How to Build A Sales Development Machine

elephant-159987_960_720So, you’ve decided that you’re ready for outbound sales development — what’s next? You probably need to set up the machine so that you can run your process.

An outbound sales program is only as good as the process behind it. You’re not going to get the most desirable results if you don’t have your stuff together on the backend — running a smooth process behind the scenes is equally as important as the outreach itself.

So, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

We strongly suggest setting up a secondary domain (that points to your primary domain) as well as a secondary email address for outbound efforts. Our go-to pattern is {{companyname}} (ie. — it still looks legit and it’s not too far off base from your actual website.

If you’re not using Google Apps (which automatically does it for you now #praisehands), don’t forget to set up DKIM and SPF on the new domain. Both provide additional authentication and give your sending domain more credibility.

We do these things for a few reasons, but number one is to protect your primary domain’s sending reputation. We’ve never run into a scenario of ending up on a blacklist, but that’s precisely why we take these precautions — we don’t want to.

Give it some love

Since you just set up a brand new domain, it’s a good idea to send a few test emails to warm up the sending reputation. Typically, a new Gmail account will get flagged as Spam if you do a mass send within the first 5 days of opening the account — you don’t want to start your outbound campaign from behind.

Want to know our secret? We made a handful of “dummy” inboxes and combined them all into one inbox (using Gmail filters and “Send As”) to use as a test list for prepping new domains. We then upload that list to our ESP, send it through our outbound process and interact with the dummy accounts as if they were actual prospects to warm up the new domain.

It requires a little more effort and planning on the frontend, but it makes a huge difference when you’re ready to start your larger campaign.

Get your sh*t together

One of the most critical pieces of the puzzle is to make sure that your data is usable — ie, you don’t want to send an email to someone at Coca-Cola and say, “Hi John D., Hope things are well at The Coca-Cola Company, Incorporated!” It’ll look like you put zero effort into reaching out to John, and he probably won’t respond…or he will, and it’ll be bad.

Equally important, your data needs to be easily accessible to you and your team — you need to know where everything is when you go back to make notes on the leads that have engaged along the way. Or, likewise, someone on your team should be able to look back at the level of interaction that you’ve had with a prospect if they’re planning to reach out to the same person.

We organize and label prospects in segments by job titles and types of companies/industries that we searched. We then group these prospects into “cohorts” so that we can track response rates and best messaging practices depending on who we’re reaching out to — ie, Message A worked really well for Managers and Directors, but Message B works better for CEOs and upper-level execs.

Organization is key to measuring results and tracking learnings, which is one of the reasons why you may be doing outbound in the first place — to learn.

Pick your poison

Aside from Salesforce (a “can’t-live-without” for a lot of companies), it can be hard to decide which tools to use to run your outbound sales program. At the very least, you’ll need a CRM and an ESP, but you may be able to squeeze by with an ESP that has some of the functionality of a CRM.

There are a handful of good, better, best ESPs to choose from, but the first thing you need to decide is what exactly you’re looking to get from your email sender. Most of the good platforms provide some level of Salesforce integration, but you’ll have to do some digging to find out how seamless it is.

Likewise, if it’s important that you don’t have to manually remove prospects from an email drip – ie, if a prospect responds in the middle of the campaign and you don’t want them to get the next email(s) – you should take that (and other similar features) into consideration when choosing your platform.

We won’t dive into too many specifics here, but we’ve dabbled in everything from Pardot to Hubspot, Outreach to Mailchimp, Pipedrive to SendGrid. Play around and see what works best for you and your team.

Pump up your crew

While you may think that a “sales development machine” implies software, you should also think of your human team as an integral part of your process.

Enabling your sales team by providing them with a concrete process will encourage consistency and autonomy — when everyone is operating on the same page, there is less room for error.

Before we start a new outbound campaign, we map out a plan for prospecting and messaging, as well as a backup plan to change direction in the case that something we originally banked on doesn’t work. This equips our team with confidence when it comes to making decisions and serves as an overall blueprint for our strategy.

When you break it down, the elephant doesn’t seem so big — well it is, but it isn’t. Let us know if you need any help!