If you had limitless resources and time available to you, quality would win over quantity almost every time. But when it comes to outbound sales prospecting for your SDRs, the question of quality vs. quantity isn’t always so clear-cut.
Here are the pros and cons of taking a quantity approach vs. a quality approach in your outbound prospecting.
“Quantity” outbound prospecting: Pros
Pro #1 for quantity: The volume game
There is some truth that sales is a volume game, and this is especially true with outbound prospecting. Even if your solution is a perfect fit for the prospect, a lot goes into getting to the sale. Timing, budgets, and so many other factors affect whether or not you close the deal – so you need to be talking to a lot of prospects.
Pro #2 for quantity: Outputs are easy to measure
If your quotas include metrics such as “send 100 cold prospecting emails a day” and your SDRs mass email 100 prospects, that makes things easy to measure. Many sales teams are driven by how many meetings they conduct. Whether it’s an in-person, conference call or web demo, it’s a very common metric and SDRs are compensated on it. Many sales managers know their conversion from meeting -> closed deal and want their meeting metric to go up.
“Quantity” outbound prospecting: Cons
Con #1 for quantity: Lack of personalization
When you’re making 50+ calls or sending 100s of emails a day, you just don’t have the time to personalize them very well. Your pitches and emails are more generic by default and are going to make less of an impact as a result. Quite simply, you risk wasting a lot of time.
Con #2 for quantity: Danger of spamming
If your prospecting activities include email, it’s hard to take a quantity approach without spamming people. Not only is this likely illegal with anti-spam laws tightening up, but you might even have repercussions from your mail providers or a general hit to your company’s reputation.
“Quality” outbound prospecting: Pros
Pro #1 for quality: More meaningful conversations
If you spend the time targeting people that are a genuinely good fit for your solution, whether it be now or in a year, you will generate more meaningful conversations with people. People remember you if you attempt to make a real connection with them, and it’s human nature to prefer to buy from people we like and trust.
Pro #2 for quality: Building relationships over time
In business and in sales, things change quickly. If you target qualified prospects, treat them with respect. If the timing isn’t right to get into a buying cycle for them, you can start to build a relationship. With transactional sales cycles, it’s easy to get caught up in hitting month end or quarter end numbers. When you get a “not right now” in January, you’d be surprised how quickly November comes around and the timing becomes perfect.
“Quality” outbound prospecting: Cons
Con #1 for quality: Not as many prospects in your pipeline
Quality outbound prospecting is time-consuming. It’s very hard to cheat. Even if you use a tool to help automate some of your work, you still need to spend the time crafting custom pitches and communications. You won’t “touch” as many people as you would if you bought a list of 1,000 emails and did a generic email blast.
Con #2 for quality: It’s time consuming
Quality requires more research. If you have a team of people doing prospecting, it’s easy for them to get stuck doing too much research. One inside sales manager I worked with said this analysis paralysis made reps spend up to an hour researching a prospect.
The bottom line is you’re just trying to find out enough about the account and prospect to determine if they’re a fit for what you’re selling. Time, budget, and other qualifying factors can be determined when you get them on the phone. I suggest that SDRs aim for 10 to 15 minutes of research per prospect.
Quality vs. quantity for outbound prospecting: The takeaways
Don’t look at what other sales teams are doing and simply copy their process. A call centre that pushes very transactional deals is very different compared to selling enterprise software. It’s important to experiment and measure to see what approach works for you.
For my own sales team at Ideal, I’ve found that taking a quality approach is superior. We certainly don’t think of ourselves as transactional and building long lasting relationships with our customers is paramount.
What’s your strategy?
Thanks for calling out the Con of cold emailing! It’s fairly recent that more and more businesses, especially start-ups are diving headfirst into cold emailing without understanding the regulations. From accelerators having people on staff to help start-ups build email lists via harvesting to using deceptive Subject lines, there’s multiple infractions. Then, there is a rash of start-ups that are making a business of selling harvested lists.
Even though CAN-SPAM allows for sending unsolicited emails as long as they have a clear and easy way to unsubscribe, but marketing and sales app providers don’t allow non-opt-in lists. It’s just not worth exposing our IP addresses to the damage caused by spam complaints.
As you pointed out, the damage is no longer limited to the providers. it can and will damage the sender’s reputation and make it difficult if not impossible to get any legitimate provider to take them on as customers. #damagedgoods
So, even if you do have your SDRs use GMail to send multiple unsolicited emails, albeit no more than 200 daily, that tactic is not protecting your business.
Does this mean cold-calling will make a comeback? 😉
Probably not. What it does mean is that you have to be smarter about your marketing strategy.
Thanks for commenting! We used to buy lists and just do mass emails ( 5+ years ago ). That doesn’t really fly anymore so focusing on quality, as you mentioned is a good approach.
Good article Shaun. I always emphasise quality to our SDR’s. I do believe there needs to be a happy medium (if you could achieve high volume and excellent quality every day I’d be surprised if anyone would turn that down). In my opinion, that medium can easily be found with the following:
– have a dedicated outbound team that does not handle inbound leads
– give that team a framework for hitting prospects with both calls and emails over a defined period of time (e.g. 6-8 touches of 2-5 contacts over two weeks = email, two calls, email, two calls, email)
– give people in that team a realistic goal based on company data and actual conversion rates. This in turn will guide the number of prospects they have to hit during the time period above (e.g. 50 new companies every two weeks)
– devise and continually develop the playbook for prospecting to get first appointments
Ultimately the keys for me are setting a data driven benchmark for volume that can actually be achieved and continually teaching those outbound reps to have value based business conversations to build their confidence to pick up the phone.
I think, to the point in the first comment, it seems many companies have gone too far with cold emailing and it has simply become blanket emailing from reps rather than marketing. Perhaps this is because they company doesn’t understand how to use an email first approach or their SDR function is not improved upon so reps are not confident in picking up the phone. We have a good middle ground whereby SDR’s use email first and then follow with calls. The emails are from a general template but tweaked based on industry, title of contact and will reference their previous companies where they are clients and we can do so. This allows for the scale of email campaigns but with a personal touch. That combined with ongoing education of reps gives them confidence to pick the phone up in a quality and directed way.