Outbound Sales Automation: Over Before it Has Even Started?
A friend of mine Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, posted this automated sales email he received in LinkedIn, and commented:
“Note to inside sales. Please stop these dumb and insulting approaches to outreach. It’s embarrassing and kills you and your company’s credibility immediately. If you are a sales trainer or boss, please stop. You can do better!”
The post immediately went viral. Over 150+ comments, and 470+ likes. Some said they liked the humor and bold approach of the outreach, but the majority hated it.
When did sales development decide buyers owed them time and attention, when they clearly didn’t take time to send a valuable outreach?
The Law of Sales Entropy: Value In Equals Value Out
Ron Burt, professor at Chicago School Booth of Business, is a renowned researcher in social network science. One conclusion he has drawn is that you can only extract value from a network, based on the value you put in. The same principle applies to sales.
Buyers no longer need sales for information. Information is now free. The role of sales has shifted to focus on providing insights on a buyer’s business and their challenges. Buyers want to “know what they don’t know”. This change also includes the very first step with sales development.
The best selling book, The Challenger Sale, talks about this shift by saying a modern salesperson must become a teacher. A great summary of the Challenger Sale was written here by Matt Heinz, and I have pulled this quote which summarizes why sales needs to teach.
“Challengers aren’t so much world-class investigators as they are world-class teachers. They win not by understanding their customers’ world as well as the customers know it themselves, but by actually knowing their customers’ world better than their customers know it themselves, teaching them what they don’t know but should.”
Unlike the Lottery, Trust is Not a Numbers Game
Having been in sales roles, run account mgmt. teams, I understand that volume and throughput matter. But as the modern buyer narrows their attention to only those they know, sales development must attempt to earn even the slightest toehold of trust in their outreach.
As an SDR you have a few options, but all require real work:
- Understand their business and provide insight: do the research and work to find out everything you can about their business, and their interests.
- Proxy trust through advocates and influencers: find out who they are listening to, be present where your buyers are socially.
More SDRs Will Become ADRs
“Account Based Everything” is a newer term, championed by several marketing and sales influencers including Jon Miller at Engagio. Focusing on targeted accounts to deliver growth is not new, but leveraging multiple roles across your organization in a managed process is new. As inbound marketing has become more successful, it has created it’s own problem where “interest” has a greater separation from “ability to purchase”. This has driven SDRs to increase the quantity of outbound activities and adopt automation tools to help them get the throughput they need to hit targets. But another growth strategy is to move up market and turn your inbound SDRs to outbound.
Engagio just released a comprehensive 142 page guide on Account Based Sales Development. In chapter 1, they focus on a new type of sales development with two key points:
Separate your Inbound and Outbound sales development reps into two teams.
- “ 59% of sales development organizations create specialized teams for inbound and outbound.” – TOPO: The 2016 Sales Development Benchmark Report
Focus your outbound team on targeted accounts.
- “If you want to go upmarket, which you absolutely must to grow, you have to go outbound. Winning large customers is much more about causing a sale, not just catching one.” – Ken Krogue, President and Founder, InsideSales.com
The move of SDRs to ADRs is already happening at the fastest growing companies. Automating the outreach is not going to work to gain trust, especially with targeted accounts. ADRs must work in tandem with Account Executives to build an array of relationships at potential customers, and it is critical to understand who else in your company has key relationships at those accounts. For #modernsales, outbound has become the new inbound.