Bullshit Alert: Outbound is Broken November 1, 2023 | 4 min Read

Bullshit Alert: Outbound is Broken

Table Of Contents


I follow a number of experts on LinkedIn who like to speak in platitudes about how this or that sales fundamental is broken. Part of the reason I started this site is to provide real solutions for problems. If I ever write something that is too hand-wavey but doesn’t provide easily executable action items, please call me out. I never want to become “one of them.”

When I read things by the “experts” that rile me up, I will add to what I am affectionately calling The Bullshit Series .

What Set Me Off

The headline of the article was “Outbound is Broken”, and it followed with a bullet point list of things like:

  • Poor Buyer Persona Definitions
    • We go after everyone
    • We don’t target specific roles
    • Which means messaging isn’t relevant
  • Lack of Personalization
    • Prospects know you’re not making effort
    • Why would they invest time if you won’t?
    • It’s not worth 5 mins to tailor emails
    • But we’re asking for 30 mins?
  • Not Leveraging Data
    • Without a tight process
    • We don’t leverage our own data
    • We don’t leverage external data
    • To identify the best possible targets
    • And focus our energy in the right places

Understand that I don’t think any of the things he calls out are wrong. I find it problematic that, literally, no solutions were offered to the people engaging with the post. None. You could infer that, say, “We don’t target specific roles” means that outbound reps should, oh, target specific roles, but where the hell do you even start with that?

Each of the items on the list he provided can be hard to do which is why he offered no tangible solutions – just stating the obvious that everyone already knows while trying to sound smart and sell consulting hours.

Addressing The BS Gaps

I get it, listicles are fun, and addressing all of the smart-sounding things “experts” put into a LinkedIn post will take a while. However, I’m motivated, and I’m stubborn.

So, I’m going to pick off a couple of the items and give you executable ideas on how to improve things now – not after an extended consulting engagement.

Identify the best possible targets

This one is easy, and if you’re not doing it, start now. Go to LinkedIn Sales Navigator and find people who used to work at your current customers and have changed jobs recently (read this article for specifics on how to do it). These people know your product and don’t need to be sold on its utility. You can work with them to help them have a quick win at their new job.

If you want to go further into identifying the best possible targets, do another LinkedIn Sales Navigator search for people who follow your company’s page whose accounts have buyer’s intent. Message them and thank them for following your page. Ask if they’d like to know more than the obvious marketing stuff they’ve been seeing. Note to self – write an article on how to do this next…

We don’t target specific roles

Yes, over time, you’ll need to use your brain and write role-specific content which makes this one a little harder to offer a quick-fix, but it’s doable.

Consider the above scenario where someone follows your company on LinkedIn. Maybe they’re junior and not someone who will ultimately write the check for a 6-figure deal.

Message them on LinkedIn anyway. Get a meeting and show them the goods. This isn’t a waste of time. Why? Consider it account research. You’ll get very valuable, boots-on-the-ground information which will allow you to tailor your message as you punch higher. When you score the meeting with their boss, you’ll understand the problems you can solve for their team and speak in very real terms with them.

The junior people will help you target the higher ups. Sure, you can draft content that you think will resonate to the C-levels, but I kinda think that hearing it from the people who are experiencing the pain directly will be better than what you white boarded out a few weeks ago.

Boom. A tailored message for a specific role at a target company.

In Summary

I will add posts over time that go into specifics on how to do things that the experts call out as big problems. Because of the number of people who are popping into my feed, I’ll have no problem coming up with ideas.

If you’d like to re-think how you’re doing outbound demand generation since the spray-and-pray approach doesn’t work, please read my article on how I re-invented Demand Gen and made it a research function. It worked for us, and hopefully, there are some good nuggets in there on which you can execute.

Header photo by Muhammed Zafer Yahsi on Unsplash

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