Prospecting is the lifeblood of any sales career, but too often other activities eat into plans to introduce ourselves and establish credibility with targeted decision-makers. We talk a lot about creating value-based conversations, but to get to those talks, you must devote the time needed to nurture prospects in different stages of engagement. Here’s where a sales cadence comes into play.
In essence, a sales cadence uses a time-bound approach to determine how, when and where to interact with prospects. Cadences designed to increase your familiarity, both with and to a prospect, are multi-faceted and typically include scheduling time for social interactions, email exchanges, and phone calls. Be steadfast and disciplined in following through with these specific prospecting activities and then tweak calendars depending on results.
Such communication plans sound easy in theory, but can be difficult in practice, especially for those who struggle with time management. This is why ValueSelling Associates introduced the Vortex Prospecting™ program and tool set, which, among other things, help sales professionals develop a cadence that works for them.
For instance, devote time every Monday and Friday to interact with prospects on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. This may include liking and commenting on posts or contributing to group discussions. Based on what you’ve already learned about them and their organization, directly message someone with a link to an article or white paper they might find useful. The following Tuesday and Thursday are then dedicated to making calls – while being prepared to leave a voice message that gets your prospect's attention. To reinforce your credibility and top of mind presence, dedicate a time block every Wednesday to create and track targeted email campaigns.
The key is to establish time blocks and guard those blocks to minimize outside interference. In the spirit of "Just Do It", many sales reps find success in fulfilling their time block commitment by getting it done early in the day. Depending on your territories however, you may have to build blocks in both mornings and afternoons to accommodate prospects in different time zones.
Here are proven tips to help build your own sales cadence:
Prepare a target list. You need to know who you plan to contact to know which modes of communications will work best, and when to execute on them. Consider working hours and travel schedules to determine the best days to interact online.
Start with social engagement. To build name recognition so that the prospect is familiar when you call or email, work within your own social networks to see if there’s a connection to a chosen account. You also build influence through posts and comments, so that over time people recognize you as a subject matter expert.
Move to email. Once you’ve interacted socially for a while, it’s time to engage via email.Take the time to craft a personalized and compelling message that captures attention. Concisely use anxiety scenarios, influence and motivation to create interest. At the risk of “sending” prematurely, always create a draft outside of the email platform that you can proof read.
Pick up the phone.The logical next step is to make the call. It may take numerous attempts before you connect or get a callback, but persistence pays off if the prospect has a business issue and you’ve presented well. Does it happen all of the time? Of course not. But your odds of landing a meeting increase significantly when making the call.
Throughout my many years in sales, I’ve seen that this last step tends to get dropped over time—sometimes within a week or two of initiating a prospecting cadence. There are excuses and distractions that are allowed to interrupt your scheduled call block. Be vigilant and don't compromise. It is critical to your pipeline to follow through with a phone call.
The key to driving top-of-funnel growth is to be persistent in your prospecting, day in and day out, and follow the cadence you set. Understand that cadences can be adjusted as needed, given what works this month may not work the next. It is worth repeating, the cadence is adjusted, not abandoned. Trust the process to close the execution gap, get more meetings and fill the pipeline.
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Relevant topic? Listen to our recorded webinar, delivered on Thursday, September 15 at 10 AM PDT: How to Create a Sales Cadence to Drive Top-of-Funnel Growth.