3 AI Strategies for RevOps Pros To Streamline Outbound

From ChatGPT-written cold emails to in-depth prospect research at the click of a button to entire outbound workflows built with AI… It’s an exciting time to be a revenue professional. But how much of the noise is just that—noise?

Dan Moran
2023-08-01

From ChatGPT-written cold emails to in-depth prospect research at the click of a button to entire outbound workflows built with AI…

It’s an exciting time to be a revenue professional. But how much of the noise is just that—noise?

With new AI tools, products, and “experts” popping up like daisies after a spring rain it can be a challenge to keep track of everything going on and separate the hyperbole from the genuinely useful applications.

This is especially true for RevOps pros.

A core component of the RevOps function is understanding the tools on the market and use cases that will help make GTM motions more efficient. Given the noise around AI, this is extremely challenging.

The goal of this article is to bring some clarity to the often-hyped topic of AI in sales. Specifically, AI in RevOps. Even more specifically, AI in RevOps and outbound sales.

We’ll dig into three RevOps/outbound jobs to be done and how AI can help you do them more efficiently.

First, let’s take a look at how RevOps and Outbound overlap.

How RevOps Overlaps With Outbound Sales

RevOps, both as a role and a concept, has generated serious momentum since it came onto the scene a few years back.

So much so that Head of Revenue Operations was named the number one fastest growing role in the US in LinkedIn’s 2023 Jobs on the Rise report.

As a concept, RevOps oversees the operation of all revenue-generating teams within an organization. Namely Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success. Under this model, these three historically distinct teams are viewed as a holistic unit with one goal—driving growth and revenue from both new and existing customers.

As a function, RevOps is carried out by a team or individual responsible for building the processes, investing in the right platforms, hiring the right people, and managing the data required to execute on the goals above.

The point where RevOps and outbound sales overlap is a small—but important—intersection on the broader GTM map.

“On a macro level, I do everything I can to make our top of the funnel as efficient and effective as possible.”

Francesca Rock is Head of Revenue Operation at DigitalGenius, an AI customer service automation platform based in London.

She’s responsible for investing in and maintaining the tools, systems, and processes her outbound team requires to do their jobs effectively.

“It’s my job to make my BDR and SDR’s lives easier,” she says.

Francesca’s responsibilities provide a good summary of how RevOps support the outbound sales function. For it to run effectively, teams need:

  • Processes that are repeatable, scalable, and measurable—such as setting daily and weekly activity levels
  • Integrated platforms that help streamline an SDR’s day-to-day
  • The right people, the outbound sales reps themselves, who are up for the challenge of prospecting
  • And good data to power and measure the campaigns

With the strategic and theoretical groundwork established, let’s look at three specific functions of outbound sales where RevOps pros can implement AI to make reps more efficient:

  1. Locating ICP leads and assigning them to reps to prospect
  2. Conducting prospect research & writing personalized messaging at scale
  3. Creating cold email outreach campaigns that keep your sender score intact

#1 – Defining & refining an ICP & locating target accounts

RevOps play a pivotal role in defining and refining a company’s ideal customer profile (ICP).

As they sit on top of Marketing, Sales, and CS, RevOps has a unique vantage point from which they can gather data and input on what makes for a successful customer from all three teams.

The challenge then lies in synthesizing vast amounts of data, communicating the findings to each team so that everyone is aligned on what a good customer looks like, and setting up the processes to go after the right leads.

Let’s dig into each, starting with alignment.

ICP Alignment: Challenges and Solutions

RevOps play a critical role in squaring ICP opinion with reality.

“I’m constantly evaluating our current customers and making sure that aligns with the ICP our sales reps are targeting,” says Colin Tanner, Sales Operations Manager at Navigator, a threat intelligence software based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

“It’s easy for companies to get stuck with a rigid and predefined ICP that doesn’t change as more data comes in. I prioritize that feedback loop between Customer Success and Sales to make sure the leads we prospect align with customers having success in the platform,” he says.

Like with many GTM processes, data here is the key.

It’s not enough for a lead to check all the firmographic and demographic boxes. There is so much more at play that indicates whether or not someone is in the market for your product or service. Things like:

  • The tools in their tech stack
  • Recent funding and hiring trends
  • Company updates or newsworthy events or interviews

All this data is available, but it’s often dispersed across multiple sources.

This is where AI excels.

AI has the capacity to search huge quantities of data to locate intent signals that matter to your business.

Whether it’s searching for similar companies or competitors to your current customers based on your CRM data, or specific information like which businesses are hiring for specific roles, AI can process this information far faster and more efficiently than a human can.

ICPs are dynamic and change as the market shifts.

Lead Sourcing and Territory Management: Challenges and Solutions

Once an ICP is established, target accounts that match that profile must then be located and assigned to reps to prospect.

When it comes to actually locating and sourcing ICP leads, RevOps pros can be hamstrung by the quality of the data. Data providers aren’t cheap, and setting up multiple sources to create a diversified data stream can quickly chew into operating budgets.

“The north-star goal for my SDRs is meetings booked,” says Francesca.

“We’ll look at our entire target market, consider accounts based on territory and industry, and tier them out into pools that each of our SDRs prospect each quarter.”

In order for her reps to hit their targets, Francesca does the backward math down the funnel to assign activity levels.

“Industry standard is anywhere between 500 to 1000 activities a week per rep across email, phone, and LinkedIn,” she says.

Of course, activity levels that high require leads. Lots of leads. This is true for any organization conducting outbound sales. Lead quantity and quality are critical to success.

This is where AI comes in.

AI’s superhuman data processing ability massively cuts the time it takes to find high-quality leads.

The way we do it at OneShot is we’ve trained our algorithm to scour dozens of publicly available data sources like Google and Crunchbase to locate leads that match a given ICP.

We also partner with dozens of best-in-class, GDPR-compliant data providers to get the most accurate and comprehensive information possible.

AI can process mountains of data at superhuman speeds. Leveraging this capability can drastically improve the efficiency of your ICP lead sourcing.

#2 – Prospect Research & Cold Email Writing

Striking a balance between personalization and scale is a never-ending struggle.

It’s a Catch-22 situation:

  • Prospects intuitively filter out anything that’s automated. If you want your cold outreach to be effective, it needs to be personalized to your prospect
  • But personalizing every single message takes a ton of time. That doesn’t jive with the volume required for successful prospecting.

But AI is quickly making it so that forward-thinking outbound teams can have their cake and eat it too.

“The best current application of AI is messaging, in my opinion” says Colin.

“We have full-cycle AEs who are doing their own prospecting. They’re using AI to write personalized cold outbound prospecting emails at scale in a way that saves them a ton of time.”

Here’s how to leverage AI to supercharge prospect research and cold email writing.

Using AI for prospect research

The primary challenge of prospect research is how easy it is for reps to get stuck in research mode.

The outcome of that is obvious: They spend too much time researching accounts and not enough time talking to prospects. As a RevOps pro, this is not what you want your reps focusing on for too long.

Yet that research is critical for unearthing relevant trigger points—the reasons for reaching out in the first place. So how can you find these trigger points without taking a ton of time doing so for each prospect?

As we’ve established, AI excels at processing vast amounts of data.

Similar to how AI can search for and analyze data related to a company, it can also analyze data related to an individual.

AI tools like OneShot do this by searching for publicly available information—such as someone’s LinkedIn profile, interviews they’ve done that are published online, blog posts they’ve written or are mentioned in, company bios, annual reports—and processing this information at superhuman speed to surface nuggets that reps can use in their outreach.

Generative AI for personalized messaging

Generative AI is the belle of the artificial intelligence ball—and for good reason. The capabilities of this technology are stunning. When used right, it can be an extremely powerful tool for cold emailing.

“For the longest time prospecting was the balance between personalization and scaling,” says Colin.

“It ended up being an oxymoron—you couldn’t have both at the same time. But now with this AI technology you’re actually able to do that personalization at scale. And it's pretty lightweight for reps to do it.”

Generative AI tools use the information gathered in the research phase, whether it’s provided manually by a rep or automatically as part of an automated process, to autonomously craft messages tailored for each prospect.

It’s done by prompting the AI to output a certain format of message.

For example, at OneShot we prompt our AI to craft a personalized opening line based on the research it did on that prospect. From there, the AI is prompted to connect that personalized opener.

There are lots of other AI tools on the market that have similar capabilities, with ChatGPT being the big one.

(If you’re wondering, OneShot’s key differentiator is we’re an AI-powered prospecting platform, not just a point solution.)

For RevOps pros it can be useful to craft a process like this which sticks to established cold email best practices like email length and tone, yet gives reps the time flexibility to get a little creative with their outreach.

#3 – Deliverability

“We, like many other companies, struggle with how SDRs effectively follow up on leads.”

Larry Stein is the Demand Generation Lead at Weights & Biases, a Silicon Valley-based MLOps platform. He oversees the sequences and cadences his SDRs use to reach out to prospective customers.

“The challenge for us is how can we quickly follow-up with qualified inbound leads and go after outbound prospects without damaging our sender score.”

This challenge is not unique to Larry’s team. Email deliverability is a topic that’s not talked about enough among organizations conducting email prospecting.

In a nutshell, email deliverability is the ability of an email to successfully hit the intended recipient’s inbox.

The challenge for outbound sales teams sending prospecting emails is multifold. They need to:

  • Create compelling messaging that resonates with prospects
  • In a way that doesn’t get the sender in trouble with email service providers
  • Yet is standardized enough to measure and optimize

Once again, there is a solution that uses AI to tackle all three of these challenges.

How to use AI to maintain strong deliverability

Email servers are very sensitive to duplicate content.

If they detect identical emails being sent from one address to hundreds or even thousands of recipients—for example when reps follow up with event attendees—they can deem this behaviour as spam.

One of the best ways to avoid this, while still maintaining the volume of emails required for good outbound, is to use the tactics outlined above to personalize each email.

Doing so makes each email distinct, and therefore not suspicious to email clients.

This can be as simple as tweaking the subject line or the syntax of the emails to ensure no two are exactly alike. Or completely personalizing every message so each email is unique.

And of course AI is capable of handling either of these approaches at incredible speeds.

For a full breakdown of how to measure and improve your email deliverability for your cold email campaigns, check out our ultimate guide to email deliverability for sales pros.

Limitations of AI in outbound & how to encourage reps to it AI properly

AI is a new technology.

There are several fundamental challenges and limitations that extend way outside its application in the world of business.

The fundamental challenge of AI in sales is the fact that sales and customer relationships are inherently human interactions. They require understanding, empathy, and personalized communication that AI and automation can't fully replicate.

Yes, a lot of outbound selling success relies on volume. But as technology evolves and buyer needs and expectations change, the volume play is not as effective as it used to be.

AI gets you 80% of the way there.

“It’s not just a case of ‘let the AI go and do that’,” says Fransesca.

“Yes, AI allows my reps to do their work much faster. But we still need those checks and balances to make sure we’re happy with what goes out.”

In order to leverage this technology to its full potential, the human needs to stay in the loop. A sales rep’s judgement, creativity, and human touch will be the deciding factor in successful prospecting in the age of AI.

There is a ton of noise around AI in sales.

As more and more tools and so-called experts pop up, it’s extremely hard to stay on top of what is worth paying attention to and what is nothing but over-promised hype.

Hopefully this article contributed in some small way to helping you think through some useful applications of AI in your day-to-day as a RevOps pro.

There are some truly incredible examples of AI transforming the way outbound sales is done. Many of the use cases mentioned here may seem futuristic and not yet within grasp.

But they’re very much here now, because that’s what we’re building at OneShot. We’re using the latest AI technology to help sales teams and RevOps pros supercharge their outbound. If you’re keen to see how, you can grab a personalized demo right here.There is a ton of hype around AI in sales.

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