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I just deleted 3,000 automotive sales contacts… And it felt great!!!

As a sales agency, we’re one year and one month old and I’m on a mission of quality over quantity. The first step was a big cleanse of our CRM. It took two days but I’ve removed 3,000 contacts. Why?

It’s clear that old-school, cold sales just doesn’t work well. People are very busy and a generic sales approach is too easy to delete and ignore. I’ve always been an advocate of Inbound sales but when we launched our business back in April 2016 I fell into the trap of creating a contacts list, putting it into the CRM, and sending email marketing. That’s not practising what we preach so it was time for a change.

In the 2017 State of Inbound report, 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting more difficult. Exactly the reason why we need to be targeted and relevant.

I just deleted 3,000 automotive sales contacts… And it felt great!!!

I’m not saying to stop creating lists, or approaching people cold, but lets work through those lists and find a real reason to approach people on a one-to-one basis. Now, we still create lists of Ideal customers but instead of importing the lot and doing bulk email campaigns, we’re researching each contact, finding some trigger details - such as a job change, award, employing new salespeople, winning new clients - and using that as a ‘reason’ to approach each person on a one to one basis, congratulating them, and offering advice.

It’s about focusing your time on quality sales

Getting rid of 3,000 contacts could sound madness, surely we might get lucky with some of those people??? Well, yes, we might get a couple of random wins, but, just consider, all the people that don’t open your emails, all the people that never reply, all the people that mark your email as spam, that’s not good for the impression people have of your company, and it all counts against your email sender score.

What the hell is an email Sender Score???

This is something that Email Service Providers use to know if your domain, for us it’s emails sent from, is important or if your emails are spam etc. Whenever you send an email, your emails are sent from a server and that server has an IP address. That IP address will have a sender score. The better your emails perform then the better chance you have of getting into your prospects inbox.

Before sending your next email, have a go with this tool called Is Not Spam...

I just deleted 3,000 automotive sales contacts… And it felt great!!!

...send an email to the email address that the tool gives you and you can see if that email could go into your prospects spam folder. It will also tell you the IP address of your email server.

Next, go to Sender Score

I just deleted 3,000 automotive sales contacts… And it felt great!!!

...and enter the IP address to see your Sender Score and even if your email server has been blacklisted, which as you can imagine is not good as you’re emails probably aren’t getting delivered.

This post from Return Path, Deliverability is the silent killer of email roi, makes the very clear point that:

“If our messages are not getting in front of the intended audience, every other investment we make into our email program is irrelevant”

If you’re using MailChimp for your email campaigns, it’s likely that your MailChimp account uses the same domain name as your sales emails, i.e., so if you’re email marketing doesn’t perform well, that will stop your sales emails getting through!

Improving open rates is a quick win for sales

If you consider your sales funnel and the fact that for B2B sales in Automotive email is a hugely effective channel, it’s important to focus on improving open rates. It will help more emails get delivered but most importantly, it will get your message in front of your Ideal customers.

We test email campaigns and it’s very clear that targeted is good. We’re seeing open rates of 42% and click rates of 23% but most importantly we see very few people unsubscribe and we’re doing our best at making the content relevant to the audience and using email marketing to nurture contacts over a period of time and not trying to sell in one campaign. Generally, the B2B sales we’re involved with have a sales cycle of a few weeks to a few months or years so it’s important to build trust with the audience and not be pushy.

Don’t forget the other sales channels

The reason we can take a softer sell approach on emails is because there are so many tools around us. LinkedIn, Twitter, Email, Phone, Events, WhatsApp etc. We can regularly keep in contact and our prospects don’t feel like they’re being hassled. If we were calling every week that’s going to get boring quite quickly but taking the approach of a call in week one, an email in week two, a LinkedIn like and comment in week three, seeing them at an event in week four and so on keeps the approach human.

If you enjoyed this, you might like to subscribe to our email newsletter as I’m starting a diary series about what we do, the mistakes we make, and how we’re always evolving to find better ways to sell like humans.

I just deleted 3,000 automotive sales contacts… And it felt great!!!

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About the author

Picture of James Walters

James Walters is the Commercial director at The Tree Group, a sales agency that helps companies sell into Automotive, Motorsport, and Defence. He has worked with leading motorsport brands including Brembo, Prodrive, Aston Martin Racing, Nissan Motorsport International (NISMO), Hella, AP Racing, Arai, and Simpson.