How to Create Better Sales Emails: Will Allred, Lavender

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Most emails from salespeople are terrible.

They're impersonal, irrelevant, and ineffective.

They often don't reflect a prospect's interests or needs.

Lavender wants to change that with AI-powered technology that lets salespeopole write better emails.

On this episode of Marketing Spark, Lavender co-founder Will Allred talks about why salespeople struggle with email and how they can be more successful.

We also explore the new sales landscape and the adjustments that salespeople needed to make during COVID when they couldn't meet with prospects of attend conferences.

And we talk about Lavender's use of LinkedIn and TikTok to connect with customers.

Most sales outreach emails are terrible. They're often in personal and reek of desperation. There's little or no research. It feels like a high volume based activity. If you throw it up Spaghetti at the wall, you hope that some of it will still well. Frankly, there has to be a better one. salespeople need to take a new and different approach to outreach and email that is more personal and relevant. To better understand the sales outreach world. I'm excited to talk to will all read, founder of Lavender. Welcome to marketing spark hey. It's great to be I appreciate that. Why don't we start with the story of lavender? Like many startups, it's a love child, which emerged from a company called sorter in Atlanta. Who is sorder? What was the pain that you were experiencing and what led to the decision to start lavender? I can get some quick background. Lavender is a chrome extension that helps sellers at every stage of the writing process write a better email faster. Now how we got there is sort of the interesting woven path of interesting moments, I would say. At the time, this is two thousand and eighteen, I was working in consulting firm in Atlanta, marketing firm. I went to Hackathon and Atlanta where I met my I now co founder, William Balance, who's the CEO lavender. He pitched this idea of why don't we take people's digital footprints and use that to create smarter segmentations within our marketing campaigns? Can we segment a marketing list by more than demographics or behaviors and actually try to get an understanding of why people are doing what they do so that we can be smarter about what we create and put in front of them? Really we could personalize that entire digital experience to so much more in such a better way. There so much great research around how people think and preference towards content, imagery, etc. I was immediately drawn to the idea. I had been working on running campaigns for brands and so I saw the pain of I have this superficial idea of quote. You have an idea of this like individual in a box, but you don't really see how they see. You don't know if they're introverted, you don't know if they're open to new experiences. We built that out for about two years working with brands like Yamaha gravity blankets, really helping them think smarter about how they went to market. One of the things that came across along the way is you're in this marketing seat to keep with the persona. We're twenty two year old paid media analyst and your job is to put these ads goother you don't know the personality science, you don't know how to do those things. So we built tech that's now pretty much underlying lavender, that would help you analyze the content to make sure it's going to the right prospect now fast forward a little further. It's March of two thousand and twenty. This whole thing happened and all of a sudden we start getting phone calls from all of our leads, all of our customers, basically being like hey, we're cutting marketing budget, were shutting this thing down. We're all we have like a couple months a runway and we have no customers. So that's not good. What are we going to do? We didn't really know how this thing was going to weather out. We didn't know what the next trend was going to be. We were up in New York all together at the time and will my cofounder, but was scrolling through tech crunch came across an article on Linkedin shutting down support for sales navigator within Gmail part of the Microsoft acquisition, and we were like, we've got the data...

...connections. This could be an easy thing that we bring to the surface for people and we could probably make some cash to hold the business over well. We decided to strap the content analytics of the back to give you a sense for how your email was written and how it is going to come across Allah lavender. We started showcasing that some folks around late May of two thousand and twenty. Got Some really positive feedback, stuff that we'd never heard before with our prior product. We were able to start iterating on it. Over the course of that summer, we work with some investors and advisors to start testing different markets that we could go after with this product. One of the first ones was recruiters, job seekers, customer success. We tried several different avenues and we kind of knew sales was an obvious but we wanted to make sure it wasn't until late July, I want to say, of two thousand and twenty, when Nick Bennett, can't remember if he' still over at Alice, but he posted on linkedin about lavender and all of a sudden we just saw our install take off, mean relative takeoff. Right. We're like, what's going on? We all send had this realization sales people love it. Sales people have to talk about it, they love to use it. Let's lean into this. We started building what we refer to as the most helpful sales email assistant on planet. Couple questions. What is why do you think it resonated with sales people in particular? What were they doing wrong or what was frustrating them about using email, which is obviously was and still was, a very, very powerful tool for sales? There's several trends going on that had that impact. One I would talk to is the market as a whole. So you have everybody going remote, everyone is away from people within the office. I remember when I was at the console thing firm, I would look over my shoulder and be hey, do you mind giving this email? Look. Well, we no longer had that like easy, in person, frictionless feedback. The other one is you have a time in which the amount of emails going out the door more than doubled. You had a lot of outbound going into people's inboxes and, as a result, the amount of response that people were getting almost got cut in half. As some data that help spot put out, what sellers used to be able to rely on was the volume knob. They you crank the volume knob and it would just be okay. That security blanket disappeared pretty much overnight, where all of a sudden we overwhelmed our readers within the inbox and they weren't able to triash through all that inbound. People stop seeing as many replies. That would be number two. And then the third is really, if you think about it, Howard taught to write in school. We're not taught to write in a business email tone. No, whatever says this is the way to write an email. When you think about this important note they have to put together, you actually end up thinking about it in the wrong way because of the way you were taught to write. Is Not the way that you should be writing in this particular instance. It's not formal, it's not comprehensive, it's, in fact the opposite. Your goal should be to build curiosity and leave questions unanswered and speak as though they're a friend you haven't met yet. You've got remote the overall volume of emails going out the door and how are actually taught to write. Those three things had a huge impact on how sellers really felt about our product. The fourth trend that was really impactful for us as we got started was sellers flock to Linkedin to share their experiences and talk about what they were doing. We happened to be at the right place at the right time with the right product, where we just recognized pretty quick hey, people are talking about us...

...on Linkedin and we should lean into that. I was listening to a podcast, the pivot podcast, with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway, and one of the things that they mentioned was that people are spending the last time in front of screens, which is a good thing. Got To get out there, got US socialize, got us see people go to concerts, go back to work in person. It's got called it being untrapped. It does spark the question about what do you think the impact is on lavender? Now that people can go to conferences, they can meet people for coffee and sales people, they're busting out. We want to get out there. Salesperson does not want to be stuck in front of those computer all the time, have you thought about what the impact might be and what's your plan to adjust to the new reality? There's two things that we looked at when that was going, you know, when things were getting back to being in person, which was let's see what happened, having faith in the fact that our data science behind and the scenes is going to track, analyze for this and help us continue to provide valuable recommendations for sellers. To couple of the things within our own product and design of product account for this. So one where the only platform on the Internet that provides a mobile preview for sellers when they're putting together an email. You talk about being unplugged. Your emails eight times more likely to be read initially on a phone. That's your first impression and we're actively tracking and monitoring for that. We're putting that right in front of your face and showing it to you and being like here, you can edit right here within this phone view and make it look exactly like you'd want it to look on their screen. The other thing that was unexpected we didn't really think about is when you're in your inbox at the office, we have a nice little purple icon that sits in your composed window and that's sort of like your hub for using the product. Well, we actually saw growth take off in January and it's because people in the office would see their colleague using the tool and the be like I love it, my personal assistant for writing emails. Let's talk about the sales landscape, which has dramatically changed over the past two years as sales becomes more digital and less in person. And might take is that conferences will come back, maybe companies will approach the more strategically. It may not be a maybe a quality game versus quantity. How do you guys see the sales landscape? How is it different and how do you think it will dramatically stay different going forward? Well, I think we've normalized much more now to having sales teams being remote. I'd say that's probably a major shift as far as the makeup of a sales team and where they are. I'm just excited that we get to lean into new experiences and give off advice and think through new challenges. Because you talk about going to a conference. Well, now we've got account for the fact that post conference follow up emails are probably a category of email that we should either be creating content around or thinking about within our own product experience. In terms of how sales people are operating these days, what do you think it's like to be doing sales? What are the new rules of engagement, because obviously they're leaning into email just as they always have, but they're trying to take a smarter, more personalized, more relevant approach, given the fact that our inboxes are overflowing, marking automation is go Pandora's boxed. Once you let it out. It got my wild and what do you think it's like to be a salesperson these days? From the LAVENDER perspective, it's it's interesting because I talked to a lot of sellers on daily and I think one of the things that stands out is, you know, we have this idea in our head of the lazy sales rap who's just pushing automated messages and when you actually look at the conversations we're having, people are they...

...want to do better, they want to not have poor results. The reason you see the conversation feel so automated, etc. Is Because, one you can automate and send a lot of emails and that doesn't necessarily have to come from the majority of people to create the majority of email. To the other piece, that is negative experience with an email. It's going to stick with you a whole lot more than a different, positive one. Right, most positive email experiences are fairly indifferent. Yeah, every now and then you're like, how's a great email, but it's not like all the time. Right. I think the goal of email should be it didn't upset them, not necessarily that they're allows amazing. Right, that comes with its own shlew of conversations. But I think when I talk to sellers they're trying to get better, they're trying to figure out. Okay, I know personalized emails get two times the amount of responses their automated peers. How do I do that? How do I think about that? What should I be putting down on paper? And one of the interesting challenges with sales is most of these people move in from SDR to ae or to manager and they move out of the role. That skill doesn't get to continue to hone. It's just the organizations that train it back down. It's a tough time to be an str but same time there's never been a better time to lean into community. There's and for been a better time to lean into technology tools to enable you to get better. But before we talk about lavender and it's approach to marketing, one last question about sales and just your thoughts about where do most sales people go wrong digitally? Digital is so important these days. Yeah, in person means, but where do they stumble and undermine themselves? What are the biggest bogle booze that they run into? The biggest thing when it comes to sellers is getting out of your own head, getting out of your own shoes and putting yourself in the bireus shoes. I see that's over and over again when they're putting together an email and the mindset is well, I need to add this piece of information about me, I need to tell them what I can do for them. They need to understand that I need to add that clarification. And in reality, this person on the other end is putting out fires, not thinking about you at all and honestly doesn't really care about you at all. But they care about all those quote fires that I'm referencing. It's that shift of mindset of let me try to convert them to let me try to converse with them about their problems that is the biggest piece of feedback that I could give sellers. It's just stop talking about yourself. We could talk about the data of shortened emails, simplify them down, make them mobile, optimize, lean into tentative tones, but if you're not talking to them about them, you're not necessarily going to to find the optimal or soul. What people really care about is that you show up, you provide an understanding of their current scenario and you try to genuinely engage them about what's going on at their yeah day to day job. I often say that customers are selfish, as they have no interest in you. They're only interested in themselves and what you can do for them. But if you're not talking about their issues and their aspirations, then you really running up a running up a hill. Like a lot of companies with really cool technology, lavender comes out, you've got a product and I would love to get into the strategic approach to marketing. Did you have a plan of attack where you just mostly focused on product and getting a little bit of traction and then something happened like a Nick Bennett, who's an influencer on on Linkedin, or did you have a row AP. That said, we're going to use this channel and this channel and we're going to see if we can leverage them as well as we can. I am a huge...

...proponent of this book traction, and one of the things that it emphasizes over and over and over again is the idea of power laws. I've got a power law distribution. That means basically eighty percent of your results will come from twenty percent of your actions. And so as you set up test experiments, it's okay, this week we're going to try these three channels and we're just going to go all on see if we get any traction there, and let's see what happens. We've tried things. We've gone reached out to news publications, we've gone and we've tried email marketing, we've tried retargeting ads, we've tried all these different things and when you see something like Nick Bennett posting on Linkedin and seeing that engagement happened real time, it's okay, that's the next experiment. Let's go all in on that. You think about it, most of our results are directly tied to Linkedin right now, and so now we're starting to diversify out from that into other channels, but that's still at the core of the strategy. Let's take a step back. got this product and, like many starps, we got to get the word out. We got to market this thing. What was step one for lavender? Step one for lavender is thought about it from the end users perspective, the person scrolling on linked in and trying to do their day job while sitting at home for the fifth month in a row, and it's what are they here for? What could we do that would be helpful? And helpful is really the word that kind of describes it all, because it's just lean into being useful generator of content, ideas, etc. Because we'd seen other brands do this and have success, gongs, notorious for putting out those reports on, you know, what to say and what not to say in a call and all this, that and the other, and so we've got that data to why don't we lean into that? Why don't we do it? Because we're a team of for people? Why don't we do it with a personal flare of yeah, we're literally trying to assist you in writing that email. The question I want to ask you. A lot of bb brands, BB SASS brands look at Linkedin and they recognize that this is where a lot of the action is happening right now. A lot of the influencers and some decision makers are spending a lot of time on linkedin trying to identify new possibilities and opportunities. But there are two ways to play the game. There's personal and there's company. What's The lavender approach? Because you have a big presence on Linkedin, a big personal presence, you've built a personal brand, but at the same time a lot of companies don't do a lot with their company pages. It's almost likely go to the motions with the company page. The exceptions are companies like Gong and lemonade. What's been the lavender approach? Is it a bit of a balancing act, and what's the difference between what you do on your personal profile for what you do on the company page? For the longest time we've ignored the company page as part of our strategy. We leaned into where the algorithm sat and we said, okay, Linkedin doesn't care about company pages, they care about personal brands. We just leaned into it. Now, as a by product, people start following the company. I think we're over some six thousand five hundred company followers of this point. Now we've started to play around with putting some content and really making it personal. We're not trying to make it feel like a corporation is publishing a PR port. It's cheeky stuff like hey, take the commas out of your writing, fun exercise. If I was talking to another brand about how to approach that, it would be it's actually funny you ask this because I literally just got a text from a friend who works at another company and they're trying to get into Linkedin, much bigger company than a quote baby brand. Who's asked me about linked in groups and those that is a forgotten feature. If I had to give advice to another brand, it's one it's going to take some time and effort. There was a wonderful paper that compared social networks and blockchains and if you think about it,...

...if you're early to twitter, if you're early to Linkedin, if you're early to tick tock, it's a lot easier to gain following and currency, social currency of following, and like early days of Bitcoin, it was a lot cheaper to mind bitcoin and gain capital. Now that the noise has gotten more populated, it's harder to gain that traction, and so what are the tips that I have when it comes to that? Lean into the fact that other folks have that capital. Use The comment section. Crazy concept that no one seems to understand. They're just I'll just post. By posting, I'll see my engagement rise. Well, anytime I see my engagement fall, I know that I need to go out and start commenting some more, and then I see it go back up. It's pretty simple. The other platform that I want to ask you about, and this came out of a conversation I had with will I can from sales loft, is the use of Tick Tock. When I asked him whether there were anybody else out there who was bait to be Sass people who are using tick tock, he mentioned a handful of people, including yourself. What has been your Tick Tock Journey? Were you originally using it for fun, like everybody else and watching your dance videos, or did you see it as a viabral marketing channel, and what have you learned so far from using Tick Tock? So couple things. One, I cannot claim to have used tick tock before using it for work. There's the only one of those things where I've dragged my feet on it for probably too long. The reason I started with Tick Tock was pretty simple and it was I was looking at my feed on Linkedin and I was seeing what stood out to me, and will aiken over at sales feed stood out above and beyond because he's putting the other creative fun videos, nick compose, for example, over a demo stack he's putting together at these wonderfully engaging videos and Nicko pose, for example. It's felling. Is that massive, but his engagement rates insane. You Talk to anyone who knows nick, because I love Nick, and part of the lasting power of video is it's actually memorable. It sticks with you. When I was thinking about Tick Tock, actually work with the both of those pretty closely, getting advice from them on how they're doing video, how they're thinking about it, and I was okay, let's start doing the same thing that we did with Linkedin. Post helpful content be, you know, of service to those that we're trying to serve. With that we've seen some pretty good engagement. Can't say I have figured out tick tock by any stretch. I think the only thing that we figured out as subject line content. That's while they're but I more prefer it for posting it to other platforms, posting it to Linkedin, for example, where I go to one of our visors, Morgan Ingram, has an event in Atlanta more social than SASS and I show up there and somebody walks up and says, Hey, I've seen you tick tocks before. Cool, that's surprising. You think about what that does for a brand is it makes one bit more personal and approachable. But to it brings a little bit further recognition beyond just your little profile picture. Pre Tick Tock. I'd be terrified to change my profile picture because how are you going to recognize me within your feet other than my name? I do find ticktock interesting. I'm on Tick Tock. I'm making some very bad videos right now, but I'm experimenting. You know, I'm getting that everything, what works and what does, and then this have to overtime only prove the one thing I sense from a BBS ass marking perspective is a lot of marketers are looking at Linkedin and sensing that there's I don't know if there's linkedin fatigue or maybe it's the shiny object. Syndrome is that there's a tendency to look beyond and tick Tock seems to be bad new shiny toy that we...

...want to play with us. It's a little different and I think what it comes back to is tick tock is easier to gain traction on with less work, whereas companies, when they think about something like Linkedin now, the game is more similar to and Seo Strategy, where it's just something you need to be consistent with, otherwise you won't see the results. This has been a great conversation. Final question would be where can people learn about you and lavender? If they're looking to connect with me, I always push the my linked in. They can always email me, as will do all read at try lavendercom. Outside of that, those would be the two places that I would tell them to go. You can go to the website undercom and one of all question about lavender pricing. How people use it? He says it's a corome extension. Provide a mechanics before we sign off. Anyone can go in and install the product for free if there's a free tier, but it comes with a free trial as well, so you can try out all the premium aspects of the product. There's three tiers to the the products. You can be on a team plan of one or a million and that includes all of our integrations. It provides like access to Beta functionality, things like our lavender anywhere tool, where you can use it anywhere across the web. Or you've got our Proplan, just none limited access to our tool sets and feature years, doesn't come with all the integrations, and then our free tier, which doesn't have things like mobile preview, if you don't get as many profile lookups per month when you're trying to personize an email with somebody. Well, thanks, well, and thanks for listening to another that episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review, subscribe by a apple podcast or your favorite podcast APP and share by social media. To learn more about how I helped baby sass companies as a fractional CMO strategic advisor and coach, send you an email to mark at Mark Evans dot ca a or connect with me on linked.

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