Rhythm. Patter. Pace. Flow. They matter greatly in music, in sports and in sales. For agency new business, it’s critical to have a clearly defined sales cadence that outlines the number of touches, how frequently they’re made, and the content of each touch.
A sales cadence strategy is cornerstone to a proactive outbound sales program. Without one, sales people will be stuck in a circle of high-volume, inefficient activities. This will keep agency principals reliant on unpredictable referrals and unqualified inbound leads (if they’re even getting them in the first place).
How to Approach a New Lead
When business development reps work a new lead, how often should they call? When should they email? When is it time to give up and move onto the next lead?
These questions can pervade sales teams. Business development reps are often uncertain of what’s acceptable and what’s most effective. They don’t want to contact a prospect so often as to turn them off, but also want to make sure they’re contacting them enough to get a response.
To combat that ambiguity, many sales reps play a numbers game. Like a rookie baseball batter, they swing a lot, hoping that eventually they’ll get on base.
These reps pick up the phone constantly, “swinging” haphazardly without thinking about what they’re swinging at.
A sales cadence can solve that uncertainty.
For the unfamiliar, a sales cadence is a schedule of when reps should reach out to prospects. Reps using a regular cadence of activities have a process to more predictably hit goals.
A sales cadence creates a more effective outreach strategy, allowing business development reps to reach out to more prospects with the right content, through the right channels, at the right time. When used effectively, sales cadences help get more qualified meetings with senior decision-makers at your dream clients.
A sales cadence is the equivalent of a batter determining before they reach the plate what bat they’ll use, the strengths and weaknesses of the pitcher they’re facing, the type of pitches that will probably be thrown and when to swing to most likely make solid contact.
Struggling at the Plate
When I first started at Catapult New Business I was struggling to keep up with the volume necessary to produce qualified opportunities for agency clients. I found myself writing the same email and leaving the same voice mails, hundreds of times. I often lost track of whom I was supposed to be contacting.
I was inconsistent, reaching out to some prospects only a couple of times and others a dozen or more times. I spent an exorbitant amount of time thinking of my next move or searching for case studies and thought-leadership articles to share. I had no plan.
There had to be a better way. A way that would allow me to increase outreach volume and deliver better results.
The epiphany came when I was introduced to SalesLoft, a sales engagement software platform. It provides users the ability to create custom sales cadences so business development reps can orchestrate a defined number of touch points, during a certain period, through multiple channels.
I began creating sales campaigns that planned out in advance for each touch point the email messaging and phone scripts. Each touch point built on the previous one, sharing new pieces of the agency’s story throughout the cadence. The collective messaging shared our agency’s value, approach and unique ability to solve problems.
The results were immediate. My volume of outreach nearly doubled. Because the cadence followed a specific sequence with specific messaging, I could better identify effectiveness and adjust. This led to more productive “swings” and more “home runs.”
Creating Your Sales Cadences
Here are the steps to take to create a winning sales cadences.
Define your target audience
Develop separate cadences for different account tiers. For your A accounts, you’ll want more personalized cadences with specific content. Your B accounts can be more general.
Determine the duration
Time is our most valuable resource. At some point, if you haven’t heard back from a prospect, you need to move on. Companies that have a longer sales cycle or higher-value deals may want a longer cadence with more touches. I’ve found success using intense 14-day multi-touch cadences. If I don’t hear from a prospect, I pause outreach for 90-120 days before beginning another intense sprint.
Determine the number of touch points
How many times will you reach out? According to HubSpot, the average rep attempts to call leads 1.3 times before giving up. That’s not enough. I’ve found that it routinely takes up to eight attempts for business development reps to initiate contact with a lead. After that, your reps’ time might be better spent chasing new leads.
Determine the intervals
Will you be reaching out at a set internal, such as every 3 days? Or will you start with more touch points early in the cadence and slow down as it advances? I like to start slow and then increase my frequency. I give the prospect time to digest my introduction and respond, but if they don’t, I turn up the heat.
Determine what channels you’ll use
It’s important to diversify your approach. Some people respond better to calls; others prefer to respond to email. Depending on the agency, a sales cadence should include a mix of phone calls, emails, direct mail, and social media activities.
Write copy and scripts
Your content needs to be relevant. The beauty of a sales cadence is you do not need to overwhelm the prospect with all your information in the first touch point. Each should build on the previous and tell a story of who you are and why they should care. You can map out what content is best to share on which channel.
I am big on strategy, but don’t get too hung up on making things perfect. With every prospect through every touch point, you’ll gain insight and can continuously refine. It’s more important to start executing than it is to spend days or weeks perfecting something you will refine.
A Sales Cadence Example
Cadence Name: Retail Journey Mapping
Target: Retailers, CRM and CX Job Titles
7 Touches x 14 Days
|TOUCH||DAY||TYPE||TEMPLATE / SCRIPT NAME|
|2||6||Phone Call #1 & Voice Mail #1||Introduction Follow Up / Case Study Introduction|
|3||6||Email #2||Case Study|
|4||10||Phone Call #2 & Voice Mail #2||Case Study Follow Up|
|5||10||Email #3||Thought Leadership|
|6||14||Phone Call #3 & Voice Mail #3||Break Up|
|7||14||Email #4||Break Up|
Refining and Revising
Haphazard outreach will limit your success. Investing the time upfront to build a sales cadence strategy creates a more scalable, consistent and repeatable process. You can test variables such as cadence duration, intervals, channels, messaging and scripts. In a short time, the insights can help refine the cadence and make it more effective, eliminating uncertainty and empowering reps.
You have to think about your business, your sales cycle, your average sales price and how that bears on your ideal sales process. Don’t be afraid to pivot – your first, second or even fifth go-around may not be ideal. The goal is to continuously get better.
The batter who knows his opponent, can better predict which pitches are likely to be thrown and can adjust their swing accordingly is more likely to get on base. The same goes for your business development work. Sales cadences give you the preparation, planning and structure to increase your ability to knock it out of the park.