The Personalization Process

5 Questions with Gautam Rishi

🎯 The Personalization Process

You can’t just jump right into personalizing your messages. Learn how Gautam sets up his pre-personalization foundation to ensure that it’s scalable and impactful.

We’re living in the golden age of personalization for sales teams.

And we’re not talking, “saw you went to {}” or “noticed you were the {title} at {company}.”

That’s NOT personalization. It’s customization. And there’s a huge difference.

Truly personalized messages combine that customization with relevance. It makes the message unmistakably unique. It’s for a single recipient – not a template you customize for different prospects.

 It’s not easy. You can’t scale it. And a lot of work needs to be done on the front-end before you can start personalizing your messages in earnest.

Gautam Rishi knows a thing or two about that. He’s helping build OneShot to make that pre-personalization work easier and less time-consuming.

We sat down to talk about what teams need to put in place to make the personalization efforts of their SDRs worth it.

Our Guest

What He Does: Guatam is the Co-Founder and CEO of

How to Connect: Guatam’s LinkedIn |

Personalized messages combine that customization with relevance. It makes the message unmistakably unique. It’s for a single recipient – not a template you customize for different prospects.

It’s not easy. You can’t scale it. And a lot of work needs to be done on the front-end before you can start personalizing your messages in earnest.

Gautam Rishi knows a thing or two about that. He’s helping build OneShot to make that pre-personalization work easier and less time-consuming.

Play Video

Key Takeaways

  1. Let’s start with some definitions. What does “personalization” even mean? What do you see most people try to define it as?

  2. Before you start personalizing your messages, what foundationally needs to be in place?

  3. Let’s talk about the process around personalization. A lot of reps try to get it “perfect” in one go, but we know that’s a pipe dream. What’s a more realistic scenario?

  4. How can SDRs set themselves up for success when it comes to personalization? What resources should they be leveraging?

  5. There’s a push for SDRs to “show me you know me,” but there’s A LOT of data to comb through. I know you’re solving some of that with OneShot. What do you envision the future of personalization to look like?

Highlights, Notes, and Resources

Biggest Takeaways

🔊 If you want to break through the noise, you have to personalize. It’s no longer good enough to be persistent, you have to be clever, creative, and relevant with your message. Otherwise, you get sucked up in the sea of bad prospecting messges.

the sea of bad prospecting

👑 Personalization is great, but relevance is king. Hooking someone with a personal message is just half the battle. If you can’t relate that personal tidbit back to the value of your solution, the message is too fragmented. Continuity is more important than you think.

🪜 Think of your email like a ladder. A good subject line encourages your prospect to open the email and read the introduction. A good introduction pushes them to the body. A good body pushes them to the conclusion & CTA. A good CTA pushes them to respond. If any of those rungs are broken, the prospect won’t keep pushing.

🏗️ Setting up a solid foundation & process before you dive into this world is so important. It’s going to help you a LOT if you know:

  1. What are my go-to personalization channels? Is it easier to find contact level info, or company level info? Do I have an “order of operations” for which sites I go to for research? Do I have a base message I can use for each persona?

  2. What message do I use for each of my outreach channels? How you prospect someone on LinkedIn is vastly different from how you do it via cold email.

    • LinkedIn has InMails, Connection Requests, Messages, Voice Notes, etc. Have you considered how you approach each and when to use them?

  3. What are my “whys?” Why am I reaching out to this person in particular? What am I trying to achieve? Can I articulate that (without asking for a meeting)?

🏊 We all know that personalization and relevance are important. But if you don’t take a step back and allow your SDRs to breathe, nobody wins. Expecting them to adopt personalization techniques right away is like throwing them into the deep end of the pool. Heck, some SDRs won’t even know how to send a calendar invite yet. Your job as a leader is to make sure they’re properly set-up and supported.

Support comes in many shapes & forms. Recently, our CEO Lindsay Frey dug into the power of an empowered SDR team with Jessica Jones of ANNUITAS.

Conversation Highlights

Note: Timestamps correspond to the YouTube video

(3:10) Why are we even talking about this? Because engagement (open & response rates) is at an all-time low. And you need to personalize your message to stand out. It wasn’t always like this, as Gautam illustrates, but it’s now the standard for cold outreach.

🎙️ Speaking of engagement rates, check out this previous episode of UNSUBSCRIBE with Ollie Whitfiled of VanillaSoft. He dives into some great best practices to help you boost engagement and stand out.

(4:15) No disrespect, but this shift towards personalization has really shed light on the fact that the SDR role is a proper job. The “sales admin” or “low-cost resource” mentality needs to disappear if you want to get the most out of this function.

(5:43) Customization =/= Personalization. You have to go beyond the suggested dynamic fields in your SEP (think: title, company name, education history) to catch someone’s attention.

(6:13) Personalization should be quick. “If you’re spending more than 10 minutes on an email, you’re spending too long.” How convenient that our friends at LeadIQ invented the “10 Minute Game” for message personalization…

(6:40) Personalization is broken into person-based and company-based personalization.

Person-based revolves around finding information on their social feeds (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) that you can tie back to your solution’s value. Things like their LinkedIn recommendations, their “About Me” section, their work experience, etc…

💡This is a good opportunity to use Hypothesis Prospecting. It’s when you form a theory around what your prospect might have a problem with based on the research you’ve done. Props to our buds at for that!

Company-based is similar, but you’re grabbing information about the account as a whole. You can still leverage social feeds, but you can also dip into company news (funding announcements, press releases, etc.), leadership hires, competitor news/updates, etc.

(12:18) Hey SDRs, listen up! Wanna prospect Alex (or people like him)? Take his advice.

(16:31) If you have your end goal in mind (help, don’t sell), it helps eliminate the typical “smell” of a cold message. You can tell when someone is connecting with you to try and sell you something vs. build a relationship.

(16:59) Sorry, everyone, you have to use your brain for this to work 😅

And it’s understandable that reps get lazy. The job is hard. You can get fatigued easily. And dropping someone into a templated cadence is much easier than researching what they do and who they work for. But you HAVE to fight that urge (or use AI tools to help you 😉).

(19:39) What you need more than anything else is a system. Personalization can only scale if you have consistent processes that you follow and sources to pull from.

And it’s not the same for everyone. There’s no “silver bullet.” You have to experiment and figure out the best system for you.

🎙️ Speaking of Silver Bullets – here’s Joe Latchaw’s take on the existence of Silver Bullets on his episode of UNSUBSCRIBE.

(21:42) Looking for an example/inspiration? Gautam talks through the basic process he & his team uses to target prospects and personalize outreach. And going beyond that, how you can use your historic conversion rates to systematize how much prospecting you should do based on your end goals.

(26:20) Account tiering is your friend! Being able to identify which accounts deserve that extra bit of effort can help you budget your time more effectively.

🏆 Want a basic account tiering framework? Check out “Good, Better, Best.”

(27:58) Once you’ve been doing the SDR role for 6-12 months, you start to just…for lack of a better phrase, get it. A quick eyeball test can tell you whether or not a prospect is likely to respond, or if a company could benefit from your solution.

And that eyeball test helps you tier accounts more efficiently. And when you do that more efficiently, everything gets easier.

(30:18) When do you make that jump from “SDR 101” to more advanced personalization tactics? Because you can’t just jump into the deep end – you’ll flounder. But you don’t want to wade in the shallow area for too long.

Gautam gives it ~1 month. That’s enough time to get them onboarded (from a technical perspective) and really understand what their solution does, who it helps, and the main value it provides.

You want them to really understand what the company does – not just what the website says, but in their own words.

🔺François Bourdeau called this “being the delta” on his episode of SDRepresent. You want your SDRs to surface up all the stuff a prospect can’t find about you online.

(34:11) Gautam mentions a great exercise here to illustrate the value of personalization & relevance to your SDRs. Comparing their first emails to what they produce a month later (and then 6 months later) will highlight just how powerful good personalization systems are.

Another tip: listen to your colleague’s phone calls. No better way to learn (and compare your own efforts) than to hear it from someone who has the experience and has seen success. And make sure you ask them questions!

(41:07) Let’s look to the future of prospecting. As buyers continue to become frustrated by lazy & generic outreach, the best SDRs are evolving in ways to cut through the noise and grab their prospect’s attention.

Personalization will be a given rather than a differentiator. Cadences will be multi-channel & multi-step by default. And it will be done at a scale that dwarfs the current ways of doing things.

The future of personalization is making sure that SDRs get the information that they need – the most crucial pieces to use in their messaging – delivered to them faster and more efficiently, so they can turn that around and make it relevant to the message that they’re sending out to their prospects.

Additional Resources

In November of 2020, we ran an event with SDRevolution that highlighted some of the innovative ways SDRs are grabbing their prospect’s attention.

Whether it’s taking advantage of video prospecting, leveraging social channels in new ways, or changing how your pitch is delivered, reps are finding ways to be successful despite the growing sea of bad prospecting.

Catch the recording of that event ⬇️ and get inspired to try something new today!

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