How to (ethically) steal your prospect’s attention: 5 ultra-creative sales case studies

We’re all cursed, and there’s a pile of research to prove it.

Thanks to excessive entertainment, reams of content, and a barrage of advertisements, we’re swamped with information that we struggle to process.

To determine where to aim our attention and what deserves it, our brains constantly guess what’s coming next.

When we guess right, we switch off.

This phenomenon is known as the “Curse of Knowledge”: When you encounter information that you’re familiar with—like a beaten-to-death professional title (*cough* self-described “thought leaders” *cough*), or a scripted sales message—your brain instinctively “doesn’t wanna know,” because you’ve encountered the same data before.

Courtesy of your ol’ pal BG

But, this “curse” can easily convert into an advantage.

With a creative touch, you can imbue the element of surprise (which Harvard researchers have candidly described as “crack for your brain)” into your lead generation tactics.

To get your creative juices flowing, I’ve listed five surprising sales case studies to inspire your next “out-of-the-box” campaign.

1. GumGum’s custom comic “wows” a unicorn client

T-mobile is a leading cell phone service provider with over $45 billion in annual revenue and 53,000 employees. When GumGum, an AI image recognition software firm, wanted to reach decision-makers at T-mobile, they knew that traveling the beaten path of sending outbound emails wouldn’t work.

So after stumbling across the fact that T-mobile’s CEO John Legere is a huge Batman fan, they blazed their own trail by putting their personalized outreach on steroids.

Collaborating with a creative team of editors, writers, and illustrators, they developed a custom, Batman-spoof style comic book called T-Man and Gums.

After finishing the comic, 100 copies were rushed to T-Mobile and its agencies of record, and the rest, as they say, is history. Within a few hours of receiving the comic, Legere sang their praise on Twitter. And within a few days, a meeting was set and GumGum won the account.

Sales case study takeaway: Whether you’re B2B, or B2C, the fact remains that you’re still B2H—Business to Human. That’s why personalizing your lead generation around the human making decisions on the other end will almost guarantee that you earn attention.

Related: What’s the craziest thing you’re ever done to make a sale?

2. Jeremy Leveille’s brave B2B rap video

Have you ever had a sales rep rap to you?

Probably not. And that’s why this brave B2B rap video from sales veteran Jeremy Leveille earned him the attention of the accounts he was targeting.

In what’s arguably one of the gutsiest sales case studies out there, Jeremy lip-synced the song “Welcome to Atlanta” while clad in an Atlanta Hawks throwback jersey. He concludes with a quick value proposition and then shouts-out existing customers in Atlanta that the prospect would know.

The rap was a success. Not only did Jeremy impress recipients with his creative outreach, but he also received enthusiastic replies from leads that were eager to meet him:

Sales case study takeaway: Video is playing a bigger role in B2B sales. And with most of your competitors relying on the standard text-based cold email or call, using video is an effective way to stand out and add a memorable touch to your outreach campaigns.

(Note: We also included Jeremy’s rap skills in our roundup of B2B cold email templates.)

3. Dennis Oakley’s “soft” outreach earns millions in revenue

Question: You have a strong product, an understanding of your market, and a compelling value proposition. You also have no network. How do you get leads?

It’s a popular predicament that many founders face. For consultant Dennis Oakley, it was a situation he successfully coached a client through.

As a startup in the B2B industrial vertical, his client grew frustrated when the phone failed to ring for two consecutive weeks. To rescue her startup from failing before it could even launch, Oakley and his team set up an aggressive outreach strategy with an unusual twist.

After identifying her ideal customer profile, which was mainly procurement managers at heavy engineering companies, Oakley and his team attended exhibitions to build a list of leads.

At the exhibitions, however, they didn’t shoot straight for the sale when meeting procurement managers and sales reps. Instead, they spoke to over 1,000 contacts and took cards from the companies that were a good fit. Or as Oakley put it “we said hello and took their business cards.”

Then, his team began an outreach campaign that focused on getting those sales reps to pass his client’s value proposition to procurement teams.

Our first few emails were aimed not at the procurement managers but at the salesmen and getting them to forward the value proposition through to the procurement team.”

Within a year, this campaign took Oakley’s client from an unknown startup with zero business to one million dollars in sales.

Sales case study takeaway: Borrow reputation and breed familiarity.

This sales case study shows the value of finding relevant decision-makers and indirectly warming them up before you “go in for the kill.” For your next campaign, ask yourself:

  1. Who are the ultimate decision-makers?
  2. Is it better to be introduced by a middleman?
  3. If so, how can you make that introduction happen?
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