The “What, Why and How” of Sales Cadences

Until recently, the sales process was a strangely Wild West affair: salespeople would arm themselves with nothing more than a CRM, a telephone and their good old-fashioned gut instinct.

They would cherry-pick a lead from the pile, paying little attention to how long it had languished in the system, and then shoot the contact an email. Then another. In a few days, when it crossed their mind again, a salesperson might follow up with a phone call.

There was a frustrating lack of systematization. There still is, in fact. Many sales teams continue to use this outmoded way of operating, relying on individual salespeople to engage leads swiftly, and follow up routinely and effectively. What they get instead are inconsistent responses, varying response times and improper prioritization.

But there’s a new way of structuring the sales process that’s gaining popularity: the sales cadence.

What Is a Sales Cadence?

A sales cadence is a predetermined choreography of touchpoints or interactions with prospects. How many times you touch base with a prospect, the interval between touchpoints, the type of touchpoint: these factors coalesce to give you a cadence. A good cadence folds in research about speed to lead and optimal response times and can help you improve sales engagement and deal flow.

An effective cadence is tricky to pull off with conventional sales software, given the rigorousness of its timing; cadence, therefore, is one of the main reasons why your business needs a sales engagement platform deployed. A sales engagement platform will not only use queue-based lead routing to ensure your speed to lead is the best it can be, but automates follow-ups, auto-dialing or auto-populating emails.

Why Focus on Cadence?

Gut feeling has proven itself roundly ineffective at sales engagement. A purposeful, effective sales cadence can help your reps engage quicker, more predictably and more consistently.

Speed to lead alone can help boost lead engagement: engaging a lead in the first hour is seven times more effective than within the first 24 hours (38% vs. 5% response rate). And whereas reps, left to their gut instincts, follow up only a couple times before giving up, with a cadence you ensure that they make the requisite amount of touches.

How to Craft a Winning Cadence

There is some debate over what exactly constitutes the perfect cadence, but there are a few things people generally agree on. Establishing contact between 10 and 60 minutes of the lead entering the system seems to be the sweet spot. Introducing a variety of contact methods, so as not to inundate a lead with, say, 10 phone calls is usually preferred. Somewhere between a six and twelve-day window seems to be the norm. There is no one-cadence-fits-all, unfortunately, but check out this Hubspot article, which does a fine job breaking down an effective cadence.

A sales cadence, along with a sales engagement platform to automate it, is going to kick your sales team firmly into the 21st Century. Don’t let gut instinct dictate your engagement rate – start systematizing success.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.