Success in sales begins with planning. This includes crafting a sales strategy, formulating a sales process, and writing a sales proposal. How a sales team follows up with a prospect should also be planned out. You can achieve this by creating a sales cadence, which ensures your sales reps follow up with prospects consistently.
What is a sales cadence?
A sales cadence is a scheduled series of actions that sales reps take to establish a connection when looking to close a sale with a prospect. It provides a systematic framework for sales reps to follow in the course of doing their job. It includes all the sales rep's touchpoints with a prospect, including phone calls, voicemails, emails and social media interactions.
A sales cadence begins at the first point of contact and continues through a sequence of interactions until the sales rep either converts the prospect into a sales opportunity or the prospect leaves the sales cadence for more nurturing.
Importance of a sales cadence
A sales cadence enables sales reps to diversify their outreach to prospects across multiple channels. Some prospects respond more positively (or are easier to reach) over the phone, while others prefer to communicate by email or social media. An effective sales cadence includes multiple channels for connecting with prospects.
Benefits for sales reps
A sales cadence helps sales reps by:
- Providing a structured framework of follow-up calls and emails for every prospect
- Removing the guesswork from their approach
- Maintaining consistency for all prospect interactions
- Helping them to close more deals in less time
- Moving leads through the stages of the sales funnel
Benefits for businesses
A sales cadence helps businesses by:
- Boosting conversion rates for leads brought in through outbound sales and marketing channels
- Ensuring consistency among sales reps
- Supporting greater accuracy in predictions of sales numbers
Examples of a sales cadence
You can have more than one sales cadence (e.g., for inbound vs. outbound prospecting or for different markets). Below are two examples of sales cadences.
Example of outbound sales cadence
This is an example of a sales cadence for approaching a C-level executive prospect:
- Day 1: Personalized email and LinkedIn connection request
- Day 3: Email
- Day 6: Email
- Day 8: Phone call (leave a voicemail if there is no response) and email
- Day 11: Email
- Day 13: Email
- Day 16: Breakup email
Example of inbound sales cadence
This is an example of a sales cadence to respond to a C-level executive who has already shown some level of interest in your company:
- Day 1: Introductory phone call (leave a voicemail if there is no response) and introductory email
- Day 2: Phone call (leave a voicemail if there is no response) and send another email or reply to their email
- Day 3: Phone call only
- Day 5: Phone call only and reply to previous email
- Day 7: Phone call (leave a voicemail if there is no response)
- Day 8: Phone call only and message on their LinkedIn page
- Day 10: Phone call and email
- Day 14: Email
- Day 18: Phone call and email
- Day 21: Breakup email and phone call (leave a voicemail if there is no response)
Elements of a good sales cadence
Ideal customer profile
The first step is to identify your ideal customer profile, which provides clarity on your prospect's industry, their persona and how to reach them. The sales cadence will vary according to multiple factors, such as the prospect's position at their company.
To create an ideal customer profile for the businesses you want to target, identify similar characteristics among your current client businesses. Answer the following questions:
- What is the target company's industry?
- How large is the company?
- How many employees does it have?
- What is the company's annual revenue and profit?
- Where is the company located?
- Which department can use your product or service?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What solution are they currently using?
Next, look for the right people to contact at the company. Search LinkedIn for keywords related to their title. Then, create personalized messages to engage with those prospects. Categorize prospects according to their hierarchy (e.g., decision-makers, upper-level managers, lower-level managers) and create a sales cadence for each category.
Medium of communication
The sales cadence should cover all typical modes of communication, including phone calls, voicemails, emails, text messages and social media networks. When choosing a channel for each step of the sales cadence, consider the industry and buyer persona. For example, in-person meetings might work better for some industries, while others might be very active on social media. Read through the prospect's website and social media pages to determine where they are most active.
Timing of contact is also important. Consider when people are most likely to read their emails or answer phone calls before you reach out. Focus on contacting prospects when it will be most convenient for them.
Number of contact attempts
Reaching out too few times is a common error for inexperienced sales reps. Many people give up after two or three attempts. It takes an average of seven touchpoints to get a prospect's attention, while the ideal sales cadence will have eight to 12 touchpoints.
However, every buyer persona and industry is different. Start with a minimum number of touchpoints and be consistent; use data and experimentation to adjust the number of contact attempts.
Time between attempts
Leave sufficient spacing between touchpoints to avoid overwhelming the prospect. They need some time to read your content, understand how you could help them, and make a decision. Two days between touchpoints is ideal – keep the spacing consistent.
Duration of sales cadence
The duration (i.e., length of time from first to last touchpoint) of the sales cadence should be about two to four weeks. Determining factors include the prospect's engagement with your contact (e.g., ignoring all messages vs. clicking on email links) and the target industry (e.g., SMB vs. enterprise).
Content of your message
How you start an email or cold call to a prospect will greatly affect how they react. Your content must be intriguing and informative to keep the conversation going.
Personalizing the subject line and body copy of your email will improve your open rates. Explain why you're contacting the prospect, what you can do to help, how they will benefit from the relationship, and who else you have worked with. Follow up in future emails with materials that demonstrate how your product or service will help to solve their problem (e.g., case studies or customer success stories).
When cold calling, explain why you are calling, focus on one problem the prospect wants to solve, and describe your solution. Always ask for a convenient time to call again.
Trial and error
Every sales cadence will vary according to factors unique to that business and industry. Monitor the effectiveness of your sales cadence after reaching out to prospects. If prospects are not opening emails, test a different subject line. If click-through and email response rates are below average, add more useful content. If prospects are returning more phone calls in the morning than after lunch, change your sales cadence to match.
Record the results of your sales cadence, and compare your current results to past results to see what is working or not.
Tips for creating an effective sales cadence
Follow these tips to create a sales cadence that works and does not annoy prospects:
- Wait at least one day (but not more than four days) between contact attempts.
- Increase the time between contacts after each attempt.
- Use your CRM software to maintain the consistency of your sales cadence plan.
- Be persistent in your approach, but don't become clingy or obsessive.
- Always ask how your prospect prefers to be contacted, and use this information for future contact.
- Send different types of valuable content that will resonate with your prospect.
- Consider both quality and quantity of contacts.
- Test every part of your sales cadence (e.g., number of emails, click-through rates, content with the best responses). Track your results, identify and focus on what works, and repeat.