This is the second post in our “How They Sell” series. In this series, we take a deep look at how different B2B companies perform outbound sales.
Audience Ops is a done-for-you content marketing service. It offers packages that plan, write, and send content marketing for your business. Packages include audience research, content calendars, email marketing automation, blog articles, and more. Audience Ops is run by Brian Casel, who also cohosts the Bootstrapped Web Podcast.
The Early Days
When Brian started experimenting with outbound sales, he started where most people start— his personal Gmail account. Brian’s first outbound experiment consisted of manually sending 20 canned emails to people he thought would be interested in Audience Ops. In that early experiment, Brian got a good response from one person. That person turned into a very good lead.
Over time, Brian learned and tweaked their sales process to become better and more efficient.
How They Sell Now
Here are the basic steps Audience Ops takes in their sales process:
1.) Determine the Ideal Customer Profile
According to Brian, “Audience Ops works best with B2B online software businesses”. The problem Audience Ops wants to solve is helping businesses publish more content on their blog.
The ideal customer profile consists of the following characteristics:
– Sells products to businesses
– Is online software (typically saas)
– Engages in content marketing (has a blog)
– Ideal Position is CEO or founder
Comments on The Ideal Customer Profile: This is a great customer profile. This narrows the ideal customer into a very specific industry and then gives two characteristics of the companies targeted in that industry – having a blog and being B2B. Whether a company sells online software can be hard to determine automatically, but if you are able to put a system in place that identifies SaaS companies, you will have a highly targeted list of prospects.
2.) Find Leads
Now that we have a firm grasp on what Audience Ops looks for in a prospect, let’s take a look at how they find these people.
Brian uses a combination of Wikipedia and Capterra to find prospects. I think finding leads from Capterra can provide a lot more value than Wikipedia, so I’m going to focus on leads from Capterra in the rest of this section.
Capterra is a tool built for businesses to help find the software that will solve specific business problems. For example, if you are looking to solve a project management problem at work, you would search for “Project Management Tools” on Capterra, and it would provide you a list of project management tools.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that Brian uses a virtual assistant to perform this manual section of his work. I’ll discuss various uses for virtual assistants in a future post, but I wanted to make sure you realize Brian isn’t actually doing this research himself, although he probably did when he first started.
On Capterra, there are several categories that contain companies that fit Brian’s Ideal Customer Profile. For example, if he searches “Project Management Tools” or “Customer Relationship Management”, the companies that appear would consistently be ideal targets.
Brian gives his virtual assistant of list of these categories to search for on Capterra. His virtual assistant uses these search terms to create a spreadsheet of companies that he should find leads for.
The second part of the research involves finding the right contacts at these companies. To find this data, Brian’s VA will look for the name of the CEO or founder on the company’s about page, on Crunchbase, or on LinkedIn.
At this point, the spreadsheet will contain four columns—company name, company domain name, first name of contact, and last name of contact.
They are almost ready to contact the prospects at this point, but there’s only one problem—there’s no contact information!
To solve this problem, Brian has his virtual assistant load the spreadsheet into LeadFuze. Leadfuze allows you to upload CSV files into their system, and will attempt to find the email addresses for the contacts in the spreadsheet. It usually finds about 30% of contact emails.
This is an ongoing process – not a one time researching activity. The ongoing process involves finding a couple hundred working contact email addresses every week or two so there is a continuous funnel of new prospects to reach out to.
3.) Contact Leads
Now that we have a list of prospects and email addresses, it’s time to reach out.
Brian uses QuickMail to send the emails. Quickmail offers the ability to create email sequences to send to prospects.
He sends three emails total, with a period of three days in between each email that is sent. QuickMail ensures that, if a prospect replies to Brian’s email, the sequence won’t send any additional emails to that person. The reply email goes directly to Brian’s inbox, where he has the ability to continue the conversation is a more intimate, one on one way in order to close the sale.
QuickMail also has a feature (also used by Audience Ops) that syncs up with Google Sheets. Audience Ops has a system in place where, every day, QuickMail will grab the top ten emails from that spreadsheet, and will start the sequence. As long as this automation is on, the virtual assistant can continue filling up the spreadsheet, and QuickMail will send out ten emails every morning (this will go on indefinitely).
Brian set up a separate domain to send emails from QuickMail—this stops his actual domain as getting dinged as spam.
In his emails, Brian doesn’t ask to jump on a consultation call to sell his product. He phrases his emails as more of a question looking for a response. Many of his calls to action say something like, “Do you feel like you’re publishing enough content on your blog?”
Brian’s emails typically also say something like, “I’d love to share a few ideas for what you can do at your company that works with our clients.” The idea here is that he’s offering valuable information to prospects if they follow up with him—giving them one additional incentive to reply.
4.) The Close
Audience Ops is not cheap. the plans start at $950. There is also no ability to checkout on the website. This makes me think there is a fairly high need to convert traffic and they may or may not take credit cards.
This is How Audience Ops Sells
If you compare this post to the previous post about Boston Startups Guide, you can see this method is a little more sophisticated. There are more formal processes – they use email sequences, and they even outsource some of the more manual tasks in the sales process.
Resources Mentioned In This Post
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