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SMART IDEAS #8: Stop Automating Sales

Weekly inspiration for the staffing industry

ISSUE #8  |  December 2, 2023

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SMART IDEA #8: Stop Automating Sales

At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, I am ANTI-sales prospecting automation.

Yes, I said it.

A marketing guy, who is anti-marketing automation. And our CMO, is probably rolling his eyes at me as he reads this (Jeff is an automation wizard!).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am actually not anti-automation.

Quite the opposite. 

It’s 100% essential in candidate communication.

It’s ideal for nurturing relationships. 

It’s a great way to reconnect with former clients, gather feedback, and enhance service delivery.

But when it comes to prospecting, automation has a problem. Actually, two of them.

Sales Automation Problem #1: Clutter

Sadly, automation is easy. With tools like Seamless, Apollo, Lusha, and more, you can crank out thousands of sales emails each month.

And that’s the problem.

Everyone is doing it. And all that automated email is overwhelming inboxes. How many emails have you received today? 

The average businessperson receives more than 140 emails per day…and we can only process about 50!

To make matters worse (for salespeople), Microsoft and Google are doing a better job of filtering unsolicited email to junk folders and promotions tabs.

How do you expect your automated outreach to get through? And even if it does, your probability of your email being seen, read, and responded to is near zero. 

Not that it won’t happen. It’s just that the odds are not in your favor. In fact, on average, it takes 306 cold emails to get JUST ONE B2B lead (Source: Belkins).

Which brings me to the second problem.

Sales Automation Problem #2: Math

Let’s assume you write amazing automation emails. Or you have an AI that really crushes content personalization.

How many read emails will it take to get an appointment?

Follow my math:

  • Let’s say you have a 20% open rate.  
    So, 1 in 5 people read your email.
  • And let’s say that 5% of the people who read your email will be willing to talk with you.
  • Now, if you’re a great closer, maybe 50% of those people will place an order.
  • That means, just 0.5% of the people on your email list will be viable prospects.

So, if you need to land 5 new clients to hit your goals, you will need 1,000 prospects. 

Do you have 1,000 prospects?

Are there 1,000 companies in your market that fit the criteria of your ideal client?

This is the biggest problem with sales automation—it only works when you have a HUGE potential market to go after.

For most staffing companies, you probably have a few hundred “ideal prospects.” So, if you want your prospecting to work, you have to make your sales outreach as impactful as possible.

What’s the alternative to sales automation?

Hint, it’s not just picking up the phone and cold calling (that will have the same…or possibly a worse rate of response as cold email).

It’s not just networking…although referrals will be a top source of leads—and you absolutely should look to maximize sales referrals.

The alternative I want to suggest today is Integrated Direct Marketing – creating a multi-channel, multi-step outreach process that integrates marketing and sales calls to maximize the probability of getting the attention of your ideal prospects…and convincing them to meet with you.

IDM Campaigns 101

Step 1: Pick a targeted list of your ideal prospects.

Step 2: Create a multi-step marketing campaign.

The goal of the campaign is to capture the attention of the people you want to reach, get them interested in the value you can offer, position your company as the best in the world at delivering that value, and most importantly, get an appointment!

Your campaign should include a mix of mail, email, LinkedIn outreach, and phone calls. 

In today’s remote world, we recommend the first step of the campaign is a call to verify the mailing address of each prospect. You need to know where to find people!

Next, hit them with a high-impact mailer (yes, old school snail mail) – something that will have a 100% open rate, like a dimensional mailer, package, or FedEx. Use this initial touchpoint to not only capture attention but captivate your ideal prospect by addressing a pain point you know they are experiencing.

After that package, you follow up with calls, emails, LinkedIn, and more mail. Use the follow-up to position your company, demonstrate your value, build credibility, and create a strong reason for the appointment.

And be sure to include multiple calls in the outreach process. Integrated direct marketing only works when the salesperson picks up the phone as part of the process!

Step 3: Nurture. 

Once the initial campaign ends, put every prospect on an ongoing nurturing campaign. 

Use email, social messaging, and calls to add value, reinforce your positioning, and keep your company top-of-mind (without being salesy).

In this part of the process, sales automation can be a powerful tool—getting the right message to the right people…and reminding the sales team when to call.

Put the Math on Your Side

While cold sales automation will have a less than 1% conversion rate, and integrated direct marketing campaign will typically have a 4% to 10% plus response rate. 

And at that rate, the odds will ever be in your favor! (Yes, more geeky David humor to end this note!)

*Want to know more about Integrated Direct Marketing?

Download our Guide to Sales Lead Generation eBook. We show you how to create IDM campaigns—and use content and inbound marketing to sell!


What do you think of the new format? Like it? Hate it? Either way, we’d love to hear. Just click reply and tell us your thoughts.

Have a topic (or challenge) you want us to address? Tell us that too! We’d be happy to provide specific tips for you in future issues of our SMART IDEAS Weekly

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