May 13, 2020
The coronavirus crisis has impacted every area of life, and B2B sales is no exception. With the global economy faltering, many companies are struggling to find new customers and grow their revenue.
However, a decline in your sales isn’t inevitable. At Cognism, we’ve always spoken about “the science of B2B sales” - that if you apply a rigorous, structured process, you can achieve much more than you ever thought possible.
When the pandemic struck, we reviewed every one of our B2B lead generation processes. We asked ourselves some questions: what could we learn? What could we improve? What could we do differently?
One of the key aspects we looked at was the cadence used by our sales team. In this new era for sales, it was clear it needed a refresh. Through a meticulous process of A/B testing, we arrived at a cadence that was perfectly designed to maximise engagement and deliver results.
Here are the outcomes the cadence produced for our sales team:
And here’s what the cadence looks like:
We asked David Bentham, our Inside Sales Director, for his comments on the cadence. He walked us through every step of the cadence and why it’s been so successful for our SDRs.
Strap yourselves in for some actionable insights into the ultimate B2B prospecting cadence!
“With this cadence, we were going for a multi-touch approach,” David told us. “Most people are working from home now, so it’s become much harder to reach them just by cold calling. Also, a lot of people aren’t comfortable speaking to cold callers at the best of times.”
“You want to engage with prospects on their preferred medium, whether that be the phone, email, video or LinkedIn. That underpinned our thinking when we were testing the cadence.”
The cadence begins with a simple LinkedIn connection message. Here’s one provided by Charlie Humphrey, Senior Business Development Executive.
Hi [first name],
It would be great to add you to my network. I specifically work with [target industry] companies to help them save prospecting time and grow their client base with high-quality business data.
Connect to find out more.
Why does the cadence begin with a LinkedIn connection request? David Bentham explains:
“The reason for this is once you’ve connected with the prospect, you can get access to their personal information, including their mobile phone number. This makes the later cold calling steps much easier. As everyone is working remotely, office direct dials are much less effective.”
On the same day, the LinkedIn connection request is followed by a personalised email. Here’s an example from Tom Gyngell, a Senior Business Development Executive.
Hi [first name],
I hope you and the team at [company name] are adjusting well to the new working from home lifestyle (unpopular opinion – I miss the commute).
I saw from your LinkedIn that you are an experienced [job title], which led me to believe that you would have a keen eye for exciting new sales technology.
Our platform can help your team to acquire new clients across your target industries, by providing accurate and GDPR-compliant contact details for companies and individuals. It frees up your team to spend their valuable time on revenue-generating activities.
If maintaining business growth is on your agenda right now, then I'm positive a chat would be worth your time.
Are you available on [time/date]
David shared his thoughts on the importance of personalisation:
“Every channel open to salespeople is very competitive right now. Everyone is sending emails and LinkedIn messages, all day every day! Personalisation is how you stand out in a competitive landscape.”
“Don’t be afraid to bring in some humour or anything that’ll help you get a conversation going. Be different from everyone else. Acknowledge the times we’re living in and always show empathy to your prospects. You never know what they’re going through.”
If the LinkedIn connection was a success and you’ve got the prospect’s phone number, you can also try calling them on Day 1.
David had this to say about the cadence and cold calling:
“50% of the cadence is using the phone. We reduced the amount of cold calling for this cadence because we found that our connect rate had gone from 10% to 4%. However, there’s still logic in calling - it just has to be done in a more strategic way.”
“Again, the idea is to reach the prospect on multiple different channels. Cold calling is just one way to reach people - and things like email, LinkedIn and video prospecting are now more popular.”
On the third day, our SDRs follow up with a personalised email, including a Vidyard video message.
Rachel Goldstone, Business Development Representative, uses this messaging:
Hey [first name],
Working from home can be very monotonous, so I thought I'd try and shake it up a bit with a video! It would be great to learn more about your new normal in terms of workflow and outreach and explore how our tool can help.
If you are open to new technologies that will enhance the business development process at [company name], let's catch up this week.
If it isn't relevant to you, I'm really open to some feedback as this is one of my first attempts!
Would you be open to a conversation tomorrow?
What’s the reasoning behind including a Vidyard video message? David said:
“A video message is another great way of breaking through the noise. It adds an extra layer of personalisation to an email. The prospect can see that you’ve gone the extra mile to get their attention.”
“At Cognism, we encourage our SDRs to do anything that’ll make the prospect sit up and take notice. A video can be a very immediate and effective route to achieving that.”
One innovation that David was keen to highlight in this cadence was the use of LinkedIn voice notes. It’s become a key plank for LinkedIn prospecting at Cognism.
“On the sixth day, we recommend that our SDRs send their prospects a LinkedIn voice note. The reason for this is that we saw response rates increase by 50% after a voice note.”
“Just like a Vidyard, a voice note can be a very powerful spur to beginning a conversation. People feel a lot more connected when they hear another person’s voice - especially in these socially-distanced times!”
David had some cold calling advice to share:
“When you’re sending Vidyards and LinkedIn voice notes, don’t give up on the phone! It’s still a great driver for engaging and making a sale. Always make sure it’s at the heart of your cadence. At Cognism, we’ve seen connect rates of up to 80% on mobile phone direct dials.”
Here’s an example email from this point in the cadence - supplied by Catherine Gardner, Sales Team Manager.
Hi [first name],
As a [job title], I thought you would be interested in this webinar that Cognism recently hosted - “Prospecting in the new normal” - including lead generation and prospecting tips for salespeople working from home. Here’s the link:
I hope you enjoy listening to it and find it useful. Cognism can help your sales team conduct effective outbound from home - I’d be very keen to show you during a free demo.
Are you available on [time/date]?
David relayed to us the thinking behind an email like this.
“We tell our sales reps to stand out and be creative in the communications they send. No generic messages! Thankfully, the marketing team at Cognism regularly produces content that’s relevant to our target prospects.”
“So we encourage our salespeople to share content! Why do we do this? It shows that they’re enthusiastic, interested and genuine about deepening a business relationship. It can be anything - a blog, a webinar, a case study, a whitepaper - but it has to be pertinent to the prospect and their company or industry.”
“If you can demonstrate a willingness to add value to the prospect, then they’re much more likely to give you a second look.”
At this point in the cadence, if you haven’t had any success, it’s important not to give up. One thing that can help is to click onto the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Have they posted anything recently or shared an article?
If so, be sure to add your own comment! Over to David for his thoughts on this:
“Sales is a numbers game. The more connections you make, the greater chance you have of achieving success. Our cadence is designed to maximise the touchpoints you have with a prospect and keep the engagement up.”
“Something like commenting on a LinkedIn article - it may sound simple or pointless, but it can really work in getting a prospect to engage with you. Especially so if the prospect is a frequent LinkedIn user.”
By the thirtieth day, if you haven’t got anywhere, it’s time to send the breakup email. Here’s another example from Tom Gyngell:
Hi [first name],
I have to admit, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I hadn’t been this persistent over the last month!
But this will be my last try...
At this point I can provide you with 3 options:
1) We find time for a 15-minute call
2) You can refer me to someone else in your organisation
3) We let James Blunt close this off... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVyggTKDcOE
We asked David for his tips on crafting a great breakup email.
“Writing breakup emails can be hard, but the trick is for it not to be a 100% clean break. Always see if you can get the prospect to refer you onto to someone else in their business. There’s no harm in asking!”
“It’s also good to try and get a definitive answer either way - is the prospect interested or not? The worst answer you can get in sales is ‘maybe’. If the prospect replies saying they’ve no interest, then you can qualify them out and move on.”
So there you have it - the ultimate B2B prospecting cadence! We hope you found it useful. Try out our cadence and see if it creates any new opportunities for your company. Don’t forget to share your wins with us!
Did you know that Cognism has recently published a sales strategy eBook? In writing it, we teamed up with some of the world’s top sales experts.
Inside, you’ll find:
Download B2B Outbound: Building predictable growth today. Click the image below!