The Biggest Outbound Sales Mistakes Founders Make, Episode 10


There’s a science to outbound.

Sure, it’s a mix of art and science. But the science part is crucial.

The hardest task is knowing how to interpret the data from the market. Without it, you’re flying blind. It’s impossible to tell how you’re doing. Or even if you’re headed in the right direction. What you should keep from previous experiments and what you should discard. Our mission as go-to-market folks is to listen to the market and decipher the truth it communicates back to us.

Let’s be clear: the market always wins. I’d go as far as to say that we should revere it.

We’re just here to uncover the truth and conform to it. Reading the tea leaves is an intricate game. You can easily do a round of campaigns and get mixed messages from each of them. 

So, how do you parse what the market is telling you? If the campaign you deployed a couple of weeks ago just got a 60% open rate and a 3% reply rate, for example. What does it mean? What should you do with that?

Founders typically don’t even know what metrics to look at to measure their success. And yet, most of the time, they go on this go-to-market journey alone. 


In the last 8 years, hundreds of founders have come to me for coaching on their sales and go-to-market challenges. I’ve done my best to help. And in doing so, I’ve spotted patterns: those costly outbound sales mistakes that keep occurring, and that prevent startups from growing to their full potential. Over 10 weeks, we’ll examine each of these very closely: at the pace of one per week. Consider this your mini-series on the biggest outbound sales follies founders make. And here’s your 10th and final installment. Read on.

Founders go at it alone. And they forgo working with folks who already know the ropes. 

When I initially tell founders that a 1% interested rate is considered successful, the overwhelming reaction I get is surprise, “Really?! That’s it?”. I’ll answer, “Yep, that’s all we need in automated email outbound. You want to get to 1 interested reply for every 100 leads touched. And your other target conversion rates are 5% bounces, 40% opens, and 6% replies in 4-step outbound email campaigns.”

The point is: that you’re going to need help with all of this. Get a sales coach or go-to-market advisor. Not me, necessarily, although I’d be happy to help (drop me a line at to schedule some time). There are good folks out there. A few of which I know personally.

Regardless of your sherpa, outbound sales should be a considered strategy for any B2B startup. Particularly in the beginning. It can feel like hunting for your first meal in the Amazon rainforest, after being airdropped. Armed with a machete, you’re anxious at the idea of finding something to eat within 48 hours. 

But if you can change your outlook, you go from feeling lost in a jungle to being surrounded by the densest biodiversity on the planet. You realize it’s impossible to die of starvation, as there’s plenty to eat all around you. Equipped with a few resources – a phone, a LinkedIn profile, and an email address (you don’t even need a slick website believe it or not) – you can go out and harpoon your first few customers. And then some. You just need to know how to go about it. A great first step is eliminating the mistakes outlined in this mini-series from your repertoire. After that, get the help of someone who’s done it before and knows the terrain. You’ll likely then be on your way to rapid revenue growth.