In 2016, I was tasked by a client to help them increase their sales and industry presence in the UK market, specifically with the top 200 fashion and apparel brands and retailers in the region.
The challenge for me was, unlike in my home country of Brazil, I had only five business connections in the UK; hardly a robust portfolio. If I wanted to succeed in the UK, I was going to have to grow my network almost from scratch.
Despite my lack of initial contacts, I grew my network to over 300 connections, many of which were major players in eCommerce and apparel in the UK, Dubai, Turkey, and Romania. These contacts lead to 11 meetings (I’m talking whales) with some of the largest e-Commerce players in the World and a grand total of 2.132.000 USD in new business opportunity to the pipeline of my client.
I credit my success to a sales technique that, while often used by larger sales teams, is less commonly utilized by individuals and smaller teams: a sales cadence.
Sales Cadence has yielded great results for me in building business relationships in the UK ( for the most part ) and structuring my approach to sales. Here is a short crash course on what a sales cadence is, the benefits of using one and the exact sales cadence I use to land meetings with major apparel players in the UK, Dubai, Turkey, and Romania.
Sales Cadence, Quickly Defined
I have noticed that smaller teams and individuals working in sales seem to either be not aware of what sales cadence is or think something like a sales cadence only applies to larger sales teams at big companies.
This is not the case. As you will see, everyone can benefit from using a sales cadence to define his or her sales process.
For the uninitiated, a sales cadence is a structured system for the frequency that you (or your team) reach out to prospective clients and the methods that you use to contact them. Here is an example from the ringDNA blog, provided by SalesHacker CEO, Max Altschuler:
- Day 1: Email/Inmail
- Day 3: Email in the morning, Call in the afternoon
- Day 5: Call in the morning, Call with a voicemail in the afternoon
- Day 7: Email in the morning, Call in the afternoon with a voicemail
- Day 10: Email and call in the morning
Sales cadences vary greatly between individuals, teams, and organizations, but they all have the following in common: the frequency, method of contact and time of contact are structured and consistent.
And it is this consistency and structure that makes them so effective.
Advantages of a Sales Cadency, Even for Individuals
Whether you are a team of 1 or team of 50, implementing a well-defined sales cadence can provide a huge boost to the efficiency and effectiveness of your client prospecting process. Here are just a few of the advantages you can expect from a well-defined sales cadence:
Chickens with their heads cut off run fast, but they don’t run very far. For many of us, this all too closely resembles our haphazard approach to networking and sales efforts: lots of unstructured effort.
Sometimes we call a prospect and then send them a follow-up email. Other times we wait a day to send the follow-up email. Sometimes we wait a day and then forget to send an email at all. Or, the most embarrassing, we lose track of where we are in our sales process and send the same email, or make the same call, twice. It is a mess.
With a sales cadence, it is far easier to track where you are in the sales or networking process. You always send a follow-up or you always contact prospective clients every two days. With more clearly defined rules for your sales strategy, you never risk sending the same email twice or missing steps in the sales process.
Easy Tracking = Easy Refinement
Once you start using a clearly defined sales cadence, it is much easier to track and refine your sales process. Imagine you have a 5-step process you can view in a simple CRM software. With a quick glance, you can see clearly at what stage you are at with each client, as well as at which steps you tend to lose contact with your prospects.
Using this information, you can begin refining your approach. If you can see that cold-calling tends to be more effective the later in the process that you use it, you can adjust your approach to make calls only once you have established a relationship via email or Linkedin messaging.
Having that data and ability to refine your process is a powerful tool you can use to continually optimizing your sales approach.
You may be able to get away with using the Headless-Chicken sales approach when you have one or two clients, but when you begin working with five, eight or ten clients at a time–or you begin employing a small sales team–scalability becomes an issue. It just isn’t possible to track in your head where each client is in your sales process or keep your sales strategy aligned across a small team.
Having a clearly defined sales cadence solves that scalability issue. Not only is it easier for you as an individual to organize and track where your different prospects are in your sales funnel, it also makes it easier to enlist others to work with you. A simple one-page flowchart is enough to illustrate to any new sales reps you hire the exact sales strategy you are implementing, and they can begin making calls and interacting with clients immediately.
How I Used a Sales Cadence to Land Meetings with 11 of the Largest e-Commerce Players in the World
Using a sales cadence can be a powerful tool if you know how to implement one. I want to share some practical advice about developing your own sales cadence, starting from developing your target lead list, all the way through to landing a client. To do that, I will share the process that resulted in my meetings with some of the biggest players in eCommerce of the World ( and the right decision makers): Farfetch, Debenhams, Ted Baker are just some to name a few.
Step 1: Preparation or Onboarding
Define Your Search Criteria
People often misstep from the very beginning by not having a clear understanding of who their target clients are and they end up going after any and every client they can think of. While enticing, this strategy lacks efficiency. Why spend time chasing prospects that you are not best equipped to serve?
Before doing anything else, you need to make sure you understand who your prospects are. Here are a few questions you can answer for yourself to narrow down who you want to target:
- What industry am I best equipped to serve?
- At what business stage is my ideal client at? Start-up? Funded? Multi-national?
- What region do I want to focus on?
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should help to get you started towards narrowing who you want to focus your efforts towards.
Know Your Prospect:
Once you have an idea of whom you want to target, it is critical to know some basic characteristics about the prospective client. To do this, you should know at least the following about your targets:
- Company name
- Number of employees
- Company location
- Dream internal contact (who would you most want to talk to given the chance?)
- Realistic contact (who do you think you can realistically talk to)
- How many people you want to target for the account (total of numbers 4 and 5)
- What social media sites do the company and your contacts from steps 4 and 5 use?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you have a very clear picture of who you want to target and help you spend less time chasing bad leads.
Source Contact Information
With a social media presence being a near-must today, contact information has never been made more readily available. Emails can be found looking on company websites or through a quick Twitter or Linkedin search. You can also use search tools such as Hunter.io or Lead IQ. Having this contact information readily available and organized can help keep your process efficient. Another pretty cool tool I like to use is rapportive and most recently I started using nudge.io which gives me a pretty good idea about my prospect (ie something about him/her in the media,etc). Feedly is also a great tool to curate content and eventually even find articles about a potential prospect.
Understand Their World
When you begin reaching out to prospects, you want to illustrate that you are writing specifically to them, and that you have something unique to offer. To do that, it is important to understand everything you can about them and their business. Before sending your first communication, you should at least know the following about your prospect:
- What are your prospect’s pain points?
- What might they be afraid of?
- What changes are taking place in their market?
- Who are their competitors?
Knowing the answers to the questions from the previous three sections will help you stand out from the crowd when you begin reaching out to your prospective client. You will be able to demonstrate you understand their business, cite specifics challenges they are likely facing, and reach out through the channels that give you the highest likelihood for success.
I believe marketing and sales should AL-WAYS be in full alignment. Building a persona can be a daunting task. So if you are in sales and marketing isn’t really being quite helpful I’d suggest you use this free amazing tool from Hubspot http://www.makemypersona.com/. There you can start building your persona based on the experience you already have.
Step 2: Developing Your Sales Cadence
Now that you know who your targets are, you know about their industry, and you know how best to reach them, it is time to start making contact with them. Below is the general sales cadence I use, which involves both old-school methods (cold-calls) and new skills methods (social media interaction). The idea here is to surround your prospect with a valuable approach. The great thing about a cadence is that you can add different approaches until you earn the right to ask something from your prospects.
A word of advice:
I started with a very limited number of connections in the U.K and grew it over time. It is important to emphasize that my goal was to establish contact and meetings with Tier 1 Players in the U.K in the first place and then | Dubai| Turkey| Romania unfolded due to referrals and opportunities I’d noticed on LinkedIn.
Total Companies contacted: 90
Total Responses: 21
Positive Responses: 11 ( Either had a meeting or agreed to move forward with Demo)
In Progress: 11
No Response: 58
2-3 contact points ( professionals) per company
On average** I needed 46 touches per contact
That, of course, is an average as some companies like Debenhams ( + 70 touches) or Farfetch I touched over 300 times to get to the meeting
Breaking it down day by day ( and why I follow this sequence)
Mapping out- This is where I start to have a more deep understanding about your prospects World, what they like, share, where are they present, what do they care about and if they are using social media ( at all) or not. I will follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on the first day.
Inmail via LinkedIn. The idea is to start building familiarity. Be personal in your messaging
If the prospect hasn’t responded, send another Inmail on top of the first one. If you have a Linkedin premium account your are going to appreciate this function as you don’t have to use a new credit to send an Inmail following your first Inmail
A short and sweet cold email.
Another email following the first email.
“Cold call”. This call isn’t that cold because you have already tried different forms of contact such as Inmail and email and presumably you have studied the prospect.
I will share an article and tag my potential buyer’s name
( Why? I want to be top of mind and get their attention)- I will repeat this throughout the cadence several times. With one prospect in special, besides following the cadence i “touched” him over 300 times. I got the meeting.
Send a video email. I’ve been trying this out for some time and it’s working like a charm. I don’t understand why larger teams don’t use it. Basically, I record a video with my phone, upload it to youtube, and bam. Send it to my potential buyer.
Nudge on LinkedIn ( either connect or share article tagging name)
“Cold Call” 2. Yes I leave a voice message, always.
Email from Director** Really important as it has improved the responses by 45%
Cold call, video email or just an email. Tried all to give the prospect urgency and they work fine.
Obs: Whilst I follow the cadence, I will try to find my buyer on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin. Basically, I surround them with different content/approach for each one of the different medias
Try this during 22 days per contact/company
If you are a visual person, try checking the mind map below.
The main challenge I had when I started in the U.K was the fact that my network was quite small. As time went on and I grew my network, build trust with others things also started to happen. More importantly, not only I managed to get meetings with some very large companies in the U.K, I have also managed to get meetings with TIER 1 e-commerce players ( and the right decision makers) in Dubai, Turkey, and Romania.
There is a lot of talks whether social selling works or not. To me, social is a great support to humanize conversations as it allows us to gather an infinite amount of data about the potential buyers you are trying to target. Whether you are using social or using traditional methods to prospect, the truth is. There is no short cut. It is a lot of work. It is hard, but quite rewarding as well.
My name is Carlos Monteiro. I’m the CEO and founder of Biassa. We help companies to accelerate their sales process internationally, using technology and talent. I also write occasionally for The Copenhagen Post and maintain a portal called denmarkbrazil.com
I’d love to hear your feedback and to learn more how are you developing your sales efforts. You are most welcome to drop me a line @ firstname.lastname@example.org