Table of Contents
What is a Sales Cadence?
A sales cadence is a carefully planned sequence of outreach activities sellers use to build relationships with prospects. Depending on the company’s sales process, this could include a schedule for reaching out to prospects via social media, email, or phone calls at fixed intervals.
This could include:
- Following up X days after a product demo
- Sending a monthly email newsletter
- Checking in with leads after Y weeks
- Scheduling regular calls to keep prospects up-to-date
- Sending buyer enablement content specific to a prospect’s industry/business structure
Sales cadences start with the initial connection, followed by various touchpoints that promote meaningful conversations between buyers and sellers. Setting up a predetermined process for timely interaction allows them to nurture their leads without forgetting to follow up or being overbearing.
- B2B sales cadence
- Inbound sales cadence
- Outbound sales cadence
- Sales outreach sequence
Challenges Solved by Sales Cadences
Most buyers prefer a frictionless sales process, and that means getting through it with as little interaction with sales reps as possible. Out of 725 B2B buyers in a 2022 Gartner sales survey, 83% said they preferred to purchase online without talking to a salesperson.
Sometimes, interaction with sellers is a requirement. Complex sales aren’t settled in one conversation, and it’s hard for a rep to keep track of the buyer’s journey without carefully planned and timed touches over several channels. In that sense, sales cadences help bridge the gap between contactless purchasing and meaningful dialogue.
Here are some common challenges sales cadences help solve:
- A lack of diversified outreach strategies
- Trouble reaching leads on their preferred sales channels
- Insufficient follow-up with leads
- Inadequate lead qualification process
- Missed opportunity to build relationships with prospects
- Difficulty upselling existing customers
- Overengagement with qualified prospects
A sales cadence facilitates meaningful conversations with prospects at the right time and through the right communication channels. They help sellers stay organized by providing them with a clear timeline of activities that need to be completed in order to close a deal.
Perhaps most importantly, they solve the problem of either talking to a prospect too much (which they’ll find off-putting) or too little (which will cause them to feel ignored and move on).
Importance of an Effective Sales Cadence
The core objective of a sales cadence is to nurture prospects and ensure timely follow-up. It’s an effective way keep your leads warm and engaged until they are ready to commit.
Since some buyers are more receptive to a phone call while others prefer a text or follow-up email (and many all three at different times), having an outreach process across multiple channels helps you reach prospects on their favored platforms.
A sales cadence helps everyone involved in an outbound sales strategy. Teams have standardized processes, reducing ramp time for new members. Managers have an easy way to track performance and progress. Individual sales reps use a sales cadence as a guide to reach out and keep their relationships healthy. And, ideally, buyers get an experience they prefer.
Outreach Across Multiple Channels
All customers prefer omnichannel sales. Any now, the typical B2B buyer uses 10 different communication channels when interacting with a potential vendor — a figure that has doubled since 2016.
The most common sales channels sellers deal with include:
- Online portal (e.g., chatbot or helpdesk)
- Social media
- Phone call
Documenting each touchpoint in CRM is one thing. It’s a whole other layer of complexity to coordinate an outreach strategy across multiple channels when there is no clear timeline for when each should be used.
With a sales cadence, the sales team has a structured framework for every prospect they put into CRM. Follow-up sequences eliminate the guesswork and give reps clarity on what actions to take at each stage of their outreach.
Keep Prospects Engaged (the Right Way)
Buyer engagement is a balancing act. A buyer needs to be contacted when they are ready, not just at the right time.
This varies depending on myriad factors, including:
- Company size
- Business structure
- Product complexity (many B2B companies offer different price tiers with varied levels of features)
- Intricacy of the decision-making process
- The lead’s level of prior engagement with the product
- Their preferred channels
- Lead source (inbound leads vs. outbound, first point of contact)
Companies can get the most out of their outbound sales initiatives by creating a sales cadence for each customer segment and stage of the sales funnel. That way, as soon as a new lead comes into CRM, all the customer data — including where the lead came from and what types of content they’ve already interacted with — can automatically trigger an appropriate follow-up sequence.
Track Prospect Engagement
Getting engagement right consistently requires data-driven decision-making. With a sales cadence, you can easily track the success of your outreach efforts and optimize them accordingly.
Sales cadences are usually tracked through lead scoring — assigning points based on every interaction a prospect has with your company. This helps reps prioritize leads in their pipeline and adjust the outreach program to better fit each customer’s needs.
As far as the sales cadence is concerned, scalability is twofold:
- It speeds up the sales process, so sales reps can focus on closing more deals and finding quality leads.
- The sales cadence itself scales across an organization, helping new reps get up to speed faster and enabling market penetration/expansion.
Companies scale faster when they take a standardized approach to sales outreach. Since they also improve lead velocity, they are both scaling the business and making more sales within the same time period.
Better Buying Experience
Although the pandemic is part of the reason for such a huge increase in omnichannel sales, the primary beneficiary is the customer, who has always wanted more convenient and personalized communication. And it’s working — 90% of B2B organizations say their current omnichannel approach is working as well or better than its pre-pandemic counterpart.
Getting the sales cadence right makes a tremendous difference in sales execution. Not only does it reduce friction in the buyer’s journey, but it also helps sellers stay organized and track their progress.
Whether they realize it or not, buyers appreciate the personalized approach to sales. It helps them find what they need and keeps sales reps out of the way when they aren’t needed, improving their overall buying experience.
How to Build a Sales Cadence
Getting your sales sequence down isn’t an exact science. There are several moving parts, and it will take considerable testing and refinement to get it just right. That’s why, for companies with limited insight or no idea where to start, agile sales is the best approach.
Here’s what you’ll want to consider when building your own sales cadence:
Understand Your Ideal Customer Profile
First things first, you have to understand your ideal customer profile (ICP) (most companies have more than one). Who is your target audience, what makes them tick, and why would they buy from you?
Your ICP is based on several identifying factors, such as:
- Company headcount
- Business use cases (what features will they actually use?)
- Goals and pain points (what do they specifically want to achieve in their everyday operations?)
- Decision-maker characteristics
The ICP is the North Star in any company’s sales process. Understanding how different kinds of prospects will use the product is the first step in targeting them with the right message and sequence.
Determine Outreach Channels
Once you know who your customers are and what would help each of them buy your product, you can decide which channels to use for each stage of their journey.
Though many argue cold calling is dead (and statistically few prospects would even answer one), it remains a cornerstone of outbound selling. Beyond that, sales teams use phone calls to communicate with deals they’re currently working, follow up after a sales demo, and touch base with prospects they haven’t talked to in awhile. Calling up current customers who are nearly up for contract renewal is also common.
Use a phone call when connecting with prospects that need more personalized attention and when the process requires lots of back-and-forth communication.
The most common and versatile tool in any salesperson’s arsenal is still email. It’s easy to craft, efficient to send, and accessible for prospects at any point in their buying journey. Email can be used for anything from introducing yourself or your company to following up on a conversation.
Use it for announcements, personalized pitches, targeted campaigns, product updates, and informational content that shows prospects how to solve a problem (ideally, using your product).
86% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for lead generation and it’s the source of 80% of all inbound leads from social media. Sellers also use LinkedIn to share content, network, prospect, and conduct sales outreach. It’s the main place B2B decision-makers hang out online.
LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) is an opportunity to engage with target audiences in a more casual setting. Most B2B sales reps have success with social selling because it is less intrusive than a phone call and less formal than an email.
SMS and Text Messages
In 2022, 70% of consumers subscribe to at least one business text message list. Texting is a great way to reach out and interact with prospects quickly, without overwhelming them or making them feel pressured.
By personalizing messages and using smart automations, sales reps can build relationships with potential customers faster than ever before and make sure they get the information they need in real-time.
SMS isn’t great as a first point of contact, but it’s excellent for sending content, verifying attendance before a sales meeting, or catching up with a prospect quickly and conversationally. Since most people have zero unread messages in their inbox, prospects are also more likely to open them (and reply).
Assigning specific cadences to various buyer personas within the ICP is one of the most important sales cadence best practices. Find out what works for different prospects based on the factors above, create sequences for each stage of the sales pipeline for each of them, and implement them in CRM/sales software.
It’s also a good idea to segment prospects by engagement level. This way, reps can take extra steps for people who seem interested in the product or service and leave those who don’t respond alone.
To know when it’s best to remove a potential customer from the sequence, create a “no-contact” period after prospects have gone cold after a certain number of outreach attempts. But don’t end the sales cadence too soon — according to insights from experts at Pipedrive, most deals take more than seven attempts to reach a prospect while sales reps commonly give up “after three or four attempts.”
Select Relevant Content
Content is one of the most important elements of the sales process. Since buyers do most of the decision-making on their own, they need access to high-quality content that answers their questions and provides value.
That’s why sales reps have to equip themselves with relevant materials:
- Blogs (bottom-, middle-, and top-of-funnel content to engage leads at different pipeline stages)
- White papers
- Case studies
- Video on demand (VoD)
- Product documentation
- Pricing and feature breakdowns
Ensure all collateral is optimized for the ICP. Focus your message on customer outcomes and each specific pain point the product solves.
Consider Timing and Length
Especially for hot leads and highly engaged prospects, consistent (human-to-human) communication is the most personal way to keep the dialogue going.
But frequent outreach attempts come off as “too salesy,” make the buyer lose trust in the seller, and turn them off in many cases. Conversion rates suffer if there’s no real purpose to reach out to them.
Timing and length are, in that sense, two determining factors in whether or not you actually grab your prospect’s attention. But they’re also based on variable factors — from one prospect to the next, timing might be different situationally.
Look closely at when your leads are active online and how they usually interact with content (are they more likely to open emails on certain days/times? Do they consistently have one time slot that’s always unavailable?).
Sales pipeline stage and overall buyer responsiveness will also play a role in determining the sales cadence timing and length. High-value deals further along in the pipeline are much likelier to reach Closed Won in the near future. Since they likely involve quoting, negotiation, and decision-maker alignment, they warrant higher levels of personalized attention than newer sales qualified leads (SQLs).
Examples of a Good Sales Cadence
A well-defined sales cadence creates a system reps can use to consistently nurture their leads and develop relationships with prospects over time. It should combine the best practices above into an effective sequence for each customer and where they are in the sales funnel.
Let’s take a look at a few specific sales cadence examples.
Inbound Sales Cadence
An inbound sales cadence begins when a lead shows interest. This could be by filling out a contact form, downloading content, or signing up for a free trial. An inbound lead could also come from a warm intro (i.e., referral).
The sequence consists of:
- A welcome email with more information about the company and product
- An introduction call to learn more about the customer’s needs (and qualify them)
- Follow-up emails/calls after the initial call to provide additional information and answer any questions
- Relevant content (including product demos, case studies, and webinars) sent via email
- A proposal to address their needs
- Scheduling a call to close the deal
It’s important to remember that even though they may be a marketing qualified lead (MQL), they might not be fully qualified to buy. If they are, it may take several touchpoints to fully qualify them.
The most important detail to remember about the MQL sales cadence is response time. since they’ve already shown interest, they’re ready to talk to sales. A lead response time under five minutes increases conversions by nearly 400%.
Outbound Sales Cadence
An outbound sales cadence requires a different approach. Since it’s based on systematic cold outreach, there’s no guarantee the prospect is even interested. Engaging warmer leads from marketing channels and referrals frequently in a shorter amount of time might jog their memory and keep the sales process moving, but it’ll come off as spammy to those who don’t know you.
It’s best to break up an outbound sales cadence into days with varied outreach approaches. Here’s an example of a winning sales cadence for outbound:
- Day 1 — Prospect research
- Day 2 — InMail
- Day 3 — Follow-up InMail
- Day 4 — Cold email outreach
- Day 5 — Follow-up email message
- Day 6 — Phone call (and voice mail if they don’t answer)
- Day 7 — Share a relevant social media article (or post one and tag the prospect)
- Day 8 — Video message or email (easy to record with Loom)
- Day 9 — Send a LinkedIn connection request or engage their content
- Day 10 — Follow-up phone call (and voice mail if no answer)
- Day 11 — Phone call and voice mail or email
- Day 12 — Breakup email
If there’s a particular prospect you’ve been watching for a while, you may want to cut to the chase and send a connection request. For most, this timeline should work just fine.
You can adjust the timeline as needed to fit into the buying cycle and modify channels to suit the prospect’s preferences. But always make sure you have a purpose — personalize messages, use tailored subject lines, and stick to relevant topics.
And always add variety to your channels. Avoid spamming prospects across the same channel, and give yourself time to test which channels work and which ones don’t.
Retention Sales Cadence
Once you’ve closed a deal, don’t neglect existing customers. A retention cadence is essential to keep your customers engaged, address their pain points, and maintain a positive relationship.
If you’re selling a long-term product or service (such as an SaaS subscription), the customer journey doesn’t end with conversion. You’ll have to keep them happy through the entire duration of usage — from onboarding all the way through the customer lifecycle.
The primary purpose of a retention cadence is to make sure customers stick around and continue exemplifying your value proposition.
A sales cadence example for retention should consist of:
- Onboarding emails and calls (customer onboarding is a huge part of the sales process)
- Performance check-ins (see if they’re using the product as intended)
- Feature updates/new content pieces that could help them get more out of what they already have
- Educational content (that can help them use the product better)
- Conversations to ensure customer success
- Reactivation messages if their usage drops off entirely
Send retention emails a few times a month. They could include surveys and targeted upsells, information about new features, and tips/business advice. Also send reactivation messages as renewal nears to re-engage customers with the product or service and give them a loyalty offer (or, at the very least, thank them).
Sales Cadence Automation Software
Sales automation handles most of the behind-the-scenes work, so reps can focus on building relationships and closing deals. It enables sales teams to communicate with prospects at scale by streamlining repetitive tasks like email campaigns, phone calls, social media outreach, and sales cadence management while giving them the data they need to optimize the sales process.
Every successful B2B sales team uses marketing automation software to increase their reach and engagement. This type of tool automates marketing tasks like email campaigns, social media outreach, and cadence management. It also helps them track performance metrics (such as website visits, page views, clicks, conversions).
Teams can set a sales cadence for each campaign, run it on autopilot, then track its data to refine their approach over time.
Email is central to any sales process, which is why the best sales cadences all use it. By automating emails, sales reps can save hours of time and gain more insights into what their prospects are interested in.
Automated email campaigns are triggered by user actions (such as signing up to an email list) or scheduled for a specific date/time. They give sellers the power to nurture leads over time and personalize interactions with segmented audiences.
SMS is another powerful sales cadence tool to enhance the B2B customer experience pre- and post-sale. With SMS automation, sales reps can send personalized messages to prospects and customers at any time — from order confirmations to product recommendations.
The best part? The average response rate for SMS is roughly 45%, compared to just 6% for email. Plus, it only takes a few seconds for someone to read and act on an SMS message.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Sales cadence software is usually built into CRM. Since it houses all your customer data — including contact details, sales history, and purchase preferences — it helps you track the entire customer journey.
It also provides insights into customer lifetime value (CLV), segmented contacts, and the success of contact attempts. That way, sales reps can personalize outreach while sticking to their sales cadence.
People Also Ask
How long should a sales cadence be?
There’s no definitive length of time for a winning sales cadence. The frequency with which you reach out to prospects should depend on their response rate and how quickly they move through the buyer’s journey. Complex sales cycles require spread-out touchpoints over a long period of time, while simpler deals may just require a short series of quick interactions.
How many steps are in a sales cadence?
A sales cadence typically consists of 5-12 steps, but the exact number will depend on factors such as the size and complexity of your product or service. The important thing is to contact prospects in a way that optimizes relationships, maximizes engagement, and leads to conversion.
How do you measure and track sales cadence results?
To know whether sales reps are using the right channel, frequency, and messages for their sales cadence, they can look at open rate, response rate, click-through rate (CTR), number of leads generated, appointments ratio, conversion rate (CVR), customer lifetime value (CLV), and total sales per campaign. Based on insights, they can tweak their approach.