When building your outbound engine, there are a number of strategies to use. The most rudimentary ones are defined as scorched earth, strategic strike, or a controlled burn. While each of these strategies has its benefits and deficits, the goal is to come to that middle ground where your organization can personalize enough, getting your prospects to answer your call while having enough volume to sustain and grow your company.
To understand when and why each strategy would be implemented, we need to look into each specific plan.
|Scorched Earth||Controlled Burn||Strategic Strike|
|Market maturity||mature||doesn’t matter||doesn’t matter|
|Typical tools required||Power dialer, Contact data provider, Engagement system||Engagement system, LinkedIn premium, contact data provider||LinkedIn (free works), personal phone, corporate email address|
|# Staff to make effective||>4||2-3||1|
|Cost to implement||$$$||$$||$|
|Time to implement||∞∞∞||∞∞||∞|
|Time to results||∞||∞∞||∞∞∞|
|Key upside||fast results||focused at scale||high conversion rates|
|Key downside||bad reputation||loss of personalization||slow growth|
Table of Contents
The scorched earth method makes no compromises and takes no prisoners. The scorched earth technique is the outbound technique most often found in the marketplace today as it is both easy to implement on a wide-scale and a strategy that will provide results quickly.
Think of the emails from that Nigerian prince you receive almost daily (granted, most of them are in your spam box). Sure they are annoying to most people. However, they are only looking for that one gullible victim.
Setting up the scorched earth system is costly and labor-intensive.
Think of it. An organization needs to have a lead engagement system like ConnectLeader with a power dialer and a top-tier contact data provider like SalesIntel that keeps funneling fresh new leads into the system daily (if not more often) cadence. Beyond that, an organization needs to staff up, ensuring that any responses are attacked quickly, and BDRs are hammering the phones calling that sea of prospects.
All in all, cost and staffing are not even the most considerable downside to a scorched earth campaign.
The biggest downside is the high volume of unqualified leads that are being pummeled by your engagement teams’ emails and calls.
With so many unqualified leads being targeted, the number of people clicking “spam” on those emails will undoubtedly hurt your website’s credibility. As well, having your BDRs being hung up on and told they are speaking to the wrong people continually day in and day out will wear on their motivations to sit in the hot seat.
Communication in a scorched earth campaign is necessarily vague and general.
Typically emails include something that attempts at personalization at scale. Verbiage might be along the lines of “Sales directors of mid-sized companies” or “marketing directors whose role includes increasing website visitors.”
More savvy tech stack operators will craft emails with fields depending on the ICP and persona dropped into the cadence. While not optimal, this is a crude way of personalization and does tend to work better than no personalization at all.
So why would a company make a scorched earth campaign?
In a word, results.
When I arrived at a previous company, we had over a thousand contacts in our database that had been pulled from event lists, website downloads, webinars, purchased lists, etc… The data of these leads, company demographics, and persona information was scattershot at best. In other words, this database was PERFECT for a two month run at a scorched earth campaign.
The BDRs and I emailed and dialed down all those leads.
We got a lot of “no”s however, we did get a couple of “yes”s.
After a relatively short time, we had a cleaned database and all our core engagement metrics. In short, we had our engagement model. From there, the BDRs had two ways of moving forward; they could either drop more leads into the funnel and run the scorched earth campaign harder or spend a little more time doing research and ensuring that they were choosing their targets. Obviously, they opted for the second choice as it was far less demoralizing.
In stark contrast to the scorched earth campaign is a strategic strike.
The strategic strike is a slow, methodical, and highly effective way of ensuring that every prospect targeted is someone who would benefit from your solution. In short, the target of the strategic strike is someone singled out, zeroed in on, and purposefully wooed.
As each prospect in a strategic strike is curated, any outreach or communication is highly personalized.
Each email and voice mail to the selected prospect speaks to them, about them, with respect to them, and when the opportunity permits, about how your solution will benefit them.
In short, emails should answer the question, “why me and why now?”
When gifts are used, they, too, are personalized.
No Starbucks cards here; the gift is as bespoke as possible. Recently many reps are using @Cameo getting a prospect’s favorite celebrity to make personalized appeals to their prospects.
Are you looking for ways to personalize your outreach?
Here is an article on how to rip through a LinkedIn profile.
In short, for a strategic strike to work the way it should, ninety percent, or more, of any message is uniquely tailored. To do this requires a reasonable amount of research. There are no shortcuts for strategic strike prospecting; however, the more you do, the more efficient you can become at finding those nuggets you can personalize off. For this reason, a strategic strike is neither cheap nor fast to implement per the universal equation; time + money = information, where your research team needs compensation for the time it takes finding the information.
So why do so many companies espouse the strategic strike methodology?
It is effective.
How is it useful? The strategic strike requires far fewer prospects in the funnel, results in a much higher conversion rate, and due to the prospect selection process, the churn rates are also much lower.
The controlled burn is the just-right approach for prospecting, not too costly, not long to implement, personalized, but not overly personalized, that may cannibalize a volume prospecting effort.
So why doesn’t everyone do this just right approach right off the bat?
Herein is the largest issue with the controlled burn, long failure time.
Looking at the strategic strike, people WILL respond to the very personalized and direct messages they receive.
They may not respond in a manner that results in them entering your pipeline. However, that is not just acceptable; that is expected. When a targeted persona turns you down, that is valuable intelligence allowing you and your team to tune even further towards your perfect prospect faster. Once you get a reasonable amount of positive responses from your prospects, you can open your acceptable prospecting valve, allowing more and more prospects through.
On the other hand, the scorched earth method will result in many data quickly. With the volume of hits and misses coming it, it will be easy to tune your machine away from the misses, towards the hits, and eventually come to a controlled burn level.
Merely running a controlled burn will provide hits and misses at a reasonable rate; however tuning will be a lot slower than with a scorched earth approach as it will take time to get to statistical significance. It will take longer than a strategic strike as many prospects won’t
respond, again lengthening the time it will take your organization to tune.
Getting to a controlled burn is the goal for every company as it perfectly balances the personalization needed to get a prospect’s attention with the volume required for growth. Finding the right target is hard. Coupling data science to clarify, identify, and isolate your ICP and person with an outreach strategy makes this process flow more manageable.
Deciding on which strategy you want to follow to identify your best prospects depends on several factors that include market maturity, size of your company (even big companies wrestle with finding the right clients!), time to revenue tolerance, and the comfort level of the investment in time and/or money they are willing to spend.