The Secret Unfair Advantage For Your Sales Team

May 8, 2018 8:49:48 AM | By Matt Benati

In an Account Based Revenue strategy where sales and marketing share a singular focus on driving revenue, it’s ultimately up to marketing to get qualified leads in the door and sales to close the deals.

But what if I told you those qualified leads – sales-ready leads that surround the future customers you’re already engaging – are at your fingertips, sitting in your inbox just waiting to be discovered?

At the recent Marketing Nation Summit, Marketo CEO Steve Lucas shared some pretty incredible statistics about email. Basically, we send a LOT of emails. Which equates to a LOT of replies. And those replies contain actionable Account Based Intelligence (ABI) for sales teams to leverage, gaining a sales advantage so powerful that it can almost be described as unfair.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Staggering Stats Surrounding Campaign Reply Emails

First, let’s take a look at email send volume and the potential of this often untapped data source. Over the years, I’ve studied LeadGnome customers’ email campaigns and resulting email reply statistics to come up with solid averages companies can expect to see with their own campaigns.

Specifically, the typical annual response rate for email campaigns is (conservatively) 2%. Meaning, if you send an email to your database of 10,000 people, you will get around 200 replies, more during holidays. About 90% of these replies will be Out-Of-Office (OOO), and of those, about 55% contain an alternate contact. (More on that below!)

Out-Of-Office email replies drive 20%+ new contacts. #increasesales #sales pic.twitter.com/eAsk4WaLRM Click To Tweet

But do you know just how many emails your organization sends each year? Marketo keeps track. Last year, they sent more than 30 billion emails on behalf of customers.

Marketo Sales Advantage - Email Marketing Send Analysis

Some quick math tells us that in 2017, Marketo users generated 600 million replies, 540 million OOO replies, and added more than 20% net new contacts to their database! And not just any new contacts — contacts acquired directly from their best-fit accounts (the organizations they were actively communicating with.)  

Imagine the big insights and big business hidden in those replies!

Marketo Sales Advantage Using Reply Emails

Expand Reach Within Target Accounts With Out Of Office Replies

Mining OOO replies generates a wealth of information about your existing leads (such as name, phone, mobile, address) and like I said above, more than half of them contain at least one alternate contact. Not only does this information give you valuable insight about your existing leads and give your sales team new ways to reach them, it also allows you to expand your reach within target accounts by identifying your leads’ assistant, boss or colleague from their OOO replies.

With greater coverage, you are better able to map accounts, identify decision makers, and get that much closer to the 7+ influencers needed to close a deal.

Get A Competitive Timing Advantage With Left The Company Replies

The majority of the email replies your campaigns generate might be OOO messages, but those are certainly not the only ones your sales team should pay attention to. A Left The Company (LTC) auto-responder is anything but the end of the road. In fact, it’s one of the most valuable sales trigger events you can leverage.

If you’re mining email replies and receive an auto-reply indicating your lead has left the company, you actually gain a 6-9 month timing advantage over competitors who don’t learn about the change until they receive a hard bounce.

Did you know a Left-The-Company email reply provides a 6-9 month competitive advantage for your sales team? cc: @CraigElias Click To Tweet

When marketing gets an LTC response, they should immediately alert the sales representative for that account to begin an investigation. By carefully following the trail of activity of everyone involved in the transition, a single LTC could result in four potential new sales opportunities!

  1. Find out who replaced your original prospect (let’s call her Mary) at your target account.
  2. Follow Mary to her new position. Remember, if she had buying power at her previous company (your target account), she likely have the same ­(or more) ­influence at her new position.
  3. Research who had the position before Mary took her new job. Did they move vertically within the organization or leave entirely? If they had buying influence before, they likely still have it in their new role.
  4. Finally, you find out who replaced Mary at your target account. Where did they come from? Did they make buying decisions in his previous role? If so, find out who replaced them in their old position.

Even more compelling is the fact that a new lead at your account in a decision making role is 10x more likely to bring in new products or services during their first year of employment. A lead out to prove themselves is a prime selling opportunity to frame your solution favorably and be the first in.

And guess what? You’ll win the deal 5x more often when you’re first.

Capitalize On Merger & Acquisition Activity With Change-Of-Email-Address Replies

If the only thing you do with a change of email reply is update your CRM, you may be missing out on a big sales opportunity. While an email change could indicate a marriage or life event, it could also be something much impactful to the business!

Zoominfo estimates that 37% of employees change email addresses and 34% of companies change names annually. Some quick math tells us that only a small percentage of those change of email replies are life events. The rest likely signal merger and acquisition activity, and that’s a trigger event your sales team doesn’t want to miss!

M&A activity often means a good amount of change within the organization; employees are coming and going and new decision makers are in the mix. It’s a timely opportunity for your sales team to leverage, and your solution might be just what the organization needs after the dust settles.

If you’re mining reply emails, like with LTC, change of email replies are usually in place for a few months before the old domain is shut off and a hard bounce is generated. Once again, this gives you a significant timing advantage over competitors that aren’t mining replies — allowing your sales team to capitalize on this change in the account before anyone else.

Never Wonder If Your CRM Database Is Stale

While not a trigger event, continuous database cleansing is one of the biggest advantages of mining emails. More than half (62%) of organizations rely on prospect data that’s as much as 40% inaccurate. What a waste of time and resources!

By mining reply emails, you get a steady stream of fresh data and updated contact information about your leads. And, this fresh data comes directly from your existing contacts, transforming your database from a dying spreadsheet into a dynamic tool that becomes an invaluable asset to your sales team’s efforts to learn more about, and get in touch with, leads.

Stay Compliant With Email Spam Laws

Email spam laws, like CAN-SPAM in the United States, CASL in Canada, and GDPR in Europe exist to protect consumers from unsolicited Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs). While the specifics of each law vary, one thing they all have in common is the requirement for businesses to provide an easy way for recipients to opt-out from communications, and to promptly act on unsubscribe requests.

Unfortunately, not everyone follows instructions to automatically unsubscribe; some simply hit reply and manually ask to be removed from your mailing list. These replies come back the same as the hundreds, or thousands, of other auto-responses you receive, such as Out-Of-Office and Left-The-Company. Hefty fines are the penalty for non-compliance, so it’s crucial you catch these unsubscribe requests.

Mining reply emails ensures you never miss these manual unsubscribes and can quickly remove them from your mailing list.

LeadGnome Gives You An Automatic Unfair Advantage

Automating  the process of mining reply emails with LeadGnome allows you to work quicker, smarter and more efficiently, feeding trigger events to your sales team so that they:

  • Gain a timing advantage over competitors
  • Expand reach within target accounts
  • Get in front of more decision makers
  • Capitalize on reorganization surrounding M&A activity
  • Maintain email spam compliance
  • And more…

More than 400 million alternate contacts would have been discoverable from reply emails last year, and that’s just from the Marketo platform. Imagine how this could shape your opportunities by mapping the account influencers and decision makers.

Impressive results from the humble, often overlooked, reply email.

Ready to learn more? Download our free Transformative B2B Demand Generation eBook where we feature the most common email replies along with the information hidden in them and exactly how to apply that knowledge to boost your sales.

 

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Note: This post was originally published on April 25, 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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