Open23 Session Spotlight: Highly mechanized prospecting
Prospecting is a daunting task due to the complexities involved in identifying and engaging prospects, the competitive landscape, and the potential for rejection. In this Open23 session, Conrad Millen, senior director of marketing operations at Rippling, walks you through an internal build solution called mechanized prospecting or mechanized outreach. Watch the full session here.
Drawing on more than ten years of experience in the marketing ops industry, Conrad lays out the historical problem around how prospecting data is acquired and the actions that data goes through for sales to start outreach. He says that typically, the data or purchasing lists are imported into marketing automation platforms, CRMs, or data warehouses. This data is collected through a combination of marketing efforts to build a TAM (total addressable market) or sales reps individually acquiring data through manual outreach. Access is then provided to sales teams via ZoomInfo or data enrichment providers. Numerous businesses employ this prospecting method, but it lacks scalability and usually doesn’t align with pipeline objectives.
Conrad says “What I’m getting at is it’s very costly, it’s manual, and I think the keyword here is very limited.” As it currently stands, this historical cycle is not ideal.
Check out the highlights from Conrad’s session below:
Insight #1: Change your tactics to change your results
Right off the bat, Conrad states he doesn’t reply to marketing emails or check the promotions tab. Companies know this, yet continue to do the same thing and expect different results. Conrad points out that the only way you will get different results is by doing the same things differently.
Insight #2: The Rippling way
Rippling’s mechanized outreach or highly mechanized prospecting encompasses different technologies and processes. Conrad shows his list of tools, similar to many companies, the differentiator, he says, is how you leverage your tech stack to be more scalable and have greater ROI.
Conrad dives into the proprietary enrichment/acquisition waterfall process and explains that, when you run a list of domains through Rippling’s solution, it can identify third-party data providers and extract the personas within those domains and accounts. This solution is so scalable that he can upload millions of domains and accounts and extract those contacts.
Once the data is extracted, he says, “We get all this people information and essentially we run it through a lot of different processes, normalization, email validation, persona enrichment, all of these different things.” Conrad shares that once emails have been validated through various software, he takes the ones that have come back negative and auto-generates three variations of that email address to determine if it’s valid, which is possible because 80% of email addresses follow a standardized format. This process is completed before a sales rep gets the prospect’s information. “And so the end result is we have valid email addresses and we have persona-enriched people,” explains Conrad.
Insight #3: Taking action for a personalized experience
Once a lead is validated, there is a lot of research that goes into learning about that prospect. Rippling will gather information, often from LinkedIn, on how long a prospect has been at a company, their role, and college, all to generate a personalized email experience. In conjunction with a tool called Clay, a third-party enrichment tool, Conrad explains that they also use Yelp API to determine restaurants within the prospect’s area. Once this information is pooled, a prospect will get a personalized email about getting lunch from Rippling at one of the top 10 restaurants where that lead resides. One of the most impressive aspects is, “all of this personalization, all this validation, enrichment, everything [happens] upstream before a sales rep even sees a lead in the system.”
Insight #4: Automation at scale
Conrad explains that once this data is aggregated and ready to send, each rep has five alternative email addresses to address limits and thresholds. Each of the five unique addresses is then forwarded to the rep’s inbox. This ensures that, as the automation runs, the primary email address is not locked in the spam folder and achieves scale with the other email addresses.
This process involves distributing these prospects evenly among each mailbox via a round-robin. Openprise will help sync that data to Salesforce as a custom object. The custom object has a significant amount of code that syncs with the outreach API and sequences the leads or prospects on behalf of the sales rep.
Insight #5: Goodbye marketing automation platforms, hello one-to-one sales communication
Rippling’s approach has removed email send from Marketo and mainly focuses on one-to-one sales communication–essentially creating a new inbound channel. Conrad states that their goal is to reach the person’s primary inbox, but that sending emails or nurture campaigns through marketing automation platforms is dwindling.
The results of this highly mechanized prospecting have reps focusing on replies, scheduling demos, and going through unsubscribes.eReply conversions have increased significantly. Reps aren’t spending time on email data acquisition or email delivery. Everything they need to focus on is baked into their day-to-day.
Insight #6: Outbound – specific accounts at the right time
In the past, Rippling has focused heavily on inbounds with hiring reps focused on converting demos from the website and various channels. Now, as Conrad states, Rippling is hiring outbound reps to address the massive TAM (total addressable market). But, he explains, there are two issues with this:
- How do you assess a high number of accounts to an individual rep?
- How do you keep the rep count low for segmented accounts and a global presence?
Conrad explains that the first step is identifying the right accounts, and aggregating various intent signals. Then the data is funneled into a custom object in Salesforce and a custom Visualforce page is created that provides sales reps with a timeline view of all signals related to their account. All data about the account’s activity over the past three months can be easily viewed, along with real-time updates. Conrad explains they are in the final stages of launching an exciting new recommendation engine solution that takes “all of these signals that we aggregate through all these different data providers and figure out, okay, how do we surface the right stuff at the right time to the right rep?” he says. “And the first format of it was done through Slack notifications.”
The signal types that reps look at come from their website, LinkedIn Sales Insights, competitor intel, and review sites like Gartner and G2. Then these signals trigger an action that a rep needs to take once they are alerted. Rippling sends a “smart alert” with the top five individuals a rep should contact that includes information on each individual’s elite scoring, persona-building, and engagement data. Reps then have buttons that they can click to put the individual into an outreach sequence.
Rippling’s recommendation engine can do other sequencing as well. If there is a closed lost opportunity due to timing, an alert can be set to re-engage the opportunity team. There are additional scenarios like new product launches, event leads follow-up, ABM campaigns, or direct mail that can be done.
Conrad has seen the positive results firsthand of mechanized prospecting, which he outlines as:
- Reducing manual tasks
- 3X opportunity conversions
- Focus on high-intent accounts
- Increase in rep activity
It’s evident that Rippling is making significant strides in automated prospecting. Not only is it driving high conversion rates for the company, but it also provides an effective solution for sales by guiding them on whom to contact, what messages to convey, and the optimal timing.
For other compelling Open23 sessions on automation, check out the full list here!