Crafting an effective lead follow-up cadence isn’t just about high contact and conversion rates. The first time a buyer speaks to a human being at your company is when your Inside or Inbound Sales team follows up on a contact request or reaches out to them because they’ve hit a certain lead score threshold in your CRM.
In either instance, this is a buyer’s real first impression of your business. It doesn’t matter if it’s via email, phone, or LinkedIn. You’re now providing them a one-to-one experience.
It sounds odd saying this is a buyer’s first impression when they’re already 70% of the way through the funnel and have previously interacted with your website and content multiple times. But it is. It’s the first impression of your people.
How knowledgeable are they?
How persistent and communicative?
Do they sound robotic and automated?
Are they providing new information?
Do they care about the buyer’s needs – personally?
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a lead follow-up cadence, but we’ll walk you through it. Rome wasn’t built in a day either.
It will take the combination of industry best practices (because why reinvent the wheel?) with your own testing to optimize messaging, number of touchpoints, and preferred communication channels for your particular buyer.
This article will cover industry best practices and point out where you should do your own testing. Boiled down into three main topics, we’ll get you on your way to developing a follow-up cadence that not only helps you hit your quota but provides an excellent first impression.
- How to Craft a Relevant Message
- Omnichannel Approach & Touchpoints (w/ example sequence)
- Speed to Lead & Response Times
If you want a more holistic view of how to optimize your inbound sales strategy, check out The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Lead Follow-Up & Conversion.
How to Craft a Relevant Message
Using the same automated cadence for every prospect just isn’t going to cut it in 2020.
You can’t automate a buyer’s specific solution unless you only have one buyer. You can automate an email that talks mostly about your company’s product or service but not how it applies to the 10 or 15 different types of buyer personas you have.
You may think you only have 4 buyer personas. But do you really?
You may be targeting Directors, Sr. Managers, VPs, and CEOs. However, your product has different solutions for leaders in the Sales department vs leaders in the Marketing department. Then you have various pain points for a Startup, SMB and Enterprise company.
That’s 4 types of people, 2 different departments, and 3 sizes of businesses. That’s 24 different messages. Add in the needs per industry that you work with and well… you get the picture.
There are two things you can do that will help you tailor your message for every buyer with less manual work.
- Get tight with Marketing
- Augment your data
Marketing has a wealth of knowledge about the actions a buyer has taken, such as the pages/solutions they frequently looked at on your website and the content they’ve downloaded. Your teams just have to set up the technology and the process to make sure this information is shared instantly with Sales.
Data platforms like Zoominfo Powered by DiscoverOrg, Clearbit, and Crunchbase can also augment a wealth of company information. Marketing can tell you a buyer’s specific actions to identify their interests. Data augmentation can help identify the interests and pain points of the company.
However, tailoring your message doesn’t mean that you have to write a custom email or LinkedIn message for every prospect. If you have a healthy flow of inbound leads every day, it’s not going to be efficient, and you’re not going to be able to follow-up in the critical 5-minute window.
You can still templatize your lead follow-up messages – especially ones that you’ve seen resonate with buyers.
“Snippets are small pieces of text or an image you can use to help craft and personalize emails quickly. They differ from templates because they can be inserted into pre-written one-off emails, within an email template, or added to a sequence email step.”
For example, below are two templates. A snippet is what you could potentially insert into the brackets.
Thank you for reaching out about our [product], I’ve worked with X who have seen a lot of value in our [feature] and love the [feature] for [solution].
Are you available later today or tomorrow morning to discuss this further?
Looking forward to connecting,
I got your request for more information about our [specific service]. I’d be happy to connect and talk to you more about what we can offer [Company] in terms of [solution].
Have time on [date and time] or [date and time]?
Omnichannel Approach & Touchpoints
Email, phone, and LinkedIn should be the three channels built into your omnichannel approach and have become pretty standard.
However, how you use these three channels to communicate with buyers has changed from the days of simple personalization tactics that buyers now ignore and using LinkedIn as a second inbox.
Here is what you should be using these channels for in your cadence:
Email | Build templates, but swap out relevant information such as specific solutions or success you’ve seen with other similar clients. Providing some relevant data helps build a strong message. Email is also where you put your ask.
Phone | Reinforces your email efforts and is faster for contacting hot inbound leads that have requested a demo or to be contacted. A buyer who receives two phone calls and two voice mails from you know you’re not going away, but they’ll most likely reply to an email – so it only looks like call didn’t contribute to the connection. Sales conversions are also 391% higher when inbound leads are contacted within the same minute of requesting a demo.
LinkedIn | Can be likened to a content marketing strategy that positions yourself as a knowledgeable resource for your buyer. Interact with their content by leaving valuable snippets of information in their comments or ask a provoking question that could spark a dialogue. Then request to connect and send them a message about what they’ve been posting. LinkedIn reinforces your phone and email follow-up.
Research shows that the optimal number of touchpoints for inbound follow-up is 7-10, which can seem kind of low compared to outbound efforts. This optimal number of touchpoints may also not take into account “soft” LinkedIn touches where a sales rep just interacts with a buyer’s post and doesn’t ask for anything.
The example sequence below consists of 16 touchpoints across 27 days based on years of our own testing and research on other high-converting models. It’s a good place to start, but to be truly successful, you have to continually be measuring results, iterating, and testing new sequences.
“We have multiple cadences. The one we run depends on how the lead came into our universe, such as whether it’s an inbound lead, a prospect we’re proactive targeting, etc.”
Adam Johnson, Senior VP of Sales, Active Campaign
Speed to Lead and Response Times
Fast follow-up times are mission-critical. Thirty-five to fifty percent of sales go to the vendor who responds first.
If you think about what a business buyer is doing at the moment they request a demo or to be contacted, they’ve specifically taken the time to research and reach out. Chances are they’ve only carved out a limited window to do so before they have to move on to their next task. That’s why contact rate decreases by 10X after the first five minutes and the odds of qualifying decrease by 80% when waiting 10 minutes.
“We have set the standard to get back to leads within five minutes, and that creates a delightful experience for the buyer and much better conversion rates for us. If someone is on our website and just interacted with a chatbot or filled out a demo request form, that buyer prefers to get that demo right now. That’s why they’ve cleared the time to visit our website. They don’t want someone to get back to them in three days, they want to hear from us right now, and so we try and create that immediate experience as best we can.”
Udi Ledergor, CMO, Gong.io
A second thing to think about when following up with a lead is the actual day and time you’re most likely to get a response. Fast follow-up as soon as someone requests to be contacted is step one. If you get to step two and they enter your lead follow-up sequence, be conscious of the when.
Consider these “best” days and times when crafting your cadence. These averages span different industries and experience levels but are a good place to start.
Put Your Lead Follow-Up Sequence to the Test
We’ve covered a ton of information on how to position your messaging, number of touchpoints, and the importance of response times.
It’s your turn to take these best practices and put them to the test.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Lead Follow-Up & Conversion also takes a deeper dive into how to get Sales & Marketing aligned, building out your entire lead follow-up process, to the technology you can use to be more efficient and successful.
If you need help building and optimizing your inbound lead follow-up process, let’s set up a time to connect.