| Jun 5, 2017 | | 4 min read

Cracking Local – Social Selling with Samantha McKenna


When it comes to sales prospecting and social selling it’s beginning to feel like good old fashioned email is in the midst of a late career renaissance. While those of us in the industry trend towards getting all abuzz over the newest flavour of the month, email has been like the Tim Duncan of digital marketing tools. Everyday quietly going to work, lunchpail in hand, bringing home championships.

This is especially true for sales teams using email as a cold prospecting tool. When you are trying to start a conversation with a prospect, the ubiquity and capacity for personalization that email offers is unmatched. Of course, email is just a tool, and a tool is only as good as the person that yields it. Prospecting is still considered one of the biggest challenges salespeople face, and with people averaging 88 emails a day, the question is how can salespeople get the most out of their cold prospecting?

I’m glad you asked.

Just last week I had the great opportunity to talk with sales expert Samantha McKenna on her approach to cold prospecting via email and how to crush social selling in the B2B space. Samantha is the Senior Sales Director Regional Vice President of Sales at ON24 (she is such a rockstar she actually got a promotion while I was writing this blog, I’m not joking). Samantha has some interesting takes on the best way to cold prospect and she even brings some ideas to the table that stand in the face of convention.

We had a great chat on everything from the deep tactics of her approach to what we are watching on YouTube right now. Check out the full episode below. Here are some of my favorite things Samantha had to say.

How the cold prospecting and social selling process begins

Almost like a sales version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, the goal here is to find those prospects with which you share a connection, and then mention that connection in the subject line.

Obviously LinkedIn is the best resource for doing the leg work. But equally important to the social platform is leveraging those people in your company with the widest networks.

In the podcast, Sam talks about how her company ON24 does a weekly team format social selling power hour. For the hour, each account executive will bring two prospects they are looking to get in touch with but have been struggling to find their in. As a team, they work together to search for personal connections between their company and the prospects.  

The first time they tried this, they booked nine presentations for the 60 minutes spent. Wow!   

Why empathy is the foundation of outstanding personalization

More than just taking an empathic approach to the readability of your email, Samantha encourages salespeople to go deeper and consider a multitude of factors when crafting their cold outreach emails.

In the episode, Samantha recounts a time when, just before contracts were signed, both the champion for ON24 and the CMO of the prospect business left the company. Instead of waiting for the conversation to hopefully restart once the new CMO and, in this case, the VP of North American marketing got settled, Samantha and her team started doing research. Understanding that these two people would be starting in new  professional situations, they put together “welcome” gifts with personalized written notes welcoming them to the professional community.

Obviously this is certainly above and beyond capacity for every single client. But it is a great example of personalized thoughtfulness standing out and winning the day.

Why you should keep your subject line the same

My instinctual reaction here was to disagree. If someone uses the same email subject line repeatedly doesn’t that get a bit pestering? Here’s how Samantha explains it “The second email is often the most impactful...so keeping the same subject line is important, people will start to get familiar with that subject line, and if you always have a value driven message within those emails, you will break those individuals at some point.”

I suppose the emphasis here is really on value proposition of your email. If you don’t do an excellent job presenting value, then using the same subject line will get annoying.

Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why TED Talk”

This is the number one recommendation from Samantha on what she is finding inspirational these days. This 2009 TEDx talk from Simon Sinek flips the script on how brand loyalty is created and affirmed. This video is certainly making the rounds in our product marketing division, so kudos to Samantha for the recommend.

Time to turn the heat up on cold prospecting

Cold prospecting certainly isn’t the most glamorous part of sales. But what caught my attention from Samantha’s advice was that the same tactics that appear to be most effective are also the ones that seem the most fun. Things like getting the team together for a “social selling power hour” or doing a little extra research to make sure you stand out from the crowd, are both unique and thoughtful. These are things you can get excited about, and they all set the table for an effective first touch.

Keep in touch with Samantha McKenna on twitter @smkenna719

For even more great sales content check our blog on Sales Pipeline Management and Outbound Marketing

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About the Author

Reilly Forbes makes content from the great white north and is a storyteller at heart. When he isn’t writing he can be found toiling away in recording studio working on sound projects of all kinds.

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