The C-suite is home to the busiest of all professionals. Take a quick peek at a CMOs Outlook calendar and you’ll see back-to-back-to-back meetings, all day, every day. So how can you reach C-level executives with a B2B sales approach? Is it even possible anymore?
First, of course it’s possible. But it’s true they are busier than ever. I get about 25-50 emails in my inbox everyday from people trying to pitch me their products or services. I don’t even open 95% of them (subject lines are garbage). The ones I do open are mostly spammy inside. And every once in a blue moon, someone will take the time to actually personalize their email. Those are the ones I read and sometimes reply to.
Personalization always wins. Let’s face it, if there are two emails in my inbox, and one says “Hello Johnny-Lee” and in the email body talks about my pain points, congratulates me on a recent award, or otherwise tries to connect with me on a human level, then I’m going to respond positively.
However, if it were that easy, everyone would be personalizing emails. So – is there an argument to automate without personalizing? Absolutely. But too much automation will come back to bite you. In fact, even a little blind automation can be detrimental to your sales and reputation. Let’s unpack this.
Understanding Sales Automation
In the old days, you used to have to write a one-off email and manually hit “send” to hopefully reach a prospect. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. But to be specific, I’m talking about setting up a cold email sequence of 2-7 emails (five is the sweet spot), loading up a list of contacts, and scheduling the email campaign to “drip” for a few weeks.
So for instance, your prospect Henry will receive an initial email with a short message. If he doesn’t respond, three days later he’ll automatically be sent a follow-up email. Maybe five days after that he’ll receive another follow-up. And so on until the sequence is finished. And you may have Henry plus 999 other prospects in the campaign, all running on autopilot. That’s what I mean by cold email automation. It’s powerful, but it can quickly come off the tracks.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s get into the pros and cons of automation.
- Allows for outreach at scale
- Prospects don’t fall through the cracks
- Low-budget required
- Low-skill to get started
- Almost no barrier-to-entry
- Fun to track metrics
- Canned emails and calls
- Usually no personalization
- Extremely low conversions
- Can quickly “scorch” a whole sector
- Most emails get sent to spam folder
- Get “blacklisted” and email shut down
My Recommendation: A Hybrid Approach
While I do recommend using automation software to schedule a cold email campaign, you must include highly-personalized messaging and even mix in cold calls. This hybrid approach marries the best of email automation with other authentic sales strategies. At the end of the day, you want to reach as many prospects as possible, without sacrificing human-to-human trust building.
With a hybrid approach to email automation, you’ll personalize at least the first line. I also like to add a custom paragraph addressing the prospect personally and speaking to his or her pain points and opportunities. And finally, adding a ‘PS’ at the end, to congratulate them or their company on recent success. Note that the best email clients today have something called “Mail merge,” allowing you to customize individual emails in a large campaign. You’re sending the same structure/style of email to 100 people, but each email speaks directly to its recipient. The hybrid approach to outbound sales is a winning formula.
Does this approach take longer than spamming 100 prospects? Of course it does, but it’ll pay for itself in dividends. Humans respond to humans, not scripted emails.
Why You Should ALWAYS Call First
What’s more human than a phone call? Here’s the thing … you should always call first. After all, cold calling is the best way to make an impression and make a sale. You’ll also want to call somewhere in the middle of the cold email campaign.
By calling your prospect first, you’ll be able to add this into your follow-up emails: “Hey Henry, this is Steve with X brand — ring a bell? I just tried calling but must’ve missed you…” See how this is hybridizing the different channels of communication (phone and email)? This multi-channel outbound approach is what it takes to reach prospects and make the perfect impression.
So don’t get lazy. Get dialing!
Advantages of a hybrid approach to automation
- High open rates
- Can target your ideal buyer
- Builds connection from the first phone call and email
- Shows prospects you did your homework
- You can sleep at night (not spammy)
Balance is the key when it comes to automation. You don’t want to blindly automate your entire campaign without cold calling or personalizing your emails. But you also don’t want to write individual emails (and all of the follow-up emails) by yourself and manually send one after another. So you have to strike a balance.
Just remember the old saying, garbage in, garbage out. This goes for lead generation (don’t pay for junk lead lists or hire someone in Pakistan to build your lists for $3 an hour). And this goes for outbound sales automation, too. If you send spam into the world, you can expect spam (at best) coming back to you. Take the time, do your homework, and make every touch count.
Finally, you must be sure to get the copywriting right. Your messaging has to be spot-on for the industry, the role, and the specific person you’re emailing. You do NOT want your outreach to read like corporate emails. They must be personable but professional, engaging and warm. If you don’t have these skills on your team, then hire this out. Whatever you do, don’t use AI to generate this content. AI can help to enhance sales, but AI isn’t capable of forging real-life human-to-human connections, even through writing.
Until next time…