Four Strategies for Effective Outbound in a Down Market

I joined LeanData more than two years ago to scale the SDR organization. 

So I hit the ground running: building a recruiting pipeline, developing strong SDRs, and helping teams excel. 

But even with the best SDR team, I can’t control the macro economic environment. And the fact is, the 2023 technology market has changed.  

  • Inbound leads have drastically slowed over the last four to six months
  • Layoffs continue
  • Revenue leaders are tasked with doing more with less

With businesses focusing on efficient growth, companies find themselves playing Tetris with their tech stacks: evaluating usage, removing tools with overlapping features, and decreasing subscription seats.

These market conditions have contributed to a decline in inbound leads, and in response, created a renewed focus on effective outbound sales motions

books about outbound plays on a shelf

Effective Outbound Sales Motions in a Down Market

A SaaStr survey found that 71 percent of companies are doing more outbound in 2023. This same survey also showed that if you aren’t doing outbound well, you’re losing out on 30 to 50 percent of the revenue you could be getting.

Here’s the truth: Outbound done wrong is incredibly expensive. Cold calls and cold emails are a costly way to do outbound without any signal from the buyer. But outbound done right always works. 

So here are my four strategies for effective outbound in a down market:

Strategy #1: Hold Sales & RevOps Leader Meetings

This first strategy is a bit basic but I’ve seen companies who are fantastic about aligning Sales and RevOps and others where communication and collaboration is totally absent. 

Sales leadership and RevOps leadership must meet, at the very minimum, every other week to surface reps’ needs or challenges, discuss new strategies they want to test, and review results of recently implemented changes. 

At LeanData, we host a RevOps and Sales Leadership sync every other week. These meetings help us optimize sales processes to drive peak performance and efficiency for our revenue teams.

One of the issues uncovered in our RevOps-Sales leader sync, was as an organization, we needed to be very involved in the content our reps use in outbound activities, a process I’ll highlight below in Strategy #4.

a woman attending a virtual meeting on her computer

Strategy #2: Align Territory & Account-Based Outbound Motions

There must be alignment on territory strategy and your account-based outbound strategy. These elements are best discussed in the fourth quarter, ahead of the new fiscal year. 

My personal preference is to work on territories and named accounts early in Q4 so I can dedicate the rest of the quarter to closing deals. This process also prepares me for our January Revenue Kick Off where we announce newly established territories, segments, and accounts with our Sales teams. 

At LeanData we have four customer segments: emerging commercial, mid-market, emerging enterprise and large enterprise. Within these four segments, we designate an east and west territory. LeanData places account executives (AEs) and sales development representatives (SDRs) within each segment and pairs them one-to-one to foster collaboration and teamwork on the sales floor. 

To ensure our sales reps are working the best possible accounts, we assign named accounts — no more than 50. The rest of our reps’ accounts are a dynamic combination of 6sense 6QAs, LeanData Qualified Accounts (LQAs), and inbound leads. We want our reps to be always working strong fit accounts that appear to be in-market or are having challenges LeanData can solve.

The poor management of sales territories and accounts can impact the effectiveness of your outbound sales plays, not to mention affect sales incentives, employee morale, and ultimately retention, so make it a priority.

a list of software technology logos in a tech stack

Strategy #3: Take an Active Stake in Your Sales Tech Stack

As a Sales or RevOps leader, if you’ve never sat and watched your reps work, put that on your to-do list. It’s a costly mistake if you don’t.

Both Sales and RevOps leaders need to take an active stake in the Sales tech stack. They need to know all the tools and methodologies the Sales team is using to prospect for new accounts and leads, how they sequence them, and even how they manage their email inboxes. 

Watch for inefficiencies. Reps may be wasting loads of time on manual tasks like account research, lead qualification, and routing that could easily be automated. 

By watching LeanData reps work, we recently discovered that the quoting process for AEs was too long. As a result, we automated the data input for several fields in Salesforce. I want my reps engaging with clients, not performing data entry.

Last, managers and sales reps working together to close a sale, aka co-selling, is the highest ROI activity for sales leaders. If you can’t model best sales practices, it’s going to be hard to help your team improve.

people sitting around a table at work having a meeting

Strategy #4: Create an Outreach Content Committee

You don’t want individual sales reps talking about your products and services differently. To solve this challenge here at LeanData, we formed an Outreach Content Committee that meets every other week to review email templates, call scripts, and overall sequence messaging.

This committee ensures we’re arming our reps with not only the latest and greatest content, but also establishes consistent messaging across the company. This committee also creates a space where Ops and Sales leaders can share new ideas on outbound strategies and messaging.

Creating an Outreach Content Committee improved the organization of our sales engagement platform and improved the performance of our outbound sales engine. 

Maximizing Pipeline Growth in a Challenging Market

As a Sales leader, I recognize I can’t control the market, but there are certainly things within my control — like prioritizing effective outbound motions. Doing outbound well means investing in the best of breed sales tech to ingest all signals and automate plays. Successful outbound also requires Sales and Ops leaders to collaborate closely, being aware of their reps’ workflows and enabling their success with efficiency and automation. 

And last, don’t be afraid to test new things: new messaging and new plays like virality, account-based, named accounts, and cross-sell/upsell signals

Leave no stone unturned. 

  • abm
  • Outbound
  • sales
  • Tech stack
  • Territory Management
About the Author
Rob Simmons

Rob Simmons has led software sales teams for 10 years, separating his team from the competition by investing in people, leveraging a best-in-class sales tech stack, and developing scalable sales processes. Connect with Rob on LinkedIn & Twitter.