Automate Your SDRs With Outbound Ops

Mar 14, 2017

…so they can focus on quality.

Outbounds Ops will automate the tedious work on “Autopilot”.

Adopting Outbound Ops is a multi-step process. When fully implemented, it becomes a scalable, dynamic processes for targeting and copy generation. It also includes automating large-scale data wrangling, which may reduce the need for a traditional Sales Development Rep (SDR) function.

“Automation and Anxiety”, Economist (2016, Jun 25)

Why Are SDRs So Vulnerable?

In 2013, Carl Frey and Michael Osborne looked at computerization across more than 700 occupations and found that 47% of American workers were at risk. They cautioned:

“[…workers in transport and logistics, office support, sales and services…face a high risk of computerization.]”

SDRs become redundant because modern outbound requires skills which computers and APIs are particularly good at — namely: sourcing, cleaning and enriching data. In fact, the average SDR spends 50% of their time collecting and preparing unruly data. This is incredibly inefficient since:

  1. Most sales people aren’t good at data wrangling.
  2. 90% of data wrangling is repetitive tasks which domain specific tools stand to automate.

So, What Happens to SDRs?

Fewer total SDRs will be required and their responsibilities will evolve. You’ll quickly see SDRs drift toward strategy and messaging and away from data and systems, which should be run centrally. When Outbound Ops teams are ramped, they’re consumed with data work streams which allow SDRs to focus on copy gradation, designing visuals and fielding replies (tasks which computers can’t do…yet). This allows sales leaders to increase pipeline per SDR and reduce their SDR:AE ratio over time.

For those new to Outbound Ops, here are ways to accelerate this shift at your company:


Unleash Google Sheets: Get comfortable generating and managing outbound data in Sheets. Avoid wasteful data normalization tasks by using the Outbound Ops Toolkit, APIs, and formulas. This includes the capability to source, clean and enrich large volumes of data quickly, which allows sales to focus on targeting strategy (why and how to email whom) and content (what to send).

Prioritize Data Hygiene: Staging data for outbound can be tedious. Sales reps spend time struggling with the same tasks as their colleagues. First, centralize data manipulation to avoid disparate or competing work streams. Second, ensure sales ops and sales reps have the right tools to overcome data roadblocks themselves.

Data-driven Hooks: Use formulas and proxy data to dynamically create subjects, opening hooks and other copy at scale. Firmographic and people data are used as classifiers (seniority, geo, vertical, tech, etc.) to inform output (GIF below). The best automated hooks involve proxy data so specific to your market, you will collect it yourself. A good sniff test: Would your best rep send this same message after manually researching this account?

Get Creative: APIs can dynamically swap logos, graphics and text into images, presentations or GIFs. Each prospect can receive a different visual since some outbound tools support dynamic images. Companies whose products are easily crystallized with images/GIFs should invest here. Separately, Google just released Slides API which teams are using to automate decks.

Triangulate with LinkedIn: Whether it’s to craft a custom hook (do), play profile footsie (maybe), or creepily add strangers (don’t), visit your prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Campaign performance goes up slightly when viewing every profile in concert with outbound. To make this easier, you can now generate LinkedIn URLs fast.

Here come CCs: Some outbound platforms offer ‘Dynamic CC’, which means you can target prospects and CC their team to sell across organizations at scale. CEOs and VPs can reliably unstick deals with the right targeting/messaging. This is powerful since prospects assume it’s not automated and because social pressure works. If you have something great to say, copy their team.

Get Organized: Establish a standardized process for campaign management, planning and design, staging and iteration. Trello and Asana are both good options.

Testing and Iteration framework: Develop a reliable way to test and iterate on campaign hypotheses. A/B test subject lines, CTAs, and everything in between. Religiously track open, reply and meeting rates by persona. The largest boost to outbound results comes from determining, very specifically, how your diction and syntax perform by persona.

What’s Next?

The shift toward automation will only accelerate, so don’t sit still. Email will eventually fade as a reliable channel, but until then teams are embracing tools which reduce “data janitor” cycles and expand the intelligence 0f their outbound efforts.

With Outbound Ops and the Outbound Ops Toolkit, our clients and sales leaders everywhere are hiring fewer SDRs and, in some cases, scaling outbound without hiring SDRs at all.


Estimated Open/Reply Increase by Multiplier

Waterfall chart of estimated increase in open/reply by multipler