Optimized sales cadences are vital; they’re the emails and calls you send out to new leads in order to try and cement their interest and boost your conversions. Unfortunately, it’s easier to turn away a customer with bad practices than it is to get your cadence right.
The best way to learn is usually by looking at current examples that work well, but there are almost no published examples of sales cadences from successful companies to draw from.
That’s why I analyzed the top 280 SaaS companies (including the Montclare SaaS 250 and the top SaaS startups on AngelList) to see how they reach out to their own leads. This lets me see the techniques these companies used to successfully grow their revenue and convert leads who showed initial interest.
While the full data list can be found on Inside SaaS Sales, here are five of the most important tips you can use to make the most of your first contact with potential leads.
Follow up with leads for roughly 9 days
It’s difficult to know how long you should stay in contact with leads before it’s not worth investing further resources. No matter how potentially valuable your new customers are, at some point you have to draw the line and move on to the next opportunity.
However, by signing up to the top 280 SaaS companies using the same details for all (an imaginary Vodafone employee — fairly high value) and without replying to any outreach, I learned that the average amount of time they kept in contact for was 9 days.
In other words, no matter how valuable a lead might be, currently successful SaaS companies don’t invest more than 9 days worth of resources before moving on. After that point it stands to reason that there’s a cutoff in conversions of leads who’ve shown no further interest, so you shouldn’t fall into that trap either.
Send one email per day to avoid annoying your contacts
The last thing you want to do is annoy your customers by pestering them with too many emails. At the same time, you want to try and show off your best side and the most common (and useful) examples of how to use your product or service.
So, to strike a balance between being informative and annoying, the top SaaS companies sent an average of just one email per day over the course of their sales cadence.
There were some exceptions, and a number took a fall off approach to messages. That is, some companies sent 2-3 on the first day of contact, then 1-2 emails the next day, and then began to send one every other day or so. However, one per day for the 9 days was the most common approach, which is a great starting point for your own cadence.
Send sales and marketing emails on alternate days
Much like you don’t want to annoy potential customers by filling up their inbox every day, you also shouldn’t drown them in too many sales or marketing emails.
Focusing too much on sales will make your leads feel like they’re being upsold for the sake of it rather than actually being presented with value. An overabundance of digital marketing content might spark a wider audience’s interest, but will be much less effective at actually getting people to convert. Thus you need to strike a balance.
Learning from the best, I found that most companies solve this problem by alternating their sales and marketing content as the days go by. That is, on one day they sent a marketing email, the next they sent a sales email, and so on and so forth.
Much like the rest of these tips, there were exceptions to this rule and it won’t necessarily work for you. If your product is complex and requires a lot of explanation in order to get to its value, you might want to focus on marketing content to drum up interest. If you have the audience but are struggling to convert, more sales content wouldn’t go amiss.
Either way, alternating the content you send out as the days go by is a great starting point to later test and customize your sales cadence to your own specific audience and needs.
Automate your email marketing to save resources
One of the easiest ways to save time and money is to use automation software, and that remains true in your sales cadence. While it might seem like you should be personalizing your emails in order to get the highest conversion rate, the time and effort you’ll spend doing so will end up outweighing any extra value you generate.
Not to mention that when you start to grow and your audience increases, it simply isn’t practical to manually reach out to every potential customer you have.
Companies like Salesforce and HubSpot know this all too well, with 65% of the top 280 SaaS companies handing their leads over to an automated email marketing service at some point or another.
Digging a little deeper, a massive 39% of companies used only marketing automation software (all emails they sent to their new leads were automated) and the most popular software by far was MailChimp, with 49% of companies using the service.
130 words – the sweet spot for sales and marketing emails
Whether you’re writing a blog post, creating a landing page, or reaching out to new leads for the first time, word count matters. Waffle on for too long and everyone will lose interest but cut yourself short and you’ll leave people either confused as to what to do next or annoyed at the lack of information.
This is especially true for emails. Nobody wants to spend all day reading through every email they receive – they’ll open the ones that seem interesting, useful, or important, and then skim the contents to see if it’s worth reading in depth. If it looks too long or too boring, they’ll likely bin it and move on.
To stop this happening, the top 280 SaaS companies kept their sales emails to an average of 129 words and their marketing to an average of 133 words. So, roughly 130 words on average.
This is long enough for an email to contain enough information for one solid call to action or message, but too short to leave room for waffling on too much. Not to mention that such a limited word count will force you to carefully consider the contents of your emails to make the most of the limited space.
While there’s far more to learn from the full study of 1,000 emails and voicemails in terms of how to structure your own sales cadence, these five tips form the core framework of a cycle that serves to welcome and nurture new leads while not wasting resources on people who are ultimately a dead end in conversion terms.
Having said that, it’s important to know that there are exceptions to these rules, so I’d encourage you to do some A/B testing on your own audience to improve your sales process and see what works both for your specific product and market niche.
Who knows? Maybe next time your company will be one of the Montclare 250 that I look to for some industry best practices.
Author bio: Benjamin Brandall is a content marketer at Process Street, where he writes on startups, SaaS, and workflows. In his spare time, he runs Secret Cave, a blog about obscure entertainment and internet culture.