Episode 245 Featuring Alex Bond

Improving Sales Techniques with Michael Hanson

Improving Sales Techniques with Michael Hanson

Michael Hanson is the Founder and CEO of Growth Genie, a B2B sales consulting firm. Previously, Michael was Vice President of Growth at CloudTask, where he worked side by side with the CEO and COO to scale them from 10 to over 200 employees in just 3 years. After working in a variety of revenue roles for 8 years from account management to marketing to sales, Michael realized that the hardest role is to turn cold leads and prospects into warm sales opportunities. Michael thus set up Growth Genie in 2019 to help empower them.

As CEO, Michael practices what he preaches with sales to win new business, but most importantly he oversees operations to ensure their clients are happy with the quality of training, playbooks and cadences. On this episode, Michael and I talk about Growth Genie's Sales Playbook, the importance of Sales Cadences, how to balance a personal sales approach with an automated one, and much more.


What is Growth Genie

Michael Hanson: Yeah, sure. So we're a B2B sales consulting company. That could kind of mean anything, right? Sales touches every side of the business. But I think I started the company three and a half years ago. One of the things I noticed is as a buyer, you get spammed more than ever before. I used to be in marketing and sales leadership and I constantly have people reaching out to me.

So through like automation, things like chat GPT are just going to make this worse, right? As a buyer, you're just spammed it on unprecedented levels. So maybe 10 years ago, you used to get 30 people trying to email you a week pitching your services. Now it's maybe like 200. 

And then if you put yourself in the seller's shoes, it's like, how do you stand out? So that's essentially our goal at Growth Genie. We do that through training and coaching. And then we also write sales playbooks and cadences for companies, which is essentially the messaging and process that they're going to use. 

Challenges Faced by Sales Professionals in the Industry

Alex Bond: I want to kind of go through why those things exist, the sales cadence and the playbook. So from your experience, what are some of the biggest obstacles that sales people have to deal with in this industry? 

Michael Hanson: Yeah. So the playbooks we create are less around like the product. So we always say, look, we're not experts in your products. We're never going to be experts in your product. We're more going to ask you questions to identify certain things about who are your ideal customers. What are the problems that they're facing, which you help solve? And then what stories do you have about how you've solved them? And often we start with that.

So if you're a bit confused around like your sales strategy, I would go to the end result of being like, okay, which happy customers do we have at the moment? Because if we have five that all look quite similar, and it's like, you want to keep going off to those. And you want to talk about the pains that you help solve for those.

So that's one of the things that we'll do is like interview happy customers, look at the customer's stories, and then we'll put that in a sales paper. And then we'll also ask a question, which is like, why did you buy this product? And we call that like the trigger, right? So that's just imagine your software that integrates really well with Salesforce.

And then when you interview customers, they say, yeah, you made the Salesforce integration really easy. Then if I was then to do outbound, I would like message people and say, Hey, I noticed you're using Salesforce and it can be difficult doing X, Y, and Z. Oh, that's interesting because most salespeople like just use the word we and hey, we're the best X, Y, and Z. Versus switching it and being like, I noticed this about your company and this may be a pain related to it. 

Alex Bond: What I'm hearing you say, Michael, is that you kind of just reverse engineer it a little bit. This person had a positive experience, why? This person had a negative experience, why? And then you can kind of attack it from there and not just go off like a feeling or a speculation, you know? 

Michael Hanson: Yeah, exactly. And the playbook is important as you grow you may start with like one or two sales people, even like founder led sales. As you get like 10, 000 people, whatever it is, they're all going to be doing different things.

And that's not really useful. Eventually, say your sales team goes, you know, 100 people, 1000 people, whatever it is, you want some kind of centralized document that says, Hey, these are the ideal customers we go after. These are their pain points. These are similar customers we've worked with in the past.

That's really important because otherwise people are all doing their own different thing. And they kind of. You do learn in selling a lot by doing, but it's good if someone new comes into the company and they've got a bit of a framework that they can use versus just kind of like making up on the spot.

Alex Bond: And with that sales playbook, how is that able to be kind of customized to fit a need? Because, you know, you said that it doesn't revolve around the product or it doesn't revolve around the service. It revolves around kind of finding the solution for what works for the specific company. 

Michael Hanson: Yeah, it's customized around the customers, right? Not our customers, but their customers, right? Exactly. So it's like, let's say like a B2B e commerce company. Then I'm like, okay, who are you selling to? Right? And it's like, maybe it's manufacturers, right? So, okay. You're selling to manufacturers. What are the pain points of manufacturers in 2023 and maybe even get more specific. It's manufacturers of healthcare technology, right? 

So we're kind of getting very granular and we try to go as deep as possible in that. And then there's going to be knock on effects of that, right? Cause that's, let's take healthcare as an example. We've seen this, that we may call people at a different time based on the fact that you're calling like a clinician or something often from nine to five.

They're like in the office, you text them during that time, but maybe you call them at 12 o'clock when they're on their lunch break. So there's nuances. And then we've worked with like softwares for architects, right? And then architects are not really active on LinkedIn, but they're extremely active on Instagram.

So then instead of like sliding into the DMs on LinkedIn, we slide into the DMs on like Instagram, right? So yeah, there's going to be different nuances based on, you know, who the different types of customers are. 

Unconventional Tactics for Effective Customer Engagement and Relationship Building

Alex Bond: On your website, you mentioned that your unconventional sales and messaging tactics make it easier to get in front of your target customers. What are some of the more archaic sales tactics that are still in practice versus the ones that are more unconventional that you implement to improve client relations? 

Michael Hanson: Yeah, so the first thing is a lot of people do what I call like a spray and pray approach, right? So for example, some people think cold calling, it doesn't work in 2023.

Cold calling can still work. If you look at it as cold calling, that's kind of like the wrong mindset, which is like, I'm just going to pick up a phone and get a load of, say in our case, any, I'm going to sell it to any head of sales. It doesn't matter what the company is. And we're going to call them with the same script.

That's not going to work very well because one, it's not customized to the person like we were talking about before and then it's just going to end up like, oh, we're a sales training company, we do this and that. Whereas if I try and break it down, okay, how do I make this about the other person? I'm going to know every single person on my list is hiring salespeople.

So when I pick up the phone, I can say, hey, it seems you're hiring salespeople from my research online. Is that right? And they say, yeah, so how can you help? Are you a recruitment company? I don't know. We're not a recruitment company. Other heads of sales have been telling me it's quite difficult after they hire a new salesperson to like onboard and train them.

It can take up to six months, right? How are you solving that? Like, how are you tackling that? How are you training your team? I haven't talked about myself at all at this point. Right. So it's just like, and this is a tactic we use is never saying the word we and us and always saying the word you and your, and it's just going to force you to focus on your customers.

And this is a lot of like, when we do training and coaching at Growth Genie is when we're doing a sales training session, it's like, we review our messaging and like more than half the time, it's the usual stuff that the salesperson is just talking about themselves. And we take a step back and say, okay, who are you targeting with this?

What's their job role? What industry are they working in? And maybe what are some things that are happening at this company? Right. And then we say, do you think any of this messaging is relevant to them? And then often they say, no, we have to completely redo it. So often it's like people don't even think about the first thing, which is who is this person that I'm selling to?

Because at a psychological level, sales people, unfortunately are very focused on their targets, which is, Hey, I've got a target of like closing X revenue this month. And in order to do that, I need X pipelines to get these meetings. And then what happens, they're too focused on that and like what they're selling versus on what the customer needs.

Alex Bond: No, absolutely. And it really sounds like in your example, you are saying, I know what your problem is, and I have the solution, instead of just kind of like, Needling them with something that you're trying to sell them, you know, it actually feels like a conversation more of empathy and sympathy or something closer to that.

Michael Hanson: Exactly. Yeah. And it's also, it's pretty much, as you said, the only slight tweak I would make to what you said is this may be a problem because obviously everyone's difference is like, let's imagine some targeting any commerce lead like a head of sales, I don't know 300 person e commerce company.

And it's like, based on, you know, 20 conversations that I've had with heads of sales, like B2B e commerce company, this problem has come up over and over again. I'm not sure if that's a problem for you though. Like, how are you tackling it? And then they can say, Oh, well, actually this is really a problem. Like, how can you help with that? And then I would call myself, it's all they say. 

Well, no, actually, that's not a problem, but this is, and then I know what the actual problem is. Maybe we can help with that problem. Maybe we can't. And that's also a good thing is don't try to sell to everyone, right? Don't cling onto a deal because someone's actually responded to you and you're having a conversation. If they're not a good fit, refer them to someone else, right? 

And also set up these partnerships as well within your company. So that if you, if there's a service that comes up again and again, you don't offer, give that to someone else. And then that person, when they're speaking to someone that needs your service, they're going to refer them back to you, right? So, you know, this whole like rule of reciprocity is huge as well in sales. 

Alex Bond: And you bring up a good point. In the modern sales era, modern even going back is like 1950s, you know, sales has always kind of been defined by that end result. You know, the always be closing model where a salesperson and their success is really only measured by how many people signed on the dotted line that day or that month or that, you know, quarter. 

When you're focusing on building relationships or telling your clients or the people that use this playbook to focus on building these relationships instead of closing deals. How does that impact the salesperson and then in turn the company that they work for? 

Michael Hanson: Yeah, 100%. The thing I normally say is like, let's take your product and service out, totally out of the question here. What does this person walk away with that's useful to them, whether they work with you or not, right?

And that helps build that trust. Because also what I say, most of these salespeople that we train, They're not going to work at the company the rest of their lives. So maybe like the odd one, less than 1 percent that happens to like, you know, sales person that works 30 years at the same company gets promoted or just sells bigger and bigger deals.

But most salespeople, they're going to move around. There's nothing wrong with that, right? I say that it's like, you know, there's that phrase, your network is your net worth, right? So it's like, if you're trying to shove a deal down someone's face, force your products and service on them, you could burn that relationship and that person is never going to want to speak to you again, versus.

If it's like, Oh, I didn't know. And this happens to me, actually. I remember at my last company, so I was still selling to sales and marketing leaders, but I was selling like an outsourced sales service. So we used to have this service, my old company of, you would basically hire a salesperson, be outsourced, right?

So we'd like a contractor. So I was ahead of the growth. That was a very fast growing company. I was also like an individual contributor. So I was selling myself as well. Someone that I was trying to sell to, I built a very good relationship with him. He was like featured in some marketing content. We did kind of like we're doing this now.

And then when I started my business, I called him and he said, do you know what? I would love for you to do sales training because I thought you're really good sales. I didn't need what you were selling, but the way you sold to me, it felt like. You were listening to me and you have my best interests at heart, right?

So that goes to show like sales is a long game and business is a long game, right? Even if you're, you know, going to retire at 50, 60, whatever it is, and you're 40, right? You still have 20 years ahead of you. So see it that way and think that rule of reciprocity. And there's, there's two ways you can do this to get a bit more tactical.

If you're trying to book a meeting with someone, instead of saying, do you have 15 minutes for a call, which is trying to take their time, think, what can I offer this person? So our approach is, you know, Hey, believe you're hiring salespeople, right? We've got a sellers playbook, right? That on average reduces sales onboarding from like four to three months.

Would you be interested in seeing it? And then they say yes or no, and they've got that playbook template that they can use whether they work with us or not. Right. And some people actually say to me, you're crazy. You're giving away your IP, right? You're giving away yourself, but they look at ourselves playbook template.

We've put years into building that. They're not going to be able to do that themselves. Most of the time, sometimes they do interestingly enough, they do okay with it. And then they come back to me once they get to a certain revenue stage as well. So it's that rule of reciprocity and during the sales process.

And then I actually run through the sales playbook. I say, Hey, this is how we use that. And then I, and so who are your ideal customers? I give them a few pieces of advice. So that's what I would say is like, when you're trying to book the meeting or during the sales process, What does the buyer learn from you without buying your products or service?

And then just the last thing on this is like, I think about the two best sales calls I've had in last year as a buyer. One was around accounting. So I spoke to a few different accounting firms. I was looking to outsource accounting. Most of them were just kind of garbage. They were pitching me. And then one guy who's not my accountant runs like 10 people.

He was just giving me loads of free advice and I came off that call. I was like, I know nothing about accounting generally, but now I feel like I have some like decent knowledge of like, you know, UK tax laws and like all this stuff. And then it was another guy who was pitching me SEO. Again, we weren't ready for SEO at the time.

We're still not using SEO, but I know probably in the next one or two years, I want to invest in, in some SEO stuff and organic blogs and things. And I'll go to this person because he just said, Hey, so you're in sales training, blah, blah, blah. And we were literally on the spot, like searching keywords and stuff. And he was giving me free advice. And it was just like free advice. So I could like go implement right now, but I don't have time to do that. 

So eventually when I do need to do that, I'll go back to him. Last concept I'll say is like it's show versus tell because often what salespeople are doing, they're telling we're the best at this. We've got these customers. Whereas what you should be doing is showing your expertise by giving free advice on these calls. So, as I said, that they can use whether they work with you or not. 

The Power of Long-Term Relationship Building in Sales

Alex Bond: You mentioned something that I did want to write at the end there that I wanted to talk about a little bit. And that's essentially 1 of the bigger ideas of why. I think salespeople don't, don't understand the value of some of this is like, for example, you mentioned with the SEO example that you're not currently ready for, for the SEO optimization, but you built that salesperson built such a good rapport with you that when you are, you'll call him.

And I think that's something that goes undervalued is the idea of. Maybe the, the lead isn't as hot as, as I thought it was. So it's important to build a rapport with this person because when he is ready, he or she is ready, they'll call me. And I think some people see the deal going sour and they're like, all right, I got to get onto the next one.

I mean, is that like a normal way of thinking where people, because it makes logical sense to me to just be like, all right, maybe if I get in good with this, this, this potential client, they'll call me when they're finally ready. Is everything just thought in too much of the short term versus the longterm? I guess this is my question there. 

Michael Hanson: Yeah, no, it's a good point you bring up. And actually something I didn't mention that story. I've referred that guy a few leads since then as well, right? Because I tried just from the sales process, I trust he'll do a good job. Oh, I was referring to him because I do know someone that's used that company and has got very good success.

They didn't have much web traffic and they've got loads of web traffic, all from, all from SEO. But yeah, I think a lot of what you're talking about comes down to detachment, which is, so I think detachment is a very difficult thing in sales because we were talking about before. So is probably more than any other department, maybe apart from like finance and accounting is extremely numbers driven around like the KPIs is like, you've got to get this revenue.

You've got to get this pipeline. And that's important. I'm not going to sit here and say salespeople don't need to get deals. I said job, right? But the problem is if you skip to the last step, so you could, you could look at this or where it says like a pyramid, like Maslow's hierarchy of needs or something.

So the sales person's ultimate is to get to the top of that pyramid. But the problem is if you skip right to the top. And you don't think about the other person, right? And this is where the desire to hit your target can get in the way of you being curious. What does that other person need, right? So this is what we say is when you go into a deal, have absolutely zero expectations.

Because even if on paper it may look like a perfect fit customer, all the problems that you help solve They may have it covered already, right? So you've got to go in with extremely open. And on the other end of the, sometimes you think a deal is really unqualified. I've heard this before, because it looks like it's a five person company on LinkedIn.

And then I speak to them, they're actually like 100 person, but you know, the company's not very active on LinkedIn or whatever. So you've got to detach from the targets and also assumptions, like assumptions is one of the worst, worst things in, in sales, you know, detachment is a difficult thing.

So it's always just putting the other person first and then not being desperate, right? So not thinking, Oh, I've, you know, I'm not close to my target is three weeks, quarter left. I got to close this deal because actually what happens you people can sense desperation, right? I don't know if this has come up on your show before.

A lot of people like compare sales and dating. So it's a bit like when you're having a date with a guy or a girl and if the person is like too obsessive, they're like, it's off putting, right? Whereas if it's just conversational and the people are curious about each other, then it relates to like a meaningful relationship.

So it's the same thing in sales as well. So it's like that detachment, which is like the guy who sold me SEO or my accountant or what I try to do in sales is like. I've actually got quite a big sales call today in three hours, right? And it could, it could be a great deal on paper. I've spoken to this person once, right?

But also it could not, things, there's often things you uncover at different stages of the deal. So I'm just going to go in there. I'm going to try and offer value. I'm going to try and show our playbook, give them some free advice. It's a FinTech. So like advice for selling to accounts of financial, if nothing comes of it, that's fine.

And then we get into what I call like, the abundance mindset versus like the scarcity mindset. So the scarcity mindset is there's only a very finite of people that finite number of people that I can do business with. Typically, most companies will have like a decent what we call ideal customer profile or total addressable market.

So it's like, Hey, if I use this deal, no big, no problem, because there's loads of others in the market, right? There's an infinite amount. And then the last thing I wanted to mention was you made a good point around like salespeople actually, when they say, Hey, you're not a good fit, right? Or they challenge you on certain things. Buyers like that because most salespeople will pretend to be perfect. 

And We live in this era of like social media where people are craving authenticity because there's so many like charlatans out there and I can give the example of I say this in our training so we have this framework called cosmic and we say open which is to be 100 percent transparent which is what you're talking about. 

And I give the example of in the 70s Superman became less popular because what happens in the comics is he became so invincible people couldn't relate to him whereas when people read a comic they always want to like become Superman or any movie or story.

So what they did, they added like kryptonite, which was like, is Achilles here? And then it started like damaging him. And suddenly people started buying more Superman comics again. So always think of that of like, what's your kryptonite? Instead of the buyer asking you what it is, bring it up before they do.

And that will create immense trust because like you said, as a buyer, be like, Oh, this is not an honest salesperson because they're telling me why not to buy. Right? So it's a good point you bring up in a good sales tactic. 

Navigating the Unique Sales Landscape of eCommerce: Strategies to Unlearn and Adapt for Success

Alex Bond: I'm interested in how different sales tactics are different in the eCommerce world compared from other industries. I mean, if I'm essentially new to eCommerce, are there certain strategies that I need to kind of unlearn or more simply just won't work in kind of this industry versus other ones?

Michael Hanson: Yeah, I think eCommerce is interesting because, we work typically with B2B sales teams and obviously a lot of eCommerce is B2C and what's interesting about that is kind of at that point you almost don't need a sales team, right? When it's B2C because people go with their website and then I buy stuff, right?

So if you look at something like Amazon, a lot of the purchases on Amazon are going to be like. Just people go to the website, myself, I use Amazon all the time. I do it for ease. But then it's also, I guess, looking at the reason Amazon became big is because, you know, often it takes ages to get this stuff delivered.

Whereas, you know, Amazon's gonna get it at the click of the button. So they resolve that challenge. But maybe a lot of the tactics we're talking around focusing on your customer, et cetera, it's just you're doing that almost without a salesperson. But think of, even what we were just saying there about open and transparency, like don't buy this product because of X, Y, and Z.

If this is you, like you shouldn't be buying this product, right? So maybe put that instead of the salesperson saying that, you put that on your website. And then even there's a podcast and then you listen to, I think it's like the number one UK, Diary of a CEO with Stephen Bartley. He gets very big guests on.

He says you probably shouldn't listen to this podcast, right? At the start of it. And he's trying to like, it's like reverse psychology. He's trying to like, get you to listen by saying you shouldn't listen to it. And I've had that as well with so typically a company to work with us, they need like two or three salespeople for it really to be worth it.

And sometimes I'll speak to a company that's maybe like 10 people, the founders dealing with the sales. And I'll say, look, you could just buy a playbook off that. We don't really do that. But what I'd recommend is go away. I'll give you a playbook. Try and write a bit of a playbook yourself. Scale your sales team to a few people and then come back.

And often people, they will actually do that. And sometimes they'll even say, Oh no, I do want to work with you because it's that you're, instead of being the desperate salesperson, it's more like, Oh no, you as a buyer, you're actually kind of lucky to use us type thing, right? Those are a few different tactics. And then also thinking around for like eCommerce, just really like nailing in on the biggest thing I would say, and I think this is both for like B2C and B2B. 

The more niche you can go in your ideal customer profile, the better because your messaging is going to be better. So I always say this, it's like, in my case, if I'm just to target sales leaders, like heads of sales, my messaging is probably not going to be very good because for a head of sales in eCommerce versus a head of sales in SaaS versus a head of sales in manufacturing, all the pain points are different.

Whereas if I'm targeting heads of sales that are hiring sales people that are in manufacturing. I can have very specific messaging relevant to that. So that's also what I would say is try and go very niche on an ideal customer. Focus your attention on that. And once you've really conquered that, then you can start moving to other ones. So that would be my number one bit advice, like focus very niche on your ideal customer. 

Sales Cadences: Boosting Sales Team Performance and Driving Results

Alex Bond: And we've been talking a lot about strategies and the sales playbook, but kind of the other side of what Growth Genie does is something called sales cadences. Can you tell me a little bit about what that is and the impact that sales cadences can have on a sales team? 

Michael Hanson: Yeah, sure. So cadence is essentially The steps that you would take to reach your buyer and there's different types of cadences, right? Because you've got a cadence to get a meeting and then you've got a cadence to actually close the deal.

So let's just start with the cadence to get a meeting is typically most sales people will give up after a few touches. And we've noticed this even recently because so people are so busy even with inbound leads, people that have gone to our website and said, Hey, we're looking to like train our sales team, write a playbook for them, like literally perfect for us, perfect size company.

And they'll like ghost us for a week, right? And then we'll have to like call them. After they reach out to you. After they've gone to our website. After they've gone to our website and then literally, we've responded quickly, done all the stuff they say to do. And then it just be like, Oh, sorry.

I've been really busy. Let's have a call next week. And now you know, one is on the verge of becoming a deal. So it's just like people are really busy. I think salespeople don't realize this. So again, we're not advocating spamming, but we're advocating multi touch just because people are busy.

And I see this salespeople. I sometimes, most of the sales emails I get are rubbish, but sometimes I actually get a really good email like, Oh, that's interesting. But I get distracted by something else. And then Like a couple of months past. And I thought, Oh, that was interesting. Shame that person didn't follow up with me.

Cause I'm not going to go to them. I've got a million things going, but they probably, you know, called me, dropped me a LinkedIn message as well. So basically the sales cadence is. Different steps because a lot of sales people just send one email and then give up. Right. So that's it. And then you may have like, we advocate essentially what we advocate is like the first message should always be personalized to your research, right?

We're saying, Hey, notice this about your company. So this may be a problem. But then we would just do what we call a bump message and you can use automation for that. Which would be, hey Alex, any feedback here with the first, with the original message underneath, right? And then you just, like, sharing content, like, like I talked about earlier, that rule of reciprocity.

Things that work well is, like, when you connect with someone on LinkedIn, you can send them a voice note. So like I was saying earlier with chat GPT and automation, people are not sure if messages are coming from robots or humans anymore. So if you actually can send a voice note or a video or something that's human, they're like, oh, this is actually a real person.

So your response rate goes up massively with that essentially cadences are different touch points across different channels that you're going to use. So calls, LinkedIn, email, like I said earlier, maybe your audience is more on like Twitter or Instagram.

So you may use DMs there, but that's a cadence and that will get you to a meeting. And then you've got all the cadences, which are the steps after once you've had a meeting, the emails, the calls, the LinkedIn messages that are going to help you actually close the deal as well. 

Alex Bond: No, those are good recommendations. I'm interested because on your website, you mentioned 30 different points of contact with the client including, you know, phone calls, LinkedIn messages, emails, and that's kind of like the ideal number. 

Now, you might need I might need your help contextualizing whether like what those 30 different points of contact are over a specific time period or what that goal is. But how do you kind of prevent from seeming too pushy with what seems like a pretty tenacious approach?

Michael Hanson: Yeah, this is a really great point, which is why I'm not advocating spamming because that's sometimes what people think is like, Oh, 30 touches is spamming.

And again, a lot of the sales people we work with, we say, Hey, you can do 30 touches. I have a colleague called Lawrence who kind of taught me this 30 touch cadence. And I used to be more of like maybe five to 10 touches, right? 

Just do two emails, couple LinkedIn messages, couple calls, and then, you know, move on to the next person. And actually, my last company, at the time I was head of marketing, and I was working with this guy, Lawrence and sales, we were getting these marketing leads. And again, they weren't like inbound leads.

It was people that interacted with a bit of content, right? So there was some awareness there, but not loads. Most of the sales team were doing about 10 touches. And I noticed this other guy was doing 20 to 30 touches and he converted loads of the leads and no one else converted any leads. Right. So I was like, there's something to it.

And the messages he was getting was, Oh, sorry. I've been really busy. This is actually interesting. Right. Let's set up a call about this. Right. And we were able to get some deals from that campaign. So I thought, Hey, there's something to this. And then we've got loads of data around there. So I think Lawrence out of those 30 touches, you may have like eight, nine emails.

And I think we analyzed the cadence that Lawrence did, and we use a tool that can give you the reply, right? And if you looked at the reply rate per step in the sequence, it wasn't that impressive. It was somewhere anywhere from like two to 5%, which for a cold email is not bad, right? If you looked at the overall reply rate throughout the sequence, it was 20%.

So one in five people were replying, this is like total strangers, right? And so it's a really impressive reply rate. But that was overall, so it's basically step by step, more and more people replying. Yes, if you send it to 800 people, right, maybe you do get one or two, and like, leave me alone, right? But the majority are either they accept the meeting, or like, no, thanks for your message, like, this is a well written message, but like, this isn't for us, right?

And that's also good, because you're like, good, I'll move on to the next person. I know this company's not a good fit, or this person's a good fit. It's still good data. Yeah, so basically it's like, Don't spam people, have good messaging, do your research, put time into it. And this is what we say, but if you do this approach, it's better to like really focus on like 150 leads and really dedicate your time to them versus like a thousand leads.

So you said, say you touch a thousand leads with five touches, all automated generic messaging. You're going to get less meetings and even touch 150 leads with like, really like personalized high touch messaging. That's like 20 to 30 touches. 

Finding the Perfect Balance: Striking the Optimal Blend of Personalization and Automation in Sales

Alex Bond: And that's something that you've mentioned a few times during the conversation is the automated side of things. So I'm interested, Michael, in the best, I don't know, formula or percentage of how to balance properly the personal approach with the automated approach. 

Michael Hanson: Yeah. So ours is probably about 50 50. So what we'll do is we'll send someone a personalized message and then we'll do that bump, which is say we, we send a video. It's like, it may take you 10 minutes to do that video, right? With the research and stuff. And then it's just any feedback on the video or the voice note, any feedback on the voice and often that second message where some people are, Oh, you've not really added value. 

But the thing is often they don't see your first message, like I was saying earlier people are busy and often it's that second message which is automated that gets the reply but it's not because of the automated message it's because your first message was really good and it's like you're just trying to draw more attention to that.

And I think sometimes salespeople don't think enough like marketers. And I think buyers also, it's weird, buyers are like, they don't mind being spammed by marketing. Like you could see the same advert everywhere in a city, or you could be online on YouTube, or this advert's following you around, and you kind of accept it.

But if it's an individual salesperson, you're like, Oh, spam, spam, spam, right? So that's what you're trying to do. You say, look, I've basically put loads of effort into this message, so I'm going to bump it again just to check they weren't out of office or whatever it is. That's kind of our approach is like you put time into like personalizing an email or LinkedIn voice note, a video, but then we're always going to try and give more attention to that afterwards.

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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