15-17 minutes of discussing here so thank you very much for being here with us today. And I hope that everyone on the everybody listening will enjoy the episode as much as I did live.
Bill Stathopoulos: It’s been a pleasure, Spyros, thank you for having me.
In this episode
Helping B2B SaaS & tech companies grow through data-driven growth systems | Growth Consultant | Marketing Instructor & Advisor ✌️
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