Modern Sales Podcast

Low Volume, High Conversion Cold Email with Brad Smith

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Brad Smith is the Senior Director of Sales at AI Dash, and he walks through his process for acquiring clients in a very small market.

Cold email outreach continues to be the best way to exert maximum control over your lead gen process. On this episode, Brad Smith shares his approach to low volume, high conversion cold email using a surprisingly low-tech approach. 

Connect with Brad on LinkedIn


Low Volume, High Conversion Cold Email with Brad Smith:

Full Transcript

Brad Smith
So like how many people are actually going to convert at the end of your funnel, and then how many, then you have to work it back to see if it’s actually worthwhile to do. So, you know, if you can close or get to an opportunity stage from every two meetings or something, and then every four opportunities turns into a win, then think about how many emails you have to send to get those meetings that you need to get the win. And then think of is actually worthwhile based on that ticket. So it’s you, I would just recommend doing the math on that. But no, 50 would be way too small. I would be thinking personally, too, because you’re thinking about this and multi cadences. This is a campaign that you’ll run over the course of multiple months. I mean, you will have your cold callers be calling them to, I mean, it’s not just one channel, you’re touching them from multiple different channels. So not only is that person going to be getting an email, they’ll be getting a LinkedIn connection from me, from someone that works for me, they’ll be getting targeted ads from LinkedIn. That’s Brad

Liston Witherill
Smith, senior director of sales and operations at AI dash, a firm that sells AI driven vegetation management utilities. What the heck is that you ask? Well, it turns out that lots of utilities like electricity providers need to manage the vegetation that can collide with their infrastructure. In California, poor vegetation management has led to bankruptcy and billions of dollars in lawsuits for pg&e alone, the major utility there. So what AI dash does is provide satellite information to help utilities prioritize their maintenance to avoid costly downtime and lawsuits. So how in the heck do you sell that? One thing to note here is that the market is incredibly small. Yes, there are 3300 total electric utilities in the US, but only 200 account for the vast majority of the market. So if you’re going to do cold outreach, you better do it. Well. I brought Brad on to talk about his approach to business development and client acquisition. In a highly specialized field with an incredibly small market. We talk about strategies, tools, timing, the downsides of cold email, his approach to prospecting and messaging and why low volume and super low tech is his preferred approach. Welcome to the serve, don’t sell podcast, a show about growth strategies for creative firms, consultants and independent experts. I’m your host, Liston Witherill. And I’m on a mission to make 100 million people world class ethical communicators, because the world needs more good people. Yes, even in business. If you like what you hear, sign up for my email newsletter at serve, don’t sell.com and get my top 10 podcast episodes and articles right when you sign up. Now, my interview with Brad right after the short break. Hello, and welcome once again to the surf don’t sell podcast and I have a very special conversation today with Brad Smith, who is a cold email expert with a background in services firms. Brad, welcome to the podcast.

Brad Smith
Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Liston Witherill
So why don’t we get started by you just telling us a little bit about your background? And what makes you an expert in cold email and client acquisition?

Brad Smith
Sure. So I’ve been doing cold email for the entirety of my career. So over a decade, I’ve been working with tech service companies to pretty much exclusively throughout that time. And the primary channel of client acquisition has been outbound. So within that sub segment, if you’re thinking calls LinkedIn, all those other touchpoints emails, the primary channel of conversion. So that’s definitely been my specialty over the past decade.

Liston Witherill
And how did like how did that start? Did you when you were a kid, and they asked you what you want to be when you grew up, you said a cold email expert,

Brad Smith
something similar, I think that you’re, you’re kind of learn to manipulate your parents maybe and then so that kind of, you know, turned into being persuasive via you know, communication, and random communication is one of my strong suits. So I think it was just a good fit.

Liston Witherill
Alright, so I have a lot of clients, a lot of people in the audience, everybody is always interested in new clients, right? They want additional stuff. And one of the ways to do that, you know, of course, I talk a lot on this podcast and on my blog about marketing and developing expertise and broadcasting your expertise through, say a podcast or blog or YouTube or whatever your channel is. And that can be one way to attract people. Of course, cold email is has this sort of sexy like cash machine feeling. When people hear it, it’s like, oh, if I just load up enough contacts, you know, if I load up 100 contacts, and I get two clients, why not load up 10,000 So how do you think about cold email as a strategy and what is maybe kind of the right mindset to have in terms of what cold email can do for client acquisition?

Brad Smith
Sure, and you know, to touch on your kind of thoughts about, hey, if we can just increase the size of our email list, then the conversion rates don’t have to do the work. And then we’ll gain exponential clients that way, it’s not like the easiest way to think about it. Because email marketing, you have to think about the top of the funnel, which is your addressable market times that conversion rate to get to your inbox. So deliverability is also important. If you have 10,000 contacts, and you hit Send and you don’t get engagement, Google and all the other email providers are may be noticing that, so it will be less likely that your emails go into inboxes in the future. So you should not look at it from a just increase the size of your your list, and then the results will come, it’s getting the right message to the right person at the right time. So having that threading of the needle because you components in place, then you’re not going to get the conversion. I mean, no one is going to respond to a cold email, if it doesn’t hit a pain point that is timely for them. So I mean, having relevant research done prior to your outreach, is probably the first step that you need to do and think about what’s going to be convincing towards that person.

Liston Witherill
So just a quick clarification before you keep going. When I think of the term email marketing, and I think of it as an industry term of art, which means one to many, I’m going to go broadcast, a marketing related email. So for instance, today I sent an offer to join a free training I’m going to do to my list. When I think of cold email, another industry term of art, I think of something that functions closer to one to one or one to few email. So maybe I have 100 or 200 prospects that I’m going to go after. And maybe I use something that allows me to do merge tags to personalize all of those, do you think about it the same way, because he used the term email marketing, and I just wasn’t sure what you were referring to.

Brad Smith
And maybe it’s that type of like ambiguous term that’s used to describe many different ways of doing it. But you know, the one too many thing. And even like, the amount of people in your list isn’t what a focus of mine is, like, there was this phrase by Abraham Lincoln, which was Taylor, and Taylor asked him how long he wanted his jacket, he said long enough. And the same way with the list, if you have a common attribute, which you’re marketing through, then find the people that have that similar attribute. And then it has to be like, I mean, you have to have a segment firmographic, all these different types of you know, the message should be relevant equally to everyone in your list. So however, that big that list ends up being is, however, lists however big that list does. So I wouldn’t be looking at it from a size perspective, but as a as a common thread. Okay, let

Liston Witherill
me try another way. So I’ve when I think of email marketing, I think of using MailChimp, or Active Campaign, or like an email marketing tool, when I think of cold email, I think of text based emails that feel like I sent it to one single recipient. So which are you referring to?

Brad Smith
So we use tools, I mean, we’ll do mail merges, we’ll use tools like folios, and other things that kind of look like a plain text email to someone with personalized merge fields. So we’ll add, you know, a lot of personalization to it, you know, as title for a company, I think that you might be interested in X, Y, and Z. But yeah, we absolutely use tools to be able to scale this type of outreach. Because efficiency when you’re thinking about all of this, I mean, you have an addressable market, you have to touch, how are you going to do it efficiently? So we absolutely use tools to be able to do that.

Liston Witherill
Sure. Okay. And I want to dig into some of your preferences here. And I’ve had, I don’t know if you know, jack reamer. But he certainly has his preference, which is quickmail. But it’s not mine. Anyway. So let’s say I want to start my, I want to have the best strategy possible to acquire service based clients. So you know, I’m a marketing agency, I’m a coach, I’m a consultant, I’m an accountant, I’m a designer, something like that. What are the first things I need to think about in order to start to build my campaign?

Brad Smith
So I mean, when I think about all the different components that need to be in place to get the meeting, and that’s what you kind of measure success for with these type of campaigns as getting your foot in the door. So the right message to the right person at the right time. So defining your persona and segments that you’re going to be attacking, and then what that unique message is going to be to them. So those are like two separate components. But getting those in place are the first two things. Everything else kind of like falls into place, but define your persona on different levels to so if you’re a marketing agency, and you have an ideal customer profile, what are the attributes of that Customer firma graphically. So like what how big is that company was the revenue? What industry are they specialized in and who within that company, so what persona in that company Are you also going after, because you might be doing it a couple a couple different angles too. So you might not just be reaching out to the CEO, you might reach out to the VP of Marketing, the CMO, the Director of Marketing might be looking at it from different angles, that digital person might get a little bit different of a message. So I would be segmenting first. And then looking at what those ideal customer profiles are, so you can mirror exactly what your unique value prop is for those. And also that will increase your social validation, we’ve helped other companies with that exact same issue right there exactly like you, it just increases the relevance to them. So the more you can do that, the better your conversion rates will be.

Liston Witherill
And one thing you mentioned is the right person at the right time. And when I think about timing, I think there are some external things I can observe. So I had a digital agency for a while. And timing was much easier because I could see, have they installed something on their website recently, that would indicate they’re interested in the kind of help that I offer? Have they hired someone? Something like that, right? There are these kind of observable, publicly observable factors. Whereas if someone wants to get better at sales, it’s not as obvious there are definitely things that I look at which I’m not going to reveal my secrets here, dear listener, but there are some things I look at, they’re just not nearly as obvious. How do you think about attempting to reach people at the right time, when you’re pushing out versus attracting people with advertising or other messages that would allow them to raise their hand and tell you now’s the right time?

Brad Smith
Sure. And I mean, that’s, that’s a very good statement. To me, I like how you put that but, um, you know, the right time is not just about like, need to, I mean, I just want to be clear about that. It’s also about when people are in their inbox. So you can identify certain attributes, which are going to increase the likelihood that they are going to be a good, you know, service market fit, so that your service really fits in with what they need. And some of those things when you’re thinking about like vendor selection process, if you are new to that organization, you have a higher likelihood that you will bring on a new vendor. So you can be looking for people who are fitting that ICP fitting that persona segmentation, and then find out when they’ve changed jobs, and then approach them at those times. But then your time of day also, you know, people are in their inboxes, at certain times a day. And there’s a lot of publicly available information about exactly when people are opening emails the most, both time of day, day, a week, week of day, we’re on Thanksgiving week. So people sending out emails tomorrow, that is going straight to an inbox is never going to be read. I mean, that email is never going to resonate. So even the bookends of holidays. So, you know, the Wednesday and Friday around Thanksgiving, don’t expect to get a lot of responses on that. So being in understanding kind of like the you know, how people interact with their inbox, and just being like, you know, honest with yourself, when you get an email from someone that you don’t know anything about? How are you interacting with it? And then try to think of tactics where you can be able to Oh, if they did this differently, maybe would resonate? I mean, look at yourself as kind of a test case, if that makes sense.

Liston Witherill
What are your goals for your campaign? So you said get a meeting? And that’s easy enough? We that’s kind of binary, right? Did we get a meeting? Do we not get to meet meaning on a contact or account level? But I also think about especially cold is like, I’m interrupting someone, they probably don’t know who I am. It’s a big ask to first time say, Hey, are you available for 20 minutes on Tuesday? What are you attempting to do in order for someone to take a step closer to you? And say, maybe ask an easy question, or is there a step before the meeting? In other words?

Brad Smith
Well, I always look at like, you’re decreasing barriers to taking desirable actions. So I do not want to sell anything. And I do like to create a sense of like, Hey, what do you guys actually talking about? That is something that I don’t want to sell via email. And so part of this is to I’m just trying to sell the meeting. So I will tell them how I can help them with something that’s professionally relevant to them. So how can I help that individual, not company professionally, so before we even do it, that’s the kind of the importance of the research. If we know that, hey, you are responsible for X, Y, and Z. And these are the KPIs on which your boss is measuring you. And then I’m wasting you an email saying, Hey, I can help you increase the metrics on X, Y, and Z, the likelihood that they will take the meeting is higher than if you’re trying to say, hey, do I take a sales call with me? So I want to just talk about everything in the context of what’s important to them. Do you want to have a conversation about how you can improve what’s the most important thing in your job? All right, you Two minutes, great, let’s set up a call with you and my boss or someone really smart, a subject matter expert. And then we can kind of dig into deep into, like, how this could be relevant and also improve, improve your cloud, within the company. I mean, everyone wants a gold star by their name, bringing a great idea to their company. So those are some of the ways that you can like kind of frame the messaging to resonate with them more and convert more, if that makes sense.

Liston Witherill
Does it work better if someone has a boss because they’re beholden to an external level of accountability?

Brad Smith
Well, if they don’t have a boss, then you talk about the bottom line type results. So if you’re reaching out to the CEO, or even anyone in the like the C level or leadership team, talk about how you can help them reduce costs and increase revenue. That’s something that universally resonates with that level of seniority level. And then you can actually, you know, layer in kind of like, specifically, so if you’re a web development company, or a digital marketing company, hey, let me tell you how I can get more people to your website. And then once they’re at their website, increase the likelihood that they take desirable actions, like fill out a form or ask for more information, or x, y, and z. So tell them like the steps on Hey, we can help you do this by doing this. And those things also, and also thinking about the timing, if they have something on top of their mind, that also increases the relevance which also increases conversion rates.

Liston Witherill
Okay, let me ask you a question that you probably don’t get asked often. Under what circumstances as a service business owner, should I not consider doing cold email? Is there anyone who was just not a fit for this?

Brad Smith
Well, I mean, there’s certain people, I mean, for one thing, you need to be opting out, like I mean, honoring can spam compliance and GDPR compliance and castle and all of that good stuff. That’s data privacy. And, you know, making sure that you’re not emailing people who expressively said that they wouldn’t. And in Europe, do not email people from Europe unless they have opted in. So I would absolutely have everyone, I would encourage everyone to look into the specific regional regulations, and then abide by them, because those are very specific and can have severe penalties like violating GD GDPR can cost up to 4% of your

Liston Witherill
Well, okay, so let’s aside from not doing things that are illegal, let’s just assume that our the listeners here are responsible enough to know not to do that. What other factors might make it in terms of my business in terms of the clients that I’m going after? Is there anything else that might make this a bad strategy for me?

Brad Smith
Personally, I don’t think so. I mean, the worst case scenario is someone’s saying no. I mean, that is literally the worst case scenario, and you’re a cold email. So it’s not like you’re Google emailing them. Like, if you’re a person who’s like doing this, and you’re a service company, the likelihood that they know who you are, if they if you if they are cold to you, is low. So them opting out of an email is like someone you know, buying a cup of coffee, they don’t even remember it afterwards. So I think the risk to reward ratio is not really something that I’d be concerned about,

Liston Witherill
I often think of kind of a minimum client value that I would need. So like, if someone’s average sale is 1000 bucks or 2000 bucks, it’s probably, it seems to me, probably not going to be very worthwhile, because you need to then enter a sales process because this person wasn’t looking for you, and they didn’t opt into anything. And then you’re gonna have to have probably multiple calls with them, potentially. And I don’t mean, the average sale, but the average client value, and kind of the, the benchmark that I use, maybe benchmark isn’t a good word for it. The rule of thumb that I think about is five figures, if you can sell something that you know, your client is worth 10,000 or more, this might be a really good thing for you. But if not, it’s gonna be difficult to break even on this what what are your thoughts on client value?

Brad Smith
I agree, I mean, I’ve only really done this in the business to business context with you know, at least five to six, I mean, five would be the bare minimum. So client acquisition costs need to be weighed with kind of what that bandwidth is going to cost you as well. This is not like an easy thing where you can do transactional things, send out a mass email and have a lot of people buy whatever pyramid scheme you’re trying to sell or whatever, it’s it has to be more consultative selling, where you’re talking to a person. I mean, you can’t just have them click on a box and buy something. This is more of a halo start building relationship type entry point rather than, you know, click to buy

Liston Witherill
a pyramid scheme, watch your mouth on this podcast,

Brad Smith
I’m just saying, I mean, I you know, it’s just one of those things like it’s, this is a thoughtful approach to doing, you know, marketing. It’s, you know, you’re convincing individual people, not just the broad span of people where you’re spraying and praying. This is something where you’re doing It’s surgically, where you find the exact right person say, I know exactly how I can help you succeed. Okay, so

Liston Witherill
let’s, let’s talk about that, right, because spray and pray always implies, first of all lack of personalization. Generally, it’s used in a derogatory way to say you didn’t think about it this very much, you could have done better than you did. And it also implies generally volume, right? We’re just gonna dump, I actually talked to a guy one time, I said, how’d you get business? Before talking to me? Like, why are we here? What what might I be able to help you with? And he goes, Well, I bought a list of 200,000 people, and I sent the same email to all of them. And I said, What happened? And he goes, I got, you know, 30 clients. And I was like, well, it’s not what I would have recommended to you. But you know, I guess it worked. The only downside, of course, is you can’t do that again. That in maybe your your feelings about yourself, and how you think about what’s ethical in business, but, you know, volume. So I know you want the right length coat. But in the past, when you’ve worked for a service company, one thing I think about is how much work it is to set up these campaigns. Right? What if I want to do them? Right? Usually, there’s some element of supporting material, there’s going to be a sales process or a meeting structure that I’m going to use, there’s going to be probably some educational element as well, that will go into it. What is the minimum number, like? How do you even think about volume? And please don’t say it depends, because I know it does. But just humor me?

Brad Smith
Sure. Well, volume is one of those things that impacts deliverability. So I always want to be cognizant about the volume of email and the frequency of emails that I send. So when you think about Google, they look at you know, all the emails in the world, and then understand which ones are spam and which ones aren’t pretty accurately. And so there are a lot of common attributes of people who do spam a lot. So they will do a big blast. So volume spike really quickly, and then taper off on emails throughout the time. So you want to be very cognizant that you don’t have any of those volume spikes. So consistent volume is something you try to aim for. So we always think about in that and like the cadence structure, too. So we don’t want to have a volume spike, we want to be consistent. So trying to stay within that number is important. When we think about a campaign number size to again, like we can spread this out over the course of days, they can keep consistent volume and do it in waves. So the size of your coat is the size of your coat regardless, like if this mouth message is going to resonate and be relevant to you. Why should you be excluded from miles? Like why would that make sense, right? So I want to be able to make sure that we get the entire addressable market and pass this message along to everyone, but just be consistent on the volume throughout all the days. That’s how I look at volume, if that makes sense.

Liston Witherill
Well, and I wasn’t asking, like how many emails Should I send in a day? I guess I’m wondering like, Is it worth it to do a campaign with only 50 contacts or even?

Brad Smith
Yeah, yeah, I could, I know, I understand what you’re Yeah, you know that. I mean, you have to think about your conversion rate, and do the work back math. So like, how many people are actually going to convert at the end of your funnel, and then how many, then you have to work it back to see if it’s actually worthwhile to do right. So you know, if you can close or get to, you know, an opportunity stage from every two meetings or something, and then every four opportunities turns into a win, then think about how many emails you have to send to get those meetings that you need to get the win. And then think if it’s actually worthwhile based on that ticket number two, so it’s you, I would just recommend doing the work back math on that. But no, 50 would be way too small. I would be thinking personally, too, because you’re thinking about this in multi cadences. This is a campaign that you’ll run over the course of multiple months, I mean, you will have your cold callers be calling them to, I mean, it’s not just one channel, you’re touching them from multiple different channels. So not only is that person going to be getting an email, they’ll be getting a LinkedIn connection for me, from someone that works for me, there’ll be getting targeted ads from LinkedIn, because we have their advanced segmentation like exactly who the people are from the exact companies. So there’ll be seeing that if they click on any of their link, they’re also going to get remarketing banners on top of them. So we want to be able to like, you know, put ourselves in front of them. Because the right time isn’t the right time just due to a project. when can they respond to us? When are they going to remember us? when can they act and what channel are they most likely to respond to us? I want to talk to our prospects where they want to be talked to not about like where we want to be talked to so

Brad Smith
I don’t know if that answered your question.

Liston Witherill
Or does Yeah, so I answered this, or I talked to this guy, Dan schinsky, who runs a consulting firm for email newsletters. And you know, he’s worked with BuzzFeed in the New York Times and other very, very notable outlets. And his website, at least it was at the time I interviewed him was a Google slide deck. And the reason why that’s remarkable is because it’s the absolute exception to the rule. And often, I think of a website as being kind of a critical piece of infrastructure, in order to execute any sort of marketing endeavor, whether it’s cold email, or whatever, because a lot of people, the first thing they’ll do is go look at your website. So I know you may not agree, but what kinds of supporting infrastructure Do I need in order to not guarantee but increase my success rate with this?

Brad Smith
Sure. And so you mentioning a website i think is absolutely plays an important role. When you’re especially when you’re nurturing too. I think for those initial touch points to get your foot in the door, I typically don’t want to send someone to a website, because that’s increasing barriers to getting the conversion, hey, go to my website, fill out a form, and then I’ll set up a meeting with you. I that doesn’t make sense. Like, I want to have that personal touch point. So like that type of infrastructure, I don’t think I think it’s more important further down the funnel, to me, at least

Liston Witherill
Well, okay, let me interject real quick, though. Here’s what I think. And you please feel free to tell me that I’m wrong. Or this is not what actually happens. But the feedback I’ve gotten from a lot of people is, when I reach out to them, no, I’m not, I’m not sending them to my website and saying, go fill out this form. I’m reaching out and saying, you know, people like you are experiencing this problem. And I’ve helped XYZ people with this problem in the past, if you’d like to know how it works, you know, hit reply. I know what a lot of people will do, which is go visit my website as to maybe to learn more, if they’re not ready to reply yet. Maybe to see who is this listing guy? Right? How credible is this guy? What is this all about? That’s what I mean by website infrastructure. I don’t mean, do we have a forum? Someone can go fill out? I mean, can does a website do a good job of convincing people that this is legit?

Brad Smith
Yeah, I think for certain, I think it does enhance. And it’s one of those things where it’s a good piece of the puzzle, because people will do that. I mean, if you think about conversion rates, and everyone and what they’re going to do, as a significant portion of people will look at your website, I do think that is important. But a significant amount of people will not do. I mean, think about best practices for cold email marketing, you have 175 words, be concise and be relevant to that individual. And then they won’t need to, I mean, partial part. I mean, if you’re being convincing, you should I mean, you have supporting documents will help you convince people, but also sending them to your homepage isn’t going to be that place to where you should logically put them have a have a landing page that’s going to be able to disseminate this information quickly or something like that. But I would just say like, if you’re going to be doing things make it easy for people to convert, because Americans aren’t big readers from a hole to their scanners. They want concise information, they want it to be easily disseminated, and they want to be able to easily act on it if they were to be able to do it. Yeah. So

Liston Witherill
all right, we are single handedly killing nuance in the world. Go in America. So 175 words, where does that come from?

Brad Smith
There’s a lot of studies that show it so every single mass email platform in the world has like optimal rates on a lot of things. And then even when you think about, like how you would structure paragraphs and like whitespace. So you know, it’s one of those things where it’s like a good four paragraph format with a couple sentences in the middle, and it gives you like areas to put CTAs. So if you have a lot of CTAs, it makes it really obvious what they need to do to take that action. So you know, that’s kind of what they usually say 175 words, was it 23 or 27 character count on your subject line to make an optimized for the iPhone, and a couple other like little things like that. But yeah, that is usually about 175 words. Right? Right at that point.

Liston Witherill
In terms of technology, infrastructure, what do you recommend for using cold email? mail merge,

Brad Smith
just good old fashioned, you know, mailers? I think that gets through inbox against the inboxes more frequently. And when I think about it, like I don’t want an HTML heavy email that looks like it was formatted by Salesforce or something like I want this to be looking like a personal touch point from an individual rep saying, hey, Bill, I’m writing this email to you specifically, and it looks exactly like that. So you can do a plain text email for mail merge with all types of personalization fields in there. Really simple, really easy to make sure you have a consistent volume To The only disadvantage is the overhead on the database management burden. So making sure that you opt out people making sure that you record notes, making sure all this data gets into like the right you know, Salesforce CRM, you know, those are the type of things where like the automated emails, make that really simple. But, you know, as part of the thing like you and your emails to go into inboxes, because if a great portion go into spam boxes, your conversion rates need to be going a lot higher, or your volume needs to get to a lot higher to maintain those type of things. So if you’re a results driven organization, I would highly recommend using mail merge, and then just hiring people to do the database management.

Liston Witherill
What do you use for mail merge, or is that the name of a product,

Brad Smith
it has as a combination of Excel, Word and outlook. So if you have all three of those products, you have the ability to do a mail merge, that will combine excel sheet with a Word document. You send it from there,

Liston Witherill
I see. And then you’re just copying and pasting,

Brad Smith
copy and pasting, it’s all automated. So basically, demodulate the volume, you turn outlook on and off on the trigger button, and then it will make sure that’s consistent, but it loads up all of those emails directly into that. So you have a database with people’s first name, title, you know, we go, or they we reformat everyone’s title to make it shorthand. So it sounds like instead of director comma information technology that shows up director of it, so it’s grammatically correct, right? And that like company names, we use, like the doing business as names like the DBA names. So what you would say shorthand. So you know, like, if you’re dealing with, I’m trying to, like, think of a name.

Liston Witherill
Yeah, no, see, like, I’m thinking of Spotify, right, and they would have the German Corporation extension at the end of it, you would want to get rid of that.

Brad Smith
Or even use the abbreviations like we were running higher education campaigns for a web development company, we would find out those acronyms. So like, you want to say University of California, Irvine, you’d be like, right?

Brad Smith
Yeah. So you would just say those type of shorthand names University of Alabama, you have a those little touches, where it’s like, oh, this is going directly to the person. Because when you think about like, human interaction, too, if you were to send a physical piece of mail, and a mailbox to someone and said, you know, to listed or current resident, you’d be like, this is trash, I’m throwing it away. But if you have all these like great personalization fields, like say, hey, as idle for a company, or as the title or acronym like, Oh, my God, that looks so great. Um, I think you’d be interested in better understanding how we can help you with exactly your professional role, and what’s going to be relevant to you. So can we help you improve the KPIs which your boss is measuring you by which your organization measure success by us have like 15 minutes to be able to have a quick conversation, discuss that, and then make it easy for them to act, and they’ll act? And those are how you get conversion rate. So you’re never gonna have great conversion rates on email marketing, these are cold emails to random people. So those are the ways to increase the likelihood though,

Liston Witherill
let me think of benchmarks of like, in turn, usually, I think of you want to reply rate, benchmark open rate, reply rate, meaning rate? Do you have benchmarks that you target.

Brad Smith
And when you’re doing mail merge, you don’t have the luxury of doing because you’re doing plain text, you can’t put tracking pixels in there to be able to measure open rate, click through rate, all that good stuff. So you’re measuring response rate and conversion rates, okay. So like, how many how many email says it take for me to get my meeting, and then we can do the work back math, to do the forecasting, to be able to say, Hey, we know that this many meetings turned into opportunities, this many opportunities turned into a win, and then be able to forecast based on that.

Liston Witherill
I’m trying to figure out, if I were to be doing a campaign, how would I assess whether I’m on track or not? So are we looking at, let’s just look at the meeting rate, right? Because how many turn into opportunities vary dependent on who you’re reaching? how good you are at that first meeting. There’s lots of other things that are happening outside of the email. But in terms of percentage of contacts that turn into a first meeting. What do you think of in a range is fine to

Brad Smith
hate, like always answering these questions and like, you know, subtlety and nuance. But it’s about a B testing to it’s about continuous improvement, like no email you should do unless you have your finger directly on the pulse of your target market. Like should not be like converting at a rate this optimal. So a B testing and improving is what you should be, I would say a good aim. If you’re especially like, you know, this is new to you, and not being too super ambitious. But being realistic. If you can get out of cold people who you’ve never talked to him don’t know you, if you can get one and 201 and 300 people to take a meeting with you that success. I mean, other meeting too, I mean, talking about qualified meetings, because like not only like, you can go to organizations where you can set up 100 meetings, but those 100 meetings will convert at one in 100. I mean, when you’re thinking about bandwidth allocation, if you can find the right person, the right message at the right time, the likelihood Converting is high. But when you’re threading the needle, your willingness a lot of needles to. So when you have to be like cognizant about that,

Liston Witherill
well, so how would you define a qualified meeting, then

Brad Smith
qualified meetings are ones that have immediate needs and timelines that align with what you’re trying

Liston Witherill
to sell. And you know that before they were before you set the meeting,

Brad Smith
knows we have a, we think of it as a way of all likelihood, like we think because based on their firmographic information, based on the person we’re talking to, right, there’s all that there’s going to be a good fit, right? And if there is that good bet after you do get on the call, then that’s a qualified meeting. Right?

Liston Witherill
The purpose of will, but that would be okay, I think we’re splitting hairs here. But I think initially, you differentiated between meetings and opportunities. And I think what you’re describing there is an opportunity,

Brad Smith
right? So the ball as a nuance as a Salesforce, like way of thinking, and maybe I’m just like stuck in that mentality of like, the demarcation of when you convert a lead into an opportunity. Yeah, it is a little bit new is a little bit different for our process. So I think that is just a nuance of, of how we do it.

Liston Witherill
How do you think of the differences in prospecting for a service versus a product?

Brad Smith
Well, so a service will probably usually have an already existing, you know, demand for that, I mean, it’s a competitive space, like you’re not, I mean, if it’s a service is probably a commodity, almost, I mean, it’s going to be competitive. So it’s going to be something where you’re gonna be going up against an incumbent, likely. So if you are a digital marketing company, that people you’re reaching out to either have an in house team, or are probably doing it with someone else. So you’re going to have those barriers of friction, if you’re a product company, there’s potential that your brand new product category, and that you’re just trying to introduce it. So I think part of it is kind of understanding the landscape of where these people are in their journey, if you can, like find any indication of if they had an internal team versus external team of your service company and providing that function, that would be beneficial. But I think part of that has to do with like the research to like, if you can find that firmographic information, and only focus on the people who are fitting that exact, you know, ideal customer profile, then the likelihood is going to be increased that you have success with those with that segment.

Liston Witherill
And right, so, a couple things you said there. And often I think about the difference between selling a product and service as services are intangible. And so therefore, the demand for trust and credibility is much greater, because I can’t, like there’s a lot of risk for me to try it out.

Brad Smith
probably been burned in the past, or they’ve had a negative experience with a potential competitor or something. I’ve seen that really a lot in the digital marketing space. And then like web development, where they’ve had a really negative experience, and you have to overcome those obstacles of being considered in that same PR class.

Liston Witherill
You do. But I think that’s better than them never feeling like it was valuable enough to spend on marketing, right? That’s a harder client to sell. Is there really no difference in your approach? You just go in knowing, hey, there may be someone who’s already doing this for this client. And so therefore, maybe you need to have a greater uniqueness or more really hone in on your differentiator more.

Brad Smith
Yeah, maybe maybe that or increase the social validation. But I mean, I don’t think there’s too many, you know, especially with cold marketing, understand your market deeply, like, Who are you trying to sell? What are their pain points, and then market to those pain points or opportunities that they’re trying to seize upon? I mean, that’s the way I market I feel like maybe service a product marketing, other people might take different approaches where there’s increased the differentiators between like the two categories. But I personally think that if you are solving if, I mean in the b2b context, too, if you’re solving people’s professional problems, that’s what’s going to resonate with them. Whether it’s a service or a product that’s solving, like the things that they’re trying to accomplish. I think that’s less relevant, personally.

Liston Witherill
All right, well, you’ve been very open sharing all about your experience. I really appreciate you being here. I know that some of the listeners will probably want to follow up with you learn more about you. What should they do, Brad?

Brad Smith
Um, you know, you can email me at Bradley at AI dash comm or just find me on LinkedIn, Bradley Smith, ai dash.

Liston Witherill
Fantastic. Thanks for being here.

Brad Smith
You’re welcome. Thanks.

Stay In the Loop

Get a daily sales insight sent straight to your inbox – sign up for our newsletter.

Like what you heard? Help us get the word out! Just leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It’ll take you less than a minute and it’ll help us spread the word about Modern Sales.

Subscribe

Get Serve More Weekly, an email newsletter with one article, podcast episode, and stories from around the web. Every Monday.

Up next…

Check out the four sales fundamentals every top performer masters, how to use value-based selling to increase your leverage, and how to improve your remote selling skills as the world becomes more virtual.

And check out the SDS method if you want to improve your sales process.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn