In sales we need to go through the motions.
Our buyers are “frazzled” as Jill Konrath says.
Even if you use social selling techniques that get you a referral or help you connect to a potential buyer using your mutual background, it is still likely to take some follow up before you confirm a meeting time (or virtual meeting time these days).
Research from XANT looked at the optimal “cadence” for prospecting based on the masses of data available to them through companies’ usage of their software. Their study looked at 479,140 outbound cadences from nearly 9,000 companies.
The upshot is that they recommend having eight (8) “touches” in your outbound cadence. These eight attempts should be spread over roughly 12 days.
After 12 days XANT found that it is optimal to take a break for four to five days then start another sequence of eight attempts to reach your prospect.
The research also recommends mixing up the media you use to connect with your buyer, by using email, phone, social media and direct mail.
My data on using social selling techniques shows a big increase in response rates vs traditional cold calling, roughly three times more effective.
There are two ways using these social selling approaches can affect an outbound cadence:
- You execute an eight-touch cadence and get a three times higher success rate than cold prospecting
- You don’t need eight attempts to secure a meeting
In their research XANT notes that direct mail is a likely underutilized medium these days with most BDRs focusing on email and phone (email is by far the biggest by volume of course and the most ignored.)
The amount of time and effort you put into reaching a particular contact depends on the upside of doing so. There are points of diminishing return in this process. If you go too far, you may be burning your own time on opportunities that do not warrant it.
For higher end consultative selling I would recommend a cadence along these lines.
- Send an email referencing a common background/affinity, or if you have secured a referral then follow up on that introduction.
- Send a Linkedin message with similar content to #1. (Current research shows rates from Linkedin messages are three times higher than email, most likely due to email delivery issues/spam filtering.)
- Make a phone call (most likely leaving a voice mail.)
- Send a handwritten note or letter (mail is an underutilized channel)
- Send a second email, preferable including something relevant of value, such as an article link/white paper etc.
- Send a second Linkedin message, similar to #5
- Place a second phone call
This is quite a thorough cadence for contacts where you have a reasonably strong affinity and on the long side for a case where you have referral.
In my projects, I have found that I get about a 20% response rate just by executing steps 1 & 2. If you want to get a higher response rate you can push on with the sequence. Comparing this to cold prospecting’s high-end response rate of about 3% you can see there will be large benefits.
Social selling makes prospecting much easier (and more fun) but you may still have to go through the motions (at least a little.