January 23rd, 2018 | by

My love of all things sports (professional & collegiate) and outdoors comes in handy – even when it’s not in season. As DiscoverOrg’s Manager of Strategic Accounts, I’m always looking for ways to use personal touchpoints to engage prospects.

It works.

I consistently get a response rate of 60% – and an engagement rate of 80%. (Check out my post, How to Heat Up Cold Emails with Personalization.)

I’m back to provide a few more tips that have helped me stand out amongst the crowd, and show you how you can achieve this level of engagement – even when the odds aren’t in your favor.

I use Opportunity data – trigger alerts and inside scoops that let me know when a company experiences change or disruption, such as a funding event, executive departure, personnel move, or security issue. Events like these often trigger a purchase, and being the first salesperson in the door wins the deal, 87% of the time.

I start with a thoughtful, well-researched cold email that shows just how well I knows my prospect – both the pain points they experience in their job, as well as their personal interests. The results speak for themselves.

To see exactly how to use event opportunities for cold email prospecting, here are three real examples of email exchanges that quickly became warm leads.

Understand the pain points – and ask questions that provide value

Like many B2B companies, DiscoverOrg has a wide addressable market. It’s important to really understand the specific pain points of each company type, ask questions that uncover those pain points, and provide a relevant solution.

Take the example of selling into IT Staffing & Recruiting companies: Sometimes the open positions are filled within the IT department, and sometimes it’s ran through the HR department.

This can be cumbersome for anyone in the business development role, and the ability to go after both sides of the house is one of DiscoverOrg’s competitive advantages.

That’s the value proposition I need to convey in my email.

…  but I also need a hook.

In the case of this example, I noticed on my prospect’s LinkedIn and Twitter that he went to Texas. I just happened to have attended the Texas vs. Duke game in Portland the a few days before. That connection was just the “Trigger” I needed to have a great reason reach out.

On Mon, Nov 27, 2018 at 12:08 PM, Josh Sutton wrote:

Subject: IT or HR? (Longhorns Basketball)

Hey Jack,

I had the pleasure of watching your Longhorns nearly upset Duke last weekend in PK80 basketball tourney they had here in Portland – hopefully they can keep playing tough like that!

Anyways – out of curiosity, do you prefer to speak with IT Hiring Managers, Talent Acquisition folks, or someone else when going after new accounts?

Reason I ask – DiscoverOrg profiles both IT and HR Org Charts with a full reporting hierarchy, 96% direct dial phone numbers, 98% validated email addresses.. Here’s one for CNA Financial (link).

With this accurate data, your team can get in front of the the decision makers who drive open reqs, before they post on job boards.

Jack – do you have 15 minutes to get you free data on target accounts?


He replied the very same day.

On Mon, Nov 27, 2018 at 2:23 PM, Jack wrote:

Hey, Josh. I like your approach.

That was a fun game; wish we could have pulled out the upset. Still, #1 team and played them on par. Of course, we lost in overtime to Gonzaga a bit later as well so at least we are getting there.

I could find time Thursday afternoon between 1 and 3 CST. Let me know.



It worked! We completed the meeting, I opened the opportunity, and we’re in the final stages of a relatively large deal.

Opportunity data helps inform the timing for sales outreach.

Get free data on YOUR target accounts.

Leverage previous users or customers

sales intelligence lead generationBusiness development reps use the trigger event of a personnel move as an opportunity to reach out to previous users. Referencing a relevant event – along with a personal touch – is key.

I subscribed to a job changes Trigger alert in DiscoverOrg to track companies where previous users ended up. In this case, I cross-checked Salesforce to see that my prospect, Davi, was involved with the purchasing decisions at his previous companies.

I also saw on his Twitter that he loved fly fishing. That’s all I needed to know to reach out.

On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 7:11 AM,  Joshua Sutton <[email protected]> wrote:

Subject: Fly fishing in Oregon & congrats on the new position

Hey Davi,

I noticed you’re a fly fisherman, have you had the chance to hit any rivers in Oregon? I grew up a traditional fisherman, but I just purchased my first fly rod 2 weeks ago and got a few lessons from a friend. Needless to say, I’m anxious to hit the Deschutes River this weekend!

Congrats on the new position with E—! I understand you’re probably looking to make an immediate impact so I’m reaching out is to see if there’s an opportunity to help your new team drive faster growth.

You may recall DiscoverOrg from your time with Q– … for the last few years the sales team over there has relied on our accurate direct contact data to increase productivity and overall effectiveness.

Our Finance, HR, and IT datasets look like a solid fit for your team – I’d love to reconnect with a former user to explore a potential partnership.

I know manufacturing is a sweet spot for you – so here’s the Applied Materials HR & FIN Org Chart (link).


In this case, I’m trying to grab Davi’s attention with a subject we’re both enthusiastic about – fly fishing – and quickly show that I understand his business.

It worked!

On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 7:11 AM,  Davi wrote:

Hi Josh,
You got me with fly fishing.  How does your day look on Thursday?
– Davi


We met with Davi for over an hour, and he helped us map out the company and provided us with insider information that we’re using to speed up the sales cycle. And yes – as a quid-pro-quo, we provided him with free data on all of his target accounts to help him hit the ground running with his new position. .

We gave Zenoss granular insights on 2,000 new target accounts. See what we can do for you.

Events and common interests provide context for outreach

align sales process to customer journeyIn addition to DiscoverOrg’s Alert Subscriptions, I follow my prospects on Twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn when possible.

Rich was a contact at one of my top accounts, and I noticed that he recently tweeted that he wanted the Falcons (his favorite NFL team) to trade Matt Ryan, after a few poor performances in the middle part of the season.

A quick look at Rich’s LinkedIn profile showed that he played a large part in a recent merger and acquisition – a company event that often marks a purchase opportunity. As it happened, DiscoverOrg also went through an acquisition over the summer – a great mutual connection opportunity.

On Tues, Dec 5, 2018 at 11:08 AM, Josh Sutton wrote:

Subject: Who would you trade Matt Ryan for?

Hey Rich,

It’s only right I start this off with two questions that came to me while doing some research:

1: What was it like to be a part of C—’s acquisition of M—?
2: Who do you think you think would be a better fit at QB for the Falcons if Matt Ryan was traded?

I got my first taste of a tech acquisition when DiscoverOrg acquired our competitor back in August (though I’m sure it wasn’t anything compared to C— & M—). I feel your pain with Matt Ryan’s recent struggles, I drafted him in fantasy and he’s been consistently unreliable for me.

Anyways, the reason for my note is DiscoverOrg helps like Google’s DoubleClick, Adobe, and Sizmek drive faster growth by arming their business development teams with the most accurate sales intelligence. Based on my research, GumGum looks like a phenomenal fit for our Global Marketing dataset. Here’s our profile of Cracker Barrel’s Marketing Dept as a quick example.

That being said, do you have a few minutes on Thursday afternoon? I’d love for you to see how DiscoverOrg can align with your goals to help your teams crush the rest of 2017 and get 2018 started off right.


My football reference did the trick.

On Tues, Dec 5, 2018 at 11:08 AM, Rich wrote:

Well done, great email.

Matt Ryan is a serious sore spot for me…he just constantly chokes, always has, and yet because he was MVP he’s untouchable. That and his stats somehow suggest he’s still a top 5 QB; I guess you can’t measure leadership/inspiration.

And he’s my fantasy QB as well, so Sunday hurt that much more. I could go on and on (as probably any Falcons fan could).

Anyway, as much as I respect the outreach, I’m not doing that kind of BD here. 🙂 Definitely something I would’ve used at M—, though.
I’ll check with my old colleague (now at D—) to see if he’s interested, and if so would be happy to connect.

Keep up the hustle,



Get the data YOU need to reach the right prospect at the right time.

In this case, we did not win the deal. Rich was the Senior VP of Business Development for channel partners – not the new business team. However, this exchange opened other doors within the company: He shared my email with several of colleagues, and created the groundswell that was needed to make myself and DiscoverOrg a household name.

It is hard to stand from the crowd with an email. But if you can find some common ground with your prospect and show that you really understand their pain points, people will respond.

DiscoverOrg offers more robust, accurate sales intelligence on your target prospects than any other data provider. See why our customers see a 50% decrease in research time – and a 300% increase in sales, on average.


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Joshua Sutton
About the author

Joshua Sutton

Josh A. Sutton is a Senior Sales Development Representative at DiscoverOrg, specializing in using creative methods to gain the attention of top-level executives and breaking into top accounts. He received his B.A. in Applied Business and Economics from the University of Oregon. In his free time, Josh enjoys playing golf and cheering on his favorite sports teams.