New to ABM? Good. Get ready to sit in the passenger seat and let your buyer take the wheel. It’s time to make outbound sales work for you.
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl welcomes Mark Ebert, ABM Specialist and SVP of Sales at 6sense to discuss the ins and outs of transitioning from inbound to outbound sales, as well as the challenges of selling to an educated B2B audience. Learn how to smoothly adjust to this more disruptive approach, successfully open opportunities on an outbound motion, and most importantly, get inside your buyer’s head. Subscribe now and unleash your inner outbound rockstar!
How to Crush Your Transition from Inbound to Outbound Sales
- Outbound sales has a reputation for being difficult. And that’s because it can be. But you can use certain techniques to optimize your chances of success, and reap considerable rewards.
- ABM Specialist and SVP of Sales at 6sense Mark Ebert is a big proponent of using account-based marketing techniques for outbound sales. This approach focuses on collaborating with marketers to engage all the players involved in making purchasing decisions.
- Mark shares his thoughts on transitioning from inbound to outbound sales and the best ways to apply ABM principles.
There’s a reason why Tinder is the most popular dating app. Dating is difficult enough, so it’s helpful to know you’re chatting with someone who thinks your photos are cute, at the very least.
Inbound sales is a bit like that. You know the prospect is at least mildly interested, so your next steps are straightforward. Your job is to make sure they choose your product.
Outbound sales is different. The goal isn’t just conversion; it’s convincing prospects to consider buying from you in the first place. If outbound sales was a way to meet people to date, it wouldn’t be an app at all. It would be a bar –– a place you’ve never been, not your neighborhood pub. If you see a stranger who looks promising, you have to walk up to them and engage them in a conversation.
It sounds daunting, and it is.
“It’s a very real challenge,” says Mark Ebert, an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Specialist and SVP of Sales at 6sense, which calls itself an account engagement platform. And that’s the best way to think about ABM. At its core, it’s about collaboration between sales and marketing teams to truly engage everyone on an account.
That’s especially important for outbound sales.
“When you’re an inbound shop, the seller is in the buyer’s seat,” Mark adds. “They’re coming to you, and you can dictate what happens, what you talk about, and whether or not you want to engage that person.”
Outbound sales teams encounter buyers who are already well-educated and bristle if you want to teach them. Buyers also prefer to stay anonymous. They don’t want to submit forms. And they definitely don’t want to engage you in the sales process –– unless they’re pushing you to its completion.
Never fear: On an episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Mark walks us through the ins and outs of transitioning from inbound to outbound sales, including how to adjust to a more disruptive approach, how to use account-based marketing to –– and open opportunities on outbound motions with confidence.
Step 1: Grok the problem
The first key to outbound sales? Understand your customers and the issues they face. Of course, you’ll need to get even more specific, drilling down to the individual problems of each prospect. They should be “crystal clear in your head,” says Mark.
“To take it to the next level, start figuring out how to open opportunities on an outbound motion.”
At 6sense, Mark encourages everyone on his teams to develop a thoughtful perspective, to empathize with a prospect’s reasoning: They want to solve their problem, and they don’t want to talk to you about it.
Well, we told you it would be a challenge. So you need to make a game plan. What’s your perspective on where they’re headed and why? And if that isn’t the best tactic, what do you need to get in front of them to encourage a conversation?
Among Mark’s teams, “we talk a lot about playing that movie out,” he explains. “Hey, if they don’t hear from me … where are they heading to solve that issue? Do they even know they have the issue? Then, if they hear from me and we have a new perspective on how to solve it,, can hook them with an opportunity?”
If you can rehearse beforehand, “you’ll be a heck of a lot more successful when you’re doing your outreach,” Mark adds.
Step 2: Stop ‘em in their tracks
Mark often hears younger reps talk about why they won’t approach a particular prospect –– like a head of sales, for instance –– they say something like: They’re growing really fast; they don’t have a pipeline problem.
“Stop right there,” Mark replies.
That company “could be a rocket ship tripling in size every year, but the problem just shifts,” he explains. “Their target to the board just tripled. Do they have the pipeline to support tripling that number?”
Put yourself in the position of that sales leader: How the @*#&£ am I going to triple my pipeline?
Well, they could hire a lot more people. They could implement new practices. Or they can invest in technology.
What will they hear from you at that critical point in their thought process?
“When we think of outbound motions, it’s getting them to stop wherever they are in their buyer’s journey,” Mark says.
Step 3: Pinpoint their progress on the buyer’s journey
Understanding the buyer’s journey is vital, especially when it comes to outbound sales.
“We often assume they’re all in the same place, right?” says Mark. “Then our messaging makes an assumption that they recognize they have a problem. Many companies in your territory or on your list are not even there yet. They’re totally under a rock.”
Or they’ve recognized a problem and are actively seeking out a solution, but they just haven’t talked to you yet. That doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy, though.
“Your messaging has to be totally different based on where they are in their buyer’s journey,” Mark adds.
Even if you don’t know where they are, there’s only one way to find out: Ask them.
Step 4: Apply the principles of ABM
We always say people buy from people, and that’s true. But more than ever, those people are members of committees that need to collectively approve large purchases.
That’s one reason why the account-based marketing approach strikes a chord with so many companies, says Mark.
Deploying ABM in your sales process starts with “having a coordinated effort between the sellers up to the management and the marketing team,” Mark notes. You should collaborate on messaging for each step of the buyer’s journey –– with special attention to how those messages change along the way –– as well as messaging tailored to the different roles on the buying committee.
You can pressure test those messages for accuracy and relevancy,
Mark says there’s a common misperception that ABM applies to only certain accounts. If he and his team hear someone say Oh, that’s an ABM account, and that’s not, they cringe. ABM can and should apply to your entire addressable market. You can use it to “run plays” that move buyers through your funnel based on where they are in their journey.
Here’s one ABM tactic you can try for yourself: “Instead of measuring how many accounts you’re reaching every day, or you’ve reached out to, focus on how many contacts within the account you’ve reached,” he explains.
You also could examine which accounts in a particular territory haven’t heard from you in the last 30 days –– or tally up the average number of contacts you’re reaching out to within a particular time frame. These kinds of metrics help you see your outbound efforts more holistically.
The more contacts you have for each account, the better you’ll get at “understanding all of the assumptions buyers have about how to solve their problem that would lead them in a different direction,” says Mark. Then you can reframe them the right way –– your way.