ICP + TAM = A Sales Qualified Lead Machine

In the modern world of Sales Development, high quality and high velocity Sales Qualified Leads reign supreme. We find ourselves in a new era of Outbound. Sales Development teams are transforming from Clark Kent’s (suits in a phone booth) to Iron Man’s (suits full of high-tech accessories).

Never before in the history of sales have we really had this big of an advantage.

But listen, it’s not just because the technology is being built for us. Or because data is cheaper and more accessible than ever before. Or because there’s a whole new level of transparency to it. Or because we have unique ways, like social media, to get in front of buyers. No. All of that is awesome, but without knowledge and know-how, it’s just clutter and spam.

So that leads me to the focus of today’s knowledge bomb which is: qualifying leads.

Here are the four most important tactics to build a sales qualified lead (SQL) machine:

  1. Find your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
  2. Define your Total Addressable Market (TAM)
  3. Enrich your customers
  4. Meet your future customers

Now let me tell you about the traditional, 1.0 way people qualified leads in the past.

Step 1 – Buy a list (non-exclusive, so a ton of other people are calling it) and likely unqualified other than the fact that they are a business.

Step 2 – Call these people. One by one. Maybe email them a canned message. Both basically spam.

Step 3 – IF you get a hold of someone, ask for more of their time. (Usually in a call/second call, which they’ll likely duck because they just wanted to get off the phone with you the first time and felt uncomfortable saying no).

Step 4 – You call over and over. Maybe send a few emails.

Step 5 – Realize you’ve wasted a ton of time and move on.

Now if you’re 2.0, maybe you’ve done this and added some automated emails and social media in there. But you’re still missing the big picture. Because whether you buy, build, or pull a pretty little list out of your…office drawer, without defining you ICP and your TAM correctly, you’ll just waste time; and time is the most valuable resource for a salesperson.

So why are you here? You’re here because you don’t have a true grasp on your customer profile, and you don’t know who the best people to contact are. This leads us to two very important concepts.

  1. ICP – aka your Ideal Customer Profile
  2. TAM – aka your Total Addressable Market

Here’s how you can use your ICP and your TAM to build leads lists that are pre-qualified, saving you tons of time on those pesky qualification call questions that will likely result in a disgruntled and disengaged prospect.

Finding Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

The ICP is broken into two parts: Company and Job Title. This can be broken out even further as you get more advanced for Company Size or Industry.

For example, your target buyer at a 200-person company is the VP of Marketing, but at a 2000-person company, it’s the Digital Marketing Manager. As organizations grow, they hire out for more focused roles.

The better you can target and more granular you can get with your ICP, the more successful your Outbound Campaigns will be.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to identify your Ideal Customer Profile:

What products are my customers using that I compete with, complement, or that might translate to interest in my product?

  • E.g., if you have a Mailchimp-style service, you want to speak to Mailchimp customers.
  • E.g., if potential customers are running Facebook Ads, they might also be interested in Ad Optimization or Analytics software.

Where are these people living on the web?

  • E.g., someone interested in your e-commerce service might have a store hosted on Shopify or built with Magento because these services are built to host online vendors.
  • E.g., if you want to find people to create video courses online, go find people who have already created content on the subject in written or audio form and are selling it on Amazon. Then convince them to try video content.

What do I consider my low-hanging fruit?

  • These are the people already doing what you want them to do, just somewhere else.
  • E.g., An individual who is buying or selling a service on Craigslist that your company provides. It’s easier to get the person to use you over Craigslist than to create a new buyer/seller from scratch. Pinterest has emerged as another way to source potential customers that are already playing ball.
  • E.g., you’re going after their budget focused on ad spend and you see that a potential buyer has a testimonial on a competing company’s website. You know they have budget and are already spending it somewhere else. Time to go get your slice or even the whole pie!

What can I decipher from my previous closed deals that I can use in new ones?

  • You keep closing deals with companies, so take a moment to ask yourself, what do these companies have in common and how can I apply this when speaking to companies with the same common variables?

Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll want to build massive lists of these companies.

Here are some good places to look to start building lists of your ICPs:

  • LinkedIn and Facebook groups
  • Meetups
  • Industry conference websites
  • Trade association forums and directories
  • Job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Public Legal Filings
  • CrunchBase
  • AngelList
  • Glassdoor
  • Yelp
  • Shopify
  • Etsy
  • Kickstarter
  • Any company database or marketplace

There are plenty of databases out there for you to use to inquire about these companies and find even more information! Things to look for might include:

  • Amount of money raised to date (for startups)
  • Timing of last round raised (for startups)
  • Employee head count
  • New employees recently added
  • Job titles and new titles added
  • Company headquarters
  • PR announcements, such as product, funding, key hires, or partnerships
  • Legal filings

For more actionable insights to build your Ideal Customer Profile, check out the book  Hacking Sales.

Now What?

Sounds cool, huh? But we’re not at the finish line yet. Use your ICP to build targeted lists that you know will convert because you know it’s the right person, at the right company, that almost certainly has budget at that moment. Once you have a clear sense of your ICP, it’s time to work out how to define your total universe of potential accounts.

Defining Your Total Addressable Market (TAM)

Enrich your Customers

Your customers chose to partner with you for a reason. Tapping into the commonalities across your customer base will leverage enormous value and build a more complete picture of your customer.

Once you understand the profile of your customer, you can determine how deep the market is for companies with a similar background. Moreover, taking a step back and looking at the customer base will inform you of outlying trends that could support a move into a new industry or market segment.

Map your customer base, using a tiered data framework:

Tier 1: Sales Cycle, Average Contract Value (ACV), Win Rate

The goal of this tier is to understand the sales velocity (i.e. the number of opportunities multiplied by the ACV multiplied by the win rate divided by the sales cycle) of your customer base.

  • These data points will form the basic foundation and expose any outliers in the customer data
  • Invest time to validate your data integrity

Tier 2: Industry (and Vertical), Employee Size, Growth Score, Location, and Technology Stack

The goal of this tier is adding an additional layer of firmographic data that will form the basis for your size and scope analysis.

  • There are a number of large data sources to validate Industry, Vertical, Employee Size, Growth Score, and Location including: Mattermark, FactSet, and Hoovers. When evaluating your potential database partner, the following criteria will help to guide the choice:
    • Matching percentage (i.e. number of your customers that are present in their list)
    • Number of additional data (commonalities) points
    • Data integrity – check third party sources to validate
  • Industry and Vertical are interdependent (and often confused). An example of the relationship (Box is in the Cloud Storage vertical within the Technology Industry)
  • If your customers have adopted a set of technologies, surfacing this data at scale will provide an additional proxy. For the Technology Stack, there are several sources to capture this data:Datanyze, Ghostery Enterprise, BuiltWith, and SimilarWeb. Using these providers you can determine if your customers are using Website Analytics,  Marketing Automation, PPC advertising, A/B Testing, etc.

Tier 3: Company specific data

  • Using freelancers (Upwork, CrowdFlower, etc.) you can add valuable data from competitors websites, the AppExchange, or any website. If you have a hypothesis that you’d like to test (e.g. your buyer is a VP of Marketing), you can have the freelancers do a pass against your customer list via LinkedIn.
  • The scope of this collection is broad, so identify a few hypotheses and you can validate them from your Tier 1 data points

Meet Your Future Customers

Once you’ve collected extensive data on your existing customers, it’s time to flip the magnifying glass onto your future customers. Assuming you invested in one of the databases mentioned earlier, this process will be fairly straightforward.

This next set of steps will draw on your customer list and extrapolate the data across the dataset of your database partner.
Step 1: Map your customer data<

  1. Using Excel, create a datasheet for each Tier
  2. Form a consistent list of your customers across each sheet
  3. Cluster (and sort) the companies with high concentration across each variable – specifically those that perform well across the Tier 1 data points

Step 2: Identify the Early Adopters and Mainstream (see Crossing the Chasm)
Place your customers into two buckets:

  1. High number of variables and high performing characteristics from Tier 1
    1. This list will surface companies that are early adopters and have a faster than average sales velocity
  2. Outside your (assumed) ICP but possess high performing characteristics from Tier 1
    1. This list will provide companies that have a faster than average sales velocity, however may not be in your present ICP.

Step 3: Validate the size and scope

  1. Based on your two customer sets, use the confirmed variables to export companies from the largest database available for your given Industry and set of Verticals
  2. Separate the two distinct buckets (from Step 2) to ensure you can test performance

Make It Actionable

Now you’ve collected all this data – what do you do with it? Empower the Sales team with the same insight you’ve collected.

Step 1: Confirm the variables
When you check the weather, are you interested in the barometric pressure? Probably not, so applying the same logic for the fields you expose. The goal in this step is to understand the optimal information that can be effectively positioned to personalize their outreach.

  1. Take a holistic approach to how the team can use this data
    1. Industry/Vertical will align future customers (see Geoffrey Moore: bowling pin strategy)
    2. Geographical concentration adds degrees of separation and can be valuable for marketing events
    3. Technology providers will allow easy dynamic fields within emails
    4. Competitive takeaways will give great talking points
  1. Limit the variables to 4-5 (to avoid paralysis by analysis)
  2. Choose your filters (for the Dashboard) so that you have overarching segmentation

Step 2: Create custom fields within the CRM
Add a collection of custom fields and be particular about how you present the data (i.e. on the Account record and/or Contact record). This will involve using a feedback loop with the Sales team around what they would find valuable – specific to the sales process.

Step 3: Mapping the fields to reports in Salesforce
In this section, you want to think about the optimal method for presenting the data so that 1) the Sales team can quickly interpret the chart and 2) you are telling a story with each data point.

My advice for this section is use a combination of different charts, and leverage feedback from the Sales team on how they interpret each report. The longer it takes for individuals to understand the context of the report, the less valuable the report.

Refine & Optimize the Entire Process

Finding your ICP will ensure you’re having the right conversations. Defining your TAM will uncover the breadth and depth of your market. The two exercises are not designed to be set-and-forget. As your customer evolves and you test your outliers, you’ll need to tweak and adjust the model.

In order to create and maintain this process you should have a qualitative feedback loop from your Customer Success/Account Management team; and a quantitative feedback loop to continually improve the ICP and TAM.

This post was originally published on Mattermark’s blog. Mattermark launched in 2013 as a data platform for venture capital companies to quantify signals of growing startups. 

Max Altschuler is CEO of Sales Hacker, an organization dedicated to helping B2B companies and sales reps build modern sales processes that generate more revenue. 

Sales & Marketing Alignment Through Content Podcast

Sales and Marketing are the two most crucial teams for every B2B company. Alignment between the two revenue generating teams is therefore paramount. True alignment is achieved when both teams share a definition of an ideal customer and come to a consensus on how to define, acquire and nurture leads.

However, alignment isn’t that easy. Many organizations cite that collaboration and communication between the two teams is too difficult. In an Aberdeen Group study, it reported that aligned organizations experience an average of 31.6% year-over-year growth in annual company revenue and less aligned companies experience a 6.7% growth.

During these past months, we’ve been working on a research project around the idea of Sales and Marketing alignment. We’ve compiled our research into a forthcoming book titled Sales & Marketing Alignment Through Content. To gear up to the book’s release, we’ve cobbled together a podcast that includes subject expertise from:

  • Koka Sexton, Content Marketing and Social Media Team – Corporate Communications at LinkedIn
  • Nick Christman, Marketing Director at Namely
  • Ali Boehler, Sales Effectiveness Leader at HackerRank

Listen to our podcast below:

Tout’s Command Center Introduces Mission Control for SDRs and Closers

A few weeks ago, as part of our Jarvis initiative, we announced Sales Beat to help sales teams collaborate in a whole new way to close deals. Today, we’re announcing Command Center — a streamlined interface within Tout that allows closers and SDRs to effectively manage a multi-touch outbound process.

With more and more of our customers, we’re starting to see sophisticated, multi-touch, multi-channel (email and phone), semi-automatic (some automated drips and some personalization) outreach campaigns both for sales development reps and for closers.

While Tout has always done a fantastic job of managing an outbound campaign, and for helping to manage a salesperson’s day in terms of tasks, reminders and follow-ups — up until today, we never had a single unified interface to manage all of it.

Customers had to go to the Scheduled Emails tab, or the Most Engaged tab, and use custom filters in the Sent Emails tab to hone in on the right next steps.

Until today.

Today, we’re announcing the next iteration of our Jarvis initiative which introduces Command Center, a single mission control for salespeople, which leverages all your Tout data to help you take the next step.

Whether it’s your Tasks for the day, identifying the most engaged people or personalizing a set of automated drip emails that are already scheduled, you can do it all right from Command Center.

Best of all, the idea of a “next step” is just a click away. Tout’s Click to Call functionality, and your ability to email someone as a follow-up is embedded right into the view.

As sales teams evolve and crave better tools to manage their workflow, we’re constantly improving our platform. The idea of running a workflow is top of mind for us, along with a plethora of other platform features part of the Jarvis initiative that we’re working hard on.

Command Center is made available today to all ToutApp customers. Please check it out here and let us know what you think as this is the first iteration of many to come as part of this release.

Watch the video for Command Center below:

5 Custom Sales Beat Updates You Can Share With Your Team

What Is Sales Beat?

In our last post we talked about Why Your Sales Team Should Use Sales Beat and gave you 10 creative ways to use it within your team. Now, we’re adding to that list.

Sales Beat transforms your Sales team into a streamlined and connected team that thrives on collaboration. With the Custom Update card, it’s your opportunity to make Sales Beat the true nerve center of your team.

Here are 5 custom Sales Beat updates that you can share with your team:

1. Give a Shout-Out



People love shout-outs. It’s a positive public acknowledgement of respect and good work. In Sales Beat, you can give multiple kinds of shout-outs. You can spotlight a top performing rep who’s crushing their deals or boost team spirit at the end of the month.

2. FYI


Your company has just hired a new Sales Development Representative – congrats! Use a Custom Update card on Sales Beat to announce the new hire to your entire Sales team and get them excited about their new colleague.

3. Marketing Announcement


As Marketers, you’ve worked hard on a brand new Case Study, now it’s time to share it with your Sales team. (More on Sales and Marketing alignment here). In Sales Beat, you can seamlessly slip in new marketing collateral right into your Sales team’s workflow.

4. Share Relevant Articles


Your team shares a lot of articles, whether through email or group chat. Until now there hasn’t been a centralized place to share articles and learn about closed deals in one feed. In Sales Beat, you can do just that. Now you can inform your entire team with the latest and most relevant articles straight into their workflow.

5. Ask a Question


Sales isn’t just about asking customers and prospects the right questions, it’s also about asking your colleagues for the right answers. In Sales Beat, you can do just that. Need to ask Marketing a question or need help with a deal? Ask on Sales Beat.


How does your team use the Custom Update card? Let us know in the comments section below. For more information on how to get your team on Sales Beat, watch this video and contact our Sales team.

Why Your Sales Team Should Use Sales Beat

What’s Sales Beat?

It’s the nerve center for the modern, collaborative sales team that gives you real-time insights on what’s going on across your sales floor. Reps will know what messaging works and managers are better informed to coach their team with the advice they need to close every deal.

There are ten pre-existing cards that your team can deploy on Sales Beat. Here are 10 ways to get creative with those cards:

1. Deal Alert: Get Your Team Excited About the Future


Congrats, you closed a deal and rang the gong! As a sales rep, this is a huge win for you. For a manager, the Deal Alert card is the opportunity to track the future of your company’s sales with revenue and deal size metrics while adding a competitive motivator amongst your sales team.

Think about it – if you close a deal today for $5,000 and that company grows within the next three months, that deal could double – if you play your cards right that means more $$ for your company.

2. Top Reps Across Your Team: Ramp Reps Faster


You’re a new hire, it’s your first sales job and you want to get to know your new company. Where do you start? Well, start looking at the Top Reps Across Your Team card and talk to those reps about best practices. Those top reps are doing it right. And you’re hungry to get to the top – so put time on their calendars and get on that leaderboard now.

3. Top Templates Across Your Team: Get Behind the Scenes


Sales reps everywhere want to know the secret sauce that makes an email irresistible to a prospect. With the Top Templates Across Your Team card, you can get a behind the scenes look on what’s working for your peers, improve your writing and ultimately climb up the leaderboard.

4. Deal Alert: Prep for a Call


A fellow sales rep just closed a deal, don’t simply congratulate them on their win – learn from their win. Analyze and use the information provided on the Deal Alert cards to prep for an upcoming call. If you’ve got a similar company in your pipeline, use this Deal Alert as ammo and leverage for similar deals.

Example talk track: “Your competitor just bought our product and said they’re going to use it to ramp the 10 new reps they hired last week.”

5. Most Used Team Template: Have Some Fun


Sales Managers want to keep a pulse on what’s happening within their sales team. Instead of guessing what’s going on, look at the data provided on the Most Used Team Template and learn what’s popular and working for your team. Take that information and coach them along and provide actionable next steps.

6. Your Top Performing Template: Boost Your Productivity


Stop copying and pasting your emails. Instead, save two minutes per email and use a template. Keep a lookout for the Your Top Performing Template card to amplify your productivity throughout the day.

7. Top Reps Across Your Team: Eye on the Competition


Sales reps are naturally competitive. They want to get ahead on their deals and climb up the leaderboard. Great sales reps will have their eyes glued to the Top Reps Across Your Team card to see who’s moving through the ranks and where they land.

Make a game of it – send more emails, improve your messaging and stay hungry for the top of the leaderboard.

8. New Template Shared With You: Help Others in Their Day-to-Day


Even if sales reps are competitive, some still want to help their peers out. Winning sales teams however will share their most creative emails to see what works.

9. Your Top Performing Email: Get Insightful Research


You already use Tout’s tracking, templates and analytics in your sales process. With the Your Top Performing Email card, get all the research and information you need (because this card is all about you). Get hyper-personalized and real-time insights on how this particular email is your secret weapon and know exactly when to use it next.

10. New Shared Group: Be Strategic


Here’s the use case: a sales rep closes an upsell deal and shares a new email group to that company’s Customer Success Manager to facilitate the onboarding process. Cross-team collaboration for the win.


Have an even more creative way to use Sales Beat? Add yours in the comments below. And for more information on how to get your team on Sales Beat, contact Sales or watch this video:

The Key is Company Culture (And Why It Matters)

Work isn’t easy. It should be a challenging and rewarding experience all at the same time. But what makes it all worthwhile is your company’s culture. Culture sustains and breathes life into every employee – and it’s one of the top reasons an employees joins and stays on your team.

We here at ToutApp highly value and covet our company culture. We’ve adopted the #iclosedeals mantra and have applied it to every role at the company. Yes, every role. I’m the company’s storyteller – but with every piece of content, tweet or product write up – I’m closing a deal. For an Engineer, every time he deploys a new feature or writes new lines of code into the database – he’s closing a deal. #weclosedeals at ToutApp.

So what does a sustainable company culture mean to the evolving roles within sales and marketing? And why does it all matter?

A Common Purpose

Sales and marketing share a common purpose in their respective roles at the company – they want to bring in new customers and add to the company’s revenue. It’s the leadership’s responsibility to make that crystal clear for every new hire from day one. If everyone has a common core understanding of their purpose, it leads to a collaborative environment across teams and the entire company.

Employees, no matter department, want to know that what they’re doing is making true impact and adding value to their company. They want to feel valued for their work and contributions.

Training and Competency Check

The words “work training” for any employee have the connotation of being boring and dreadful. A three-hour long training session in the middle day on a Tuesday? No thank you. But, if it’s already ingrained in your company culture to have collaborative and effective trainings – employees will flock to these meetings as a chance to top off their skill levels and check up on their product competency.

For sales and marketing, a cross-training session is step one in aligning the the two teams and bridging the vast divide between them. So, leadership team – don’t be afraid of scheduling those long meetings – in the end they matter and lead to high productivity for all parties involved.

Two-Way Communication

Communication is the key to happiness. Sales happiness, customer happiness or engineering happiness. An open, two-way communication channel between sales reps to managers, sales reps to marketing, managers to leadership and even employees to leadership – it’s important.

Employees should look forward to walking through your company’s office doors in the morning. While the work that do during the day should be challenging, company communication should not be. An open culture of communication leads to happy employees that are more willing to break the mold, be more productive and are more likely to go above and beyond.

Growth Path

As we’ve discussed in length the importance of instilling a common purpose for all employees, an efficient training method and keeping an open channel of communication – all of this is great and needs to lead somewhere. Employees want to know that when they join a team, there’s a potential for growth.

Make it a priority. If you’ve got an entry-level Market Development Representative who is fresh out of college – let them know of the opportunities that lay ahead for them, should they succeed in their role. If you’ve just hired your first Marketing Coordinator, ask them early on what they’re interested in and align their goals with their future.

In Conclusion

As your company continues to grow, don’t lose track your identity. Company culture is more important than you think. Develop a culture that will never stop evolving together as a team.

Don Draper is One of the Best Closers

One of the best salesmen in recent history is rarely seen without his classic and impeccably tailored American suit, a white button-down dress shirt, a pocket square and long trench coat. He’s often heralded as a creative genius and his official title is a Creative Director at an Advertising Agency. Don’t be fooled though – he’s got grit, a razor-sharp insatiable desire to win deals, an incredible sales acumen and the tenacity to take action with any prospect.

Albeit fictional (and technically an Ad Man) – Don Draper has the makings to be one of the best salesmen.

This upcoming Sunday marks the end of an era. We’re closing the books on the 60s, the entire Mad Men gang and Don Draper himself. Before we send off Don & the Gang, let’s recap the five best pitches, speeches and moments that proves that Don Draper is one of the greatest salesman in history.

1. You Are the Product: Mad Men Rules

Watch show creator, Matthew Weiner, and the cast of Mad Men talk about the voice and allure of Don Draper.

2. Don Selling “The Carousel” to Kodak

Mad Men – Selling “The Carousel” to Kodak from Miko Photo on Vimeo.

Quite possibly one of the best moments in TV history. After Don’s emotionally stirring pitch, the Kodak execs are left speechless and awestruck.

3. Don Draper & Lucky Strike

Much of Season 1 revolved around the Lucky Strike account – in his final pitch of “it’s toasted,” Don finally wins them over.

4. Draper, Sterling and Dow Chemical

Imagine if every salesperson said that above line to their clients – think about how that would change the sales world.

5. Don Draper & Life … Cereal

In this episode, we see Don’s life pre-Ad Man. In his previous life, Don was a fur salesmen and a relentless follower of one particular client: Roger Sterling.


When Don pitches a concept, much like a sales pitch, he does it in person. He’s wearing that perfectly tailored suit, his hair is neat and he’s usually standing–giving him the leverage of authority while talking to his clients. In the 1960s, this is how the advertising and sales world functioned. Today, there’s less of the whole business-lunch-handshake song and dance.

Even though we’re no longer living in the Draper era of sharp suits, the core of the sales industry is still the same. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, there’s always an aspect of selling to it.

We’ll miss you Don.

A look at LinkedIn’s Top 10 Global Buzzwords

It’s January. The start of a new year and for many companies, the start of a new hiring budget.

Many job seekers say to themselves, “this is the year I’ll look for a new job.” Whether job seekers are looking for opportunities in a new industry, a company move or just looking for a more challenging position – studies show that January is the time to do that. There’s just something about a new year that inspires many to start thinking about the future and their careers.

But, before your start massively updating your skills and experiences on LinkedIn – take a few notes from their annual report of 2014 buzzwords and nix ‘em from your profile.

“If you’re motivated about your career, passionate about doing your best work, and are highly creative, then I’ve got news for you: so is everyone else,” writes Catherine Fisher, the Director of Corporate Communications & LinkedIn Career Expert.

Yikes. I think we’re all guilty of using at least one of those words on our LinkedIn profile and résumé.

Should we all bust out thesauruses en masse?

Fisher suggests, “don’t go to your trusty thesaurus and replace one buzzword with another lackluster adjective. Rather, include examples that illustrate how you’re motivated.”

So, in short, it’s less about using words such as “motivated,” “passionate” and “creative”—anyone and everyone should describe themselves as those adjectives. In Journalism school, I was taught the show don’t tell method and I think that applies here.

Instead of showing how motivated you are as a person, provide an anecdote of a time where you were relentless in pursuit of something—whether it’s selling a product, writing a story or solving a problem.

Telling a hiring manager that you’re motivated doesn’t really mean anything. Rather, showing a hiring manager exactly how you’re motivated does paint a vivid picture.

Today, LinkedIn is encouraging their users to update their profiles and eliminate buzzwords. You can read more about their Brand YOU Year here.

Photo courtesy of LinkedIn.

Sales 3.0: Personalization at Scale

In Part One, we established how taking a marketing automation approach to sales is dated and destined to fail. We introduced how successful salespeople deliver relevant content to both empower the buyer and initiate a mutually beneficial relationship.

Predictable Revenue: End of an era.

Traditional sales theory taught us to use Aaron Ross’ Predictable Revenue as a model for our sales outreach. The message is clear and simple: go high and ask for the referral. I can speak to the use-case for this approach and have deployed it to generate revenue, however this method was used at Salesforce.com in 2004.

We’re at the tail end of 2014, today’s buyer expects a different experience. A relationship that begins with an education on how similar companies are addressing the same challenge.

This is challenging for Sales professionals to implement at scale, as the prior theory simply required templates and a delivery mechanism. The success of this method has lead to an undercurrent around sales intelligence. Sales professionals are starting to ask questions:

How many emails does it take to generate a reply?

How long should I engage with a buyer?

Who should I engage with within an organization?

These are important, but I’d like to focus our attention in a different direction.

The number of emails means nothing.

In a webinar in April, I introduced the concept that it’s not the number of emails, rather the content that drives engagement. Information overload leads buyers to want one email, not ten. It’s simple: send one email instead of ten – just make the one email 10x better.

Sales communication through email boils down to two types: (1) “Nurture” messages to educate the buyer and (2) “Activation” messages to incentivize buyer action. (1) is in your control, while the buyer’s existing business environment affects (2).

With the release of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, sales professionals now have access to a treasure trove of data, and possess the ability to push organizational and individual trigger events to their inbox.

Breaking through the buyer’s status quo is tough. I’ll defer to Jamie Shanks on how he defines the six trigger events that lead to action:

  1. Company gets acquired
  2. Competitor releases new product/solution
  3. Incumbent sales rep leaves
  4. Prospect changes decision maker
  5. Prospect wins large account – increased capital availability
  6. Capital raise

Using these events, sales professionals can determine the right messaging and engage the buyer at the right time to activate an action.

But, how do companies achieve personalization at scale?

There is a common thread throughout the the fastest growing companies. Individuals who are able to deliver personalized messages without sacrificing value – while somehow magically painting broad outreach strokes – are infinitely more successful.

The 10/80/10 Model. 

The philosophy is widespread, but the concept has never been articulated. This method was implemented at Responsys and drove revenue from 80M to 200M over the course of 16 months. The concept draws on several themes: Hoffman & Barrows’ Why You Why Now; Elias’ Shift Selling; Grant’s Give & Take.

The Breakdown:

10: Spend the most energy on your message’s opener – the first 10% of your email (including your subject line) should enchant your buyer. The first sentence of an email has one purpose: engage the reader to read the second. How do you enchant your buyer? We’ve all heard the mantra: make it about them. This goes beyond mentioning one tidbit from their LinkedIn profile, rather employs leveraging technology to push trigger events to your inbox and intertwining the message with something hyper-relevant to the reader (e.g. a recent Twitter post declaring National Sandwich Day or perhaps a link to the Neil Diamond classic Sweet Caroline for those lucky enough to hold the name). Get creative.

80: If your reader continues, it’s because (1) Your 10 sparked a level of curiosity or (2) your 10 indicated utility in solving their current challenges — but best communications combine both curiosity and utility and weave in your value proposition for product/service. It’s imperative that you tailor the message to the persona of the buyer.

For example, if you’re trying to reach a VP of Marketing, focus your message so that it describes how your product/service would solve strategic challenges. Conversely, if you’re contacting a Manager or Analyst, refine your message to illustrate how your product service would solve day-to-day challenges of a tactical position.

10: If they’re still reading, they’ve crossed the chasm and now need confirmation that you’re credible (1) individual and (2) marketplace contender. You’ve piqued your reader’s interest, told him a bit about your company – now, tell him how you’re helping his peers — and make it easy for him to join them. At this moment, the reader would like to engage with you – make it easy for them. This doesn’t involve a call-to-action of “what time would work for you next week”. Make it easy for the reader to review your proposed times, and check their calendar to confirm if one of the times works with their schedule.

We’re all human, and it’s time to treat your reader like one. Personalization requires personality, and as sales people it’s our job to form mutually beneficial relationships. Let’s leave automation to the Marketing team and strive for personalization at scale.


December 31st: Sales Day or Vacation Day?

Today is Tuesday, December 16th, 2014. Excluding weekends and the Christmas holiday, that means there’s only 11 business days left in 2014. Translation: you’ve only got 11 days to close deals.

Having said that, if you haven’t established conversation with your prospects as of today — good luck. As the end of the year is fast approaching, people tend to unplug and rely on their trusty Out of Office (OOO) auto-reply. But, don’t turn into a Scrooge in the face of the “OOO” blocker. We at ToutApp still believe that Wednesday, December 31st will be one of your most important sales days of the year.

Think of December 31st in these terms: it’s another day to do what you do best. Sell.

Know Your Pipeline

As mentioned earlier, December 31st isn’t the best day to go around and try to open new business. It’s more than likely that you won’t be able to reach the right people, let alone anyone at all. December 31st is all about tying up loose ends. Wrangling in the stragglers and making sure they sign that DocuSign.

Chances are, you’re in sales at a company that has some sort of organized pipeline. You know your pipeline. And, you know exactly where each prospect is in that pipeline. If they’re in the training stages–great, make sure they have everything they need to get them going on January 5th. If a prospect is in final evaluation stages, give them a ring and close that deal.

Close from Anywhere

The beauty about technology, but more importantly, technology paired with sales is that you can close from anywhere. Your parents couch in your PJs? Close those deals. In an empty office in San Francisco? Close those deals.

If your prospects are like you–they’re just trying to close deals too. Sure, some of them will be OOO. But, maybe they’re in sales too and they’re trying to close out the year and quarter on a high mark.

What I’m saying is this, everyone needs a break from their family during the holidays, and they’re going to check their email. And, if they’re going to check their email you might as well sign them a DocuSign with an end-of-day expiration date.


On December 31, 2013, Market Wired published an article titled “Today is the year’s best day to buy a car.” Why? Because everyone loves a deal. Why pay full price on December 30th when you can cut a deal on December 31st? People wait until the last day of the year because the odds are in their favor. Last day of the year = prices are slashed!

Salespeople need to clear their inventory and meet their sales quota for the month. And people, well, we’re a buying culture and we’re always on the hunt for a deal.

Like any consumer, everyone knows that a good thing (like a deal) won’t stick around forever. There’s an steadfast expiration date. Unlike those Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons (though, technically, they have an expiry date–but the store honors them anyway).

It’s the last day of the year and if you don’t sign today, prices are going to skyrocket next day on January 1st.

On the prospects’ side, most likely, if they haven’t spent their entire 2014 budget yet–chances are they’re going to do it on that day. Prospects are on the hunt to spend the rest of their fiscal budget money and get the best deal to set them up for success in 2015.

What better way to end off a successful year than with a strong sales close? In the words of ToutApp’s VP of Sales, Eileen Wiens says, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

Here’s to December 31st!