Targeting Qualified Sales Leads with Cold Email

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Greyson Fullbright


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Greyson helps build, support, and manage outbound programs for teams ranging from startups to Fortune 500 & Inc 5000 companies.

As an Entrepreneur in Residence at LimeLeads, he leads marketing, sales, customer success, client services, and product strategy.

An outbound channel like cold email gives you the ability to choose who you target, which can be a major advantage if you know how to identify qualified leads for your business.

While there are likely plenty of great potential customers out there for your solution, there are also thousands of companies that will never be the right fit for the product or service you sell.

Without proper planning around the companies and people you want to target for outbound sales, it can become difficult to generate consistent results or sustain a cold email campaign over time.

To make the most out of your cold email outreach, you need to clearly distinguish the bad customers from the good potential fits that would be worthwhile to sell and support.

Targeting Sales Leads: Before You Start

Not all customers are the same.

With customer success growing prevalent, modern sales teams can clearly see the outcomes of the customers they generate.

After you close a deal, your team still has to onboard, support, and retain that customer. If you target the wrong accounts, you’ll waste a lot of time starting customer relationships that are unsuccessful from the beginning.

Not only do bad fit customers take more time, energy, and morale away from your team, they also pose a higher risk of canceling or churning on a potential renewal.

If you target the wrong people, you’ll struggle to generate conversions and maintain cold email deliverability. The specific people you influence has a major impact on the sales outcomes you generate, especially when selling larger deals with more stakeholders.

In order to maximize the value you generate with cold emails, you need clarity around the key stakeholders and accounts you reach rather than relying an unpredictable, undifferentiated targeting strategy.

Target Market Research and Selection

Before you can make any decisions on the best potential customers to target, you should evaluate your current and past customer outcomes.

Look at how your sales pipeline performed in the past and compare the target markets you focused on to generate this performance.

Your review will reveal both negative signs indicating bad customers you don’t want and positive indicators of companies who would be a great fit for your solution.

These positive characteristics should start to form the traits of an ideal customer that you could target to consistently win outbound sales with loyal, long-term customers.

However, it’s essential to make the characteristics measurable.

If you can’t clearly define the characteristics of your ideal buyer, you’ll struggle to identify which types of companies are driving the best performance with cold email.

Once you have an understanding of the characteristics you’d like in a target market, you should bring in your team and build alignment around an Ideal Client Profile (ICP).

If you do your research right, you should have a clear idea of the types of accounts you want to target and the characteristics that make them a good fit.

Have conversations about the ICP with different members of your team, because everyone will have a different viewpoint of a customer across different parts of the customer lifecyle.

This diversity of opinions opens the opportunity to hear different perspectives across departments on the challenges or benefits of selling and supporting specific types of customers.

From this discussion with your team, you should use the characteristics you defined in your ICP to agree on a few core addressable markets of companies to target.

Defining the Right Target Prospects for Cold Email

Many marketers keep cold email outreach basic: choose a person at the company and use them as a bridge to build the relationship.

However, outbound sales that require multiple stakeholders aren’t easy to win with a single point of contact. Especially when building out a cold email personalization strategy, you need to think about the specific people you should influence to win the deal.

Companies often take more sophisticated, multi-threaded strategies to win outbound sales deals by targeting multiple prospects and departments across the specific accounts they want to win using cold email, phone, and social selling on LinkedIn.

To maximize your success with cold email, review the potential contacts within an ideal account and identify the right sales leads to connect with and build a relationship.

Who’s Involved in the Deal?

Once you’ve established your addressable markets, you should research the different buyer personas involved in winning deals with your ideal accounts.

A great research method is finding 25-30 LinkedIn profiles of prospects you’d like to target and digging into their responsibilities or daily life. The goal is to learn as much as you can about how different stakeholders operate within the deal you’re trying to win.

With the right research, you should be able to separate the responsibilities of the different contacts involved in the deal.

Where Do They Fit Into the Deal?

Prospects will have different functions, decision-making hierarchies, and authority based on the type of companies you target.

For example, a Vice President of Sales could be very different at a startup versus a large corporation. Similarly, an IT Director will be different in the Software industry versus a Business Services industry.

By researching how people influence the deal, you’ll crack the puzzle to the most critical people you need to contact and others to connect with later in the sales process.

How Do You Want to Build a Relationship?

Look at the organizational structure of the departments you need to contact. From this review, you should figure out how you’ll need to build relationships and manage sales leads within your ideal accounts.

It’s not always best to target the final decision-maker as your first contact with cold email, especially in a complex deal-making environment that involves more sales touches and sign-off from multiple stakeholders.

Instead, you might want to target someone actually using your tool or reach out to deal champions that can help you win a sale against decision-makers.

The best person to target with your cold email campaign will depend entirely on your situation. Position your outreach to influence the right people at the right time to move forward in the outbound sales process.

Just Getting Started with Targeting for Cold Email? Here’s Greyson’s Advice:

Have a Good Testing Process at the Beginning

Everybody has their own approach or formula to cold email. However, no one is a true cold email expert because every situation is different, unique, and ever-changing.

However, a universal element of successful cold emailing for any situation is a reliable testing process to find what’s working. 

Basic A/B tests can help you go through regular cycles of testing to identify new ideas and messaging.

Pay Attention to Intent

At the end of the day, nearly anyone will take the time to listen to somebody who cares enough about their problem, even if they aren’t qualified or have no intention of buying.

Intent to buy is important when handling outbound sales leads.

Once you start getting responses from your cold email campaign, you should prioritize the prospects that are actively feeling the pain, searching for solutions, or investing time in your brand.

Target Companies Aligned With Your Product Roadmap

Make sure you’re targeting companies that can use your product to the fullest over the long-term.

Selling to companies that use a portion of your product will earn you revenue, but they can distract you from your overall vision. In addition, customers that can’t fully use your solution have a higher risk of canceling or becoming unqualified over time.

Sales adds value to your product roadmap by giving you real-time feedback on what’s missing and what ideal customers need in your solution. However, make sure you’re getting product feedback from the right customers.