A great salesman once told me that there were two things I needed to develop. The first was to fall in love with data and the other one was to get into the mind of my customers.

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It took me a while to figure out the true meaning of these lessons. It really is a trial-and-error process, where you observe how your mentors do it and then go out there to sharpen your own skills.

As one practitioner to another, I’d like to show you these two things I’ve been obsessing about - data collecting and relationship selling.

Let’s start with data.

Making lead generation more data-driven

We have to make a clear distinction between numbers that we use for analytics and data that we use for sales and marketing. In this article, I’m going to focus on the latter.

There are two important aspects here:

  • what data to collect
  • how data is collected

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The process starts by defining what data we need to have. Let’s take a website as an example. If our goal is to increase free trial signups then we need to focus on the data that helps us boost conversions and disregard the rest.

Every additional step customer takes creates friction. Friction is the enemy. A quick and easy user experience should be at the top of your priorities.

Define your objective, what success looks like and what do you need to make it happen.

The next job is to determine how your data will be collected. If we stick to our website example, there are a few things you can do to set data flows.

Content. Ensure your content is packed with value. At some point in time, the content equity you’ll generate will result in people wanting more and you can leverage it to grow your business.

Retargeting. If you manage to generate traffic to your website or have people engage with your videos on Social, you can use it to your advantage. Yes, you don’t know who they are, but you have them in your funnel.

Good read: How to build a Facebook funnel that works

But there’s also a third option. Imagine you can identify your traffic visitors in real time. Literally, I come to your website and you immediately see it’s me, where I work and how I’m engaging with your website. How powerful would that be? Oh, this exists by the way.

Now you have your what and how of data figured out. It’s time to close more deals and drive growth. There’s more than one way to do so, but I’d like to mention two in particular.

Sending personalized emails at scale

Cold emails are like the pick and roll play in basketball. It’s basic sales one-on-one. Everybody knows how they work, we both send and receive them every day, they’re simple to implement and they still work.

But there’s also defense. Cold emails won’t always get the job done. Think of it like this, if every NBA team started playing pick and roll with two variations, it won’t be that hard to defend it, would it?

It’s the same with your email outreach. Variations are your customer personas and how good you are at segmenting them, while the rest depends on your execution.

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The world has moved to relationship selling. If you’re operating in a B2B software space, you probably noticed this trend more than others. This is precisely the reason why email personalization is producing far better results.

Remember, personalization isn’t just writing your prospect’s name. It’s figuring out the right person to contact and then sending the right email to get their attention.

How does a successful cold email personalization look like?

Let me show you!

Step 1 - The Research

Yes, I know, it’s the most boring stuff. Scraping emails, frustration when getting invalid addresses, endless hours searching the web … I know it all. It’s my life too.

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Is there a way to make this go away? Not quite.

When it comes down to understanding my audience, how they do business, where’s their opportunity in my opinion, their content, their everything … there’s no substitute for a human brain at the moment.

I hate 70% of the research, but I’m super professional about it. With the right email, it’ll all pay off in the end. Here’s where and how I look:

  • Google Analytics - who are the people filling out forms, traffic by location etc
  • LinkedIn search - who are the people who work in certain companies
  • Other online assets - their presence on Social Media, content, videos etc
  • Comments and conversations - especially interested in these

And I admit, I always have a coffee and good music to get me through.

Step 2 - Personalization

Another really good benefit that comes after an in-depth research is that writing emails becomes much easier. You already know what your prospects, so you’re able to personalize your approach to the max.

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To give you some perspective, a typical line such as this:

“I really enjoyed listening to your podcast episode called “.”

… transforms into something else entirely:

“Just so you know this is not some email template, I can tell you that yesterday I listened to the episode with . Facebook Groups are really huge and considering the fact that I’m building my own, it was great to listen to her $0.02 on the topic. She shared super interesting insights!”

Find if your prospect loves red wines like you do, if they cheer for the same team, what are his or her last 5 tweets, what business moves have they made lately or have they released any announcements lately. Use it to make your approach more human and more fun.

Of course, you don’t always have time to look up each and every prospect. Prospecting lists are more often than not huge with thousands of emails. I usually keep my lists small, but from time to time I like to use the big ones too.

Personalization then becomes a bit broad-ish. The best way to make these emails stand out is to use personalized images. Instead of writing their tag in copy, you can get creative and use it on the image. There are programs that allow you to do that. Then you end up with an approach that looks like this.

It’s no coincidence that they are called COLD emails. They’re cold because your prospect is a cold too. You have to warm them up first and it takes more than one email.

You need to build a relationship first.

The best era of advertising … EVER

I’m a big fan of ads, especially on Facebook and Instagram. With the battle for organic traffic getting extremely competitive and expensive, online advertising is a no-brainer if you ask me.

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Depending on your market and region, ads vary in price. But they’re still cheap. It won’t be always like that. Just look at Google Ads now. More and more people will be flooding this space in 2019, which will bring the prices up.

That’s exactly how I look at organic traffic. It’s overpriced. Maybe not in money terms, but definitely in the time currency. In short-term, we can’t just publish content and wait for traffic to kick in. Most of us will become vulnerable and ultimately fail.

It’s precisely the reason behind my faith in ads. They’re faster, especially if you’re just starting out.

But, in order to provide you with some applicable advice instead of listening to me worshipping ads, here’s how ads have produced value for me. I’m using it for both B2B SaaS company I’m working at and for my own B2C side hustle.

The big mistake I was making initially was creating ads first and then select my target audience. It should be the other way round. We’ve got to become marketers that first get to know their audience and then go create their ads.

It’s all about personalization. Relationship selling requires context, not just content.

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The other thing with ads is your sales funnel.

If you’re targeting broad and want to increase brand awareness, it comes down to your content. Doing SEO and playing long-term is cool, but you should definitely leverage ads to get as much traffic and engagement that you will later use to retarget people.

Create content that’s relevant to the product and super valuable to your audience … and forget about conversions. Just make sure it’s the best content possible. Your goal is to get them to watch your video or to go to your website.

By doing so, you now have some people in your funnel. It’s time to retarget and leverage Facebook’s lookalike audiences. You’re beginning to run things at scale. Anybody who has watched our video “how to send cold emails to CEOs” can now be retargeted with another video or I can slowly start to introduce our offer.

I’m moving them down the funnel. Contextual targeting beats broad marketing any day.

Wrapping it up

I don’t want to waste any more of your time since this was a long article, so I’ll wrap it up real quick.

Define what data you need to collect. Make sure the way you gather data is efficient and meaningful. Leverage relationship selling and make your sales approach about them.

You will see the difference.

Try Albacross

Vukasin Vukosavljevic

Vukasin Vukosavljevic

Head of Content at lemlist

Vukasin Vukosavljevic is a marketing practitioner and a content creator. He currently works as Head of Content at lemlist.