Death to cold outreach - your OTE depends on it

“Is cold outreach dead?” 

If you’re in sales, you’ve probably heard this question a few too many times.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this is a loaded question that never seems to have a decisive answer.

Here are my two cents - the short answer is YES… kinda, sorta 😀

To help clarify, we’ll cover three things:

  1. Define cold
  2. Always check your thermometer
  3. Layer up => try not to be cold

Step #1: Define cold

B2B prospecting can be hectic

We can’t answer the questions if we disagree on a definition

Here’s our definition of “cold outreach”: 

When you reach out to a prospect that has never heard of you or your company, AND there is no indication that they should have any particular interest in buying your product.

Here’s an example: 


Whether you think this is garbage or gold, I’ll tell you one thing - you can certainly do better (even if it DOES work 1 in 100 times)

If you follow steps 2 and 3 that follow, things should start to get a bit warmer.

Step #2: Always check your thermometer

You have to get a temperature check on all your leads. You’ll get a sense of who’s most likely to push for the purchase of your product. Here are some examples:

- Demo requests - no surprise here that the hottest leads are the folks courageously putting down their contact info knowing a.... SALES person is gonna reach out to them relentlessly until they meet for 30-minutes.

- Past customers/users - people who’ve previously experienced the full glory of your product are usually some of the quickest to spread the word to their new company - all you have to do is ask 😀

- Past prospects - people who considered buying your product in the past have a pretty high likelihood of doing so again. They are most likely to fall into one of the two buckets:

  • Still at the same company
  • Or switched to a new company - these are the perfect ones

- Customer referrals - piggy-backing off the previous category, when your customers refer their friends to your company, you’ve been gifted immediate street cred. 

- Other people who probably haven’t heard of your company but are more likely to be in buying stage:

  • New hire/promotion
  • New funding (inundated with sales, but fight for mindshare early, don’t be pushy, then circle back after the initial noise has died)
  • Recent acquisition/merge (inundated with sales, but fight for mindshare early, don’t be pushy, then circle back after the initial noise has died)

*You could have other lead types not shown here, based on your sales motion and available data, i.e., freemium users, MQL scored leads, etc.

Step #3: Layer up

Now that we’ve got a simple hierarchy for some leads we should care most about, don’t take your eye off the ball - PRIORITIZE and ACT accordingly.

Demo requests come first, obviously

Time is everything; buyers expect immediacy. Every second you wait after that demo request comes in, your chances of landing a meeting and subsequent sale go out the door. Don’t be lazy with your follow-up either; take 30-seconds to research who requested a demo and tailor your messaging to recapture their interest. 

Examples might be to reference companies they care about; does their competitor use your product? Does their previous company use your product? Does a shared connection use your product? Etc.

Past customers/users come next

80% of sellers prioritize leads that know their company, and the reps who do it well are 2.7x more successful. 

No surprise here, people who already used or bought your product in the past are way more likely to buy again and buy faster since they already know and trust your business. 

Two things to keep top of mind when targeting these past champions: 

Be fast, but don’t rush. You’ve got the advantage here on every other vendor already, don’t turn it sour by rushing for “the second sale” - at the end of the day, no one likes being pitched. They’ll have a million “congrats” emails coming in for their new job, but guess what? They open most of them because we’re all (at least a little bit) self-absorbed.

Capture mindshare but don’t pitch. Instead, stand out by offering value. Send meaningful resources and maybe a personalized gift to stand out. Capture mind-share early and let them come back to you naturally, or make the ask when they’re more settled in their role after a few weeks.

Don’t just follow the economic buyers. Often the folks who most love your product are end-users. You’re probably thinking WHAT?! (about BANT???) I know, I know, they don’t have the budget or authority, but they’ve got a voice and a love for your product. That’s the best thing you can ask for. They’ll sing your praises and bring you to their boss and colleagues! 

Past prospects should come as no surprise as well

Yeah, they don’t have a love for your product yet, but they’re certainly already quite familiar after having already shut you down once after a deep evaluation.

But guess what, people don’t buy for several reasons. And often, the things that blocked them from buying previously are non-existent later on. Just make sure you’re tracking down folks who made it to the later stages of the funnel and were “closed lost” for good reasons, i.e., no budget, no bandwidth, missing functionality (that you now have), etc. 

Now check in on these closed lost opportunities every quarter to see if things have changed. 

The best-case scenario is they change jobs; this often wipes the slate clean for them… and bonus points! New hires are in a buying mindset and are more open to exploring new tools, services, and tech. 

Customer referrals take a little more work to get and are harder to come by

But don’t miss out on these hot leads! 

Most happy customers are more than willing to introduce their friends to your product; they’re just too busy with their own lives to think about making intros. All they need is a gentle nudge to make it happen. 

The key here is to keep your relationships strong with them, so when the time comes, and you know they’re happy, you don’t feel uncomfortable asking. 

Other sales trigger events you can leverage

People in a buying mindset are more willing to explore new offerings. 

New hires/promotions are a great trigger. Someone has a budget and will be looking to shake things up. Just be quick since new buyers spend 70% of their budget in their first 100 days of the new role. 

Other potent triggers might be new funding or new mergers/acquisitions -> these are often the busiest times for people, but it’s still a great time to capture mindshare and get your name in front of them. 

Did we mention that “Congrats” emails have some of the highest open/response rates

Just be unique and valuable while things are noisy. It’ll make you stand out. Your goal should simply be to create two-way dialogue, allowing you to make the ask for their time after the commotion has died down.

So, is “cold” outreach dead?

Only after you’ve exhausted ALLLLLLLLL of your warmer leads should you embrace the cold. 

So to put an end to the Grand Debate, “is cold outreach dead?” 

In theory, no. In reality, YES, absolutely. 

Your access to warm prospect data has never been easier to find. For the sake of yourself and the poor cold prospects everywhere in the world, PLEASE reach out to people who might actually want to hear from you 🤠

Why UserGems

UserGems is the future of outbound sales and marketing teams. We use AI to help companies like yours identify the warmest paths to open opportunities and close more deals faster.




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