Our sales development team here at Outreach has the huge advantage of actually working for a company that developed the #1 SEP (Sales Engagement Platform) to empower prospectors, hunters, and sellers to predictably and efficiently build pipeline and engage prospects and customers at scale.
Furthermore, actually using Outreach is a huge competitive advantage for us.
We have been able to grow faster than many incredible SaaS companies that are inherently viral, started with a massive marketing engine, or leveraged a channel to go to market quickly.
And we did it through cold outbound using our very own solution.
While we may be one of the few sales development representative (SDR) teams that has resources and a platform purpose-built for us, all companies can benefit from what we've learned.
I put together this guide to point our customers (current and future) to some of the resources on how we use Outreach to allow them to get as much out of Outreach as we do.
And for those reading who aren’t customers yet, you will still be able to learn some best practices to improve your sales development strategy and execution.
All new hires are on one of our Agoge teams for the first few months. Agoge teams are proving grounds for innovative sales tactics and help new hires get their feet wet. The leaders of these teams specialize in ramping new SDRs and implementing experimental new processes. This structure has allowed us to dramatically improve initial SDR production in the first 90 days, and has allowed our large SDR team of 40+ to stay agile.
Note: Outreach + Agoge team = Dangerous combination. Here’s some advice for starting an Agoge in your SDR org.
As you refine your Outreach strategy, you will notice that a variety of candidate profiles can be successful at your company. By packaging up ideal prospecting processes into sequences, the pool of individuals that can be successful on your SDR team will expand dramatically.
And that, in large part, is possible through the use of Outreach sequences.
Sequences—which are a pre-defined series of sales touch points and include emails, calls, LinkedIn messages, texts, and more—fall into three basic stages in your prospecting funnel. I'll break down each one.
A solid outbound strategy depends on a solid prioritization strategy. Before the SEP revolution, correctly coaching and enforcing prioritization was very difficult.
That’s not the case anymore.
Managers with Outreach can now just jump into a sequence and see what types of prospects are being reached out to, and in what way.
Poor prioritization will lower an SDR’s call conversion-to-meeting set, meeting hold rate, and meeting conversion to accepted lead metrics.
If you can’t measure prioritization, the SDR and their manager may get a false understanding of an SDR's underlying issues. This causes more problems with prioritization.
Here’s a simple framework for how to prioritize called the Agoge playbook. We will dive deeper into it in a later post but this framework makes it easy to know who should be prospected (and how) from day one and SDR managers can easily and consistently communicate inevitable changes to their SDR strategy instantly by adjusting this matrix. Tiny improvements here can dramatically increase overall productivity.
We reach out to our highest priority prospects using The Agoge Sequence. I would have never thought this sequence would continue to work so well considering how widely it has been adopted across our customer base, but it still works like magic. The major reason our Agoge team nearly doubled production in the first 90 days was because they were getting nearly twice as many responses through this sequence.
The lower priority prospects are put into fully automated sequences, meaning little to no manual action. SDRs can usually reach out to a relatively high volume of these prospects. We don’t call prospects in these sequences unless an individual email is opened 2+ times.
Outreach has a simple playbook of how we deal with common responses.
The vast majority of our sequences can be dealt with using a custom message and attaching an appropriate “FUP” to it.
Note: FUP means follow-up.
However, there are some unique cases like referrals that justify their own sequence. Our referral sequence gets a shocking 47% reply rate. Introducing a referral sequence is relatively easy and has a massive return if you don't currently have a defined process for referrals.
We give our SDRs a checklist of everything they need to do right after they set a meeting. Emotions are high at this moment and you want to make sure that no steps are skipped.
It's not over yet.
Giving the prospect a call between the time you set the meeting and when it is going to run is positive for show rates.
When you call to confirm and remind, do not give them an "out". The point of the reminder call isn’t to ask them if they have changed their mind about their decision to take the meeting, it is to remind them it is happening.
My strategy is to call and confirm that they got the invite or the bridge info. This accomplishes the purpose of reminding the prospect of the meeting without giving them an out.
Good example: “I’m really excited to meet this Thursday! Did you receive the invite?”
Bad example: “Can you still meet with us Thursday?”
Horrible example: “I saw you didn’t accept the invite, are you still able to meet Thursday?
Sometimes prospects will agree to a meeting they don’t plan on showing up to as a way to blow you off. Asking them to accept the invite is a good way to see if they are bluffing and have the ability to address why they feel that way while you still have them on the phone.
The meeting is your responsibility until it holds. These were the four phases I went through for every initial meeting until the prospect showed.
Phase 1: Five minutes before the meeting is supposed to take place: Open the video call to see if the prospect has joined the meeting as well as the prospect’s Outreach profile to monitor email opens. The email with your bridge info we talked about earlier will be automatically sent out and you want to watch your Outreach dashboard to see if it was opened. The prospect will usually open the email and access the meeting through the url you send them, so their activity on it will give you a clue.
If they haven’t shown up and there are no email opens, it's time for Phase 2.
Phase 2: Call the prospect on their most direct line. If they don’t pick up, try it again. If they do pick up, script is: “Hey, we are on the line, did you get the bridge info ok?” (Again, assume the meeting).
If they don’t pick up their direct line, call the main office line. Tell the gatekeeper you have a meeting with [prospect’s first name] that started two minutes ago and you are waiting for them and then pause. This works surprisingly well.
Phase 3: If none of that worked, send an email letting them know you are on the line and include bridge info again. Also, ask the AE to give them a call. They may be more lucky with their phone number.
Phase 4: If there’s no sign of life after 7 minutes, it’s probably time to accept that they are not going to show. At this point they will need to advance to the No-Show Sequence.
If you have done all you can and they are just not showing up today, put the prospect into the No-Show Sequence. It will keep you on top of the followup. There’s a good blueprint for it here: 7 Sequences Every Sales Team Needs.
Look for more in-depth posts on our sequence best practices in future Outreach on Outreach post.