How to Write a Basho email and get a call with a CXO

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I’d like to speak with Mark Roberge

Mark-Roberge-1

Once in a blue moon I get the question, ‘how did you manage to speak to Mark Roberge, Eoghan McCabe, Steli Efti etc etc). ‘You must be really well connected guy’. But that’s not really the case. 6 months ago, SaaScribe didn’t exist and to the aforementioned SaaS Stars, I didn’t exist either.

So how did I respond to the question? Normally I give a shrift answer that ‘I just ask them’. There’s no Secret.

But that’s probably not wholly accurate and those that are posing the question to me are looking for more insight than that. So to that point, i’d not really been of any help.

Then the other week, the question popped up again, with a twist.

1) A student reached out to me asking me for insights into how I get interviews with the likes of Mark Roberge. The Student is doing her Master’s thesis on selling business software low touch, which is something we in the SaaS Community talk about a ton. Ergo, it piqued my interest and I wanted to stop flaying myself and be more helpful. So I took some time to understand her problem and her goal.

First here’s the email (i’m changing the name for anonymity and published with permission):

Hi Alex,

great and very interesting interview of Mark Roberge!
Especially the last part where you asked if sales could become redundant in SaaS business models if the product is remarkably great.

Why am I contacting you?
I am currently writing my Master’s thesis on the topic “Selling business software low touch: how to trigger adoption of business software sold as a service?”. My approach is to conduct a mini-multiple case study of remarkably good SaaS companies to find out if there exists some kind of pattern for success. Therefore, I am conducting in-depth interviews and trying to get in touch with experts at Hubspot. As you can imagine without connections and being just a student it is hard to reach out to them.

What’s my question for you?
I want to ask how you contacted Mark and finally got him for an interview? And if you could maybe give me some advice? And if not, would you be interested in getting interviewed on the topic above?

To give you some background:
I am Beyonce Knowles, master student at school of SaaSonomics. Five months ago I moved to San Francisco and I am currently writing my master’s thesis.

What is in it for you?
Maybe you can get the results of my case study as well. I have to check that.

It would be very helpful to my research and I would be so grateful if you would answer. If you have questions or anything else, please feel free to contact me any time.

Thanks a lot.
Cheers,
Beyonce

 

The Skype call with Beyonce

bee-telephone-10

I wanted to help Beyonce if I could, so I responded and we scheduled a skype call. Here’s a summary.

Problem

  1. Beyonce was using linkedin inmail to try to get an interview with CXO’s such as Mark Roberge
  2. Beyonce wanted to know how I managed to get interviews, as to date Beyonce had been unsuccessful in her attempts
  3. Beyonce didn’t have the email addresses of the SaaS Stars

My diagnoses

  1. I never use LinkedIN INmail. Too spammy these days. I believe this strategy was largely attributable to the lack of results.
  2. I believed that Beyonce should revert to careful crafted email, with brevity. Also, Potentially Twitter as Twitter is more engaging than LinkedIN. Note that all of the interviews that we’ve done on SaaScribe have been procured through email.
  3. Figuring out the email of a SaaS Star is not particularly difficult.
    1. First you can Google it, to see if it comes up in the search results. More often then not, it doesnt.
    2. Then you can take a stab at it being either
      1. firstname@company.com
      2. Firstname.lastname@company.com
      3. first initial lastname@company.com

I asked Beyonce to write a short email to her intended target. To write an interesting subject line. To open the email with a statement that you know them. Not personally, of course, but that you’re interested in that person. In something they have written or said. If you saw them speak at an event and if it resonated with you. If their blog helped you close a deal.

Beyonce was already reading Mark Roberge’s most excellent book, The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology and Inbound Selling to Go From $0 to $100 Million’ So this was the clear starting point to mention the book, go to the ask and then tell Mark what’s in it for him.

What the heck is Basho then?

basho

I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what a Basho email was until sometime after I’d helped Beyonce. It was actually when speaking with one of SaaScribe’s contributors, Mark Power, a former Salesforce.com employee, that Mark told me that Basho was a strategy deployed by Salesforce.com Sales reps and it works. There’s not a ton of info on Basho emails online. However Quora proved the most useful source in giving these insights:

Mike Kiser
‘A BASHO email is an attempt via email to gain the attention of a prospective customer, and to ultimately get a meeting set up on their calendar. It is thoughtfully crafted, and designed to show the client that you know them. Additionally it should explain the “so what?” behind your outreach.’

Marc Belgrave
Basho Email training was originated by MJ Hoffman under the Basho brand. This brand was sold to the makers of Riak and the original training is no longer publicly available, although it is taught to large organizations (like SAP) by Kensei Partners. Their training is good, I’ve been through it.

Basho emails work really, really well for high-value solutions (solving big pain). My response rate for Basho emails since 2010 has been greater than 50% (somewhere in the neighborhood of 65%, actually). That type of response rate is pretty ridiculous.

Read more on quora: What is a Basho email in the context of a Sales Play

Basho Email Template Example

Hi xxxxxxxxx,

I read with interest the ‘xxxxxxxxxxx’ article in xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx around the whole area of xxxxxxxxxxxxx and I thought I would reach out to you.

Your sentiments regarding xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (then add your own message, keep it brief)

Would it be possible to have a short discussion around your xxxxx strategy and how we could potentially add value to your approach.

I look forward to hearing from you either way,

Alex

Stroke that ego but don’t be a creep

creep

Just a short note to say that when writing the opening statement to show that you know the person. That you’ve done your research. You can stroke the ego without being a creep. Don’t come across as a stalker. Be genuine. I really enjoyed Mark Roberge’s book and that’s why I reached out to him. Likewise with Beyonce. Read this post from Hubspot for more on not sending creepy emails.

Did Beyonce and Mark Roberge put a ring on it?

ring

Beyonce sent me her draft email to Mark Roberge for comments before sending it out. Basically she nailed it. Respecting her privacy on this email, i’ll summarise what Beyonce did well:

  • Opening statement mentioned that Beyonce had read the Interview on SaaScribe with Mark and in particular, his opinion on the consumerisation of Enterprise software and the role of sales and marketing in SaaS Models and that’s why Beyonce was reading Mark’s book. – Displays that research has been done. Nothing creepy or disingenuous.
  • Take’s that research into the ask and why Mark’s perspective would be invaluable for the Masters Thesis and asks for an interview.
  • What’s in it for him. The entire proceeds from Marks book, go to the charity BUILD Boston. Beyonce made an offer to donate.

The result? Mark Roberge agreed to an interview with Beyonce. Beyonce’s Master’s Thesis will most likely be that much more awesome. BUILD got a donation.

To Basho or not to Basho? That is the question.

Image Credit: Stewart Jeans

So what can you learn from this?

Going back to the origin of this article, with Beyonce reaching out to me to ask how I managed to get the interviews with the likes of Mark Roberge: If you are struggling with something, ask someone. Beyonce asked a complete stranger living 10,000 miles away and got results.

Basho email strategy seems to be an open secret. I’ve had an 11 year Sales career but never heard or read the term ‘Basho’. However, it’s seemingly taught and deployed at Salesforce.com and they are the most successful SaaS Company to date.

Marc Belgrave believes Basho emails have a 65% success rate. That’s goooood.

Basho email strategy should be used to get some time in the diary with your intended prospect. Don’t get salesy in the email.

CXO’s and the technology sector in general favour brevity. Cut out those long emails.

Don’t be a creep (in your email).

To finish with some good advice, not from me, but from Aaron Ross, author of Predictable Revenue. Email Templates should be personal. Craft your own and don’t share it. Test what works and what doesn’t work. Basho might not be for everyone but give it a try in the right context.

by Alex Theuma @alextheuma

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1 comment

  1. Jhankar Khemka

    Dear Alex,

    Thank you for this lovely insights and introducing us to Basho email strategy. But what would you recommend for the subject? You did talk in detail regarding the mail but to get there we need strong and appealing subject to make the recipient open the mail isn’t it?

    Would appreciate your insights on the same and my best wishes to Beyonce.

    Best,
    Jhankar

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