How To Build An Outreach Sequence That Your Prospects Will Love
Ask a dozen sales veterans to name the key to sales success and you might get a dozen different answers.
But they’ll all agree on one thing – consistency matters. Especially for prospecting.
Being consistent enables us to understand what inputs create positive outcomes. And help us identify areas for improvement.
So you’ll need to develop an outreach sequence that you can follow all the time, without exception.
Your sales sequence is a series of touch points spread out over a fixed time. When executed properly it tells the salesperson exactly what sales activities to perform, and when to do them.
In this article, we’ll look at how to develop a prospecting sequence that’s easy to follow. And will fill the top of your sales pipeline with qualified leads interested in your solution.
Let’s get started!
Why You Need A Multi-Channel Prospecting Sequence
Decision makers are… well, people.
And people don’t just buy something because you happened to send them an email one time. Sure, sometimes it happens. But not usually.
Most of the time you’ll need to build up an awareness of what you do before your prospects will consider doing business with you.
Taking a multi-channel approach to outreach ensures your prospects see your communications. And increases the likelihood they’ll engage with you. Someone who has a tight schedule may not have the time to speak with you via cold call. But you might catch them on Linkedin during their downtime.
Also, different forms of communication resonate with prospects in different ways. For example, cold calls may make you seem approachable. While your social media presence could establish your bonafides as an industry expert.
Start With Your Prospecting Channels
Here’s a list of some of the more common outreach channels.
- Cold call
- Voice mail
- Cold email
- Cold email with custom images
- Cold email with video
- Handwritten note
- Promotional Gifts
- Linkedin Profile View
- Linkedin Connection Request
- Linkedin InMail
- Linkedin Voice Notes
- Linkedin Post Reaction
- Linkedin Post Comment
- Linkedin Follow Prospect
- Linkedin Follow Company
- Linkedin Endorse Profiles
- Other Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc)
From the list above, try and pick 3 – 4 channels where you can make a positive impression.
Know Your Limitations
For example, you might not have the time to do cold calls, or have a budget to hire someone to call on your behalf.
Or there could be regulatory limitations for SMS communications.
Or you just might not be an enthusiastic Instagram user.
Whatever the case, for each channel, consider how practical it will be to execute. And look at what internal or external support you’ll need to dig up.
Most of the time a Virtual Sales Assistant can help you execute most outbound sequence types at a fraction the cost of doing it in-house.
Create A High Performance Outreach Sequence
To do that, we need to look at what the absolute best sales performers are doing. And fortunately, we have that data available.
Inside Sales did a deep dive into what makes for a successful outbound cadence. The results probably won’t surprise you. But they’re worth paying attention to. Here are the highlights.
For outbound cadences, you should make 3 to 6 attempts to reach your prospect. The ideal number is just three attempts. And there are diminishing returns after six tries.
This contradicts traditional sales wisdom. Most sales trainers advocate contacting your prospects at least 15 times or until they seek a restraining order.
Fortunately, you don’t need to give up on your prospects after just a couple of tries. You can recycle opportunities that didn’t respond. For example, if you contact a prospect 4 times in January, then you should wait several weeks (or a few months) before
trying to reach them again.
You can keep recycling your prospects indefinitely, so you’ll never run out of opportunities.
We all have our favorite channels to connect with our prospects. You might love making cold calls (just kidding, no one loves making cold calls). Or you may prefer other channels like social or email.
Whatever your preference, aim to use three or more channels to reach your prospects. For example, connect on Linkedin, followed by an email, then a voice mail, and then another call.
When you employ 3 or more outreach channels your odds of connecting with your prospect can go as high as 25%. That’s huge!
Duration & Spacing
The next question is, how long should the sequence take, from beginning to end?
You want the spacing between your sales activities to be short. And you should execute part of your sales cadence every 1 – 2 days. For example, send an email on day one, leave a voicemail on day two, send a Linkedin invite on day four, and so on.
The duration of your outreach sequences depends on how many ‘touches’ you’ll be making. A sales cadence with 6 touches might last 6 – 12 days. But sales cadences with fewer touches should be shorter.
Best Practices For An Effective Outreach Sequence
Everyone’s situation is a bit different. But here are some tips to make your sales cadences as effective as possible.
Every Touch Stands On Its Own
Today I received a cold email that referenced the sender’s previous attempts to reach me. Here’s what she wrote:
Just following up on my previous email to make sure you received it?
I promise not to bother you again but it would be great to know if what I had sent through was of interest or not?
Here’s the problem. I have NO recollection of what her previous message said. I remember checking out her company website at one point, but I don’t remember what they do. And I don’t recall why she thought I’d be interested in it.
The only thing I can do is search through my inbox to find her previous messages. But I’m busy, so that’s not going to happen.
Make life easy for your prospects by making your sales cadences ‘self contained’. Every touch point should be a value proposition in and of itself.
And they shouldn’t overly reference your previous contact points.
It sounds silly to say, but if your prospect missed your phone call, then they should still be able to understand your follow up email.
Show Them You Know Them
You’ve heard time and time again you should create personas for your marketing. And there’s a good chance you’ve resisted this advice. Maybe you think it doesn’t apply to your situation?
That might be true. But how can you sell if you don’t know the problems your buyers are facing.
Creating a detailed persona of your ideal client will help you flesh out exactly who you want to sell to. And also help you identify why they are natural buyers for your solution.
Not convinced? Think of it this way – if you can’t make time for your prospects, how do you expect them to make time for you?
Show your prospects that you have a strong grasp of who they are and what they do. When you understand their work and their challenges, it’ll be easy to see how your solution eliminates some of your prospect’s problems.
In short, make your communications intentional. People in different situations deserve different messaging.
Lead With Value & Relevancy
Every week I get cold emails from software companies wondering whether we have any projects they can work on.
While this approach might have worked 10 years ago, it’s pretty much a waste of digital ink now.
Instead, these companies should be showing me they have an understanding of our challenges. And then suggest a solution they can provide to make my life easier.
Knowing your prospect and offering a specific value that’s super relevant to their situation is the best way to make a great impression.
Hit Them With A Killer Offer
The easiest way to get people to take action is to hit them with an offer that’s too good to ignore.
Here’s how you can make yours.
For your product or service there’s something that stops your prospective buyers from taking action. It might be pricing, or complexity, time required, or some other objection.
Remove that objection and build it into your offer.
These days many pizza chains offer ’30m delivery or it’s free’. They removed the biggest concern potential buyers might have about ordering from them.
What stops prospects from buying from you? Can that be reduced, eliminated or otherwise managed?
If you can, you’ll have prospects lining up to meet with you.
An offer to help your prospect needs to be backed by some proof. Have you completed a similar project for another company? How did it impact their bottom line?
Don’t be afraid to tout your own successful work. If you don’t, who will!? Better yet, provide testimonials that show exactly what you can do!
Providing proof up front gives prospects the confidence they need to initiate a conversation with you. And that’s the first step towards getting a deal.
Give Your Prospect A Chance To Meet YOU
Your prospects are… people. And they want to connect with you at a human level; not in some vague, abstract way.
And that’s the problem with low-touch marketing channels like cold email or Linkedin tasks. Unless the prospect really engages with your content, your message comes across as just advertising. These days decision makers are getting so much cold email they’ve stopped seeing the human behind the message. And for them, your email is just a task item that needs to be processed as quickly as possible.
So try to use marketing channels that enable your prospects to hear you or see you. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make this happen. For example:
- Send a link to a YouTube video
- Include a personalised image in your email
- Send a video email
- Try Linkedin Voice Messages
- Make a cold call
- Leave a voicemail
- And so on…
The more your prospects see you as a real person trying to connect with them in a non-automated way, the more they’ll respond.
Remember, humans reply to humans – not robots.
Choose The Right Outreach Platform
Doing outreach sequences well is partly affected by the technology you work with.
Take some time to demo the various email marketing platforms to see which one is the right fit for you. Changing platforms is theoretically easy. But in reality it’s a bit annoying to switch to a new tool. So get it right the first time.
Ten years ago there was a significant technological gap between newer email marketing platforms. and the more established competitors. But these days, that technology gap is almost non-existent.
Almost every platform provides basic functionality like A/B testing and template personalization. So how do you choose the right tool for you?
Most outreach platforms are fairly close in price. So try not to make budget a primary consideration. A $70 / month tool is twice the price of a $35 / m tool. But when your entire business depends on working with a stable platform, the extra cost stops being an issue.
Some areas you may want to focus on include:
Reporting: Does your outreach tool include robust reporting? They all have reports. But some are better than others. And depending on your needs, strong reporting might be essential to your team.
Integrations: Do you need to integrate with other tools, like a CRM? If yes, try solutions that are specifically working with your other solutions – ie via API. You may find they create a better experience.
Multi-Channel: You need a platform that will fit your real-world workflow. For example, the first step in your prospecting sequence might be a generic task like doing a website review. Some outreach platforms do cold email perfectly, but don’t have multi-channel capabilities.
Sending Volume: Give your sending volume some serious thought, because it matters. BEST case scenario, how many emails will you be sending a day? If you’ll be sending more than 50 emails per day (including follow up messages), you’ll need multiple email domains. Some platforms will allow you to add new domains easily. Others will require you to open a new account for each domain.
Custom Tracking Domains: Most email outreach platforms use a tracking domain to see who opens your email. The problem is, ALL the platform clients are using the same domain to track their results. When one person gets their email marked as spam, the reputation for the tracking domain decreases. So even if you’re doing everything right, the invisible tracking domain in your email could be getting you stuck in spam. Consider working with a platform that supports custom tracking domains. This will ensure your emails aren’t affected by other users on the same tracking network.
What Does Your Outreach Sequence Look Like?
So how about you? How do you structure your outreach outbound prospecting sequences?
What channel works best for you? Are there any points you’d add that aren’tpersonalization methods that have worked well for you. Do you have any methods that aren’t listed above?
I’d love to hear what you find works best. You can message me on Linkedin or send a message on our contact page.
Look forward to hearing from you!
Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.