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outbound cold calling with hunters and farmers

Outbound Cold Calling with Hunters and Farmers

First. Sales. Gig. Did yours have outbound cold calling?

Well, mine didn’t, luckily. When I was working at a well-known national company as a young salesperson, I learned quickly about the differences between hunting and farming related to sales. There, in the highly competitive world of SaaS and tech, getting a meeting was the equivalent of a sale. Where that prospect came from made all the difference in making quota (inbound vs. outbound). 

Cold calling was something that I didn’t have to worry about.

There was a call center that worked as a giant marketing engine and funneled leads from marketing and the website to us SDRs to set up a time to see demos. They did the cold calling. 

I answered the phone and brought in the meeting.

These were the hottest leads, and these were the easiest to obtain. 

You could get a prospect on the phone, get them over to the Account Executive, and they were closed a week later (plus I got a bonus!). These were the best “leads.” 

To go without access to these leads almost always meant you would not hit your number. And if you don’t hit your number, you were likely put on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) and then ultimately fired.  

Consistently receiving sales qualified leads

To be an excellent SDR, all you had to do was sit at your desk, and make sure you kept getting those good leads. 

To keep getting good leads, you needed not miss incoming calls. And hit some KPI targets around talk-time and dials. Once you were in, it was just a matter of talking to prospects about their pain and why chatting with one of our Senior Sales People would help. 

In many ways, the job was 90% farming and 10% hunting. 

Sure, there was the occasional referral. Every once in a while, I dialed someone who would be interested. But for the most part, because I was provided a constant source of sales qualified leads, I was farming. Sales coaching wasn’t really existent. 

Startup life throws punches

Fast forward to my first SaaS startup sales gig. I quickly learned the differences between farming and hunting. Hello outbound cold calling.

I worked with a startup, and there was very little marketing, no SDRs, and no sales process. This is where I began to grow as a salesperson. Literally, there was no process because we were brand new. We created the process around creating leads and implemented a sales process from the ground up.

It was then that I realized I needed several repeatable processes:

  • How to call a Gatekeeper
  • Find the decision-maker and convince them to hear me out on a more significant call
  • Close the deal

Cold calling is challenging but not impossible

Without marketing’s assistance, the hunter’s role can be much more challenging but not impossible.

After much practice, many failures, and a good bit of homemade “luck,” I was able to get one of my key target accounts not only interested but actually in an actual buying cycle. Things started looking up. I was going to crush my goals. And then reality hit. The client informed me that their budget cycle would keep them from purchasing for an additional four months. No one had provided sales coaching on how to handle this objection.

I remember this point in my career distinctly because it was the point where I realized that I would have to fight to keep the progress that I’d already made. I couldn’t just sit back and wait for another deal to come about. This was the only chance I had. 

Fortunately, I convinced the client somehow that a couple of free months on the front end would allow us to push them into a new budget cycle. It felt fortunate.

The value of sales qualified leads exposed

The contrast between these two jobs made me appreciate the first role at the larger national company. Outbound cold calling, aka being a hunter, is not easy.

Now understanding how hard it was to nurture someone unaware of our product or offering all the way to the point where we would close a deal was allowing me to, for the first time, understand the amount of work and effort that went into generating a lead.  

My point here is whether your role is one where you’re mostly farming, hunting, or a combination of the two, every swing at that plate is an expensive endeavor. 

What does your company pay to acquire a lead? 

What if you had to submit an expense report for every lead that you received? 

Would you not want to treat them like gold (or maybe a little better)?  

Crap leads to new reps

If your entire sales organization is not using all the available tools that they have at their disposal to both create leads by hunting and closing them when the deal matters most. 

You are wasting company resources, and you are likely not meeting your own personal goals. When a manager you go begins to train a new sales rep and gives them the “throwaway” leads, the manager essentially gives them something that represents both time and money. 

Why wouldn’t they be given the best shot at closing anything they can get in front of? Why would you hire someone great, only to provide them with a low chance of success? That is a rhetorical question.

The sales manager does this because they want the sales rep to learn in a non-critical environment. Ultimately, the sales manager is afraid that the sales rep does not know enough to adequately hold a conversation with a very rare and precious lead. 

That’s where excellent sales coaching should come in.

Make every rep a star player

With Abstrakt, you can take a relatively new salesperson and put them with the hottest leads, and the sales manager can rest assured that they will have all the information and tools available to them to make the most out of the heavy investment that you’ve made. 

They will have the natural intuitions that you hired them for, all of the capability to know the answers on the calls, and use a proven framework that they can follow to succeed out of the gate.

Creative cold calling is still something they need to do, but being able to just got way easier!

Author

Tiffany Williams - SDR

Before joining Abstrakt, Tiffany had a very successful career as a Physical Therapist. As someone who selflessly looks to serve others, she is always looking to help her prospects by helping them understand how technology can enable their success.