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“When your timing is off, so is your stride. When your cadence is off, you’re in deep trouble as a hurdler.” – Rod Millburn

In all likelihood, you’re not a hurdler. However, if you’re in sales and marketing, you know you have to overcome a lot of obstacles to land a deal. And cadence is as important for conquering sales hurdles as it is for leaping over a series of high jumps. Get it wrong, and you could fall flat on your face with little to show for your efforts.

So what is a sales cadence?

A sales cadence is a well-defined process that business development reps use when following up on leads. It’s not simply the number of times a sales person should reach out; it also includes the timing of the outreach and the format — usually a mix of phone calls, emails and interactions via social media. Because what reps do naturally and what they should do to be successful are usually two different animals, a delineated sales cadence is necessary.

So how do you know if your sales cadence is off kilter? According to The Sales Cadence Report 2017, there are several signs that it’s out of whack.

First of all, if you’re only talking to leads once, you have no cadence. Like striking a note once it gains little attention. The opposite of that, a barrage of non-stop contacts, can be equally discordant. Also, you don’t want to overdo one means of communication. Just as variety is the spice of life, so too, mixed media (phone calls, emails, social outreach and more) is more likely to be successful. Another issue is not adjusting your cadence for your customer’s buying cycle. A low-priced, low-risk SaaS solution, for example, likely has a shorter buying cycle and needs a shorter, less intense sales cadence than a high-end piece of machinery that requires a capital expense. Finally, if you haven’t tested your cadence, it’s unlikely that you’ve optimized it.

How to Create a Sales Cadence that Generates Revenues

So here are four things you can do to build a sales cadence that helps you leap over the bar to the sales finish line.

Build Persistence into Your Schedule

Selling requires persistence. Although reps are most successful when they make contact with prospects eight to twelve times, on average, they reach out to them twice. Rather than relying on salespeople to determine how tenacious they should be, you should provide a schedule that lays out when they should call or email prospects.

It’s Not Just About the Numbers

Making your outreach work is about more than the number of touch points between your client and the lead. You also need to consider the nature of them. Each time you start a conversation with a prospect, you want to provide new insight. So think about who you’re creating a dialogue with, the questions they are likely to ask during the buying cycle and the content you have that can answer those queries. Then create a coherent timing for sharing that information and also building a one-to-one human relationship with them. After all, in the end, people buy from people.

Bottom line: You’re not just trying to think up eight to twelve touch points to get your company’s name in front of your audience. You’re endeavoring to provide useful information that helps your prospects decide to buy from you.

Let Your Prospects Trigger the Timing

Prospects are individuals. They all have different priorities and levels of urgency related to solving the problem with which your product can help. Thus, when possible, you need to follow their lead. Use your marketing automation solution to monitor how they interact with your brand. If they download an ebook or read a couple of your latest blog posts, it’s likely that they are becoming more interested in your advice and solutions. Their lead score should reflect that and trigger another outreach … just when they’re ready for it.

Then the momentum builds to a crescendo as the lead warms up and becomes qualified. Now you likely want more outreach to them — phone calls, emails and, perhaps, an invitation to a free demo or trial.

Of course, you’ll also have to decide what to do if a prospect does not respond to your outreach. Perhaps you want to put less active leads on a different track, nurturing them more slowly because it does not appear that finding a solution is of high importance to them right now. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that they won’t become interested later when the issue your product addresses reaches the top of their to-do list.

Test and Optimize

As with everything in sales and marketing, testing can make it better. And with the tools available today, there’s no excuse not to put your sales cadence to the test. Start with a couple of sales and marketing campaigns and conduct an A/B test. Look for engagement levels — click rates, downloads, conversations and, of course, sales. Whichever campaign does best becomes the control campaign for the next test. This process gives you the power to improve your cadence on a continual basis.

So think about whether or not your sales people are persistent enough, whether your outreach is what’s required to move your prospects through their buying cycle, and what should trigger the next touch point in your nurturing campaign. Develop a sales cadence accordingly and then test it out versus another campaign. Find out what works best. In the end, you’ll discover a sales cadence that’s right on track to deliver your revenue goals.