Blog Post

Outbound sales isn’t dead. It’s evolved.

By: Ryan Abts, Senior Vice President, Commercial Sales


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Every day, the alarm bells are loudly ringing regarding the current state of outbound Sales. 

“Outbound is dead.” 

“It takes 10x as many emails to get a reply as it did 3 years ago.”

“How I used AI to increase my cold email volume 20x.” 

“Will Google’s email restrictions kill outbound?” 

These are just a couple of headlines I clipped from a quick scroll through my LinkedIn feed right now. 

Don’t believe the hype. Effective modern outbound is alive and well. It has merely evolved into a new form that actually provides a far better experience for both buyers and sellers alike.

How do I know? Our Commercial Sales organization just increased our AE-sourced Closed Won ARR by a whopping 51% per AE in Q3. 

And we achieved this by up-leveling all primary mechanisms of increased productivity in Q3: 

  • AE-sourced pipeline increased by leaps and bounds
  • AE-sourced average deal size more than doubled
  • AE-sourced win rates nearly doubled

So, how did we flip the script and uplevel our outbound execution while so many others are busy writing its obituary?

It’s all about who we target, how we do it, ensuring our process is both actionable and efficient and, ultimately, creating opportunities for informed coaching for our leaders.

Who we target

“In a down market, buyers limit risk. They buy what they know and who they know – by definition cold outbound is neither of these things.” — Our sage VP of Sales in EMEA, Marcus Oulds.

We are fanatical believers that external buying signals allow our sellers to meet potential buyers with the right message at the right time in the buying journey

Our data is very clear. When prospects exhibit certain external behaviors, their likelihood to partner with our organization increases substantially.

We gather signals from partners such as 6sense, G2, UserGems, Crunchbase, Vidyard, DocuSign, Seismic, and others to ensure we’re connected in near real time with the signals these external behaviors produce. 

How we do it

Here’s where things get interesting.

Instead of routing these signals via email or a spreadsheet or some CRM dashboard where they’re difficult to action and easy to ignore, we’ve integrated our partner signals into our own Salesloft Rhythm product as plays to action.

These plays, combined with plays that are triggered around winning back competitive losses, constitute our highest priority outbound efforts. 

Our expectation is that we strike while the iron’s hot. There’s no room for waiting around for these signals to devolve into merely cold indicators of interest long since past. 

Conductor AI, which powers our Rhythm product, prioritizes these plays amidst various other high-priority activities an AE may have in-flight at any given time — from follow-up to DocuSign delivery to forecasting and beyond — so they can efficiently manage every phase of in-flight deal cycles, while seamlessly navigating our modern prospecting approach. All without sacrificing productivity in any area. 

Actionable efficiency

All signals producing plays get highly relevant, personalized omni-channel messaging.  If impersonal mass email is killing the outbound concepts favored of days past, we are truly doing the opposite.

We actively work with our top performing AEs to gather and aggregate the conceptual framework for effective messaging that deeply connects with prospects who exhibit our integrated partner signals. These serve as the starting framework for our Cadences that connect with each specific play.

But we can’t emphasize this enough: it’s highly important that our AEs research our prospects, gain an intelligent point of view about what they actually care about, and, ultimately, “Be a person,” as our genius VP, Keith Cordeiro always says. “Our curious buyers deserve us to be curious about them.”

Once we nail our POV, we navigate that messaging across a variety of modern communication channels, and then we get deeply connected to different stakeholders within our prospect organizations.

The big concept here is to create Cortes Bank-level 70 foot waves when engaging our signal-producing prospects in a very short period of time while the buying signals are hyper relevant for both sides. 

It’s the opposite of slow drip email-centric campaigns that stretch on for months and months with each email registering a lower open rate than the last.

Informed coaching

What’s really exciting for our leaders is that, in the above framework, we’re able to spend our time coaching to how our time is spent selling versus where it spent — very much leaning into the “art” of creating a value-centric partnership versus using all of our time hoping to get some degree of accountability to the “science” of things.  

Since the inception of this approach, coaching to the how has largely manifested itself in three key ways.

1. Benchmarking data around signals

Now that signals are automatically prioritized and actionable via our Rhythm platform, we as leaders can spend our time reviewing benchmarking data around success rates.

This provides two key opportunities: 

  • When certain AEs are seeing differentially positive success in actioning specific signals relative to everyone else, there’s an incredible opportunity to understand what’s driving that success and socialize our key learnings to the broader group.
  • When AEs are conversely seeing differentially negative results in actioning specific signals relative to the rest of the organization, this provides an excellent opportunity for our leaders to provide coaching to drive success.

2. Conversation Intelligence to coach to Hoffman Sales Methodology

Perhaps the biggest contributor to our dramatic increase in win rates is our team’s embrace of Jeff Hoffman and his Sales methodology.  But, equally important is our ability to translate excitement into action via Conversations in our Salesloft platform.  

As our AEs are applying new concepts around social proofing, discovery, negotiations, and more, having conversation intelligence in Salesloft allows our leaders to avoid spending their time sitting on a million calls a week and, instead, provide specific feedback and coaching at precise moments in time and when the feedback is most relevant.  

This is super efficient and effective from a coaching perspective and even more impactful for the AE. Win, win.

3. Salesloft Deals platform for applying Hoffman Sales methodology to pipeline health

Of all the knowledge Jeff Hoffman has dropped on us, the “Gives and Gets” framework has been perhaps the most celebrated concept for our Sales team.  

Not only has it allowed our AEs to provide buyers with an excellent, balanced buying journey, it has really served as a framework for leaders to discuss deal strategy in deal reviews and another tool to evaluate deal health from a forecasting perspective.  

Our ability to easily include our “Gives and Gets” deal scorecards right in the Deals component of our Salesloft platform, makes these scorecards incredibly navigable and actionable at the deal level for all everyone in the Revenue organization — quite the level-up from the experience of jumping around a variety of disconnected spreadsheets in a variety of different areas…many of which may or may not be accessible.   

In conclusion

So, there it is. That’s the 50,000 foot overview of the playbook.  Is there anything completely novel within that conceptual framework? Probably not, particularly if you’ve been obsessing over all things revenue productivity like I have.

But it’s an aggregate of synchronized modern best practices that, when done in concert, allow us to make seemingly bold proclamations in modern times like, “Effective outbound is alive and well?” and back it up.

Our buyers are getting a leveled-up buying experience along the way, and we’re proving that with real results vs a buzzworthy opinion. 

To round things out, here’s what’s most fun: we’re just getting started in this process, and there’s still room for lots of evolution. We’ve got an action plan to take things to yet another level over the next 6 months. 

Oh, and we didn’t even get into the amazing framework our genius Global VP of Client Sales Katie Krippner has implemented to drive elite value and revenue in our current customer space.  Perhaps, we’ll save that one for another iteration.

Happy hunting in the meantime!

— Ryan