When I was a kid, my parents used to tell me that it's all about who you know. Not sure if it's due to the fact that I come from a post-communist country. But I remember getting extremely angry whenever I heard this phrase. As if knowing someone was the only way to succeed.
Now (almost 15 years later), I can finally say —
“Sorry Mom and Dad, but you were wrong. It's not about who you know. It's about who you can reach.”
In the past few months, we've generated over 30 million unique sales leads for our clients all around the world. And this is what we learned…
1. The most difficult industries for sales are the ones which are the most resistant to change
At Spaceship we call them the Dinosaur Industries. Three worst performing ones:
1. Real Estate
2. Human Resources
Normally, when you send out a cold email—people will either ignore you, reply or ask you to stop emailing them. Whereas, when you email a RE or HR agency, sometimes you will even get a straight up F** OFF.
Those three industries also show the worst open rate / clickthrough and response rate from all the 40+ industries we've analysed. I might be a bit biased, but I really do think — it's very much connected to the fact that all those industries will get disrupted quite soon.
2. The sweet spot for email outreach are SMEs with ~50 employees
For most B2B businesses we've worked with the sweet spot are companies which have around 50 employees. This is the case for most industries, especially for IT, SaaS, and Marketing. This obviously also very much depends on the product/service you are offering. However, in general we see that;
1. Companies of this size decide relatively fast. And more importantly, have some disposable income / revenue.
2. With larger enterprises — the sales cycle takes a lot longer. As you sometimes end up in an endless forwarding spiral from one department to another.
3. If you target small enterprises or new start-ups, you will get a high open-rate and clickthrough. However, if you don't offer something for free (trial, report, etc.) — you won't see many conversions.
3. Some positive surprises
When we started Spaceship, we were always very hesitant to generate B2C leads. Reason being that sending unsolicited emails to personal @gmails is considered illegal in most countries. However, we have found out that (in countries where it's legal) B2C cold emails work surprisingly well. This is especially the case with; Fin-tech and Investment Platforms, Kickstarter products, and Innovative Marketplaces/Services. Moreover, we have seen that building custom audiences from highly-targeted leads yields better results than regular FB or Twitter campaigns.
4. Lessons learned the hard way
- If you are generating leads — don't ever rely just on one source. We utilise 35 different sources and we are continuously discovering new ones. If you rely just on one source (like LinkedIn or Twitter), you will hit the ceiling very soon.
- Generating leads in developing countries is a nightmare. By now we've been generating leads in~150 different countries. And I can honestly say that I would rather generate 1 million leads in US, than 50 leads in a 3rd world country.
- (Company) Databases are dead. And I am not even talking about the old school company database websites. You would be surprised if you knew how much data from Angel.co, Dealroom.co or CrunchBase is actually out of date.
- One third of companies I've been in contact with have no idea who is their usual customer. You wouldn't believe how many times I've heard: “my usual customer / target audience is someone who wants my product”.
- Reject controversial businesses. When we launched, we couldn't afford to be picky about who we work with. And I do regret working for some clients. But I am happy that we rejected generating leads for Rehabs, Webcam studios and couple other questionable businesses :)
If you got this far — I believe you deserve something from me. So reach out to us if you would like to get a FREE REPORT on your target audience size ;) [email@example.com]