Closing Time

Improve Outbound Email Response Rate by 3x with CRM + Sales Engagement

Is your outbound email response rate falling short? Are you struggling to meet your sales quota because of it?

Adopting a sales engagement tool like Salesloft and optimizing it to work with your CRM could be your answer.

In this episode of Closing Time, Salesloft’s Albert Rhee shares secrets to switching up your inbound and outbound sales cadences to elicit more responses from prospects, use personalization to build more meaningful connections, and adopt a multi-channel approach to progress deals more quickly.

The icing on the cake? He’s bringing the data from Salesloft’s Data Science team along with him to back the claims. If you’re looking for quick and actionable tips to improve outbound email response rates, buckle your seat belts and open your notepad.

Watch the video:
Key Moments:
How CRM + Sales Engagement work together

Just like cheese and wine, CRM and sales engagement complement each other. Creating a symbiotic relationship with these tools helps outbound sellers optimize their outreach, elicit positive conversations with prospects, and (most importantly) improve outcomes.

What exactly are sales engagement tools? Sales engagement platforms act as a hub for all digital interactions between sellers and prospects. This encompasses a gamut of communication channels – such as phone calls, emails, social interactions, and virtual meetings. These interactions are automatically recorded not only within the sales engagement platform but also have the ability to be seamlessly integrated into the seller’s CRM through integrations and automation.

Consider this from the perspective of a sales leader: to gain true insights into the progress of a deal, what could be more valuable than diving into the actual conversations taking place between customers and sellers? The treasure trove of data includes email responses, recorded calls, virtual meetings, and metrics like scheduled meetings and stakeholder engagement.

The beauty lies in the fact that sales engagement platforms capture all these data points, which are then automatically synchronized back into the CRM. This synthesis empowers sellers and their leaders with comprehensive visibility into deal progression, enabling them to make informed decisions backed by real conversations and engagement metrics.

Balancing personalization and volume in outreach

Today’s B2B buyers want (and expect!) personalized interactions with sellers. Mass-produced, generic outbound emails and cold calls will no longer cut it. Crafting lengthy, fully personalized emails for each prospect may be effective, but it’s not scalable – especially when handling multiple outreach cadences simultaneously. That’s why finding a balance of personalization and scalability is the key to outbound success. The goal here is to achieve useful and genuine personalization without spending hours on one email – this is where having pre-built templates geared towards specific personas or industries comes into play. It ensures that your outreach stands out while not becoming spam-like.

Salesloft’s data science team has delved into millions of emails and uncovered an astounding 300% increase in reply rates by incorporating just 25% personalization into your initial email, which sets the stage for the first interaction with a new prospect. This means even a modest degree of personalization can lead to a remarkable 3x improvement.

Consider this approach: start with a template tailored to the recipient’s industry or title, then infuse a dash of individualization by referencing their LinkedIn or recent industry trends. This personalized touch can make a significant impact, particularly in the first one or two sentences, where attention is highest.

Let’s go one step deeper. That same 25% nearly doubles a seller’s positive replies. Enhancing personalization doesn’t just elevate reply rates; it tips the scales in favor of positive engagement, an essential factor in successful outreach.

Inbound vs. Outbound

Out with the generic, in with personalization. When it comes to making your emails stand out, adding that touch of authenticity and showing that you’ve done your homework can go a long way. Your outreach efforts should always aim to stand out and create meaningful connections. Sometimes, even if the recipient isn’t initially interested, they might still respond positively to a well-personalized message. A positive interaction today could cement the foundation for a positive relationship tomorrow, or even a sale down the road. Remember, getting a “no” from a prospect isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s better to know early on so you can focus your efforts elsewhere.

So, how can both inbound and outbound sellers leverage sales engagement tools to maximize their efforts and results? In the context of outbound, persistence and using various communication channels to connect are crucial. Data shows that a mere 15% personalization in emails can lead to a 2.75x increase in reply rates. Brevity is also your friend – sellers will see a 2x higher reply rate when sending messages in 50 words or less compared to longer emails.

What great inbound looks like

Responding to demo requests and inquiries isn’t as simple as it seems – speed matters in the inbound game. Responding within 5 minutes can increase your success rate by 21 times. This data holds true not just for emails but also for phone calls. That first interaction within 5 minutes when you’re top of mind is incredibly valuable.

Using a multichannel approach

A multitouch approach involves reaching out to prospects through multiple channels and touchpoints – such as email, phone calls, and social interactions on platforms like LinkedIn. It recognizes that different individuals have varying preferences for communication. By contacting buyers via their preferred channels, you create a more holistic and engaging outreach strategy.

What does a multi-touch approach look like in practice? Let’s say a seller attempts to cold call a prospect. The prospect doesn’t answer, so the seller leaves a voicemail and immediately follows up with a relevant email showcasing industry-specific, personalized content. This sequence creates a chain reaction, getting the seller on the prospect’s radar quickly and effectively.

Example of multi-touch cadence

It’s about breaking patterns and standing out from the competition. The ultimate goal is to offer a unique buying experience for your customers. Most leaders and decision-makers are sent dozens of outbound sales messages a day. They can sniff out a sales pitch from a mile away. Standing out truly makes a difference in how recipients perceive your outreach and how they perceive you as a seller—integrating social selling, phone calls, and emails effectively increases your chances of meaningful interactions and successful conversions.

Including video in outreach

Video selling is a powerful, yet underutilized tool that can significantly enhance a seller’s email outreach. It not only captures attention but also offers a dynamic and engaging way to connect with prospects. 

Salesloft’s data supports this theory: when a video was included as part of the email content, there was a significant 26% increase in reply rates. Essentially, video acts as an additional communication channel alongside email, phone, social, and direct mail. This integration can amplify your email efforts and set you apart from the competition. People want to buy from people, not from automated email messages. By showing your face, injecting a bit of your personality, and personalizing your message, you connect with your buyers in a humanized way. Consider holding a whiteboard with the recipient’s name or company, or adding their information to the video thumbnail to help add a tailored touch to the video. This signals that the video is customized specifically for them rather than being a generic marketing piece. The goal is to move beyond the ordinary and distinguish yourself from the crowd.


How can you improve response rates and sales cadences?
We’re examining how your CRM works with sales engagement software
in this episode of Closing Time.
Thanks for tuning into Closing Time the show for go-to-market leaders.
I’m Chip House CMO at Insightly CRM and I’m joined by Albert Rhee,
Director of Product Marketing at Salesloft.
Welcome to the show, Albert.. Thank you. Chip. Happy to be here.
It’s super great to have you.
And you know, you and I connected before this and we were talking about
just the idea of CRM and sales engagement.
And so from a CRM standpoint, right.
We clearly like to think about. CRM as the place you put all your customer
data where every action and interaction is stored,
depending on where the customer or prospect is engaging
throughout your customer journey.. Where sales engagement software
then comes in to facilitate kind of the engagement portion
of the interaction to assist sales reps in prospecting.
But I would love to hear what your definition of sales engagement is.
Yeah, absolutely.
So I like to think of technology in two parts: the what and the how.
So for sales engagement platform specifically, ultimately
we’re trying to help sellers and sales teams drive more revenue.
So that’s the what.
And you mentioned like CRM is like a
CRM is a system of data.
Well, one way to think about sales engagement is as a system of execution.
So think about it as a platform where sellers take action
to engage with customers and prospects so they can build pipeline and close more deals.
Because whether you’re prospecting or you’re further down
the revenue funnel and working to get a deal to close, there are dozens
if not hundreds of customer touchpoints happening across multiple channels.
We like to say that we help sellers efficiently
utilize all those channels, run their sales place to perfection
and stay connected to the entire buying committee,
because as we all know, selling can get complicated really, really quickly.
So having your sales playbooks right at your fingertips, being able
to jump right into an email or a call or a meeting,
all of that makes it easier for sellers to sell
and then build momentum, keeping reps motivated, progressing deals, all of that.
Helping them stay focused on their buyer’s needs.
Makes a ton of sense.
And so,
you know, tell me more about how CRM plus sales engagement can work together.
So when when somebody is implementing, clearly there’s
you know, I’m very familiar with the industry that we’re in.
And, you know, we work with a lot of different B2B
companies, some B2C companies, and all of their journeys are different.
And the level of data that they have about their customers or prospects differs
and how
they can use that differs in the sales process clearly.
But I mean, what’s the perfect combination
of CRM plus sales engagement,
you know, that you’ve seen work best at Salesloft?
Yeah, so when I think about the two platforms together, so CRM, sales engagement,
I think this is one of those cases where it’s a really nice symbiotic
relationship because you have like CRM
and we think sales engagement makes CRM better.
And then on the flip side, we think. CRM makes sales engagement better.
And the reason why that is because the wonderful thing about sales
engagement platforms is it’s a place where all of the digital interactions
between a seller and a prospect are taking place.
And what’s fantastic about that is all of those interactions
whether it’s phone, emails, social, virtual meetings,
all of them are being automatically logged back,
not just into your sales engagement platform, but into your CRM as well.
Now, as a sales leader, you want to know how a deal is really going?
what better way is there than to actually go back to the conversations that the customers
are actually having with your sellers?
So you can look through email replies, recorded calls, virtual meetings,
you can look at data like how many meetings are on the books,
how many stakeholders are being engaged with.
All of that data has been captured by sales engagement platforms
and then being synced back into your CRM.
It has to be a balance, right, because you need the right amount of data
to to personalize your messages
but you need to do that at some level of scale
if you’re a salesperson to manage a number of different cadences
based on whatever is being assigned to you.
And, you know, maybe this might be different if you have a
$100,000, $200,000 product and you sell two of them a year, right?
You don’t have to, you know, reach out to maybe as many people.
But most of us are functioning where we’re selling
a smaller volume or a smaller dollar value product.
And so you’re reaching out to hundreds, thousands of people
maybe over a month timeframe.
And, you know,
you want the personalization to be helpful.
You want it to be authentic.
And so do you have thoughts about how to balance
that, the volume necessary with the personalization needed?
Yeah, absolutely.
And I love what you said
that it has to be authentic, has to be kind of like coming from you
like personalized but also personalized to the person you’re talking to because
at the end of the day, we’re still, you know, any sort of even like B2B
sales, it’s still between a human and a human.
And you want to make sure that that kind of comes through
But to your point, like it has also scale, right?
I shouldn’t be having to write like these, you know, long
emails that are fully personalized to every single prospect I’m talking to,
you have to balance it out with some level of
kind of like messaging that you’ve already taught,
already have kind of pre built out for that specific persona or that industry.
Now, the way to balance that is, one way to think about
it is like how much personalization should I be doing on an average basis,
to make sure that I’m still standing out from the crowd?
I’m not sending out spammed email.
I’m still sending out something very specific to the person
that I’m trying to reach.
Now, our data science team at Salesloft, they’ve analyzed millions of emails
and have seen that there’s a 300% increase in reply rates,
300%, just going from
zero personalization to 25% personalization in your day one email,
which is your first email interaction with a new prospect.
So just by adding any sort of personalization,
just for adding any sort
of personalization to my first email, it’s a three X improvement.
Yes. Yeah, exactly. So it’s a huge number.
And again, this kind of helps you kind of be more efficient and scale it, right?
You’re not writing 100% personalized email to every single prospect.
You can start with an email template that maybe is already tailored towards
their industry or their
particular title or their function that they’re in,
but then adding in a little bit specific to that person
that maybe you’ve done some research on their LinkedIn
or you’ve done some more research into like the industry, the current
economic factors that are impacting their specific industry.
And you’re able to build in something a little bit
special from that one to two sentences to help really catch their eye.
I think that’s a really good point to point out
too, is usually that personalization, in my opinion,
I think you should put that in the first one or two sentences
because I don’t know about you, but like whenever I get an email,
the first place I look at it is on my phone.
That’s the first place it’s going to pop up,. I see a little notification, I see
who sent it, I see the subject of email and I see maybe eight to ten words ish.
That’s literally how much time you have to catch a person’s attention.
So if you put that little bit of effort into the first one
to two sentences that you have in an email,. I think you’re going to really see
an improvement in your reply rate.
And the fantastic thing about it is our data science team
even took it one level deeper into their research
and they saw that the positive replies nearly doubled the negative replies.
So it’s not just like you increase reply rates by three X,
you’re increasing the positive replies well over the negative replies as well.
Yeah, makes it makes a ton of sense,
Albert and I can feel it as a CMO.. A lot of people reach out
trying to sell me things. Right?
And I know what makes an email stand out in my inbox.
That’s typically some level of personalization, some level of homework
that went into it that feels authentic, feels human to human
and even sometimes I’ll just respond, you know, if it’s done
really well, even if I’m not interested,. I just make the connection.
Hey, thanks for,
you know, commenting on my blog or the company news
or whatever they might be sending in the personalization.
So, yeah, absolutely.
And the second best answer for a seller is no, because, you at least know
I don’t have to keep putting my effort.
Go to the next one.
Now I can put my effort somewhere else. Absolutely.
So it’s still a good response.
So you and I talked a little while ago about inbound versus outbound.
Right.. And you can use Salesloft for both.
I think a lot of people think of maybe sales engagement as an outbound
only thing. But that’s not true, right?
I mean, you use it for inbound or outbound
leads that come in.
But there’s some market differences.
How do you think about them differently?
Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, there’s no question
that there are stark differences between like an inbound approach
and an outbound approach.
But actually, I would love to start kind of talk about some of those similarities,
because I do think there are a ton of them that kind of get passed over sometimes.
So when you think about outbound specifically,
you know, my mind immediately goes like persistence, numerous follow ups
using every channel possible to just make a connection.
But I’ve actually seen and our data science team has seen that
the same mindset pays off handsomely for inbound as well.
So inbound really just isn’t that easy.
Like people think of it as like,. I’m just replying to a demo request form
fill and booking meetings and moving on, but like ask any inbounder,
they’ll let you know, like life just isn’t that easy.
You got to practice the same discipline, the same persistence,
the same personalized approach to maximize your conversion rates.
So great inbounders,
they don’t let a ghosted contact like just slip through the cracks.
Great inbounders,
what they do is they actually persist, they go after it, they add personalization.
And to back up this claim,
our data science team has found that like inbounders also will see
a 2.75x increase in reply rates going from no personalization
to just 15% personalization in their emails.
15 percent?
15% personalization. Yes. OK, yeah.
So even less than necessarily for like an outbounder
but still really similar results like almost like the same 3x.
And another interesting tidbit here is like they also found that
for inbounders, brevity is your friend.
So our DS team, sorry, data science team,
when they looked at the email
reply rates they saw a 2x increase in replies
when you use 50 words or less versus using over 100 words
so you get double the replies by using less words because you
I mean technically you really got their attention, right.
They’ve actually taken the effort
to reach out to you to see if they could learn more
and now like speed is always king in terms of inbound,
but this is kind of like adding to that, how brief can you be?
But also like can you add in just
a little flavor, personalization to make sure they reach back out?
Because it’s not a slam dunk when someone fills out a demo form fill.
There’s still aspects of the outbound approach that can kind of bleed
into inbound as well.
Yeah, I’m glad that you brought up speed because definitely I think of speed in inbound
and I love the stat that if a sales rep responds to an inbound
lead within 5 minutes, the rate goes up by 21 times.
So a lot of different companies are now moving towards at least
SLAs between the marketing and the sales team
where the sales rep has to respond within X amount of minutes.
Often it’s 30 minutes or an hour, but right within 5 minutes, 21x.
Is that your data, Albert?
No, it’s actually,
I think it was from Lead Simple, but it was also like
what’s interesting is like the 21x
is also tied to like picking up the phone and calling them back.
So not just shooting them back an email, but also like using the phone,
connecting them when you are top of mind, your company is top of mind
within that first 5 minutes.
21x increase is huge.
So definitely something to consider.
That’s no, that’s super interesting.
So I guess you could call email and phone a multichannel approach, right?
And primarily you’re enabling cadences, which are calls and emails right?
But talk to me about the benefits of that multichannel approach
and what kind of increase you see there.
Yeah, absolutely.
Going back to the personalization, the last sales kickoff that I went to,
we had two sales leaders on like a leader panel
answering questions and one of the questions that we asked
them was like, well, what’s your preferred channel to get like
if you were getting a prospecting or someone like prospecting you? And one sales leader
is like, Oh,. I love getting like really good emails.
Like if someone has actually done
the research, knows a little bit about me and my role,
the problems that I’m struggling with and they have a solution
that can uniquely help with these,
I’ll give it the time of day. And the other sales leader says, Oh that’s so funny.
I automatically delete every single email
if you cold call me,. I’ll take a cold call
and I’ll hear your pitch and I’ll give you the time of day there.
And what I found was so interesting was there is like two sales leaders
in very similar industries,
two very different preferences for how they want to be contacted.
And for me, the takeaway is like you have to meet people where they want
to be met, right?. You’re the one reaching out.
You’re the one asking for their time and you may not know what channel that is.
So you have to try multiple different channels
to potentially even just get on their radar.
There’s also some fantastic research we’ve done on what we would call,
a multi-touch
approach, which is basically
using a phone and a call or a social on the same day.
So let’s say I call someone and they know they’re not going to pick up.
So I have a voicemail ready.
We’re like, Hey, Chip, just got want to let you know I’m going to send you something
in your inbox on X-Y-Z topic that’s really important to your industry.
And then right after the call, hang up, you send them
that asset or that marketing content
and you have that follow up and you have this nice kind of like chain
reaction of, someone checks their voice mail, they check their email
and you just like you’ve gotten on their radar in one way or another.
I think this is just shows the power of putting together
a personalized approach and pleasantly persistent approach to prospecting that
just helps you become a pattern breaker, like you stand out from the crowd.
And ultimately
the idea is like creating better buying experiences for your customers.
I think you said it there, pattern breaking.
It feels different.
If you stand out, it truly makes a difference.
As somebody who’s receiving those for sure.
And if you’re truly leveraging social selling plus phone calls plus
emails, you’re more likely to stand out even more and be more personalized.
So you talked about CRM as being the system of the data
and you know, something like Salesloft being the system for engagement.
And I think it’s a brilliant way to think about it.
Albert, so let’s shift gears a bit.
Do you have any stats regarding video?
I know that they really stand out in my inbox when I get a cadence that includes video.
Tell me about what kind of stats you have.
Yeah, absolutely.
So our data science team at Salesloft,
they looked at millions of different email correspondences
that included some sort of like video
as part of the content in the email body.
And what they found was there was actually a 26% increase in reply rates
when you add video and you can almost think of this as like another channel.
So you have your email,
you have your phone, you have your social, your direct mail.
Now you can add video to kind of like even further amplify your email channel
because I think like as we talked about before about pattern breakers,
this is just another one that can help you stand out from the crowd.
It’s even better if your video thumbnail game is up to par.
You can show yourself holding up a whiteboard
written down
something that’s like
specific to that person, either their name or their company,
just so they know that you’ve created
a video that’s tailored for them and not just maybe like a marketing video
that is more generic and general and public domain.
So again, like trying to break apart from the crowd and stand out.
I think video is an excellent way to do that in email.
Excellent point.
So, Albert, thanks so much for joining us on Closing Time.
Chip, it’s been such a great opportunity to join you.
I thank you so much for the invite.
Yeah, super excited to have you on this show and maybe we’ll have you back in the future.
To all of you, thanks so much for joining us on Closing Time today.
Remember to click subscribe, hit the bell so you don’t miss any episodes.
We’ll see you next time.

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