How Salesforce and Udemy used outbound lead generation to create growth

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Leads are the raw material that the account executives need for crafting beautiful sales. I don’t know if anybody ever said that before but it’s something that rings true to me. In my experience, the difference between reaching the quota and feeling frustrated is directly linked to the amount and quality of opportunities with which a salesperson is provided.

Two companies, Salesforce and Udemy, knew that when they implemented outbound lead generation methods to scale their growth. In Salesforce’s case, the outbound lead generation was directly related to increasing their sales. In Udemy’s case, it was to find early adopters and course teachers who would become the platform’s direct suppliers.

In this blog post, I want to show you how outbound lead generation and sales development can be used to boost key growth metrics in ways that are not as easily possible through other methods. I will do that by focusing on the above-mentioned case studies that are extremely relevant not only for sales but also for expanding your supply-side stakeholders.

Salesforce – B2B customer acquisition

Since acquiring customers through the method of hiring more salespeople was lacking the speed and scalability required for hyper growth, Salesforce turned to outbound lead generation with the main goal of consistently closing large numbers of big deals in a relatively short amount of time and with limited resources.

In order to achieve that, Salesforce turned to Aaron Ross who, together with his team, created a low cost, scalable and expandable sales process dubbed Cold Calling 2.0. What they did was to create a flow of downward referrals from C-level management to the end user. They first emailed C-level executives within companies, kindly asking them to connect them with the right person (one who could find value in the product) in their organisation for a first conversation. The team of Aaron Ross was responsible for creating these opportunities with the decision makers. They handed over the opportunities to Salesforce’s account executives who then closed the deals.

In short, the whole outbound lead generation process relied on sending well-written mass emails and follow-ups to high-level executives, get the right referrals and then convert the latter from sales leads into clients.

Key takeaway

When it comes to sales, out-of-the-box approaches are the winning ones. For a startup or a company that’s just taking off, resources are always limited so hiring more salespeople to close deals in a short time-frame will soon prove unsustainable. Sales staff need to be trained about the product and the process which requires time and, of course, salaries. The approach that Aaron Ross deployed significantly cut down the amount of time required to train a sales staff by allowing them to deal with more opportunities in a shorter amount of time. In order to get an inimitable advantage in sales, what you need is a bold and creative approach and a tool that would empower your existing sales team to deliver faster, higher qualified leads. If that means reaching out to hundreds of C-level executives out there just to get directed to the right people, so be it!

Before moving on to the next case study, I would like to say that although the downward referral tactic proved to be invaluable for Salesforce and hundreds of companies afterwards, it now suffers from being overused. In sales, it pays to do something others are not yet doing.

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