What Is a Sales Cadence? (+Why You Should Be Using One)

Izabelle Hundrev
Izabelle Hundrev  |  March 13, 2019

In sales, quick wins are few and far between.

From the time you make the first cold call to the moment you make initial contact with a prospect could take weeks, or even months. Now, it’s likely that you have hundreds, if not thousands, of prospects to go after. In order to generate enough pipeline and stay on top of your goals, you need to continuously be working to reach these contacts. So, how do you keep up?

The best way to stay on top of your outreach, especially during the sales prospecting process, is with an organized sales cadence.

What is a sales cadence?

In a sales cadence, a touchpoint is any activity or encounter that aims to influence or establish a connection with a potential buyer, or prospect. Common touchpoints include emails, phone calls, and social media activity. In a cadence, you combine all these activities and schedule them out in strategic intervals. Based on your prospecting strategy, you’ll decide which intervals are going to be the most effective to engage with your target contacts.

Sales cadences vary greatly across companies, teams, and even individuals. For this reason, there’s not a “one-size-fits-all” template that’s going to be 100 percent effective all the time. The key to success is having the discipline to stick to it, staying consistent and making adjustments as you test out different strategies.

Why is a sales cadence important?

The purpose of a cadence is that it allows sales reps to structure their outreach in a way that helps eliminate inefficiencies and stay organized. If you’re prospecting without rhyme or reason, it’s unlikely you’ll see consistent success in your efforts. By creating a systemic framework to follow, you’ll come into work knowing exactly what needs to be done that day and for which contacts.

A winning cadence is also easily replicable. Getting in touch with prospects is one of the biggest challenges salespeople face, and using a cadence can help paint a picture of what’s working, and what isn’t. If you create a cadence that you’ve seen success with, you can replicate it over and over again for every new batch of contacts you want to target.

Key elements of a sales cadence

When it comes to building a sales cadence, it’s going to be a process of trial-and-error until you find what works best for you and your target audience. That being said, there are several factors to consider that directly correlate to its effectiveness.

example of a two-week-long sales cadence
Timing

When scheduling a cadence, timing is everything. There’s no way of telling what a prospect is doing at all times of the day, but we can do our best to infer when they are most likely to be available. Every week, there are new studies popping up on the web that aim to determine the best time of day and day of the week for cold outreach, but information on the subject is very convoluted.

The reality is there isn’t a day and time that will consistently guarantee higher response rates. While this may seem frustrating and out of your control, experimenting with different possibilities with your own cadences is in your control. Try different days and times to see when your response and open rates go up, then stick to it.

Tip: Always be aware of what timezone the lead is in, you can find this out just by looking them up on LinkedIn. You don’t want your efforts to fall on deaf ears because you’re making phone calls outside of business hours.

Length and frequency

The length of your sales cadence will depend on the number of touchpoints built into it and the message you want to get across. As a general rule of thumb, you should start your cadence with one email, and a follow-up phone call (with a voicemail). From there, be sure to space out your emails every other day, and include phone calls, voicemails, and social touches in between. While you want the prospect to be exposed to your messaging, you don't want to come across spammy–this is why frequency is so important.

An effective cadence will most likely run anywhere from two to four weeks in length. If you’re trying to book sales appointments for anything specific, like a trade show or conference, your cadence could be shorter since the messaging you’re sending out is specific to a certain date and event.

Tip: Don’t add more touches just to increase the length of your cadence, especially if you don’t have fresh content to include. It’s better to have a shorter cadence with high quality messaging than to push out a long cadence that is redundant.

Channel

Using a variety of different channels to engage with prospects is key in getting your message across. In a sales cadence, there are three main channels you will use as touchpoints: email, a phone call, and social media.

Email

Email is likely going to be the first touch in your cadence, and should also be the set of touchpoints you build out first. This is the channel through which you can send longer, more targeted messaging to your audience. Organize the rest of your cadence to compliment the content you’re sending through email.

Phone calls

Phone calls, and voicemails, are an important part of your cadence, but it will take a bit of practice to perfect them. Your cold call pitch should be concise, to the point and follow the same narrative as the email messaging you send out. The same goes for voicemails, which should be left consistently following any unanswered calls.

Social media

As a medium for prospecting, social media is effective but it may take a bit longer before you see any engagement. This is because it takes time to build your network and establish your professional brand online. An effective social touch could be as simple as liking an article your prospect shared, or sending them a brief InMail. These touches should be scattered throughout your cadence to work in tandem with emails and phone calls.

Content

You can have the most carefully built out sales cadence in the world, but if the content isn’t relevant to the audience you’re targeting then it will rarely be effective. Across all of your touchpoints, your value proposition needs to be pointed, and consistent. Prospects know you’re trying to sell them something, so it’s your job to let them know why they should care.

How to track a sales cadence

At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking: “How do I keep track of all these touchpoints when I have multiple cadences running at the same time?”

There are a lot of free tools that can help you keep track of everything. Many salespeople mark all of their outreach on their work calendar, where you can organize all of your tasks and know exactly what needs to be done that day. Following this method also allows you to see when your cadences are starting and ending. If your calendar gets too cluttered, consider using a tool to help manage your to-do list. This way, you can mark all your touch points as bullets on your list and build them into your daily workflow.

If you’re looking for more advanced tools, consider investing in marketing automation software to keep track of your cadences and automate some of the work for you. Many of these tools integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) system, so you can organize of all your contacts and sales appointments in the same place.

How to measure results

Sales is highly metrics-driven, and your cadence should be too. There’s no point in spending time building one out if you’re not able to measure its effectiveness. The easiest way to see if your cadence is successful is to look at the level of engagement that came as a result. The term “engagement” is pretty vague, so let’s break this down further.

The two major ways to measure engagement are by looking at the response rate and the total number of sales appointments booked. Response rate is the number of people who respond to a call-to-action. In this case, you’ll be looking at how many people replied to an email, answered your phone call, or interacted with you on social media. From there, you’ll want to keep track of how many of those responses turned into qualified sales meetings.

By looking at these two main metrics, you’ll be able to gauge whether or not your cadence is effective. These metrics are high-level, so feel free to get even more granular with the results if you wish.

What happens when a sales cadence ends?

When a sales cadence ends, it’s important to reflect on whether or not it was successful. If it was, consider replicating that cadence and using it again for your next batch of contacts. If not, see what changes you can make to it and try it again. As I said earlier, perfecting a cadence is going to be a process of trial-and-error.

For every prospect that goes through the cadence but was not reached successfully, consider placing that contact in a nurture campaign. This will ensure that your brand stays top-of-mind to the prospect if and when you choose to reach back out down the line.

Refine your outbound sales process

Creating the perfect sales cadence isn’t easy, but with ongoing practice, you’ll start to pick up on what works best to connect with your target audience. By building out an organized framework of touchpoints, you’ll have more structure in your day-to-day and boost your overall efficiency.

Looking to give your sales efforts another boost? Check our guide for 5 ways to upgrade your sales prospecting strategy.

Izabelle Hundrev
Author

Izabelle Hundrev

Izabelle is a Content Marketing Associate who joined G2 Crowd in April 2018. After earning a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Izabelle moved back to her hometown of Chicago in pursuit of a career and deep dish pizza. Outside of work, she is passionate about all things pop culture, food, and travel.