I was fortunate to be a guest on the Andy Paul Accelerate podcast last week, and we had a very interesting chat about sales cadence. More specifically, we discussed the InsideSales.com Labs research, the Response Audit report, that showed how 8,000 companies do lead response management, and the results were crystal clear. Most companies don’t really have a great sales cadence for responding to inbound leads.
A sales cadence, to us, is a sequence of activities to increase contact and qualification.
When we talk about activities, in a cadence there’s six types of activities: phone, email, voicemail, social, high-impact mailers, text messages. All of those can be brought into a cadence – this consists of attempts, media, duration, spacing and content.
Now, a lot of people think it’s just about getting into contact with somebody, but great cadences don’t just get in contact. They allow you to educate and potentially even qualify your buyers, if you do it the right way.
I’ve consulted dozens of companies, and very few have their sales cadence right. Very few test the sales cadence and analyze results, to come up with the best sequence of sales activities.
Most salespeople go with their gut and intuition, and this has to stop.
How Sales Cadence Helps You Reach Your Goals
Now, the reason we are always talking about sales cadence is because it’s an essential element for reaching your sales goals.
The number one challenge facing sales reps today is that of more leads and better leads. There’s a lot of challenges, of course, but this is the main pain point. I still believe that if you can get prospects who are likely to buy from you, good-quality leads, and you can get enough of them, sometimes even bad sales reps can do well with that.
And the best way to find more and better leads is to make sure you are using the right sales cadence based on your target audience, your industry, product and sales cycle. When properly executed, sales cadences can boost your revenue results by up to 110 percent.
The Sales Cadence Audit
InsideSales Labs audited the sales cadences of 8,000 companies and analyzed the results to determine how companies worldwide respond to leads.
In this report, we did some qualitative research and some quantitative. What I mean by that is we actually went out and we audited. We went to all the Fortune 500 websites and we submitted these entities. We created entities, companies with real websites, real email addresses, real entities. Then we tracked, as an external party, how these companies followed up with it.
Then we asked sales reps how they believe that they handle some of these inquiries. We asked sales reps a few things about how good their sales cadence was, and something funny happened. Just an example, when we asked: “How many times do you think you touch an inbound lead,” the response we got was 12 to 15.
When we looked at what the actual data was, it was 4.05. That’s a 300% difference in what people think they’re doing versus what we’re actually doing.
Another interesting finding of this report was that 40% of leads had no follow-up at all.
Email Is The Preferred Method of Outreach for Sales
One more thing we found was there does some to be a little bit of a love of email. There is a dominant email approach in sales, even though there is no indication that email performs better than a phone call, for example.
Everyone seems to think that the phone is dead. However, average contact rate (conversations of over two minutes) is 5% to 12% mark for phone calls. Meaning five out of every 100 calls, or 10 out of every 100 phone calls, sales reps were having a two-minute conversation.
More and more, back and forth email exchanges is often considered a conversation in the sales world, because people are using it so much they need to track results for it.
I think it’s something that’s plaguing our generation, but as we get into more and more passive communication types, again, you always want to find the balance between all these channels.
The Average Sales Cadence Duration Is Too Short
The report shows that average duration across all cadence was less than five days. Basically, salespeople are contacting leads once, maybe twice, and if they can’t get the lead to engage in five days, they are giving up on them.
Five days is a pretty short sales cadence. It’s not enough.
When it comes to particularly inbound leads, there is a concept I call the law of media. You do have better options, better opportunities to have conversations when top-of-mind awareness is present.
Fairly quickly, when a lead comes in, with every day that passes, you start to lose the top-of-mind awareness, and sales reps certainly need to account to that. However, five days is still a pretty short sales cadence.
Certainly, the problem is when you combine duration and attempts. That’s where it gets messy. You’d like to have more attempts and a little longer duration to tighten that down as far as an optimal cadence goes.
Playbooks, the sales cadence software allows you to set up cadences and automate them, to make work more efficient.
Moving To An Account-Based Sales Model
There have certainly been some industry changes, and sales reps are moving to an outbound model, or this account-based sales model. It’s about being more strategic and going after bigger fish. I feel like the data
I feel that in this shift, we’re maybe not treating these inbound leads as well as we potentially should.
There is, of course, an internal company pressure to hit daily activity goals, and this is potentially causing issues
Some leaders say, “I don’t care what you do as long as you hit your numbers,” a lot of companies maybe go too far and say you’ve got to have a certain number of activities. The interesting thing about both of those are they’re internal-facing.
Oftentimes, I’ll tell leaders, “Maybe go external-facing. What would your customer want?” In this case, this specific use case – we just need to make sure that when customers say they want to be contacted, we do actually contact them.
Let’s start with the customer first.