Mastering Outbound 2.0: Modernizing Cold Calling And ABM Techniques

Modernizing Cold Calling and ABM Techniques: An Expert Guide

Cold calling has developed a bad reputation over the years as an outdated and ineffective demand generation tactic. Sales development representatives making high volumes of untargeted, generic calls tend to see poor results and frustrations mount on both sides of the conversation. However, when done right, proactive outreach to potential new customers remains an essential component of a strong go-to-market strategy. The key is modernizing approaches to align with modern buyer expectations.

This guide will cover the latest techniques and best practices to upgrade traditional cold calling methods to new age standards. You’ll learn:

  • Key principles of account-based marketing (ABM)
  • How to create targeted, insight-led outreach
  • Tips for personalization at scale
  • Leveraging technology like AI for qualified lead enrichment
  • Configuring trigger-based outreach campaigns
  • Metrics and KPIs to track effectiveness
  • Common mistakes to avoid

Let’s get started transforming cold outreach into a driver of sales qualified pipeline and accelerated deal velocity.

The Problem With Old School Cold Calling

Legacy cold calling typically relies on high volume activities like brochure blasts and superficial questioning during initial calls. Reps work through long lists of contacts from broad target account lists supplied by marketing.

The goal is to make as many dials as possible each day in hopes of landing a live conversation. During these brief windows, reps tend to rattle through scripted pitches before trying to extract trivial information like email addresses rather than having meaningful dialogue.

Not surprisingly, connection and conversion rates from these shotgun style efforts are miserable. Less than 5% of cold calls result in follow-on meetings as buyers quickly recognize and shut down canned spiel.

This generic, passive approach fails to resonate in the modern world of educated buyers that proactively research solutions aligned to their specific pain points and objectives. To be successful today, outbound needs to shift from high frequency and low relevance to the exact opposite.

Embracing Account-Based Marketing Principles

Account-based marketing, or ABM, provides a blueprint for this necessary overhaul. While ABM is commonly discussed regarding marketing execution, the central tenets apply directly to optimizing outbound initiatives as well.

ABM focuses all sales and marketing efforts on targeted accounts that offer greatest potential value. Activities across the funnel, including cold outreach programs, align to nurture these strategic accounts through common stages on the path to becoming customers.

Personalization, relevance, and adding value take priority over volume and other traditional demand gen KPIs. Reps become experts on assigned territory accounts, immersing themselves in priorities and pain points. Conversations emphasize industry trends, proven use cases, and business impact rather than features.

Let’s explore this strategic, account-centric approach to cold calling and associated sales development activities in more detail…

Identifying Target Accounts

The very first step is selecting which accounts to target. This should be a joint effort between sales and marketing leadership leveraging tools like technographic filters, predictive analytics, and intent data to narrow down the playing field.

Accounts with engaged contacts signaling interest in solutions that address your value proposition should rise to the top. Enrichment data that captures firmographic attributes like industry, size, and tech stacks aids prioritizing as well based on ideal customer profiles.

Work to build consensus around a target account list of no more than 300 companies. While this may seem like a small number, focusing efforts on this select group will lead to greater effectiveness and efficiencies.

Building Deep Account Insights

With target accounts selected, reps can start developing detailed account plans and assembling the information needed to have relevant dialogue.

Marketing campaigns and automation should feed profiles with firm-level insights around initiatives, pain points, and key stakeholders. Reps then layer on additional context through research and social selling.

The goal is gaining a comprehensive perspective on strategic priorities driving technology investments. This facilitates asking intelligent questions that advance conversations rather than basic small talk.

Common areas to investigate include:

  • Business goals, KPIs, and growth objectives
  • Org charts and committee structures
  • Current solutions and pain points
  • Press releases related to projects
  • Leadership changes or restructuring

Building context to have meaningful dialogue shows the extra effort to understand accounts as more than faceless opportunities. This level of personalization humanizes reps to stand out.

Crafting Targeted Messaging

Generic elevator pitches touting product capabilities should give way to messages aligned to individual account needs and pain points. Outreach should clearly communicate applicability given known challenges or initiatives.

Reps can pull compelling facts, stats, use cases, or ROI metrics from earlier research to capture attention quickly. Leading with unique value demonstrates the extra effort to understand what matters most.

For example, messaging could reference:

  • Recent projects covered in press announcements
  • Quotes from leaders demonstrating alignment to priorities
  • Examples of competitors failing to deliver promised outcomes
  • Independent research or analyst opinions supporting claims

This inside track helps reps anchor conversations in business realities rather than theoretical capabilities. Share just enough to prompt recipients to inquire further.

Cadence and Channel Optimization

Even armed with strategic target account lists and tailored messaging, most cold call and email attempts still go unreturned. To improve outcomes, orchestrating organized cadences across multiple channels is key.

Cadences are structured sequences of touches like calls, emails, LinkedIn messages, and direct mail. Varying content and switching channels with each attempt combats habituation as contacts receive repeated brand exposure.

Channels should align to individual preferences and response rates. For example, millennials tend to be more receptive to social outreach while product demo videos suit visual learners. Match cadence components to boost relevance.

Outreach should also respond dynamically based on signals. For instance, sentencing call attempts after a series of ignored emails. Or sending an RFP response prompt when bidding opportunities arise.

Aligning Sales & Marketing

To facilitate coordination, sales and marketing teams need shared systems and processes supporting account-based experiences. CRMs house target account context for reps to reference while marketing automation tracks cross-channel touches to inform next best actions.

Content, messaging templates, and campaign infrastructure require collaboration as well. For example, reps can identify FAQs during calls for product marketers to address with new collateral.

With enabling technologies and open communication, sales development and marketing nurture key accounts in harmony.

Leveraging Technology

A number of purpose-built applications also bring science to the art of cold calling. These solutions infuse automation and intelligence to increase effectiveness without compromising personalization. Some capabilities to consider include:

ABM Technology Stack

Successful execution of account-based strategies relies on a robust martech stack supporting specialized use cases. Here are some of the essential elements modern ABM tech setups feature:

Predictive Analytics & Modeling

Statistically analyzes first party and third party data signals to score target account potential. Identifies lookalike companies exhibiting similar buying traits.

Data Management Platforms (DMP)

Structures audience data from CRM, offline sources, and other tools into a centralized hub. Provides a “single source of truth” on target accounts.

Identity Graph / Resolution

Matches contacts to accounts using both deterministic and probabilistic techniques. Critical for connecting buying group influence.

Intent Monitoring & Analysis

Reveals surge in research topics and content consumption associated with active projects. Alerts on accounts entering evaluation phases.

Marketing & Advertising Orchestration

Automates messages and campaigns across channels in response to behaviors using tailored content and offers.

Multi-Touch Attribution

Assigns pipeline and revenue influence properly across activities. Critical for optimizing campaigns.

Sales Engagement Platforms

Orchestrate cold calling cadences while providing conversation intelligence to reps. Help humanize outreach.

This integrated martech ecosystem enhances the ability to track target accounts, respond quickly to signals, and scale coordination. The result is higher connection and conversion rates from cold calling campaigns.

ABM Powering Cold Calling Effectiveness

Early adopters utilizing ABM-aligned stacks to modernize cold outreach are seeing substantial results, including:

  • 89% of marketers say ABM provides higher ROI than other models
  • 58% say ABM delivers larger deal sizes
  • Targeted ABM outreach receives 307% more responses than generic outreach

As the capabilities of enabling technologies increase, so too does the performance of coordinated cold calling efforts.

Data Enrichment – Augments target account records with missing stakeholder contact info plus org charts illustrating reporting lines. Enables more ways to reach key players.

Predictive Analytics – Scores leads and accounts to prioritize calling efforts on those showing increased propensity to buy. Aligns with ABM.

Auto-logging Tools – Remove manual data entry by recording calls, capturing key details, and updating CRM records automatically. Frees up time better spent analyzing outcomes.

AI Meeting Schedulers – Based on calendar availability, automatically schedule meetings during optimal windows without wasting calls playing email tag.

When determining solutions, ensure they support sales and marketing alignment rather than operating in departmental silos.

Conversation Intelligence & Activity Capture

Technology can also supply sales leaders visibility into what transpires during calls providing coaching insights and triggering follow-ups to advance opportunities.

Call recording and automatic transcription technologies analyze conversations to:

  • Identify common objections for prescriptive guidance
  • Detect emotional sentiment and engagement levels
  • Surface questions asked for training opportunities
  • Map dialogue pathways and outcomes

Advanced features can even cue reps with relevant talking points or provide real-time coaching guidance in their headphones during calls.

By understanding contact communication styles and preferences, this conversation intelligence further personalizes outreach while making reps more effective.

Measuring Performance

Simply counting call volumes no longer suffices given the specialized approach required for modern cold calling. KPIs must shift to reflect relevance and effectiveness generated per account touched rather than raw activity.

Critical metrics to track include:

  • Contact data enrichment rates
  • Conversation rates
  • Qualified meetings set
  • Opportunities sourced
  • Influenced pipeline and revenue

Comparing results across target accounts illuminates winning patterns worth applying to other strategic targets. Continuous optimization based on data-driven insights propels the impact of each campaign.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While modernizing cold calling produces substantial benefits, the transformation does introduce complexities. Here are some common missteps to sidestep:

  • Casting too wide of an initial account net – More is not merrier when it comes to focus

  • Failing to coordinate sales & marketing – Misalignment undermines experiences

  • Not investing in conversation intelligence tools – Tech provides leverage

  • Using generic pitches – Messages must be hyper targeted

  • Measuring activities not outcomes – Calls made is not a modern KPI

With some discipline and commitment to the account-based principles discussed above, revamping cold calling delivers exponentially greater return. Executed correctly, outbound initiatives shift from annoyance to ally.

The Cutting Edge of Cold Calling

As enabling technologies continue advancing, innovations like computer vision, predictive modeling, and process mining will uncover additional patterns to further optimize outreach.

Computer Vision

Cameras and screen recording devices capturing sales reps facial expressions, speech patterns, and environmental context will feed emotion and behavior analysis algorithms. This will help predict optimal times for outreach while personalizing messaging based on real-time moods.

Predictive Modeling

Broad datasets spanning accounts, contacts, content consumption, and market conditions will fuel next-generation predictive models unlocking new insights to align targeting and orchestration.

Process Mining

Analyzing sequences of events across systems will unveil bottlenecks and barriers undermining effectiveness. Sales leaders can shore up inconsistencies with training programs or better enablement.

The cold calling function will leverage data and science more than ever to nurture personalized account relationships aligned with modern buyer expectations.

Wrapping Up

As buyer behaviors evolve, old school cold calling tactics now drive frustration rather than pipeline. However, by embracing personalization, trigger-based coordination, and sales & marketing technologies, outbound efforts can align with modern expectations.

The core tenets of account-based marketing provide guardrails to contain the chaos of legacy cold calling. Focus on select target accounts, glean insights to enable relevant dialogue, crafted targeted messaging, and inject automation to scale personalized orchestration.

Measure what matters, not meaningless activities. When done right, modern cold calling nurtures relationships rather than destroying them. Use the frameworks and best practices covered here as your blueprint.

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