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Playbook 15 March 2023

How to Make Your First Touch Relevant [Stand Out + Get Replies]

Rachel Goldstone
SDR Manager @ Cognism

Graphic about why you need personalized cold outreach

Hey, prospectors! I’m Rachel Goldstone, SDR Manager at Cognism. 👋


Cold outreach to a net new account is tough. Your potential prospect is super busy and probably has another 10 sales reps trying to sell them a solution.


You’ve got to make your messaging stand out by being relevant and focusing on how you can fix their problems. Not shove solutions and products in their face.


Your first touch outreach doesn’t need to suck. 🥱


Here are some quick and actionable insights into our approach at Cognism. This advice will help you make your outbound relevant and personalized.


We’ll look at:

  • Reaching different people in the target account.
  • What fact-finding info to dig for.
  • Sprinkling your personality into it.


Sure, we know it’s not easy. But if you want more meetings, you need to create value.

Prospect first touch playbook

Step 1 
Identify potential key stakeholders

This is nothing new. You’ve found an account that matches your ideal customer profile (ICP). 


Maybe they’ve shown an intent signal, you work with similar companies, or they are a lead from a marketing content download.


Your first step for any new account like this is to identify the key stakeholders. These are the people you need to speak to, ideally to provide the best path to making a sale.


We like to identify eight relevant people typically. This gives our SDRs a good balance of committing enough time to the account without going overboard.


LinkedIn Sales Navigator is great for finding the people you want to speak to. Now you just need to be able to contact them directly. 


👻 Check out Kaspr: We’ll give you the email addresses and phone numbers you need.

Step 2 
Dig for info on the ground level

This is the real money maker. 🫰


Identify the people within the account who will use your product daily. At Cognism, individual contributors (ICs) like SDRs, account executives (AEs), and marketers are our main users. They may not be the decision-makers, but they provide insight into the day-to-day tasks and challenges.


In this call with the IC’s we’re trying to find out about areas like:

  • Team size.
  • Tech stack.
  • Pain points.
  • Current processes.
  • Who would make the decision about what we sell.


This helps make your outreach stand out as value-based when you speak to a decision-maker. For example, you can find out what’s common ground between each user you’ve spoken with.


Who will be more relevant:

  1. An SDR using their only time with the decision-maker to ask basic questions.
  2. Or, an SDR who knows what is happening in the trenches of the business?


We’ve seen amazing success by shifting the focus to this on our cold calls.


Remember, if someone wants to find out about your business, they could easily do it at a time that suits them. So above all, you need to be relevant. This makes it about the prospect, which no other selling channel can do.


Take a relaxed approach to speaking with stakeholders that are users. Like you’re calling a friend. If your prospect already uses a similar product and there’s something they don’t like, they’ll happily vent. Also, users are likely to receive a fraction of the number of cold calls that senior leaders do.


Piers Mosselmans, one of our Senior Enterprise SDRs, likes to send a message or voice notes to any ICs to connect with him on LinkedIn. It’s all about keeping it quick and informal to match the tone.


Here’s an example of the first message Piers might send. 👇

Graphic of first message sent by Piers Mosselmans

Step 3 
Let’s sprinkle in some personality

So you’ve done your research and you’ve got the right messaging. Now let’s get your prospect's attention.


Here are some of my thoughts. 🎬



My top tip is to start on the phone. You've used a data provider (like Kaspr) to get their number. Now ask for 30 seconds of their time and deliver your pitch. Make sure it centers around the problems you found they face while digging.


The aim of your call is to deliver a relevant pitch, explore initial interest, and set up a more in-depth session at a convenient time.


Cold calling isn’t 100% fool-proof, though. This is where your other channels come in. I love using video and we see great success with this at Cognism. 


Here’s some top tips for making the best use of video and voice notes: Watch podcast episode.


We’ve built this awesome cadence that we see success with. Give it a go or try aspects of it, every account is different, but this structure has really helped us. 👇


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