One of the first marketing tactic I did to get my very first customers when I launched my agency was cold outreach. In fact, that’s how that agency then went to grow to $10K MRR.
Cold outreach works, if done correctly.
Here’s a recent client I acquired on outreach. I simply asked “How do you manage your requests?“. We exchanged a few messages, got on a call, and he eventually signed up.
Before diving into the tactics of building let’s answer an important question:
What is cold outreach?
Cold outreach is the process of reaching out to potential customers (prospects) that you have never contacted before and could potentially be interested in your solution.
The idea is simple:
- You build a list of prospects (your ideal customers)
- You contact them with personalized messages.
- You get on a call / demo and close the deal.
Why cold outreach matters for agencies?
First of all, outreach is one of the quickest ways to get the first customers for your agency. Unlike investing in long-term channels such as SEO which can take months to get results or paid ads which are costly, cold outreach is a great way to get customers.
Here are the main advantages of cold outreach:
- The only cost is your time (you can also pay for some tools, which we will explore later)
- You get immediate results.
- You get in front of your ideal customers.
Secondly, another advantage of cold outreach: You get feedback from potential clients.
Because you have direct conversations with them, even a “No” from a customer can be valuable feedback to improve your value proposition or the positioning of your agency.
Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Find prospects
The first step to start your cold outreach strategy is to find prospects.
In other words: Potential customers that may be interested in your services.
Here is a simple checklist I use to find prospects:
Check #1: Who are my ideal customers?
A good way to answer this question is to look at your current customers, or if you don’t have customers yet, the customers of your competitors.
- What are their attributes (industry, number of employees, revenue)
- What problems or pain points do they experience in their business?
You can do that research by doing customer interviews but also simply by looking at different websites.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say you run a content writing service and one of your ideal customers could be SaaS companies.
I just searched in Google “content writing SaaS companies Quora” to see what queries would come in:
Researching about your ideal customers is key for one reason:
You will know their pain points, and be able to offer them the right solution.
Check #2: Where can I find them?
The second question to answer when doing your cold outreach strategy is : Where can I find my ideal customers?
There are several places where you can find leads for your company:
- Job boards (e.g. ProBlogger jobs)
- Directories (e.g. Angel List is a directory of startups)
- Databases (e.g. Apollo, BuiltWith)
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
- Communities (Subreddits, Facebook groups, Quora)
Or simply, ask our Old Google Friend!
Here’s the results I have just by typing “content writing jobs saas”
Check #3: How can I build a list of prospects?
Once you know who your ideal customers are and where they are, it’s time to build a list of prospects.
Your list of prospects will be the “brain” of your outreach and will contain key information about your prospects, their status in your sales pipeline, as well as some notes you may have about them.
Here is a simple process to build your list of prospects:
- Find contact info using databases such as Apollo or LinkedIn Sales Navigator (we wrote a full guide about it) or tools to get contact info such as Hunter.
- Add info of your leads to your CRM (you can use a virtual assistant to help you with this)
- Update your CRM (you can use Airtable, Google Spreadsheet, or any other CRM tools) once you start reaching out to leads.
Here is how I organized my outreach CRM:
Here are a few fields I have used to organize it:
- First name / Last name
- LinkedIn profile link
- LinkedIn message thread
- Lead Status (To be processed, Conversation, Qualified, Meeting booked)
- Notes (can be useful if you have had some call notes for example)
Step 2: Write messages
Once you have a proper CRM in place and a way to fill your pipeline with prospects it’s time to start contacting them.
Before we start here is the key learning I have had as regarding to crafting cold outreach messages: Be relevant.
Your prospect will only have one question when opening your cold outreach message: “What’s in it for me?” and your role is to answer this question.
So how can you send relevant messages in your outreach strategy?
- Personalize your message
- Who you are (a simple tagline in your signature suffices)
- Optional: Ask a question to start a conversation
Here’s an example of relevant, and personalized message.
As you see this message is not too sales-y. Apart from the tagline in my signature, I am not trying to push my service.
At this stage the idea is to qualify whether the prospect will be a good customer for your service. Asking questions is a great way to do so.
Here are a few other tips for your outreach messages:
- Don’t be sales-y (especially in your first message). Focus on conversations, with back and forth.
- Keep your message short and simple (don’t use buzzwords)
- Follow up with relevant articles and case studies
- Be persistent and patient: Outreach takes effort (and a lot of contacts) and your prospects might be busy. Some of the prospect I reached out initially bought my service a few months later.
Step 3: Call and close
One of my learning with outreach: Most sales happen over calls.
Calls (especially video calls) help you establish trust and clear any doubts your prospects might have about your service.
Here’s an example of message you can send to let prospects book a call with you:
Once you have finished your call, you can send further case studies or samples of your work to the prospect via LinkedIn or email.
Want more sales tips for your agency?
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