Outbound Sales Prospecting with Cold Email

Collin Stewart Headshot Image

Collin Stewart

Predictable Revenue

Predictable Revenue's Logo

Collin has spent more than 10 years selling as a serial entrepreneur. He co-founded a sales platform for SDRs called CARB.IO in 2013, combining the software and Predictable Revenue’s Cold Calling 2.0 to help build world-class outbound sales teams and programs.

After becoming a profitable, fast-growing company, CARB.IO merged with Predictable Revenue in 2014. As the CEO, Collin is a key member of their elite outbound services team, manages product strategy, and is the host of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

Cold email is one way to start conversations and generate potential sales opportunities.

However, it’s important to see the bigger picture: how does this type of outbound sales prospecting activity contribute to your pipeline and how do you make the most of it?

Vorsight found only 3% of any market on average is actively buying at a given time, so it’s unrealistic to focus solely on in-market opportunities while neglecting the other 97% of buyers.

Instead, you should have an outbound lead generation system in place that can engage and nurture all qualified opportunities you generate with cold email, regardless of their buying stage.

Outbound Sales: Before You Start

Many marketers tend to do cold email by the book with tactics, templates, and data that anyone can find online.

It’s good to target qualified sales leads and differentiate your email messaging. However, it’s more important to focus on building a system with cold email that can consistently produce the results you want for outbound sales.

Instead of trying different random tactics and throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, you should be methodical about how you use cold email for sales prospecting.

Take a step back, identify the big picture goals you need to achieve, and figure out how to build a cold email campaign that can deliver predictable outcomes as part of your broader outbound sales strategy.

Targeting Outbound Sales Leads

Before you start sending cold emails, you need to define your best customers so you have an idea for your total addressable market and the qualified sales leads you can target.

However, It’s not enough to characterize your ideal customers with broad descriptions.

You should seek clarity. Define specific demographics, psychographics, and other measurable attributes that you can realistically use to target leads and compare the value of different accounts.

For example, it would be difficult to consistently target companies with a particular mindset or employees with a specific approach to their responsibilities.

In comparison, you could easily target companies that use certain technologies, have organizational characteristics like employee size, or people with a specific role or tenure.

Once you’ve identified these characteristics, you need to bring them to the leadership team and get their agreement on the best set of attributes for spotting sales leads that meet the characteristics of your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Building a Sales Prospecting Strategy

After defining the total addressable markets you could reach with cold email, you need to break your customers down into market segments that are tiered based on their value and importance to your sales pipeline.

Not all companies and customers are the same, so how you approach outbound sales prospecting will differ for enterprise-level deals compared to broader mid-market sales.

These tiers enable you to plan the resources you can devote to each type of customer based on what’s affordable. While the top tier might receive highly-personalized outreach, the lowest tier might be more programmatic and done at a larger volume.

If you don’t consider the costs of cold emailing different types of companies, you risk making your outbound sales channel unprofitable, inefficient, or unpredictable.

An example of this market segmentation strategy could be breaking your outbound audience into the top 1% of potential customers, the top 10%, and then those remaining in the market.

However, every sale is unique and differently shaped, so build out your tiers based on what makes sense for your specific situation.

Key Considerations for Outbound Sales

Once you launch, you should consistently add new accounts to your cold email campaign so you slowly increase the number of qualified sales leads receiving your outreach over time.

From there, you’ve only just begun your cold email campaign. It’s important to consider the bigger picture system for how your team handles the outbound sales opportunities that you generate.

Great Call Execution

While you can design cold emails for clicks or call conversions, this playbook focuses on campaigns that generate conversations and meetings for outbound sales teams.

One common mistake companies make with cold email is having their team treat calls with outbound sales leads the same as they would inbound calls.

Outbound conversations bring buyers from various stages of their buying process, so most outbound leads won’t be immediately aware, ready, or in-market for your solution when you connect.

If you treat outbound and inbound leads the same, you’ll struggle to gain traction or uncover opportunities with a majority of the people you contact with cold email.

You need to be aware of the reality of outbound sales calls and have a sales process that can accommodate new qualified leads at any stage of their buying journey.

Have a Diligent, Strong Follow-Up Game

Since cold email reaches prospects in a variety of situations, you need to have a diligent follow-up process with email, social, or calling that can keep you top-of-mind and move new opportunities through the sales funnel.

You might get an occasional lead that’s hot and ready to buy on the first contact. However, a majority of outbound prospects need additional outreach and nurture before they’re ready.

If you neglect to follow-up with prospects that aren’t immediately in-market, you pose the risk of losing out on qualified conversations and missing future opportunities.

With a good follow-up game, you can nurture leads that aren’t immediately ready for a sales conversation and create more predictability around your outbound sales process.

Just Getting Started with Cold Email for Outbound Sales? Here’s Collin’s Advice:

By Systems-Minded About Cold Email

It’s easy to use tactics and tricks found online to try improving outbound sales outcomes. However, this isn’t enough to generate consistent, repeatable results.

You should regularly evaluate the performance of your cold email campaign.

Are you diligently adding new sales leads to the campaign? How is your call execution? What about your follow-up game? Be aware of how well your cold email system operates and how it can improve.

Give Cold Email Enough Time to Succeed

Many companies start a cold email campaign and give up when they aren’t able to regularly close outbound sales after 30 – 60 days.

Your sales cycle impacts how long it takes to close a sale and it tends to take longer for outbound opportunities. It isn’t realistic to declare a verdict in the first 3 months because so much testing and learning is involved in building the right outbound sales system.

Try to view the process in quarters. If you have faster sales cycles, you could potentially start seeing deals close by the 2nd or 3rd quarter. For longer sales, it can be the 4th or 5th quarter before outbound deals start to close.

Don’t Prospect with Cold Email Part-Time

If you want to consistently generate new conversations and meetings with cold email, you need to have someone at the company dedicated to building that outbound sales channel.

Instead of setting up the system and forgetting about it, you should invest in sales prospecting full-time with cold email.

If cold email matters to you, it deserves the resources, proper tooling, and management to ensure its success.