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6 steps to kickstart your prospecting in 2023

6 steps to kickstart your prospecting in 2023

In today’s issue, I’m going to share a simple, 6-steps process I’m currently using, as I’m restarting my prospecting effort.

If you can replicate this process, you’ll set yourself for success in early Q1, by starting more conversations, and booking more meetings.

Unfortunately, 2023 isn’t looking as promising as 2022, and most salespeople are already wired to believe they won’t be successful.

In 2023, a prospecting system will be more important than ever

And without a solid outbound prospecting system, a few challenges will arise:

Challenge #1: You’ll get few replies: as most replies are obtained through follow-ups, you’ll miss conversations by not having a system.

Challenge #2: Your results will be inconsistent: you’ll prospect in bursts, then stop, which will attract scrutiny on your performance.

Challenge #3: You’ll lose confidence quickly: you’ll start worrying about your capacities, and enter a spiral of self-doubt.

You can overcome these challenges by creating a simple prospecting system.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Define your ICP

In 2023, you’ll need to focus on a niche and stop trying to sell to everyone. I recommend doing so with a clear Ideal Customer Profile Matrix.

The matrix is composed of your Ideal Customer Company (ICC) in columns, and your Ideal Customer Title (ICT) in rows. Your ICC is the type of company you’d like to go after, and the ICT is the type of job title you’d like to go for.

With this matrix, you’ll be able to test different assumptions of your ICC and go after different types of buyers (what we call ATL and BTL buyers).

Step 2: Find their problems

Another key topic in 2023 is understanding your prospects’ problems, and showing them that you have something to help them solve these problems.

First, you need to have a clear idea of the problems your prospects are trying to solve. I recommend googling “{jobTitle} challenges 2023” to get an idea of the strategic problems your ATL prospects are facing.

When you’re done, turn these problems into symptoms, to help your prospects identify with them, and motivate them to reply.

Step 3: Find where they hang out

Humans are social creatures, and they typically hang out with other humans who have the same interests. Nowadays, they mostly do it online, on social networks.

For most salespeople, LinkedIn is a great place to find prospects, and identify triggers to help them start conversations.

I recommend following these 4 steps to identify where your prospects hang out, and create personalized messages at scale.

Step 4: Build a problem-centric sequence

Now that you know who to go after, what problems they have, and where they hang out, you need to send messages that will get replies.

Two things matter most when sending cold outreach messages; creativity and relevance. Creativity is done through pattern interrupts (voice notes, videos, direct mail, etc.), and relevance through the correct use of triggers.

You can check my 4-step framework to create your cold outreach messages and get more replies from your prospects (I get a 38% reply rate with it).

Step 5: Create your daily prospecting routine

All these steps will result in nothing if you don’t create a daily prospecting habit. This step is by far the most challenging, since humans have a hard time building and keeping healthy habits.

I recommend doing the following:

  • Step 1: Identify the time when you’re the most productive

  • Step 2: Put a recurring blocker of 60 minutes

  • Step 3: Follow the steps in this short guide

  • Step 4: Repeat until it becomes a habit (at least 21 consecutive days)

Step 6: Use creative media in your outbound sequences

In 2023, prospects are busy putting out fires with limited resources. Grabbing their attention will become more challenging than ever, which is why you need to use creative media to stop them in their day, and pay attention to what you have to say.

I personally use two media for this, first one is LinkedIn voice notes, second is prospecting videos.

 

If you follow these 6 steps, you’ll be in good position to grab your prospects’ attention, engage them in conversations, and book meetings with people who are trying to solve a problem you can help with.

And if you want to create an outbound prospecting system to get your reply rates closer to 38%, then join 250+ salespeople who use my New Outreach System.

 

Cheers,

Thibaut

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you.
 
  1. Build your outbound prospecting system from scratch here (250+ students)
  2. Write cold messages that get a 38% reply rate and 27% meeting rate here (55+)
  3. Book me 1:1 or for your team here
  4. (NEW!) Sponsor my newsletter & get 3.500+ eyeballs on your ad!

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My 2022 prospecting stats

My 2022 prospecting stats

In 2021, I started a simple daily habit that I kept running in 2022. Every single workday, from Monday to Friday, I started my day with a 30 minute prospecting blocker.

In 2022, I kept experimenting with new prospecting plays, but the daily prospecting habit stayed.

Here are the prospecting stats of my year 2022:

723 prospects contacted

I knew from 2021 that adding 5 new prospects every single weekday was a good number to reach my targets. I kept working with that number in 2022, but the places were I went to find these prospects were different.

Instead of purely focusing on new logos, I went for:

  • Current customers
  • Old customers
  • Lost opportunities
  • Referrals

This was really helpful to bring my research time under 15 minutes daily.

258 prospects replied (35.7% reply rate)

I kept working with a simple LinkedIn sequence, but instead of tweaking it once every 6 months, I experimented with a new prospecting play every month.

With rapid experimentation, I was able to find what worked and what didn’t, and I double downed on the best plays.

In the second part of the year, I focused on reaching out to existing and old customers, which bumped my reply rate from 34.6% in 2021 to 35.7% in 2022.

49 meetings booked (18.7% meeting rate)

Finally, I booked 49 outbound meetings. As in 2021, a lot of the conversations didn’t lead to immediate opportunities, with a 37% opportunity rate only.

However, a good chunk of the prospects who didn’t turn into immediate opportunities came back later as inbound lead, or referred me to people they knew.

As a result, my sales grew by 77% in 2022, compared to 2021. And this was a key moment for me in 2022.

I had never been in a sales job for more than 3 years, and I learned that building a solid pipeline is about consistency and patience. I’ve been running SalesLabs for over 4 years, and each year is easier than the previous one.

It is simpler because my customer base keeps increasing, I’m bringing results to more and more people, and the risks of working with me are lower with each customer I bring on board.

If you’re prospecting stats aren’t where you want them to be, then sign up for my weekly newsletter, or go check one of my programs in the footer below.

Cheers,

Thibaut

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you.
 
  1. Build your outbound prospecting system from scratch here (230+ students)
  2. Write cold messages that get a 38% reply rate and 27% meeting rate here (40+)
  3. Book me 1:1 or for your team here
  4. (NEW!) Sponsor my newsletter & get 3K+ eyeballs on your ad!

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Join 5.500+ subscribers to Tactical Selling. Every Thursday, you’ll get 1 actionable tip on starting conversations and booking more meetings.

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Join 5.500+ subscribers to Tactical Selling. Every Thursday, you’ll get 1 actionable tip on starting conversations and booking more meetings.

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My top 3 prospecting plays of 2022

My top 3 prospecting plays of 2022

As we approach the end of the year, I’ve been reviewing what has worked and what hasn’t in my outbound prospecting.

In 2022, I have experimented with 10 prospecting plays, and here’s a deep dive into 3 of them that performed better than the rest, with a 60%+ meeting rate.

Play 1: The Roundtable

The Roundtable is a play where you organize an online event with a limited number of Above The Line buyers. Your goal is to gather insights on what matters to them.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Plan a 30-minute online event

    • 30 min online event on Zoom

    • 5 to 10 participants

    • VPs/C-level only

    • Short survey sent before the event

       

  2. Build a sequence to invite prospects to the event

    • Invite existing customers first

    • Then ongoing opportunities

    • Then lost opportunities

    • Then prospects

     

  3. Create FOMO

    • Namedrop participants’ names as they accept

    • First few participants will be the toughest to get, but it will become easier as you name drop

     

  4. Send a pre-event survey

    • A few days before the event, send a short survey to the participants:

      • What happened in H1?

      • What are you challenges/expectations for H2?

      • What are you key initiatives for the rest of the year?

     

  5. Run the event

    • Present the results of the survey and act as an event facilitator.

      • Ask participants to develop their replies

      • Write down challenges they have

      • Ask them how they plan on fixing these challenges

     

  6. Follow-up with participants who have a problem you can help with

    • Drop a thank you note to all participants after the event

    • Tease a potential solution to those who shared a problem you can help with

 

Results: 42% reply rate, 60% meeting rate

Play 2: The Graph

With The Graph, your goal is to create a visual representation of a challenge your prospects are familiar with, and include it in your outbound messages.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Identify a key problem of your prospect

    • Think about a quantifiable problem ($/€, %, absolute numbers) that your solution is impacting

     

  2. Create a visual representation of that problem

    • Now that you have a problem, think about a graphical representation to this problem

    • Line charts, pie charts, column charts are great visual representation to use

    • Insert some example data to represent the problem

    • Create the chart

     

  3. Add an explanation

    • Now that you have a chart, add an explanation of the problem and why it’s a problem

    • You can then do a screen capture of the graph

     

  4. Insert in your sequence

    • Introduce your graph with a text/LinkedIn voicenote or video

    • Here’s a LinkedIn voicenote I used for that play:

      John, many sales leaders I’m speaking with have sales forecasts looking like this thing below (insert graph of typical u-shaped forecast). Tons of opps in early stage, tons of opps in late stage, nothing in between.

      If you’re into it, we’re gathering other sales leaders to discuss what they can do to prevent this.

      Want to learn more?

U-shaped pipeline

Results: 37% reply rate, 73% meeting rate

Play 3: The Thank You Note

This play is a simple way to use your existing network (past customers, current customers, and lost opportunities) to create new opportunities.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Identify 5 customers you have worked with

    • Compile a list of people who have bought one of your products/services

    • If they bought more than one product, they are at the top of your list

    • If they are happy and had a good outcome, they’ll also be at the top of your list

  2. Send them a thank you email

    • In the email, mention that you have two points you’d like to share with them

    • Thank them in the first part of the message

  3. Search for problems

    • In the second part of the email, ask if they know of people who are are having similar challenges as the ones your customers used you for

    • Tease a potential resource to help them with these challenges

    • In a lot of cases, your customers will think about people in their companies, or even ask for the resource themselves

  4. Navigate

    • If your customer replies, they may send you names, do some intros, or tell you they are interested in the potential resource your teased them

    • In all cases, make sure to ask them into a meeting before sending the resource, this is where you’ll be able to catch up with them, and identify new opportunities

Here’s an example:

John, how are you doing?

2 things:

1. I’ve been reviewing people I worked with in 2022 and I wanted to say thank you for having your reps join the program! Mary mentioned she cut her demo calls in half and managed to qualify opportunities faster.

2. I’d be curious to know if you know of people who are having challenges reaching their targets. I may have something for them.

Thanks again for working with me!

Results: 41% reply rate, 67% meeting rate


And these are my top 3 plays to get replies and book meetings in 2022.

Hope this helps!

PS: As we’re approaching the end of the year, I’m doing a 50% discount on a bundle of the The New Outreach System + The Cold Message System. You’ll get all the tools to build your outbound prospecting system for 2023, including sequences, messaging, as well as creative ideas to find and reach out to prospects.

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you.
 
  1. Build your outbound prospecting system from scratch here (230+ students)
  2. Write cold messages that get a 38% reply rate and 27% meeting rate here (40+)
  3. Book me 1:1 or for your team here
  4. (NEW!) Sponsor my newsletter & get 3K+ eyeballs on your ad!

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Join 5.500+ subscribers to Tactical Selling. Every Thursday, you’ll get 1 actionable tip on starting conversations and booking more meetings.

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3 steps to fixing your end-of-year pipeline

3 steps to fixing your end-of-year pipeline

In today’s newsletter, I’m going to share my 3 steps to fixing an end-of-year pipeline.

If you can replicate this process, you’re going to have a clear understanding of your real pipeline, and you’ll stop working on opportunities that have no chance of closing.

Unfortunately, most reps waste a good chunk of their time working on opportunities that will never close, resulting in missed targets.

Building a pipeline that closes is about disqualifying hard

Without a simple qualification process, a few challenges arise:

Challenge 1: You don’t know if you are spending time on the right opportunities.

Challenge 2: You spend a ton of time and effort on deals that may never close.

Challenge 3: Your pipeline looks good, but your results aren’t good enough.

You can overcome all of these challenges by answering the three following questions.

Question 1: What is the quantified cause

When you start working with a prospect towards closing a deal, you need to understand the reason why they are speaking with you, and get an idea of that number.

It’s often referred as their “Why” and it’s an important element to find out if you should invest more time working with this prospect, or disqualify them immediately.

For example, I work with VPs of Sales who have sales targets for 2023. They speak with me because they have a specific goal to reach, and my job is to uncover that number.

Example: CFO has a 2023 gross margin target of 80%.

Question 2: What is the quantified problem

After uncovering the quantified cause, you need to find out the size of your prospect’s problem. You can do it in many ways, but I love to use a simple tool from ProActive Selling to do that. It’s called Time Traveling.

Instead of asking a question like “What are your goals?”, attach the goals to a point in the future, like “As you look in 2023, where do you think you’ll stand compared to your goal?”.

This formula helps your prospects travel to that point in time, and it increases your chances of finding a gap.

Example: CFO is expecting to only make a gross margin of 65%.

With that example, the CFO has a gap of 15 percentage points. If the company is expecting to sell €100M next year, the quantified problem is €15M.

Question 3: What is the quantified solution

Now that you have calculated the problem, you can start speaking about the price of your solution.

In our CFO example, the problem is €15M. If you can make an impact and bring their expected gross margin from 65% to 70%, you are solving a €5M problem. If your pricing is €500.000, then the investment is a no brainer for your prospect.

And this is how you can fix your end-of-year pipeline. Go to your opportunity overview, and find out if there’s:

  • A quantified cause

  • A quantified problem

  • A quantified solution

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Thibaut

PS: The tool I just mentioned is called Q3, and it’s part of the ProActive Selling methodology. If your team is having difficulties moving deals forward, then just book a call with me and we’ll chat about what we can do to help.

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Building an expansion sequence from scratch

Building an expansion sequence from scratch

Most sales reps fail to generate expansion opportunities. I personally failed to do it for years, for the following reasons:

  • I felt uncomfortable asking for more money when I had already closed a deal

  • I was only incentivized on new business

  • I didn’t know how to approach existing customers without sounding pushy

Sounds familiar? I have something for you.

Below are 5 steps you can follow to build an expansion sequence from scratch:

Step 1: Generate a list of existing and past customers

A good prospecting sequence always starts with prospects. In some cases, finding relevant prospects is challenging, but not there.

Start by listing all customers who are currently in contract with you. They will be your Tier 1.

Then go to all customers who are not in active collaboration with you, but who were in the past. They are your Tier 2.

Finally, list all the prospects who were in conversation with you (open opportunities), but didn’t do business with you. They are your Tier 3.

You should have an interesting list to reach out, with different triggers for contacting them.

Step 2: Build the structure of your sequence

Having an action plan for each Tier is critical. This will help you maximize your reply rate, and know when to stop if you don’t get a reply.

Using 3 touchpoints over email and LinkedIn is preferable because it helps you preserve your relationship, without being too pushy. Remember, you already had a conversation with all these prospects, so you don’t want to annoy them with an intense outbound sequence.

Here’s an sequence structure example I run:

Sequence example

Step 3: Write your messages

With Tier 1, your goal is to get internal and external referrals. With Tier 2 and 3, your goal is to restart a conversation.

In both cases, your messages should have the following elements:

  • be short (under 125 words)

  • give a valid reason for reaching out

  • tease curiosity

You can use the 3 following frameworks to do so:

First message:

  • Trigger: A mention of your relationship

  • Reason: The reason why you’re contacting them

  • Teaser: A short sentence to tease the curiosity of your prospect

Second message:

  • Trigger: A mention of your previous message

  • Question: A question related to a problem they had

  • Teaser: An intriguing piece of information

  • CTA: A simple ask

Third message:

Bump: A one or two words question

Here is the sequences I wrote for Tier 1:

Sequence with messages

Step 4: Set time blocks

You may be tempted to launch your sequence and contact as many prospects as possible, but it’s not the best idea.

If you reach out to too many prospects at once, you’ll quickly lose motivation. You will end up with too many follow-ups at once, which will most likely discourage you.

Instead, create daily time blocks to protect your time, and add a set number of prospects to your sequence daily. I personally contact 2 expansion prospects per day, as part of my 5 daily new prospects to contact.

This creates a steady input of prospects, which turns into a predictable output (replies and meetings).

Step 5: Execute

Your last step is to go through your list in an organized manner. With your time blocks and a clearly defined cruising altitude, you’ll quickly see results.

These expansion prospects already know you, so you’ll get more replies compared to cold outreach with net new prospects. If you can contact these expansion prospects daily, you’ll start more conversations, and get more opportunities as a result.

For example, I have contacted 22 expansion prospects, got 9 replies, booked 6 meetings, generated over €60.000 of pipeline, and closed one deal.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Thibaut

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you.
 
  1. Build your outbound prospecting system from scratch here (230+ students)
  2. Write cold messages that get a 38% reply rate and 27% meeting rate here (40+)
  3. Book me 1:1 or for your team here
  4. (NEW!) Sponsor my newsletter & get 3K+ eyeballs on your ad!

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Join 5.500+ subscribers to Tactical Selling. Every Thursday, you’ll get 1 actionable tip on starting conversations and booking more meetings.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Join 5.500+ subscribers to Tactical Selling. Every Thursday, you’ll get 1 actionable tip on starting conversations and booking more meetings.