Ep. 25
How to Sharpen Your Outreach Approach with Ryan O’Donnell

The Sales Conversation

“Every salesperson can benefit from making their outreach efforts more focused and efficient. Whether that entails building client lists or focusing on automation, today’s episode will give you the information you need to improve your sales outreach.”

Episode Overview

In this episode, Bruce Scheer talks to Ryan O’Donnell about the value of building a focused client outreach system. Ryan is the co-founder of Replyify and SellHack, two services designed to help sellers automate their outreach process. Since 2006, Ryan has worked in software solutions for salespeople with a focus on optimizing sales processes and improving efficiency.

Optimizing Your Outreach Approach for Better Sales

Nearly all of us have wondered what we can do to make our outreach process more successful. After all, outreach is fundamental to a salesperson’s professional life, yet turning outreach into sales can sometimes feel like a confusing puzzle.

Many salespeople run into inefficiencies in their sales outreach methods at the “top of the funnel of sales.” Essentially, salespeople sometimes begin the outreach process with an overly broad view of the clients they intend to target. As a result of this broad perspective, salespeople hinder their ability to reproduce sales success by putting themselves in the position of needing many different strategies for too many client types.

What can you do to make your outreach process more effective? For Ryan O’Donnell, the critical flaw of the broad “funnel” can be corrected by focusing your outreach on clients who are similar to the clients you already have.

What are some of the critical ingredients of outreach?

Successful client outreach requires the following three components:

  • The Right Focus

The chance of a future sale from your outreach efforts will depend on how well you know your customer base. Ryan O’Donnell argues that salespeople must identify the metadata behind their existing clients to effectively focus their outreach efforts on similar clients.

  • The Right Messaging

Learning to customize your sales messages to match the different roles in a company or target the right people is an essential skill. Messaging relies on understanding your existing or potential client’s psychological motivators, which can vary from person to person.

  • The Right Systems

Many salespeople spend too much time on functions that could be automated. Without an efficient system, you will spend time on things like reply emails when you should spend more time preparing for meetings, developing relationships with your existing clients, and so on.

Let’s take a look at each of these components in more depth!

What can you do to establish the right focus for your outreach efforts?

Ryan O’Donnell says there are two significant steps for focusing your outreach.

Build an Existing Clients List

First, you should create a spreadsheet containing information about 10 to 20 of your existing clients. To acquire that information, you can use websites such as LinkedIn. The spreadsheet should include the following details:

  • First and last name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Company Size
  • Industry
  • Location
  • Keywords
  • Groups they are part of

Once you have put together a list of these details, you can use the functions of the spreadsheet to filter your existing clients and look for patterns. These patterns will help you find the types of clients you need to approach as part of your outreach strategy. To put it another way, you can use the spreadsheet to identify the segment of people who make up a considerable percentage of your overall revenue.

Build a Potential Clients List

Once you have identified the types of clients to focus on, you should search LinkedIn for people and companies that fit that focus. Create a list of potential clients based on your findings and use the same spreadsheet format as your existing clients list. Once you have done so, you can begin to find patterns among potential clients, which can open new ways to find new clients.

There are two approaches to building a potential client list:

1. Account-Based Sales Approach

Using a list of companies that you target and sell to in order to find the best buyers at those companies for your outreach efforts.

2. Person-Based Approach
Finding details that describe a person so you can identify the right types of buyers for your sales strategy.

In both cases, a LinkedIn search and spreadsheet format will help you find more people and companies to approach. More importantly, establishing a clear focus will increase your sales success because your sales and outreach strategy will be based on an existing track record with a particular clientele.

When analyzing your potential clients, consider these questions:

  • What product or service are they selling?
  • On what types of clients do they focus?
  • Does their advertising give you a sense of how they are targeting their clients?

Answering these questions can lead to a better understanding of who your clients are, what will matter to them in a sales situation, and how you can adjust your outreach method to connect with their motivations and needs.

How do you create the right messaging?

The key to crafting the right messaging is to customize your message for the different roles that exist within a company. You should target each person on your client list differently because they each have different needs and expectations. To put it another way, each has different psychological motivators. They might be:

  • Motivated by data
  • Motivated by social interaction
  • Motivated by price

According to Ryan O’Donnell, introductory messages should avoid long formats and beg mail and focus on creating value at every touchpoint. Short, easy-to-digest messages present a clear call to action and can link to longer content the client can read if properly enticed. You can create value in your introductory and reply messages by

  • Summarizing and restating
  • Offering a different point of view
  • Offering something new for a client to think about in terms of their business needs or personal motivations

One way to do this is to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes while thinking about the last time you received a cold email. How did you react to the content? Did the length impact how you received the information?

Another thing you can do is approach your existing clients to gain direct feedback. Determine why they bought from you in the first place and why they continue to work with you or your company. Acquiring feedback on these topics will help you identify the strategies you need to provide targeted messaging meant for people and companies with different psychological motivators and personalities. Using these data points to construct new messages will also increase your response rate to cold emails.

How can you start developing a system?

Effectively, you need to automate what can be automated to reduce the amount of time you spend on things that are time-consuming and less unnecessary. According to Ryan O’Donnell, the absence of automation in your sales system can waste 2-5 hours a week on unnecessary tasks. Automating more of your sales system leads to higher efficiency and can include automating cold and reply emails, sales prospecting, and client list building, among others.

There are numerous tools you can use to automate your sales system. SellHack, for example, can help you build client lists, find leads, and send cold emails. Additionally, Replyify can help you create email campaigns and devise an efficient email system.

If you want to learn more about how to develop your sales system, consider contacting Ryan O’Donnell about the services that he has to offer (see below).

Key Takeaways:

  • Focus your outreach efforts by using a spreadsheet to build a list of existing and potential clients. A client list can help you identify patterns in the interests and needs of your current clients, which you can use to find potential clients to approach. Such a focus will make your outreach efforts more effective.
  • Understand that a variety of factors motivates your clients. Your introductory messages have to take into account these differences to have the desired impact on potential clients. One way to work on creating the right messaging is to put yourself in the shoes of your buyers.
  • Learn to automate your process to reduce the amount of time you spend on emails, sales prospecting, and other functions that are less necessary. Automation can cut back the hours you waste every week so you can use those hours for more productive activities such as preparing meetings.


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