A sales campaign (also known as an “outbound sales plan”) is a series of pre-planned actions your team takes to convert a defined segment of prospects into customers within a set period of time.
These actions could include making phone calls, sending emails or even paper mail.
For example, you could launch a “sign up now, get your first three months free” campaign set to run between June 1st and 30th with your target audience being new (people you haven’t sold to before) small to medium-sized businesses (aka. "SMBs"). During this time, you call the leads that match your target audience three times a day (or until they pick up) and send them emails once a day.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Well, not exactly. Not all sales campaigns are created equal, and some are more effective than others. In this article, we’ll go over how you can create killer sales campaigns that’ll make you stand out among competitors (and help you rake in more money):
Step 1: Define your goal and time frame.
The first step is to answer two questions: what do you want your sales campaign to achieve—and how soon?
Some examples of campaign goals could be:
- Sell 100 of your new product in the next three months
- Upsell 60% of your new customers onto an add-on product (ongoing)
- Acquire 30K new customers within the next year
Your goal and timeline will serve as the framework for your sales campaign.
Step 2: Pick your audience.
Sales campaigns aren’t something you want to mass-execute, and here’s why:
- They’re expensive. It costs your company a lot of money to put together and execute sales campaigns (salary costs, time costs, tech costs…) so you want to make sure the people you’re targeting are actually likely to buy your product.
- Poorly targeted campaigns can annoy customers. Imagine getting bombarded with a series of emails telling you to buy a lawnmower when you live in a condo—that’s what it feels like to be a customer on the other end of a poorly targeted sales campaign. Not only will you annoy them, they’re also likely to unsubscribe from receiving communications from you—or even ditch your company altogether.
If you have an ideal customer profile (ICP) already, it’s time to pull that bad boy out. If you don’t, here’s how to make one.
(Your ICP describes your business’s “perfect customer,” or the type of person most likely to buy from you.)
Need an ICP?
Download the worksheet above to have it handy whenever you need it.
Once you’ve got your ICP handy, decide if you’re going to be selling to new customers or existing ones:
1. Selling to new customers - why to do it:
Acquiring new customers is always exciting because it means your company just got a little bigger. For sales reps, it means they get the bragging rights of being able to say they contributed to that growth.
Besides instant growth, there are loads of benefits of selling to new customers, including:
- Increased market share
- Making company stakeholders and execs happy
- Reduced market entry barriers
2. Selling to existing customers - why to do it:
First, a few fun facts:
- It costs five times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones
- Repeat customers tend to spend 30% more than new customers
- Upping your customer retention game by just 5% can increase your profits 25-95%
- You have a 60-70% chance of successfully selling to an existing customer, and only a 5-20% chance with a new one
- In total, U.S. companies lose over $130 billion per year due to preventable customer churn
As these stats clearly show, customer retention is not just something you do when you have time. But according to one study, almost half (44%) of companies actually rely more on acquisition (which is more expensive). There’s huge revenue potential here that often goes untapped by too many companies that don’t put enough focus on retention.
So, don’t get fooled into thinking sales campaigns are only to attract new customers. Your existing customer base is your business’s biggest asset—use it.
Learn strategies to reduce churn and keep customers longer with this handbook.
Step 3: Segment your audience.
If you only split your sales campaign into new or existing customers, you’re still going to have a very large, untargeted list of people to send to. Remember the lawnmower example? You want to avoid negative experiences like that and instead make the people who open your email think, “Wow, this email is speaking directly to me.”
You want your sales campaign to be directly relevant to the people it’s reaching. Enter: segmenting.
To determine which of your customers (or potential customers) are the best candidates for your sales campaign offer, you’ll need the following data on them:
- Their demographic info like age, location, title, industry
- Their behavioral info like how often they make new purchases in your product category, how much they typically spend, and any past purchases
Where to find this information:
- If they’re brand new leads, this info should be incorporated into the lead capture form they came in from (and ideally set up to automatically be entered into your CRM).
An example of a lead capture form on Intercom
- If they’re existing customers, you can find this information in your CRM.
An example of how a lead would look in Copper
Once you’ve gathered this information, you can see which groups of people are your biggest prospects.
For example, maybe you find out that 80% of the leads that enter your CRM are marketing managers working at SMB firms in the Seattle area. Using a tool like Datanyze Insider, you find out they use high-end programs, indicating they can likely afford your product.
They also don’t have something similar already (or if they do, you can easily argue why your product is the better choice with the help of some competitive battle cards—download a template to create your own here).
An example of a competitive battle card
Your segment could then be: SMBs based out of Seattle and the surrounding area that currently use at least one high-end product and are not currently using a competitor of yours (meaning their need is unfulfilled).
Datanyze Insider in action: go to any website and the extension will brief you on that company instantly.
So, that’s how segmentation works but don’t worry, you don’t have to segment your leads manually. Your CRM should have a filter function to narrow down your contact list. Here's how it looks in Copper:
Key takeaway: The more segmented your leads are, the better chance of success your sales campaign has.
Step 4: Set up your sales campaign + add your leads.
Heads up, this is the hardest step, but once you get it down, you’re golden! It’s now time to set up your sales campaign. For this, you’ll need the following:
- CRM (e.g., Copper)
- Email automation software (e.g., MailChimp, Constant Contact)
- A sales cadence customized to your campaign goal and segmented audience(s)
First up, you’re going to want to nail down your sales cadence. This could be a series of emails you send out, each triggered by certain actions. For example, if the lead doesn’t respond to X email within three days, that could trigger Y email to go out.
Here’s some helpful information for writing sales emails:
The elements of a good sales campaign email:
- Have an awesome subject line. Need ideas? Read this.
- Get right to the point. Your email should interest/benefit the lead in some way. Make that interest your opening (in other words, don’t wait until the end to talk about how your product can help them solve their business goal; they might not read that far).
- Keep it short and sweet. Your leads aren’t interested in reading your life story in your emails—keep them to four or five sentences, tops.
- Be human (i.e., not a robot). Please, for the love of all things sales, don’t include words like “regards,” “cordially,” or—worst of all—“to whom it may concern” in your emails. Seriously, who wants to reply to that?
- Include a call-to-action. What do you want your lead to do once they’ve read your email? Make that clear in your CTA.
To demonstrate, let’s go back to our “sign up now, get your first three months free” campaign example. Let’s pretend you sell a social media monitoring tool. Your target audience is marketing managers who work at SMB firms based in the Seattle area who have social media accounts but are currently managing their profiles manually or through weak, freemium software.
Your initial campaign email could look something like this:
Hey [First name],
I just followed [Lead’s business’s name] on Facebook and love your recent posts on [insert something to prove you actually read it]. But I also noticed the timestamps on your posts are typically around 9 am PST—which makes sense since you’re in Seattle, but the majority of your audience is located on the east coast, meaning they’re busy eating lunch while your posts are going up.
With [your product], you can pre-schedule your posts to be published and reach a wider audience before your team’s even awake—and that’s just one feature.
I have a few more ideas that I think could really help up your social game. Do you have 10 minutes to chat this Wednesday or Thursday?
It’s really no different than any other sales email, the only difference is that it’s part of a collection of emails targeted at a specific audience with a specific goal in mind.
An example of a sales cadence
Once you’ve got your sales cadence and email templates down, set up a series of workflow automations you want your CRM to do to facilitate your sales campaign.
For example, when an opportunity reaches a particular stage in the pipeline (like when a prospect replies to your request to schedule a meeting), your CRM can be set-up to create a task for you to send them a follow-up email.
Continue to add automated actions for each email in your sales cadence. (Learn about workflow automations in Copper here.)
Next, it’s time to add your chosen leads to your campaign. This is where your email automation software can come in super handy. If you have your CRM contacts integrated with MailChimp, for example, this step is practically done for you already if you use one of their pre-built segments.
Last but not least, launch your campaign! Follow the steps in MailChimp (or whatever email automation service you’re using) to activate it.
Pro-tip: If you’re running an ongoing campaign (one without a set end time), repeat this last step at the end of each business day to ensure your new qualified leads are added to it as well.
Bonus: Have a lot of leads? Do some A/B testing.
If your campaign is doing well and your list of leads is long, you can A/B test different aspects of your campaign to see which version proves more effective. This will help you improve future campaigns. Some examples of campaign variables you can test are:
- Number of touches (emails, phone calls)
- Email subject lines
- The content of the touches themselves (try sending two versions of the same email with slightly different language)
- Number of time between touches
- Calls to action (a.k.a. “CTAs;” try assertive “Sign up” vs. more passive “Learn more” CTAs to see which one gets you more clicks in your emails, for example)
Something as simple as the layout of a landing page or sales email can affect conversion. A/B testing helps you find the winning variables.
Never A/B tested before? Check out this blog post from VWO.
Step 5: Adjust your sales campaign as needed.
Once your sales campaign has been running for a while (at least a week), you’ll have gathered enough data to draw some insights and analyses from its performance.
If you’ve run sales campaigns in the past, you’ll have benchmarks to compare your results to. If this is your first sales campaign, however, that’s cool too—start tracking now and then compare your results throughout the life of your campaign.
How close did your sales campaign bring you to reach that goal you set in the first step? Are you on track to get there within the timeline you defined?
If you’re on track, awesome! If not, make tweaks to your sales campaign based on your results. For example, if your sales cadence only consists of three emails but the majority of your leads respond at the third one, your cadence may be too short. Try bumping it up to four or five touches instead and see if that makes a difference.
Or, another example: if your opportunity-to-win ratio is high, but your email open rate is low (they’re not opportunities if they haven’t even opened your email), something as simple as improving your subject lines can have a big impact.
Of course, it’s also possible your goal was unrealistically ambitious, which is especially possible if you don’t have previous sales data to refer to when planning your campaign. All good, that’s what this step is for—analyzing and adjusting. (And learning. Lots of learning.)
Empower your team to execute sales campaigns well with these resources.
Like we mentioned above, modern tools available to salespeople today enable us to create sales campaigns more powerful than we could’ve put together even a few years ago.
Make sure your team not only knows how sales campaigns work, but also has the tools to craft stellar ones. To recap, the tech we mentioned in this article that your team should have in their arsenal are:
- CRM (to effectively manage your relationships with leads and customers)
- Email automation software (to save you a lot of time and headache and provide better user experiences to your customers)
- Datanyze Insider (makes finding technical information about companies easy—and it’s free)
- LinkedIn (to connect with prospects as well as find people-related information about companies like key stakeholders, org structure, and decision-makers)
And some more useful sales resources:
- How to create a sales cadence
- How to write open-worthy email subject lines
- How to craft effective sales emails
- How to conduct sales calls that aren’t cringey
- This blog post
We recommend bookmarking this page or saving the above list of resources and sharing it with your team :)