Unreachable Prospects

Unreachable Prospects

Recently, we had a client where the salespeople suggested that they only want to talk to people like ‚Global Head of Production‘ and not just individual production managers.  My response and numbers to back it up got me thinking about which cohorts of desirable targets is not suitable for outbound lead generation and how you might reach them.  There are two major classes of very hard to reach.  First, let me set some baseline data.

Technical Leaders (CIO, CTO, VP Engineering)

We know from experience that this audience prefers to research on their own rather than accept an invitation with a stranger.  The actual data indicates that they are 25% less likely to respond to an email.  Once they respond, then their meeting rate or positive signal rate is somewhat similar.

As a consequence, we try to reach out to non technical leaders with messages that would get enough of their interest to refer us to a technical leader.  Nearly 40% of the meetings we generate are triggered by internal referrals.  Ideally, we want the first meeting to be with a non technical business side sponsor.  What works worst of all is tools and services for engineering– it is nearly impossible to create a reason a non-engineer would care enough to try to influence the engineering teams tool or service choices (e.g. selling DWH technologies to business people).  Beyond outbound, because this cohort prefers research, inbound (SEO content) or webNR type strategies work well as a complement or alternative to a difficult outbound mission.

Global Head of …

In the case of our client’s salespeople, we always reach out higher than we expect to talk.  We are counting on the fact that senior management are good at delegating and this type of referral down is a strong signal to the receiver that they should consider our meeting invitation seriously.  However, getting a first meeting with a Global Head of Production per the statistics: First, these head-of roles are less than 5% of the total similar management roles.  Rarely are there enough to run volume style outbound campaigns.  Next, when we look at response rates, they are 6x less likely to respond and far more likely to unsubscribe than their ’normal‘ production management.

Global head of production at Bosch does not take first meetings with regional sales representatives and for sure not based on a cold email.  The only way a regional sales representative could get such a first meeting, would be if it was a social event like a game of golf or a Lion’s club event.  Mostly, sales reps are going to need to ‚earn‘ the audience with this level of decision maker by going through others.  Reaching out to them probably still makes sense because they will likely refer others, but expecting them to accept a meeting themselves is not realistic.  For such highly specific individuals, consider also using introduction agents (the older guys at the conferences that seem to know everyone) or tracking people who might be able to make a warm introduction.


Other groups have limited budget or influence.  Eg. HR has little discretion to spend on employee benefits or Public sector if you are a foreign company.  The key is figuring out what is the business benefit and who, with authority, needs to hear that message.  This is more of a problem for new products still working on achieving product-market-fit.


Otherwise, we see results in nearly every industry and segment in DACH B2B.  The key to success is generating curiosity– selling the meeting, not the final product.

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