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(Show Introduction: 00:00 - 03:47)
Lauren Kress 03:48
G’day everyone. Lauren Kress, the business scientist here. Joining me today is Liam Redmond. Now, Liam heads up or he works in growth at Clearbanc and he also runs his own consultancy at OptimizeOutbound. We're going to talk a little bit today about how to connect with people, how to reach out with people, specifically on LinkedIn using data-driven insights. Liam, I'll get you to just start off by introducing yourself a little bit, telling us a little bit more about what you do.
Liam Redmond 04:20
Yeah, for sure. Basically, I used to work in a company that specialized in outbound prospecting. It's actually how you and I connected, Lauren. They were focusing on highly personalised outbound email on LinkedIn Outreach. I was a BDR and then a kind of BDR manager there. I got really, really good at reaching out to people over LinkedIn, and have just kept refining and getting better and better at this form of outreach. Since then, I have been doing it for about two years now. Now, I work at Clearbanc and do a lot of growth related to their outbound process, over email, and LinkedIn. As you mentioned, I have my own side hustle thing, where I'm helping other companies figure out their outbound process over email and LinkedIn.
Lauren Kress 05:14
Let's talk a little bit about outbound. For people who don't know what outbound means, can you just give a sort of quick overview of what that involves?
Liam Redmond 05:23
Yeah, totally. It's any time that you're reaching out to somebody else. Obviously, there's inbound and then there's outbound. Inbound is your Facebook ads, Google ads, Instagram ads, whatever it may be and outbound is any time you're going out and reaching out to somebody, so whether it be email, whether it be cold calling them, whether it be sending them a message on LinkedIn, anytime you're going out to the market and getting someone.
Lauren Kress 05:50
For people, in the context of the health crisis right now, a lot of people are going through a difficult time. Whether they are working for someone else. Whether they are in their own business, losing clients. What do you think the role is of the things that you've learned in outbound marketing that people can apply to themselves at the moment?
Liam Redmond 06:14
Yeah, totally. It's a great point that you mentioned that a lot of people are struggling right now because it's almost one of the first things to go. When the market is contracting or going through recessions, people actually pull back from their outbound efforts and they stop investing in sales and marketing. When in reality, it should be the opposite. If you're losing clients and there's nothing you can do to retain them, due to whatever is happening in the market, like a healthcare crisis; if you want to replace those clients you're going to have to find them from somewhere.
Liam Redmond 06:49
For some businesses, it may make sense to start running inbound marketing. The problem with that is you're always playing at the mercy of Facebook or Google. Right now Facebook has actually some of the lowest consumer acquisition costs it has ever had. Inbound is actually not a bad channel right now, but the thing is it costs money, regardless. You're always going to be paying for the amount of return that you're getting.
Liam Redmond 07:20
Whereas with outbound, you can have a very cheap, minimal, viable product that's honestly just how hard you work is a lot to do with the results that you'll get. You can go find a target list of companies that would be a good, ideal client for you. There's a lot of free email tools that you can go and find the emails of the decision makers and founders, CEO, whatever at those companies that you want to reach out to. You can just send them emails from Gmail for free.
Liam Redmond 07:53
There's obviously a lot of cool tools and software out there that can make everything a lot easier, but really, you can get a lot from just blood, sweat, tears, and elbow grease, as far as outbound goes. Even in my own side hustle, I wasn't investing in technology, the first thing I did. I wanted to keep costs super low. Obviously, I have a good understanding of how to build lists and how to reach out to people. I didn't spend $1 to get my first 10, 20, 50 meetings, whatever. I just reached out to people, using the skills that I know.
Lauren Kress 08:31
Yeah, it's a really good point. It's actually been one of my focus points as well in the brand growth space, in terms of content marketing. Your content marketing efforts actually don't need to cost you anything. We know that SEO, for instance, is the most important way to get inbound, which is technically free. Yeah, there's a bit of learning involved, but there's a lot of free things we can do as well. Just wanted to give a quick shout out to Matthew Payne, as well for saying, "Great content." If you're still here, thank you. If you're watching this live, you can ask Liam questions as well; you don't have to rely on me. I know how to work the comments now, so feel free to type your comments in and I'll ask Liam on your behalf.
Lauren Kress 09:15
I think the point you make about just applying a bit of elbow grease and just reaching out to people yourself is such a good one. Especially when a lot of people are probably—people are in different positions. I've talked to a lot of people who are like, "I'm actually quite bored and I feel like there's nothing I can do." There's all this stress. There's also kind of like, you're sitting there going, "Well, what do I do?" How can people channel some of that frustration or that energy into being productive with their outbound?
Liam Redmond 09:50
Yeah, totally. It's almost—like if you just lost like half of your clients. You lost a ton of revenue. Obviously, it's a sh***y situation to be in. I'm sure there's a lot of people out there that are in that exact situation, but like you said, the thing is you could sit there and be angry about it and be pissed off and have a victim mentality. Like, "Why did this happen to me?" Or you can channel that energy into being like, "Okay, who would my next 10 dream clients be? How can I go find a list of companies that look like that? What can I do that's in my power to go and find the people who work at those companies that I need to be speaking to? To help me work with more companies like that?" Obviously, that's a process.
Liam Redmond 10:37
Even when you do outbound well, the thing is that, unless you're really, really good at it you're going to have a pretty low success rate. I think the industry average for outbound email open rates are somewhere between 30% and 40%. One of the last industry things that I've seen. If you get really good at it, you can write email campaigns that get 70%, 75%, 80%, even 85% open rate; if your email list is good, your messaging is good, your subject line is good.
Liam Redmond 11:13
One thing that I hear a lot is that especially more seasoned, old-school, experienced sales and marketing people, they're so hung up on the subject line. Whereas in reality, it's more like the preview text of the first sentence of your email, to be honest, is way more important. I've sent one-word subject lines and had people reply because the opening of the email is really personalised. They can see in the preview that I've done some actual research that can't be automated or can't be scaled at super high volume, so personalising the start of your email really well.
Lauren Kress 11:50
Yeah. I got a question from Matthew while you were talking, by the way, which I think is great. It's when you reach out to people and you get no reply, how or when do you follow up?
Liam Redmond 12:02
It's a great question. I actually talked about this a little bit last week, with one of my friends on another podcast. I used to always view it as like, you can follow up with people typically at the start of an email cadence. It can be maybe you send an email on day one, then another email on day, three, four, then another email on day seven, eight. The gap between your last email and your more recent email should be getting a little bit longer every single time because you don't want to be pestering people. You know what I mean? You don't want to be emailing them every single day like, "Hey, just following up. Hey, what did you think about the last email." All this sort of stuff.
Liam Redmond 12:45
One thing you can do to make following up more regularly or more aggressively, I guess you could call it, or assertively, is to spread out the channels that you're doing it on. You could be following up on emails, then if they don't respond, you could follow up on LinkedIn. Then spread out the different touch points that you're connecting with someone on. You can give them a call on the phone if you have their phone number.
Liam Redmond 13:12
Another thing to always keep in mind with following up with people is you should be acknowledging the situation that okay, maybe they didn't respond to my previous email. Ask yourself, "Why is that? What in the content of my previous email did they not find interesting?" Just kill that elephant in the room and be like, "Look, I get it. You're totally busy, have a lot of other things going on. Like the world is ending and all that kind of stuff, but here's some additional information that I actually didn't share in my previous email, kind of X, Y, and Z. I thought this might be interesting. I would love to hear your thoughts."
Liam Redmond 13:49
This could be a case study, an additional problem that you think they might be going through. If I was reaching out to you, for example, Lauren, "Hey, Lauren. I'm actually working with a lot of other content consultancies and they're telling me in the last two or three weeks that they're facing problems X, Y, and Z. Every business is different so I just wanted to follow up and ask you, are you facing any of these problems? If so, how are you dealing with them?" Then it's like, I'm not just trying to sell you anything. I'm just trying to ask what's going on and get a pulse check on how's your business responding to what's going on in the market. I'm also inviting myself back into the conversation with a real value add. I'm really trying to understand what's happening.
Lauren Kress 15:16
That's such a great example. It's really great to get concrete, this is what you can say because when we're talking about it's personalised, it can mean so many different things. That's such a great example. I love the idea of asking a question to invite yourself back in, as well. I was just thinking, I know when I introduced this, I said this is very data-driven. Can you explain a little bit about why you're recommending these things? What sort of data have you been looking at to work out how to best optimise your outbound marketing efforts?
Liam Redmond 15:54
Yeah, it's a great question, like I mentioned that the start the company I used to have before, GrowthGenius, I just saw the data from over 100 clients, their outbound email on LinkedIn. The thing is, with email, it's very easy to track. You can see your open rates on a specific email step and your reply rates on the same email step. You have two very objective metrics that you can measure. If your replies are not high compared to email one, obviously, it's a funnel. As you go down, like email 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, you should expect fewer replies; however, that's not to say that you can't maintain a decent reply rate at each step in the email cadence if it's a high-quality email if it's personalised if it's relevant to the prospect.
Liam Redmond 16:44
The thing about LinkedIn is that it's actually a closed API. There's not a whole lot of tracking you can do in terms of data from what you're collecting on LinkedIn, but what I can tell you from anecdotal experience, running LinkedIn campaigns for these hundred or so clients, is that you can always expect to get the most replies from the first follow-up message. It's like your first impression. I wouldn't really judge a connection request, for example, as all the replies you're going to get in the world. The reason for that is a lot of people will just accept whoever. Some people will actually go in and read messages and connection requests, but it's just not very consistent across the board.
Liam Redmond 17:27
However, the thing is, once you actually send someone a follow-up message when they connect with you on LinkedIn, you can tell if they've read the message or not. I would often think of your follow-up message with somebody is the equivalent to your email one, where you're going to get the bulk of your replies. After that, if you're following up with someone, like four to five days later; I would like we said already, be changing the angle of your follow up. Then you can expect to get a pretty similar amount of replies. Does that make sense?
Lauren Kress 17:58
Yeah, yeah. Actually, it made me think as well. Do you think there's value in following up via email as well as messages?
Liam Redmond 18:07
Yeah. 100%. We often see all the time, people will respond, "Oh, I'm interested." Even some of the companies I work with on the side or even people who express interest in their meeting with me. They'll be super interested. They will say, "Oh, this sounds interesting. Tell me more or let's set up a time, let's set up a call." Then I'll reply to them, giving them one or two options for scheduling a call, and then I'll never hear back from them. I just follow up two or three days later and just be like, "Hey, Lauren, I assume something came up and my email went to the bottom of your inbox and wanted to get some time back on your calendar. How does time one or time two sound on day X or day Y?" A lot of times people will be like, "Aw, so sorry I forgot to reply to this. Someone just came up at the office. I was putting out a fire. I'd love to schedule a time for this day." Oftentimes people get distracted, right? People have a lot of things going on. They do have a lot of other priorities than scheduling a meeting with me or scheduling a meeting with whoever's reaching out to them. Just staying really on top of people. You know the saying? "A bird in the hand is more valuable than..." whatever it is, I actually don't know the end of that.
Lauren Kress 19:25
"Than two in the bush." I think it is. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
Liam Redmond 19:30
As soon as somebody replies to you once, I would say the chance of them replying to again, goes up exponentially. People will just get busy and genuinely have other things going on. If you follow-up with them two or three more times, you're either going to get them to be like, "You know what? I'm actually not interested." Or they will actually schedule a time.
Lauren Kress 19:51
I want to ask you one more question, a follow-up to that, because we've been focusing a little bit more on probably what's relevant for us small business owners, entrepreneurs, start-ups, that kind of thing. I want to ask you about for people who are looking, job seekers at the moment as well. Just before we do that, it sounds like there's also a quality/quantity thing to balance here. A lot of the time, what I say is people go like, "I'm going to hit 50 people a day." It's automated. It's not personalised. It's just like, "Hit as many people as we can and see who comes back." Then some people go extremely personalised, where it's a lot of work to send a message. What do you think the balance is there? What have you seen?
Liam Redmond 20:36
Yeah. It's a great question. I'm going to say it completely depends on your goals. For example, in my own side business, I'm only one guy. At the moment it's me, I'm working with a few friends. There is a finite amount of people that I can actually service. There is no point in me sending 50 emails a day, seven days a week because I would literally just get more clients than I would actually be able to service. I think as soon as I had my domain actually set up for outbound email on day one, I sent 25 emails. I actually haven't been able to service all of the replies that I got on the first day. I would say that it completely depends on your goals. Whereas I've worked with other companies in the past where they have a large team, and very aggressive goals and sending 50 emails a day isn't enough for them. It really depends on how many people are opening, to be honest, how many people are replying, then of those replies, how many are actually responding positively, and expressing intents to book a meeting.
Liam Redmond 21:45
Every business has its own sliding scale of where the fine line and balance between quality versus quantity is. You don't want to send so much quantity that you're putting your email domain at risk. That you're sending too low of a quality message, so that people aren't actually interested or replying, but at the same time, you don't want to be sending so few messages, like five emails a day that, based on industry averages, outbound funnel metric numbers—you don't want be sending so few that you literally are cutting off your chances of getting as many clients as you want.
Liam Redmond 22:25
Typically, the way that I would look at this when somebody comes to me and says, "Oh, I want to align 10 clients," I'm like, "Okay, great. What are your typical outbound funnel metrics right now? For every 100 people, you reach out to, what percentage of people open your emails, reply to your emails, go to a meeting, actually become a closed deal?” I'm often surprised at how few people actually know what these numbers are. That's the first step, establish a good baseline for where your outbound funnel metrics actually are. From there, you can reverse engineer how many people you need to be reaching out to, how many emails you should be sending, how big does your list need to be, how many sales reps do you have, things like that. I think it's a very long-winded answer, but the answer to any good question really is, it depends.
Lauren Kress 23:15
It depends. It means it's trustworthy advice, I think.
Liam Redmond 23:22
I think a lot of people will say, "Oh, you need to send 10,000 emails a day, whatever." Then you just question the efficacy of what you're actually sending. Then if people are like, "I can land you all your dream clients in the world for sending one email a day. It's like, f**k, I guess I need to be doing like what that guy's doing, you know what I mean? It's somewhere in between.
Lauren Kress 23:42
I love it. Okay, so now for jobseekers. For people who are looking to network, maybe their business is also just not in a position where they can sell at the moment. For them there is still a point to outbound, you think. Correct?
Liam Redmond 24:01
Yeah. It really kind of depends on the desired outcome of what your outbound is. Like you said, the call to action of your outbound email campaign can be a lot of different things. It could be, "Let's schedule some time to book a meeting." Obviously, the desired outcome in that scenario is to sell something to a person. However, it could genuinely be that you can't sell right now for whatever reason. You're just trying to have a conversation to establish a relationship so that when things do normalize down the line that you may work together. Or it could genuinely just be your call to action is a networking call. Right now, maybe you need to understand how you can potentially pivot and change your offer into what's actually worthwhile for your prospect to get on the phone with you about.
Liam Redmond 24:53
I think this whole COVID thing is affecting a lot of people very differently. I think you probably need to divide your prospects into the ones that actually could do business now, the ones that kind of have things on pause, and then the ones who are completely stopped, or the ones that are ready to buy. There's a lot of different possible segments.
Lauren Kress 25:17
Yeah. That's a good point, actually. I was thinking about this today as well. Just in my own business, the mix I'm seeing in the market is people who really need support quickly, because they're very busy, and people who are like, "I just need someone to talk to and I have no funding for the next few months." It's such a quick shift and it is hard to anticipate. That's almost where. for me, speaking from personal experience, having all of these conversations have been so helpful to just catch up on where things are at.
Lauren Kress 26:18
Just to finish up, because we'll have to wrap up soon, but just going back to people who are exploring career opportunities at the moment and things like that. You said to look for the people to talk to, who are the right people to connect with. Just for people who are completely new to—maybe they've been in a job for five or 10 years, they haven't needed to really— they haven't needed to really jump out into the market and talk to people who are in different businesses, maybe it's been intimidating. Are there a couple of small steps you'd suggest they start taking to do that? Any advice there?
Liam Redmond 27:01
Yeah, totally. I think LinkedIn is actually built extremely well as a networking platform, as it should be. One of the benefits is that you can search by job, by industry, by location, it has a pretty robust job search function. One of the really good features is that it'll often list the recruiter that's attached to that job post. What a lot of people will probably do is just apply for that job, maybe send a cover letter and that's it.
Liam Redmond 27:33
In reality, if you want to stand out from the crowd and really show that you have a lot of interest and a lot of intent for getting this job, I would be reaching out to the recruiter directly. The managing director for whatever department you're looking for a job in, and just be like, "Hey, I just applied for X role. I see you manage sales or marketing at company Y. I would love to connect over a virtual coffee and just pick your brain on a few things, blah, blah, blah." That alone just shows that you are way more interested than 99% of the people who are applying for that job, just by going that extra step.
Liam Redmond 28:16
If you personalise it based on the person you're reaching out to, by picking things from their LinkedIn bio or picking specific things about why that company interests you from their website, there's a lot of ways you can really separate yourself from everybody else who's applying. Obviously, there are quite a few people who are applying for jobs right now. I feel like everybody can really use every edge they can get. Reaching out directly to people over LinkedIn through a well-personalised connection request, I feel can make a world of difference.
Lauren Kress 28:49
Yeah, and I think that's really, really great advice, Liam. Thank you so much for your time today. It's been absolutely fascinating. I feel like we could keep talking for a really long time, actually. For people who want to find out more about what you're doing, I know that you have a couple of resources that you've put together. We'll share them in the comments, but maybe we can just talk a little bit through the other—if people want to dig into this a little bit more, some of the things you've put together.
Liam Redmond 29:18
Yeah. I recently released an eBook on very granular details, play-by-play of how you should be reaching out to people on LinkedIn, how often you should be following up, how to vary the different types of follow-up. It’s 80 pages of how to build a list of the ideal people you want to reach out to; how to segment it by vertical job, title, industry; the things to be thinking about like, "Okay, if they're in sales, they probably care about this, I should personalise about that. If they're in marketing, they probably care more about this, and I should personalise to that." It's a really granular breakdown, play-by-play of exactly how to reach out to people to get really high connection requests, acceptance rates. How you should be following up; how often you should be following up; what to do if they don't reply.
Liam Redmond 30:12
It's backed by a lot of different theories that I've compiled over the years of really good books that I've read on this topic. If you're really interested in getting in the weeds and getting a lot out of this. I've seen people who've never done sales before, implement a lot of these techniques and start booking 20, 25, 30 meetings in their first month of being in sales. I've helped a bunch of my friends get jobs already.
Lauren Kress 30:39
I love it. I'm definitely going to get a copy of that eBook, by the way.
Liam Redmond 30:43
Yeah. No, it's good. It's got pretty good reviews so far.
Lauren Kress 30:47
That's great. Well, Liam thanks again. If people want to find out more about you, I'm guessing the best way to do it is on LinkedIn.
Liam Redmond 30:54
100%. Now you have then set a precedent that I'm going to be judging everybody's connection requests diligently. If you mentioned this LinkedIn Live, I'm going to be looking for that from everybody who's watching this.
Lauren Kress 31:09
Love it, Liam. Thanks so much again, and I'm sure we'll speak again soon.
Liam Redmond 31:14
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Lauren Kress 31:16
See you later. Bye, everyone.