Your blanket emails aren't working: it's time to get personal

Posted December 21, 2018

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By Joe Vignolo

Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach

Guest post by Sarah Drake, Sales Development Representative at Directive

It seems like everything can be personalized these days. Amazon knows exactly what you’re going to buy before you put it in your cart, Hulu knows what show you’re going to binge-watch next.

And don’t get me started on how that Facebook ad for McDonald's came up RIGHT after I mentioned I was craving a Big Mac.

As a Sales Development Representative for Directive, the leading B2B Search Marketing Agency, I’ve observed how these personalized experiences are creeping their way into the B2B space. I hate to say it, but buyers now expect from companies the same level of personalization during the B2B sales process.

Given that the first outreach to a buyer is the most essential, it’s crucial to take extra time to personalize this experience for them. The last thing we want is for our emails to end up in the spam or trash folders because they sound generic, automated, and impersonal.

Below, I’ve included strategies my team and I have implemented to personalize our outreach at scale.

An example of this exercise in action is by Sam Nelson and his “Agoge Tribe” sales team at Outreach. He has created the Agoge Sequence, a 15-step sales sequence, with the first email being partially personalized and the rest automated. Personalizing only the first two sentences has proven to double email open rates for his team.

The format of the first two sentences is as follows:  

  1. Get the prospect's attention and prove you did research.
  2. Tie what you learned into a product value proposition.

Sales Engagement software allows each email to be edited before sending to check for auto-fill misspellings or to add a more personalized touch. After the two personalized sentences, the rest of the email is generic, explaining the value my company can bring to the table and a call to action. The software auto-fills simple information such as the name and company of the prospect I’m reaching out to as well as my signature.

Making it clear at the beginning of the email that this message is personalized for the prospect allows the rest of the email to be read in a similar fashion. 

My email went from sounding robotic to entirely personalized, just by taking this one extra step. 

Show that you care about what they do; you would want someone reaching out to you to do the same.

Better Personalize Your Follow-Up Emails Too

Next, it is very important to remember that it takes six to eight touches on average to generate a qualified lead. Follow-ups prove perseverance and consistency, so here are some ways to better personalize your follow-up after the first email.

Phone Calls

Cold calls are uncomfortable for everyone involved. With emails, one can take the time to generate a thoughtful response without being put on the spot. 

The problem with emails is they can be left unread or completely ignored, making phone calls much more impactful. Yes, many cold calls go unanswered, but for the times that a prospect answers or I get a voicemail, I have to be prepared. After I've partially-personalized an email to a prospect, I now have enough information to turn cold calls into warm calls.

Warm calls are any phone call connecting with a company that you have researched prior to the call, but they have not yet shown interest in your product or service. Before I call a prospect, I can open up my first email and find the two personalized sentences that will resonate with them more than a generic call script.

Social Networks

Professional social networks like LinkedIn are another great way to connect with a prospect. Since 75% of B2B buyers use social media when making purchase decisions, this next step is very important. 

Pro Tip: Before utilizing LinkedIn as a way to reach a prospect, you must first make sure that your LinkedIn profile best represents you as an individual and your organization.

If the prospect has a LinkedIn account and their name is clicked, they receive a notification that their profile has been viewed. This notification is another way to get the prospect's attention. If I am not connected with the prospect on LinkedIn and want to send them a message, I can utilize LinkedIn InMail. Depending on my LinkedIn subscription, I may have to pay for this feature, but an InMail, again, proves that I’m willing to go the extra mile.

Direct Mail

In today’s digital age, receiving a package or handwritten card in the mail is a breath of fresh air. These tangible items carry much more weight than an email or an e-gift card. B2B marketers have started to utilize direct mail for these exact reasons. Direct mail cuts through the noise of cold calls and automated emails because it shows a high level of commitment on both a personal and financial level.  

Of course, individually typing, printing out, and sending direct mail to hundreds of prospects is time-consuming. Companies like Sendoso and Jack Nadel allow B2B sales and marketing teams to save time and send direct mail at scale.  


Sales Engagement platforms have become essential in the B2B space since there just isn’t enough time in the day to reach out to every single prospect. It may be tempting to place quantity before quality, but this makes your emails and phone calls sound generic and impersonal. Incorporating the above steps to better personalize our outreach at Directive not only improved our response rates but ultimately increased the number of deals closed.

Remember: deals happen between human beings. We can’t expect a prospect to respond to our messages if we didn’t put in the effort when reaching out to them in the first place.


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