Throughout the Show me the Data podcast, we’ve talked to successful sales leaders about the tactics they’ve used to get killer results. We’ve compiled some of their best advice so you can learn from the best of the best in an actionable way. These are the strategies they used to boost their sales and grow revenue. 

The guests featured in this article are:

  • Fernando Nikolic, Director, Demand Generation at Xeneta
  • Filippo Piras, Growth at Shield App
  • Julia Hartwig, Director, Demand Generation at PubNub

Automated Prospecting

If you’re running or working in a small team, efficiency is key. Fernando leads a team of super talented sales and marketing people so he understands firsthand the skill and effort behind doing more with less. They sat down as a team to figure out how to crush their goals without adding more people. And the answer, of course, is automation.

Automation powers marketing stacks across industries, but it can truly be the superpower helping small teams function as big operations. But which channels can be optimized? How can you do it without taking out the human aspect? 

It all started with data for the Xeneta. They set out to automate as many of the steps as possible.

Step one is being super strict with your ICP criteria. Automation works best when no one who isn’t a fit can slip through the cracks.

“When you automate the process from start to finish, if you even have one to five prospects out of the whole list that are not fit, then they will get weird messages and that’s not going to equate into a good ROI.” –Fernando Nikolic

In terms of channels, start where you have the most control. In Xeneta’s case, they had the most control over email and LinkedIn since that is where you can target the most granularly. To do this, they used an automation tool called PhantomBuster. 

The process looked like this:

  1. Work closely with sales to determine key accounts and best fit personas. This gets as granular as vertical, job title, and seniority. 
  2. Build a list in Sales Navigator to import into PhantomBuster to automation an invitation to connect with an introductory email, and scrape for emails. 
  3. Connect Phantom Buster into Drop Contact for email validation
  4. Push emails into CRM (in this case, HubSpot) to build a list.
  5. From the list, they have templates and sequences built and automated to send relevant messaging.

Fernando has LinkedIn messages and emails programmed to come from different team members so prospects aren’t bombarded by the same person from different platforms. “It’s more of a whole customer experience where they get outreach from different channels and different people saying different things at the same time” -Fernando Nikolic

So how many touchpoints is the right amount? “I would say 30 in 30 days”. Fernando says that this might sound aggressive, but you have to remember they’re using different channels (LinkedIn, email, and phone) and different people reaching out. Here’s what that timeline looks like:

  1. In days 1-10 the goal is to convert the lead to an MQL. This involves sending value-add assets through multiple channels to have the lead engage with your content. This is also where elad scoring comes in based on the landing page they click on, and the score gets higher as they continue engaging.
  2. Once the MQLs have engaged enough to reach a certain score threshold (in Xeneta’s case, that score is 12) they become an SQL and are connected with an SDR.
    1. *make sure the SDR team is aware of what the messaging, content, and offers are throughout the sequence so they’re on the same page.

By the time they reach an SDR they are much warmer and more qualified to have that one-to-one conversation. They save time by not reaching out to people who aren’t ready, and all prospecting and nurturing is totally automated until the lead reaches an SDR.

You can hear the entire breakdown of Xeneta’s strategy here.

Social Listening for Warm Outreach

The best way to boost cold outreach conversions? Engage with leads that aren’t really cold.

Filippo has built an outreach strategy around adding context to cold emails using social listening. They pay attention to LinkedIn conversations, trends around their brand, and trends in the industry as a whole. Here’s how they do it: 

  1. Read and look at who is actually showing interest in what they see. Often times Shield customers post about the platform – the Shield team watches for engagements on those posts. Maybe they’re curious about the platform. Maybe they want to understand how other LinkedIn users got some stats about their content.
  2. Reach out to those leads showing interest with the intention of either redirecting them to their weekly product tour or to nurture them longer and add them to a list on Sales Navigator. The way that they handle this is that they have a channel on Slack called “Love channel” where their Head of Marketing shares all of the posts where LinkedIn users tag Shield.
  3. Prioritize warmer leads (the most engaged ones, engaging with the lowest funnel content) over colder ones.

They keep track of the activity of anyone who likes or comments on their posts or posts tagging Shield.

Tip: Filippo keeps it casual with his outreach “I see that you’re posting content [on LinkedIn] – you are actually not tracking the impact of your organic activities, would you like to check our next product tour on Wednesday?”

To encourage conversations outside of customer posts, it’s built into Shield’s company culture to have employees post on LinkedIn. This means everyone from marketing, to engineering, to accounts is actively posting and engaging on LinkedIn. Posts include:

  • Sharing their own areas of expertise
  • Sharing what they know
  • Sharing content and best practices

But how do you convince a busy team to find time to post on their own LinkedIn pages? Friendly competition.

They’ve built a leaderboard in Slack to share the top post of the week, month, and quarter. This inspires the team’s competitive spirit and promotes better content.

Aside from helping warm up outreach, employee LinkedIn presence promotes the brand as a whole and makes names familiar when someone does receive an email from someone on the Shield team.

Listen to everything Filippo had to say here.

SQL Definition and Lead Qualification


Quality matters. And it can be the difference between overwhelmed SDRs chasing underqualified leads for a too high cost of acquisition, and a successful and efficient pipeline.

When Julia started at PubNub, sales and marketing were separate entities and there was a big gap between leads coming in, and the SDR team reaching out. The first step to fixing this was having the SDR team report to the Demand Gen team. From there, she dove into the data to find where the problems were happening:

  • The number of leads.
  • The cost per MQL
  • The cost per SQL
  • The conversion rate from MQL to SQL
  • The conversion rate to SQL to accepted by the Account Executive

Her goal was to solve for: 

  • The likelihood of closing from an accepted SQL
  • The timeline around closing and winning back the advertising or other costs

“We’re not mad men, this is big data. I don’t care what you think,  just tell me what the numbers tell you.” -Julia Hartwig

Once that was sorted out, here’s how they went about having better SQL definition and lead qualification:

  1. Sort leads looking for the free self-serve model into a separate funnel from paid leads that are more qualified.
    • If you don’t have a freemium option, this could be applied to sorting lead magnet leads from content downloads  into a marketing nurture to warm them up, and pricing or product questions into a separate funnel.
  2. Point all paid leads to the sales team directly.
    • This allowed them to better control costs by seeing which keywords were driving SQLs.
    • Based on the above analogy, these are the lower funnel leads.
  3. Give SDRs the ability to filter leads.
  4. Build intuitive and dynamic lead scoring.
    • Here’s what PubNub considers:
      • Which blogs they visited
      • What document pages they looked at
      • What they are likely to be building
      • What industries they are in
  5. Ensure email quality
    • To reduce bounces and the risk of being thrown into spam folders by sending mass emails, PubNub filters out as many bad emails as they can. They filter the leads to make sure each contact has a good email at the right company that fits their ICP. 

Clean data and alignment mean a predictable pipeline. After 8 months they’ve seen a 48% increase in revenue and since they only push through quality leads their conversion rate rose from 2% to 10-20%.

We dove deeper into PubNub’s entire team restructuring, SQL process, and more here.


At the end of the day, the thing that ties all three of these approaches together is good data. They analyzed the numbers, took on strategies that fit, and iterated for what works.

To hear more data-driven insights around all things marketing and sales, check out the Show Me the Data podcast.