“To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.”
Sun Tzu’s Art of War may be an ancient piece of literature but contains nuggets of valuable information, such as the quote cited above. And while it is poetically sugarcoated, the message is crystal clear – sales is no less than Hunger Games, so prepare if you wish to stay ahead.
And sales cadence is the plan that will keep you afloat. When reading up on sales cadence, you may have come across its various forms, namely, inbound, outbound, transactional, relational, etc.
In this post, we are examining the “outbound” facet of sales cadence and everything it entails.
What Is A Sales Cadence in business?
Sales cadence is a sequence of activities followed by a salesperson to close a deal and score a customer. These actions are spread across a defined number of days and encompass all the attempts at contacting the prospect across various channels.
When it comes to outbound sales cadence, your sales rep is cold prospecting after researching. Based on this, they conclude that a certain individual or organization is perfect for your company’s product and services.
Naturally, when you are the one reaching out to the prospect, the sales cadence process will involve tools for generating brand awareness, educating leads, and engaging them in the long run.
Typically, every sales cadence includes six elements:
- Attempts: The total number of touchpoints to establish contact.
- Media: The nature of communication channel.
- Duration: The period between the first and last attempt.
- Spacing: The strategic delay between two subsequent attempts.
- Response Time: The time elapsed while responding to leads.
- Content: The messaging employed to engage, educate, and captivate audiences.
Why Should Your Company Have a Well-Defined Sales Cadence?
Are you thinking, “What’s all this fuss about sales cadence?” Here are some solid reasons why you should be giving it the attention that it truly deserves:
- It imparts structure and organization to the lead generation, qualification, and prospecting process and translates them into a free-flowing and well-defined strategy.
- Tracking your prospects and their position in the sales funnel becomes easier when you can map it against a sales cadence.
- Businesses that follow a sales cadence maintain consistency in their outreach endeavors, which improves their chances at conversion.
- When your sales team follows a defined script to follow, they have a more hands-on approach while handling peak demands.
- It aligns every member of your sales team with the greater objective, and their focused effort speeds up the conversion at a faster rate.
How Can Sales Reps Benefit From a Structured Sales Cadence?
The above section talks about the benefits of sales cadence from a business’s point of view. But in reality, sales cadence delivers the results by augmenting the capabilities of your sales team, which is made possible in the following ways:
- It acts as the ultimate Sales Bible by charting the entire roadmap from the first contact to pulling the trigger on asking for sales. Anyone, from a seasoned salesperson to an absolute novice, can follow it to drive results.
- An effective sales cadence can be a tool to prospect leads using outbound marketing practices and measuring their response.
- With a structured sales cadence in place, sales representatives no longer have to struggle to keep track of all their prospects and the further course of action as all of the information will be available on the sales enablement software. There will be fewer missed opportunities as much of the work is already laid out for them.
- It capitalizes on opportunities using a mix of content types and formats that a sales rep may have otherwise missed or not even considered.
- Sales teams can deploy cadence to track the deal stages by charting the customer journey across the sales funnel and identifying the sales-ready prospects.
8 Sales Cadence Best Practices to Follow
Now that you understand the role and importance of sales cadence, it is time to put it to practical use. And while you are at it, keep the following best practices in mind while drafting your sales cadence to maximize its impact:
1. Create an Ideal Customer Profile
Broadcasting to a wide audience base might sound like a good idea. After all, it will help you get the word out about your business or its product and services. But what is the point in creating this awareness when it will not culminate into something useful?
The bottom line is that you need to pitch to customers who convert. Else, you would effectively be wasting your time, effort, and resources on just creating noise!
Building an ideal customer profile can help in this regard.
As the name suggests, an ideal client profile lends clarity to your long-term paying customers under ideal circumstances. These parameters will then dictate the terms of your sales cadence and your overall approach to it.
You could quantify your customers according to their age, industry, geographic location, size, and several other variables. Cherry-pick the characteristics that are relevant, appropriate, and applicable to profile your customers.
Once you have shortlisted your target audiences, identify the point of contact that will offer you an in on the organization. Categorize these contacts into account-based priority depending on their say and weightage in the decision-making process. Continue performing this segmentation at a cross-company level.
2. Shortlist the Channels of Communication
Typically, the most common outreach channels include emailing, text messaging, phone calls, social media posts, and voicemail. And an effective sales cadence must encompass all these elements.
However, the degree to which you depend on these channels and alternate between them may vary depending on your audience, their corresponding industry, and the buyer’s persona. Hence, you will once again have to refer to your ideal customer profile while making this decision.
For instance, you are operating in a high-risk industry such as finance, where you need to earn trust and credibility. Here, you may have to schedule in-person meetings or regular communication over phone calls. In contrast, if you are operating a SaaS-based startup, you can start scouting websites and pitch through social media, and you would still get favorable responses.
Plus, each mode of communication has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, your contact may not be available at all times to attend your call, but when they do, you can be more convincing over a call and build a personal repertoire.
Conversely, an email gives them the convenience to get back to you when they are free and available. However, emails can drown in an overflowing inbox, and you may never hear back! Formulate a strategy that harnesses the advantages of each channel and offsets any disadvantages. Hubspot features an excellent sales cadence that utilized email, InMail, calls, and voicemails to land meetings. You could follow something similar or formulate something that speaks to your target audience.
3. Identify the Necessary Number of Touches
Here’s where everything gets extremely interesting – determining the number of contact attempts so that you do not come off as clingy or distant. You may be in constant turmoil having to choose between two diametrically opposite philosophies: “a salesperson never accepts a no for an answer” and “break up with a prospect when you notice the first signs of them not converting.”
What is this magic number where you must fold your cards?
Fun fact, there isn’t one!
In one of our podcasts, Jeb Blount did an excellent job of breaking down a 77-point cadence where the sales rep did not come across a push at all!
In other words, identifying the necessary and ideal number of touches is more of a trial and error experimentation subject to several factors. It changes from industry to industry, audience to audience, and even salesperson to salesperson.
Naturally, someone like Don Draper or David Ogilvy (if you are rooted in reality) would have greater success even with fewer attempts than someone who is learning the ABCs (Always Be Closing) of sales!
But, as a rule of thumb, a sales cadence should have about 8 to 12 touchpoints, with the former working as a reliable average. Start with a smaller and conservative number. After all, the law of diminishing return states that the activity will lose its impact and ability to drive results the more you try to push it.
Beyond this point, you will have to monitor the responses received to add or subtract the number of touchpoints.
And while you’re at it, you will have to work out the timing as well. After all, when it comes to making a sale, it is all about striking the iron when it is hot. So nail down the timing to extract the most out of every communication.
4. Refine the Value Proposition
“Let me take some valuable time out of my busy schedule to see what this company has to say to me.” – said nobody ever.
Whenever your target audience entertains communication from you or interacts with you, they have only one question on their mind – What’s in it for me?
And if you waste time beating around the bush, you will lose their interest and a potential sale. Sure, someone may lend you a polite ear when you talk about how your company came to be. But it is all in vain if that’s all you can talk about! And to avoid losing any semblance of interest, you need to offer value at each touchpoint to maintain high engagement levels.
To articulate your value proposition, identify the fundamental problem that your product or service can solve and use it to drive home a point.
One way to do this is by listing out your target audience’s pain points. Then, you need to posit the brand as the ultimate solution for a maximum number of issues. Of course, while doing so, one needs to be practical and result-oriented. Your customers want to see value in quantifiable and tangible terms rather than vague and sweeping statements – for instance, rather than claiming how your digital marketing service put a brand in the spotlight, talk about how the brand enjoys presence across X continents, how the conversion rates have increased by Y%, and how the Y-o-Y growth of the company is now pegged at Z%. Tap into the experiences of your existing customers and use them as case studies on how you can enrich your prospect’s organization.
Chisel out all the excess details until you are left with the bare bones – why your customers should buy from you. Then package it nicely in a message that your prospect understands and appreciates to nudge them down your sales funnel.
5. Finalize the Media and Content Types
Since we are on the topic of “packaging” the value proposition, the importance of content bears special mention here.
How you open a cold call or start an email plays a clinching role in how the interaction pans out. And it goes without saying that outbound sales require a lot more trust-building activities than their inbound counterpart. Given that you have to take charge, right from introducing your company, yourself, and your offering to finalizing the details of the sale, content is your friend in getting your message across.
To maintain a certain threshold of engagement during your first contact, your content needs to be valuable, succinct, unambiguous, and intriguing. Ideally, your communication must answer four main questions:
- Who are you, and why are you reaching out to the contact?
- What is your value proposition? How can you deliver the same to the receiver?
- How can the organization benefit by starting a long-term business relationship?
- Companies that have benefited from your solution, and how did they achieve it?
From this point onwards, you need to focus on delivering a mixed bag of content in its various forms and formats to delight the prospects. After all, given our dwindling attention spans, nobody will go through walls of text at all times.
In fact, a survey reported that if given a choice, a whopping 72% of consumers preferred product or service videos over their textual equivalent. (And in case you’ve missed the memo, the video is the new blog!)
So, shake things up by throwing in a few videos, whitepapers, infographics, and dare we say, even memes! The point is to engage your prospects in multiple ways so that you have their attention and their trust.
6. Space Out the Attempts
Once again, the frequency of your communication could serve as the fine line that distinguishes persistence worth rewarding and desperation that is best avoided. Sometimes, it is all the white noise over the constant blabbering, which can help the prospect analyze the value you offer.
Think of it as your Tinder match. You do not want to overwhelm your match by pinging them constantly. And at the same time, you don’t want to make it look like you are not interested in them. You want to give them just enough time and space to decide whether they wish to engage with you. Essentially, you need to strategize the delay between every touchpoint.
So, how long should you wait before you make another attempt at connecting with your prospect? Ideally, give them two days tops. And while doing so, maintain consistency in these gaps so that you can continue the sales cadence at a uniform pace.
7. Testing and Optimizing Your Cadence
When it comes to sales, you have to learn, unlearn, and relearn during every single iteration. And so, testing and optimization form an integral part of your sales cadence.
As we have gone on and on, there is no shortcut or magic formula for nailing your sales cadence. So it all boils down to how you make the best of what you have and calibrate it to streamline it even further.
Once you have developed a sales cadence that works for you, you need to monitor its efficacy in delivering the desired results. Consider a situation where your audiences are not opening your emails. You could work on improving your subject line or adding video introductions to bump up the open rates. The inclusion of video boosts email open rates by 13% and conversion rates by 21% – making it an excellent place to start. Similarly, making your CTA buttons more accessible can improve metrics like the click-through rate (CTR).
You may notice that your prospects are more open to hearing from you on Wednesdays and Fridays after lunch hours. So schedule your cold calls then rather than setting them aside for Monday mornings.
All the while, maintain a record of the response that you receive to your sales cadence through the medium of a CRM application. Compare notes and analyze the saved data to identify what works and what fails to take off. As you begin refining your sales cadence, maintain a high degree of consistency as your clients and prospects will appreciate this predictability.
In a nutshell, find what works for you and stick with it until you find ways to improve it even further!
8. Know When to Break Up
The last and final tip is knowing when to call it quits.
Ideally, consider investing anywhere between two to four weeks to see where your talks go. However, it depends on your industry, pitch, decision-making process, point of contact, and several other factors. Hence, this stage is mostly intuitive.
In cases where your calls go unanswered, and your emails remain unopened, you can terminate contact at the two-week mark. For prospects that display a tepid amount of interest, you can engage them for about four weeks. But if you find yourself going around in circles, it would be smarter to abort the mission and concentrate your efforts and resources elsewhere.
In contrast, you can extend this duration upon receiving a positive response, except for a few sales objections that you can overcome effortlessly.
You need to get a feel of the prospect and what they think of you before pressing the eject button.
Example of an Effective B2B Outbound Sales Cadence
A successful B2B outbound sales cadence requires a combination of emails and phone calls. Since it is a completely cold outreach, keep the touchpoints to a modest six or seven. The primary objective is to establish contact with the prospect and keep the deal moving forward.
Here is an example of the sales cadence that you can follow:
- Day 1: Send a personalized email.
- Day 3: Send an email pitching your product/service.
- Day 6: Send the first follow-up video email.
- Day 8: Make a phone call in the evening. Leave a voicemail or email if the call is unanswered.
- Day 11: Send the second follow-up email.
- Day 13: Send the third follow-up email.
- Day 16: Breakup email.
For repeat action, such as sending follow-up emails on subsequent actions, vary the time so that you can time your message to elicit a response. Even though you may conclude the sales cadence with a breakup email, follow up in the next quarter in case you now meet their expectation, budget, or any other objection that may have come in the way.
Based on the multiple elements involved in your sales cadence, the ideal values for outbound sales are somewhat as follows:
Attempts: 6 to 8.
Media: At least 3.
Duration: 14 days.
Spacing: 2 days.
Depending on the medium, the content cap ranges as:
Email: 300 words
Video: 60 seconds.
Voicemail: 30 seconds.
Text messages: 160 characters.
InMail: 150 words.
Sales cadence must follow consistency, which is achievable reliably through automation. Sales automation tools, such as CRM applications, can allow sales representatives to configure a cadence and measure its impact while maintaining a high degree of scalability. Plus, it unlocks potential for additional benefits such as message personalization, omnichannel presence, effective use of resources, and much more.
A well-defined outbound sales cadence can be your yellow brick road.
Of course, as the interactions play out, there are bound to be some variations that will crop up and change the course of the script. However, it will maintain a uniform front for all leads and all salespersons.
Most importantly, it will eliminate all the guesswork and estimation involved in your sales strategy and grant your sales rep peace of mind while following a clear-cut roadmap to success.
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