In order to maintain continued growth, the sales pipeline must be full.
“We want to grow!” probably the most frequently heard phrase in every company. Especially if you are part of the sales team, you know this sentence inside out. Although there are other important roles in companies, the sales team contributes a considerable amount to the growth of a company.
In my role as Account Executive, it is my job to always have a full and stable sales pipeline in order to be able to guarantee to close as many deals as possible. If you also work in sales, you know this has its challenges.
I have been in various sales roles, including sales and business development. Cold outbounding is an important part of these roles. The challenge is making first contact without any previous business relationship with the customer. Cold outbounding is therefore often viewed as an uphill struggle. We often find calls or emails from unknown people annoying and time-consuming.
In the beginning, therefore, most sales and business development professionals have a hard time dealing with cold calling. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a tough job. You have to have a lot of patience, put up with many rejections and motivate yourself again and again. However, the feeling is all the more rewarding when you have acquired a good project. In addition, I think that it helps your personal growth, because you have to challenge yourself over and over again.
Even in my role as Account Executive, I quickly realized that cold calling remains an important part of my daily work in order to continue building a full sales pipeline.
Over time I have tested various methods to ease the pain of cold outbounding and we will talk about one in more detail today.
In addition to cold calls, email campaigns are also widespread to reach the broadest possible audience.
According to Absolit 2019, 95.4 percent of the 5,000 top companies in the German-speaking world are engaged in active email marketing.
From my experience, mass emails are a very useful method to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible, but the response is very low. However, I would like to explicitly point out once again that since the new data protection provision of the DSGVO of May 2018, email recipients must have given their active consent if they want to send such emails. In the B2B segment this is a bit more relaxed, which is explained in detail in this video. However, mass emails in the European area are also prohibited in B2B.
Nevertheless, I do not consider mass emails to be suitable for specifically addressing potential customers. Let’s be honest: Everyone can see immediately whether an email is so generic that it could in principle be directed at anyone. I don’t know about you, but I delete such a generic email as soon as it lands in my inbox.
So here’s my question: When do you read an email and when will it be interesting for you?
Statistics show that an email becomes interesting as soon as it is personalized and we recognize a clear added value.
62% of companies consider personalized email to be the most effective method.
But how can you send a personalized email if you are not yet in personal contact with the recipient?
After all, you can’t spend all day researching new prospects. So you need a method that is as effective as possible but personal enough to add value.
One strategy that has proven very effective for me is Basho email. Basho has established itself particularly in the SaaS industry in recent years. But what is a BASHO?
The BASHO email has become an established sales method especially in the SaaS world and was first created by Jeff Hoffmann. Jeff Hoffmann has more than 25 years of sales experience and now gives training in over 100 of the Fortune 500 companies. His methods have been taught in over 23 countries worldwide and are used by companies such as Google. But what exactly is a BASHO?
A BASHO is a very personalized email that is mostly directed at decision makers. Your goal is to get a first phone call with a decision maker.
This sounds very simple at first. It is. However, there are a few important points you should keep in mind when writing a BASHO. Because it always consists of the same building blocks.
In the following I describe the steps to a BASHO and give you two examples of how a BASHO email can look like.
No success without research
An important aspect of writing a BASHO is the research you should do in advance.
This step prevents your email from being generic and being moved directly to the trash by the recipient.
Rather, he should have the feeling that you have dealt with his role and his company.
It is important that you approach a company where you can really add value with your product or service.
Once you have chosen a company, you need to find out who is the right contact person for you. The roles vary depending on who your product offers added value to. However, it is advisable to address BASHO’s to a decision maker.
From my experience, it’s always better to get on top. That means at the C level or Director level. These people often have a strategic view of their own company and are also in decision-making positions.
Let’s say you contact a person in the sales team. This person may see the benefit for himself – but it’s a much longer process because that person is unlikely to make a decision for the company. This means that you must first convince the sales person and then persuade that person to go to the manager with your solution. Then you have to convince him again. Top-Down’ is definitely the easier way here. But of course it is more difficult to get a person’s attention from the C-level or director level.
Since people in these roles often don’t have much time, it’s important that you make BASHO as relevant as possible. So you should spend about 15-20 minutes finding out about the person you want to contact.
LinkedIn and Xing are especially helpful in this research. Through these networks, you can quickly find information you can use in a BASHO. Here is an example of a LinkedIn profile:
Of particular interest is personal information, such as in our example “consistent track record of overachieving growth targets”. I also recommend that you check whether the person has worked with your product or service in previous positions or in other companies.
In addition to LinkedIn and Xing, I also search the company’s homepage for current events, such as trade fairs, or take a look at the company report. Here I often find exciting figures on growth targets or where the focus should be next year.
This is all the information you can use to get started with your BASHO email.
The second part of BASHO aims to highlight the added value of your service or product. In our example, we write to an “ambitious business leader” who has a clear focus on achieving his growth goals. So you have to ask yourself how you can add value with your solution or product.
This paragraph is probably the most important. Because it depends on whether the person reads it or not.
This part is very company-specific. Here it is up to you to pitch your company in the most concise possible way and to sufficiently present the added value.
Your BASHO should always end with a call to action. If the recipient has read your BASHO up to this point, it’s a small success. Therefore you should always ask at the end for a short phone call. Since many people think of the word ‘phone call’ as a one-hour call, it is advisable to speak of a first 10-minute exchange. If the topic is really exciting, everyone has 10 minutes that he or she can spend.
Last but not least: the subject line. According to Munich brain researcher Ernst Pöppel, we make around 20,000 lightning decisions every day. Most of them simply intuitively from the gut. So whether you read an email or delete it is a decision you make within seconds. That’s why your subject line must sound exciting to the recipient. Because this is the first thing he or she reads from BASHO.
Your subject line should therefore not be superimposed or generic. The person should feel personally addressed. I would therefore always choose a direct approach. In our example, something could be conceivable such as “Your growth targets for 2020”.
So what exactly could a BASHO look like?
Example of a BASHO email:
Your growth targets for 2020
Dear Mr. Scharf,
I see from your LinkedIn profile that you have a strong focus on achieving your sales figures and the growth of your company. This is also reflected in your company figures. How do you currently ensure that you will also achieve this growth in the coming year?
As a young technology company, we have specialised in supporting our customers in the growth of their sales in the long term. To this end, we provide information on relevant construction projects, which we identify at the earliest possible stage with the help of artificial intelligence.
Would you have time next week for a 15-minute phone call?
I look forward to your feedback.
A more detailed example could be as follows:
Dear Mr. Gschwendtner,
on Gründerszene.de I heard about your successful Series A funding round. Congratulations. I am very interested in your entry into the American market.
In your position as VP Sales, I can imagine that worldwide growth is one of your main goals.
As a young technology company, we have specialized in supporting our customers in their sustainable growth and entry into new target markets. To this end, we provide information on relevant construction projects that we identify at the earliest possible stage with the help of artificial intelligence.
We work with companies such as [XYZ] to further expand our global project business.
How exciting does this sound to you? I would be delighted if we could talk about it over the phone.
I look forward to hearing from you.
So simple and yet so effective
In my opinion, the beauty of a BASHO is that it is very easy and can be done by everyone. It doesn’t require any sales training and yet in just a few steps you’ll get a very personalized email.
Initially, the research effort may seem very high. But when you see the results, you quickly realize that the work is worth it. Online you can read that many salespeople write that your response rate has increased by 60% since they started working with BASHO’s. And that’s a remarkable figure.
Don’t you ever have to pick up the phone again?
Unfortunately, even a BASHO is not the miracle cure that solves all the cold acquisition challenges. In my experience, a BASHO makes it much easier to get into cold accounts. However, you shouldn’t focus your strategy 100% on BASHO writing. Therefore, the ‘bad’ news is: you still have to make phone calls.
For example, you can write a BASHO email and if you don’t get any feedback after three days, call the first time. The nice thing about it is that you can refer to your already sent email and the call is not quite as cold anymore. If you don’t reach anyone, you can write a follow-up email. After the second you should wait another three days and then try again by phone.
I would also advise you to test different channels. You can send your BASHO by mail but also via LinkedIn or Xing.
In general, the more touch points you have on a potential customer, the more likely you are to receive feedback.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think of BASHO’s? Is this something you have already tested in your company? Or maybe there are other approaches that give you good results?
I am definitely looking forward to your feedback!
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