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Outbound Playbook: Tips and Tactics for Running Cold Email

Outbound Playbook: Tips and Tactics for Running Cold Email
Jul 4, 2024
Joshua Schiefelbein

Outbound isn’t for the faint of heart. To simplify it, our Outbound Playbook breaks down the essentials for good outbound campaigns

5m 32s reading time

Outbound isn’t for the faint of heart.

It’s tough because you’re essentially reaching out to prospects who may have never heard of your brand before. And since you’re cold-starting the conversation, you have sentences – if not words – to get the conversation going.

Our Outbound Playbook: From Prospect to Pitch breaks down the essentials for launching high-quality outbound campaigns.

Here are several excerpts from the playbook.

Figuring out your sales persona

Sales personas are the “secret ingredient” for effective outreach, especially if you use AI sales platforms to generate content and run your campaigns.

While there’s no 100% “tried and true” way of building a persona, these are the essentials you’ll need to include:

  • Prospect data (company, industry, title)
  • Prospect pain points
  • Solutions provided by your offer
  • Competitors
  • Social proof (testimonials, reviews)
  • Reasons to trust you
  • Responses to objections
  • Tone of voice & style
  • Examples of good emails

Here’s a closer look at each part.

Specify the company, industry, & position

These are the basic parameters you’ll need to start from. They provide the foundation for all of the other parts of your persona.

For example, a CTO will usually have different pains compared to a VP of Engineering.

This is because they care about different things – The CTO is concerned with the company’s overall technology health, while a VP of Engineering focuses on engineering processes and productivity.

Importantly, keep this rule in mind: one persona, one position

If you want to target CTOs and CEOs, you’ll need two different personas – one for each role.

Outline 3-5 pain points for each position and/or industry

3-5 pain points is the Goldilocks zone. 

It’s not too few that your sales team will struggle to find something to say, and it’s not too many that the persona becomes overly prescriptive, unwieldy, and difficult to use.

Descriptions should be brief but tailored to the lead’s company size, industry, and title. 

[Position] needs to save time on routine tasks, such as drafting NDAs and sales agreements [due to reduced headcount caused by [fintech venture capital downturn]]Need to save time on document drafting

The square brackets indicate optional areas of personalization that you should add if you have that depth of understanding. Armed with this information, you should materially improve conversion rates.

Map one solution to each pain point

Explain how your software helps solve each of these pains. Descriptions should be focused on solving the pain instead of the software’s features. 

For easier pain-solution mapping, we recommend creating an equal number of solutions to pains. In other words, if you list 4 pains, you should list 4 solutions.

State your key competitors and why you’re the better choice

This section should mention your top competitors and how you’re better than they are. Ideally, your reasons should be tailored to your audience. 

For example, if you’re selling Windows laptops to high school students, you might emphasize how more games are available on Windows than Macbook. Now if you’re selling laptops to lean start-ups, you may end up drawing attention to the affordability of Windows machines.

In the persona, you might write this out like:

“Your main competitors are [competitor A], [competitor B], and [competitor C]. You are better than them because [reason 1], [reason 2], and [reason 3].”

Alternatively, you can focus on tools people use to solve the problem you’re addressing, even if it’s something as simple as combining email and Google Docs.

Add customer testimonials to build credibility and show customer trust

This is the most important part of the persona. Social proof plays a key role in sealing deals.

Customer stories should be 2-3 sentences long and highlight in a very specific way how a customer solved their problem with your software. 

If possible, your social proof should mention names and numbers, like $ saved, % of productivity gained, etc. 

Highlight reasons to trust you

One of the biggest obstacles in cold outbound is a lack of trust. If you get an unsolicited email, you may think it’s a scam. 

To increase your chances of success, you need to give people reasons to trust you.

Here are a few examples: 

  • Alum of Y Combinator
  • Alum of a famous university (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth)
  • Ex-employee of a major company (Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs)
  • Renowned expert in the field
  • Customers include famous companies
  • Awards

Explain how to handle common objections

Prospects frequently bring up the same or similar objections, such as:

  • “We already use [competitor]”
  • “We don’t have the budget”
  • “I don’t think we need this”
  • “The price is too high”
  • “I need to speak with [decision-maker] first”
  • “This isn’t a top priority right now”

Just because they have an objection doesn’t mean you need to give up. Instead, you should keep track of objections, identify which ones are most common, and strategize 1-2 standard answers that address the objection.

Describe the tone of voice and style

Emails can range anywhere from geeky and technical to simple and casual. If you want, you can even send emails in Shakespearean English. As he famously put it, “The world is your oyster.”

The choice of tone and style is ultimately up to you, but you should pick one that will resonate the most with your audience.

Provide examples of good emails

ChatGPT is frequently criticized for the poor quality of sales emails it generates. The most common complaints are that the emails are too long, verbose, and unrealistic for sales. 

In other words, the emails don’t sound like a person.

The way to solve this is to include your own examples of good emails into the persona.

In the case of outbound, you might indicate that cold emails should be:

  • Short – No more than 50 words and 2-3 short paragraphs with concise subject lines
  • Straightforward – No “beating around the bush”
  • Personalized – Content is tailored to the lead’s interests
  • Relevant – Content addresses the lead’s situation 

3-5 email templates or real examples is the Goldilocks zone for this part of the persona. If you provide too many, the persona will become too unwieldy whereas too few may make the persona overly prescriptive.

Get your copy of AiSDR’s Outbound Playbook

In addition to the information above, the playbook also contains:

  • Extra insights about what to include in personas
  • Guardrails to set up for email creation
  • Email templates you can add to your persona
  • Tactics for obtaining, cleaning, segmenting, and enriching leads
  • Instructions on setting up custom email domains
  • Email metrics and performance benchmarks you should be tracking

Download Outbound Playbook: From Prospect to Pitch and start setting up outbound that grows your business.

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