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Every sales representative executes a ‘cadence’ when they reach out via email, phone, or using social media to initiate a conversation with a potential prospect. The art of a cadence is determined based on a myriad of factors, fueled primarily by sales reps’ intuition regarding the company and contact being pursued. But, there are a lot of questions that aren’t always clear when initiating a conversation and creating a successful cadence.

  • How many times should I attempt contact?
  • How long should I wait between attempts?
  • What methods are most likely to result in a conversation?
  • What messaging will resonate with my potential buyer?
  • When I should I give up?

These are only a few of the many questions sales reps consider when creating their optimal cadence. Because these cadences are built purely on intuition, the answers to the above questions introduce a variety of answers – many of which limit a sales rep’s ability to effectively turn prospects into potential buyers.

Place one call too many, and you tick off your lead.

Give up too soon on someone, and you will turn up short on quota.

So, what is the right cadence and how should companies begin building them?

Sales Cadence, Defined

I asked our Labs team — the research and best practice arm of InsideSales.com to see if they could crack the code. In analyzing 14,000+ cadences, made up of 144,000+ total activities, across nearly 9,000 companies, the team determined a more clear definition of sales cadence and uncovered five critical components for a successful cadence.

Their research revealed that an optimal sales cadence is a sequence of activities that increases contact and qualification rates. When cadences are performed correctly, they not only increase a rep’s ability to engage with a prospect, but they also educate them on how to become potential buyers.

Key Elements of an Optimal Cadence

Most sales leaders measure their sales teams’ productivity by the number of contact attempts per lead. While volume is an important part to a sales rep’s success, when it comes to effective cadence, the number of attempts is only one piece of the puzzle. Here are the five key elements:

  1. Attempts: The total number of touch points made
  2. Media: The type of communication methods used
  3. Duration: The time between the first and last attempt
  4. Spacing: The time gap between contact attempts
  5. Content: The messaging used

 

For organizations to build optimal cadences, all five elements need to be studied and implemented. Unfortunately, this is where most sales teams go wrong. Oftentimes, reps think they have a strong sales cadence when in fact, the numbers tell a different story.

According to a research report by TOPO(1), sales development representatives believe they perform:

  • An average of 15.5 touches per lead
  • An average of a 20-day duration for their cadence

When we examined the actual data, we compared the TOPO averages versus our medians to eliminate the effect of outliers and the numbers were significantly different(2).

  • 4.05 total attempts(3) – 26.1% versus the actual number
  • 4.89-day duration(4) – 24.5% versus the actual number

Is it a wonder they’re all missing their numbers?

Surprised? I’m not. Most of us think we’re better than we are and more often than not, we judge ourselves as better than average in most traits.

What’s the best way to overcome this attitude? Have a professional point out that you suck. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m calling your sales teams’ bluff and telling you not to believe everything you hear.

InsideSales.com’s Sales Cadence Audit Report

The “Cadence Audit – 2017” research report from InsideSales.com also showed that:

  • The most common outreach practice is a single email (32 percent of respondents use this method)
  • 61 percent of first contacts happen via email
  • The second most utilized cadence is a single call and a voicemail (6 percent)

When cadences are performed correctly, they increase a rep’s ability to interact with a prospect, educate them to become a potential buyer and prevent deals from falling through, the research report shows.

Perfecting cadence is a core component of both the art and science of effective inside sales. When sales reps lead with an unstructured cadence, they put potential sales at risk. Optimal cadences can boost results by up to 110 percent. These are not trivial improvements.

It’s crucial not to leave your sales cadence to chance.

Email Prospecting vs Cold Calling

Most commonly, sales cadence is picked subjectively by sales representatives in companies. They will simply cherry pick the method they find most convenient for contacting their leads or prospects.

And right now, the preferred method of sales communication is email.

However, much is lost in an email exchange –  a pause on the phone, or a subtle sigh, can offer you valuable input into a prospect’s situation.

Furthermore, in the later stages of the sales cycle, phone calls are much more valuable then emails for progressing a deal.

First, sales leaders need to establish the winning sales cadence strategy that works for their company. They also need to educate sales representatives to make sure sales cadence best practices are implemented.

InsideSales.com Sales Cadence Strategy

Building your sales cadence purely on intuition can limit a sales rep’s ability to effectively turn prospects into potential buyers. This is why we’ve created a research study. Using this research, you will be able to figure out how sales representatives contact their leads and how they follow up, and determine what are the best ways to improve your organization’s performance.

Download the executive summary of the Sales Cadence Audit to learn more.

· The five components of a cadence
· What are the baselines and benchmarks by industry for each component
· How to successfully implement cadence best practices in your organization

 

 

 

(1) TOPO’s 2016 Sales Development Benchmark Report. A summary can be found at http://blog.topohq.com/emergence-strategic-sales-development-2016-topo-sales-development-benchmark-report/

(2) The average attempts per lead was 6.60, still significantly lower than the TOPO data

(3) 4.05 represents the median and only includes calls and emails not social touches

(4) 4.89 is the median