Lean Outbound – 3 Steps to Ensure Your Success

Build Measure Learn

When people think of lean principles in the tech world, all things product tend to come to mind. The ultimate goal of lean being to create optimal value with no wasted steps. Often, B2B companies overlook opportunities to be lean, and therefore miss out on driving an immense amount of value, for example in outbound prospecting campaigns as part of a go-to-market strategy.

In order to achieve a state of “lean nirvana”, a strict iterative process must be followed: 1. Build the campaign, 2. Measure the campaign, and 3. Learn from the campaign. Continuously experiment with this process until “lean nirvana” is achieved.

For product marketers, the outbound prospecting campaign is the part of a go-to-market strategy where all the hard work they put into creating buyer personas and crafting the perfect value messaging can be put to the test.

Shameless Plug: If you don’t have super powerful, actionable buyer personas don’t hesitate to reach out. Creating them is a Haka Products expertise.

Fortunately, in this day and age, there are countless automated email platforms available for use that make measuring outbound campaigns easy. In a perfect world, product marketers would like to provide sales reps with content that generates emails with 100% open and response rates. In reality, most are thrilled with a 20%-40% open rate and a 5%-10% response rate.

So how do those rates increase? Get lean!

Cross-functional collaboration is absoluteley essential if you want to go about lean outbound correctly. Why? Because it’s the only way you can actually build, measure, and learn, or in other words EXPERIMENT, with your messaging and positioning. This is something that most companies do not execute correctly, let alone even attempt.

Here are 3 steps that will help ensure lean outbound success:

Step 1: Collaborative Build

You might be thinking, “Sales having their hands on content creation? No shot!”

But the point is for product marketers to build the initial foundation of the campaign, while sales gets the campaign out in front of buyers and begins to build relationships.

Due to continuous experimentation, I want to address the next build step of the lean iterative process before discussing the measure and learn steps. Remember, this build step would occur after the first run-through of your outbound campaign.

This is the one time when sales should have a say in content creation. Marketing needs to be willing to work with sales while building new positioning and value messaging. The emails in this iteration of the campaign are the results of the newfound knowledge both functions gained from the previous steps.

Step 2: Collaborative Measure

During the prospecting stage, Voice of the Customer (VOC) is communicated to sales as they leverage content and build relationships. It’s incredibly important that VOC is collected by sales as it measures the “why” to the email open and response rates.

If the open rates are below your desired level then it’s clear the subject lines are not resonating with your target buyers. If your response rate is below expectations, then the content of your emails isn’t creating enough value or your value messaging isn’t working. These are immediate indicators that it’s time to keep experimenting.

If VOC isn’t properly measured it will be nearly impossible to achieve “lean nirvana” because opportunities to experiment with new content that can drive higher open and response rates will be lost.

Step 3: Collaborative Learn:

This is the step where all bias needs to be thrown out the window!

Two facts must be accepted at this time:

The email performance data isn’t lying. If the numbers are lower than expected don’t ignore it! It’s time to change the wording, positioning, and structure of your subject line and email content.
Buyers are not lying. VOC can be so valuable and insightful that at times it can be frustrating. Just because internally your company believes a certain feature or value proposition is what your buyers will find most important doesn’t mean it’s true. Learn from VOC! It provides the insights needed to create more compelling content.
Lean outbound can’t exist without collaboration. Product marketers can’t adequately build new campaigns without sales testing content with buyers. Product marketers can’t adequately measure campaigns without having sales collect VOC. If product marketers and sales can build and measure in a collaborative effort then learning how to create a more effective outbound campaign will be easier.

So go and break down the silos that exist between marketing and sales and start getting lean right now!

Ethan Greene is a Go-To-Market Specialist & Product Marketing Consultant at Haka Products. Ethan helps our clients with their go to market planning and execution, setting up inbound and outbound approaches to help companies grow. Prior, Ethan was responsible for sales and business development.

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