Turn college connections into warm conversations

Dustin Beaudoin
August 11, 2022
Turn college connections into warm conversations

Co-authored by: Dustin Beaudoin, Director of Sales at Heap

  1. University connections are a high-value network. People generally agree with this, but don’t spend enough time tapping into this channel.
  2. Set up a coordinated, University connections campaign with your direct sales team. It’s easy to set up and you will see significantly higher response rates than cold outbound.
  3. Make sure your team is bought-in -- you are reliant on sending outreach for each other. This only works if people are eager to help each other drive pipeline for the entire team -- not just for themselves.

Run a concerted outbound campaign tapping into the extended University network of your direct sales team (5-9 people). You will find that response rates go way up because you can usually get alumni to at least forward emails to your targets.  

Aside from a pipeline jolt, play can be rerun on a quarterly basis.

The University Alumni Pipeline Play

Operationalizing your alumni network is a creative play that is easy to set up and often yields response rates 2-4x higher than standard cold outbound. Many sales leaders recommend setting this up within individual teams. Let's say you have six people on a sales team and one manager, you can tap into seven different university networks.

1 - Configure SalesNav Searches

Have each AE/SDR go into Linkedin SalesNav. Use your standard ways of searching for key contacts: company filters, geos, function, and/or titles. Then, go ahead and add all the schools for the people on your team. It would look something like this:

2 - Create Spreadsheet with Results

From here - you can either share lists via SalesNav with your team, or use a tool like Evaboot, Phantom Buster, or others to export the results. Once exported, create this shared spreadsheet with your team. Create a tab for each university and the corresponding rep at your company who went to that school. Here is an example template you can use.

3 - Create messaging and block time for the team

Before creating a cadence to execute the outreach, remember that your success is dependent on your colleagues actually sending the emails and messages. Make it super easy for them -- pre-write the first email for them to send (or add to Outreach/Salesloft), remember to help other reps that ask you, and block time to do this together.

The next thing you want to do is create a cadence with the right tone, number of touch points, and specific language to match this play. This should be a friendly tone, with the initial intention of making a connection and potentially helping each other out. This should be light on calls (if any) and automatic touch points (if any). The number of touches should be spread out over 3 weeks and err on the side of less.

Within the same attachment from above you can see a recommended cadence tab to use in your sales engagement platform (Outreach, Salesloft, or other platforms).

4 - Engage & Measure

Set a reminder to review the results of this play for each rep/school to see what worked and what didn’t. Find what some reps did better than others to make the relevant intros and tweak messaging accordingly. 

"This is a play we recycle once a quarter and one we consistently get high quality meetings from. We also see a long-tail of meetings that come back from University connections we made quarters or even years ago. Play the long game, and remember that your goal is to make a genuine connection, provide value even if it's outside of your solution, and be top of mind as problems arise that you can help with."
"You can also run this play at the manager/exec level. It may seem like a lot of grunt work up front, but the response rates are outsized. If you want to scale this, work with sales ops or enablement to devote time to getting the entire sales team to do this. It's worth adding in a "sprint" or "PG cycle" for most companies I've seen"

-Dustin Beaudoin, Director of Sales at Airplane