Find out the four elements you need to consider and master to have a successful sales cadence. Keep reading to find out more.
In this article:
- What Is a Sales Cadence: The Problem with Defining Sales Cadence
- The XANT Sales Cadence Research
- The XANT Research Study Results
- Laws to Follow in Building a Sales Cadence
The Sales Cadence Best Practices
Sales Cadence Definition: This refers to the sequence or frequency with which someone like a sales leader meets with the sales team or with individual members. This also refers to the sequence of activities that aim to increase contact and qualification. The main purpose of the sales cadence is to monitor progress.
What Is a Sales Cadence: The Problem with Defining Sales Cadence
I believe there are multiple pillars you need to master to have a great prospecting strategy. Today, I’ll share the four laws of building sales cadence.
This is a topic I discussed with Bob Perkins for a webinar with the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals. Perkins is the Founder of AA-ISP.
We debated the definition and context of “sales cadence.” Some refer to the cadence as a sequence.
There are also others who call it “sales engagement,” “sales play,” or “sales follow-up strategy.” One of the problems we see in the market is we can’t really define what sales cadence and all these other terms are.
This is an interesting debate because a lot of the definitions we have for these come from our gut. We don’t really base them on data.
The XANT Sales Cadence Research
That is why we at XANT decided to conduct research on sales cadence. For this study, we took two steps.
- First, we reached out to 1,400 companies and asked them how they believe they conduct their sales cadence process. We wanted to get opinion data, so we asked them things like the number of touches their sales reps do.
- Second, we visited our big data set and looked at what people were actually doing. XANT has the world’s largest database which captures literally billions of sales interactions.
We looked at three perspectives during the study:
- What people believe they are doing
- What they are actually doing
- The optimal data that will yield the best results
The XANT Research Study Results
The results we got from this study were very interesting. Let me share with you what our team of data scientists told me — mind you, they’re not experts in sales.
The first thing they pinpointed is defining sales cadence. We have to start there.
When you talk about a cadence, you’re referring to a sequence of activities to increase contact and qualification. What we’re focusing on here is trying to get better conversations.
If you do this right, you can qualify people better.
When our data scientists delved further into the data, they were able to break down, or sequence, the DNA of a sales cadence. These are the four laws in building a sales cadence which we will be discussing, and we’ll also cover the fifth law.
Laws to Follow in Building a Sales Cadence
Looking at the data we’ve gathered, we discovered that, if you want to build a cadence, you need to have these five elements:
- Attempts — The total number of touches in a cadence or a sequence
- Media — The pattern you use and the different types of media you use to reach out to prospects (e.g. phone, voice mail, email, etc.)
- Duration — Refers to the length of time from your first touch to your last touch
- Spacing — The time between activities
- Content — The message you say in your communication
That was how our data scientists broke down the DNA of a cadence. Then we decided to go into each one of these four elements, or laws.
In our study, we aimed to know what people believe they do versus what they are actually doing. We also sought the best practices that will yield the best sales cadence results.
An important thing to remember is there is no one-size-fits-all cadence. We didn’t see this in the data we’ve gathered in our research.
Another thing we’ve noticed is outbound cadences are completely different from inbound cadences. Going cold to somebody who’s never heard of your company is a completely different cadence compared to following up on a marketing-generated lead.
All of the data I’m going to share with you today focuses on outbound. They are also primarily B2B sales data.
First Law of the Sales Cadence: Attempts
As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be looking at three perspectives as we discuss the laws in building a sales cadence. Based on our research, sales reps believe that the number of attempts they make per contact is 15.1.
This is fascinating because when you look up the optimal number of attempts in a cadence, the Internet will also give you around 15. This is because it’s what people believe they are doing.
We even broke down the 15 attempts into the different forms they take:
- 4.7 phone calls
- 2.9 voice messages
- 0.7 SMS
- 4.6 emails
- 2 social touches
Yet the real question is, what are sales reps actually doing? We’ve looked at a million data points, so what we’ve found is the average.
Know that by industry and company size, the number can be slightly different. Also, this is outbound-based data, and not inbound.
The actual number of attempts that sales reps make per contact is 3.5. Now, what is the optimal number of attempts?
This was surprising to me, but the optimal is 7 attempts. We saw a big drop in contact rate when you go past 7 attempts in an outbound cadence.
Also, although 7 is the optimal number, this is true only in a specific time frame. What we found in the data is that there are companies that practice “recycling.”
They will run a cadence of 7 attempts for a certain time frame, then they’ll let that sit dormant for a certain time. Afterward, they’ll recycle that and hit them 7 times again.
That recycle time differs between companies, but know that you can run a play, attack them 7 times, and then come back. Run a different play later 7 times.
If you have a target account, you “never” stop going after it. That’s why you recycle.
Second Law of the Sales Cadence: Media
Next is media, which refers to the types of communication you use in a cadence.
How many communication methods can a sales rep use in a prospecting cadence? We’re talking about inbound or outbound here.
We asked this question to sales reps, and they responded with 7. The communication methods they mentioned were phone, voice mail, text, chat, email, social, and direct mailer.
There was a big debate on video — a lot of people we surveyed said they believe that video is part of email. It’s true that it is generally a part of a different channel, so you can’t use it by itself.
The point is, there are many different types of communication methods. Don’t box yourself within email or phone, because there’s a lot out there that you can utilize.
One of the things we found interesting was, only 10.4% of sales reps and teams use video and email. To me, that screams opportunity!
Another underutilized communication method is direct mailer. We surveyed 500 executives from different industries and asked them which type of communication method they’ll respond to best.
Direct mail actually came on top, yet there’s a low percentage of salespeople using that. This is another opportunity to explore on an underutilized communication method.
Now when we looked into the data, we discovered that salespeople are predominantly using only two communication methods.
The optimal number is three or even more. Your contact rate will increase four times if you don’t limit your communication methods.
Expand your horizon — that’s the best advice you can follow when it comes to media. Remember that anything you initiate that causes somebody to learn about you is already considered an attempt, or touch.
Third Law of the Sales Cadence: Duration
Duration is often less thought about, compared to attempts and media. We asked our survey participants how long they think the typical cadence of a sales rep lasts.
That’s from the first touch down to the last touch. The average duration our survey participants came up with was about a month.
We’re referring to the total days in a month, not only the business days. Based on the data we gathered, the actual practice is around 20 to 25 days.
The other question we posed was, how long should your outbound cadences be? Survey said, up to 8 days.
Now, should you do your 7 attempts in 30 days? I say go after them, and fairly hard too.
Hit them in around two weeks. If you break that into business days, you’re hitting about a week and a half.
Hit them multiple times, rest them for a little while, and then pick it up again and run another program. The optimal practice is 7 touches within a week and a half.
It’s good to note as well that if you’re going after different personas, the numbers we’re presenting will change. This is also something we noticed in our research data.
Fourth Law of the Sales Cadence: Spacing
Spacing refers to the time between activities.
What is the optimal spacing of a sales cadence? Our survey participants said up to two days, which is what most people believe when it comes to spacing.
In reality, people in general wait about a good full week when it comes to their cadences. A lot of people run cadences that last around 60 to 90 days. They’re doing about 15 to 20 touches across those 40 to 60 days.
Yet optimal-wise, having a short spacing is better. One thing we learned from the study is to hit prospects short. Try to educate them on who you are and then back off.
The optimal spacing on the recycling period based on the data we gathered is anywhere between 2 weeks to 45 days. That’s also the range that we typically saw people practice.
Remember that you don’t want to just hit your prospects 7 times and then leave them. You’ll want to recycle by starting a new sales cadence.
Fifth Law of the Sales Cadence: Content
As promised, we will also cover the fifth law in building a sales cadence. As we delved into content, here are the things we’ve found:
- Voice Messages — This communication method is not dead. Yet the shorter the voice message is, the better. Try to keep it under 30 seconds.
- Video — Don’t neglect this communication method. You also need to keep this short, so really think about what you will say in your 60-second video-based email.
- Direct Mail — Executives love receiving this. There are different types of direct mail like branded and general gifts, handwritten notes, and gift cards. The most effective one is the handwritten note.
It’s still best to contact prospects at the beginning and end of the day during the middle of the week (Wednesdays and Thursdays).
As you prepare your sales cadence, remember the five laws you ought to build it on. Now that you know these, there is no excuse to keep on taking actions based on guesswork.
Instead, start following the optimal prospecting cadence to get the best results.
What practices would you like to improve on your own sales cadence? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.