Sales Cadence

A sales cadence is a cornerstone of sales activity. This article walks through some fresh ideas on how to approach your cadence design.

Will Allred avatar
Written by Will Allred
Updated over a week ago

In sales, it takes a strong level of persistence to make things happen. Just like you shouldn't expect to go to the gym, do one crunch and have a 6 pack. You shouldn't expect to send an email and make quota.

Sales is harder than it looks. It requires:

  • Creativity

  • Best practices and you should be like oil and water. Don't buy the snake oil.

  • Dynamic thinking

    • If we're on a call, and I ask you an off the wall question, how do you respond?

  • Insane levels of perseverance

    • You'll get told to "F Off". You'll do the same task a million times. You'll follow up with the same person what feels like an insane number of times... you have to keep at it.

What is a sales cadence? A cadence is also referred to a sequence, I'd stretch the definition to an account playbook. It means getting your name, your brand, in front of the people involved with the decision to purchase what you sell, consistently.

A cadence might be a series of emails to a prospect. It might be a combination of direct outreach from you via email, calls, and social media. It can also be paired with emails and advertising from marketing.

A cadence can even involve multiple people from your company. An example from a very effective cadence that I saw in 2020:

  1. Salesperson cold emails prospect (builds awareness for name)

  2. An Exec at the Salesperson's company emails the Salesperson.

    • The message is effectively "I was thinking about the prospects account. We'd be a great fit for them because … You should reach out."

  3. The Salesperson forwards the message to the prospect. They use the exec's name and title in the first line of the email.

It's clever, and it worked for a period of time. As you'll learn, a trend becomes a "best practice". Best practice means people have seen the tactic before.

As soon as a clever trick is known, it's not clever anymore. Why?

Your prospect knows you're selling

When you're newer to sales you don't necessarily know this.

You might have just heard about driving urgency and thought "oh I'll use a pricing promotion at the end of the month". Your prospect isn't dumb. They know they're being sold to.

They certainly know when your email is automated.

This means you have to be careful. Try a "clever trick" that's the talk of LinkedIn, expect it to backfire some. You know what will never backfire? Being thoughtful in your outreach.

The golden rule will never go out of style in any communication.

You have to apply an extra lens to the golden rule: Just because you care doesn't mean your prospect does.

Selling requires you to get in front of people who have likely never heard of you. If they have, it doesn't guarantee they know what you do. It certainly doesn't guarantee that they care.

You have to interrupt them.

You have to be thoughtful, relevant, and concise while you do it. You can argue breaking the ice is marketing's job. Until marketing gets it done, salespeople are faced with the accountability of hitting revenue targets.

This is an email guide.

Anyone in sales can argue until they turn blue about what channel is the most important: cold calling, email, LinkedIn. I'll touch on other channels below, but my points are focused on getting the most out of the inbox.

The main reason cadences work? Follow Up

You can argue your copy is the best. You're using the optimal mix of channels... whatever. At the end of the day, because you tried to get in touch more than once you're infinitely more likely to move the deal to close.

Want your emails to work? Use other channels.

You heard us right.

Selling requires a high number of touch points. No cadence is the same, but let's say you need 10 or more touchpoints to get a response.

Could you imagine if you got ten messages in a row from someone? It's a little weird, but it also gets annoying quickly.

Using multiple channels allows you to reach out more times in a shorter amount of time. As Lavender advisor and VP of Sales Enablement at Outreach, Max Altschuler roughly put it, "If you don't get them within 10 days, you won't get them".

This means you need a healthy mix of things like phone calls, voicemails, LinkedIn messages, etc.

Variety is the key.

A call with a voicemail, is inherently different than a call without a voicemail. If you did call, leave an email in their inbox letting them know. Don't let that work go to waste. Tie the interactions together for them.

Want your emails to stand out?

  • Don't be afraid to pick up the phone.

  • Send them a personalized video on LinkedIn.

  • Get a warm introduction (see The Forwardable Email)

Why are you reaching out? Be crystal clear.

People get this confused all the time. They muddy the goal of the outreach. The first email will be about one value prop. The voicemail will be about something else.

It makes it hard for me to concretely understand what they can do for me. More specifically, I can't parse out why they're reaching out beyond taking my time.

If the only reason you're reaching out is to get on the phone... you need a new plan.

Your outreach should be about starting a dialogue that uncovers a problem you can solve. Would you rather give me 15 minutes of your time, so I can show you software?

Or would you rather discuss what metrics you're using to determine if a new sales hire is "ramped up"?

Here's the thing... Your next message shouldn't be about some other value prop. Get to the bottom of that value prop.

Much like how we keep emails stupid simple. We also have to apply the same logic to cadences.

  • Each cadence is about one idea

  • Each email is about one idea

  • Each paragraph is about one idea

  • Each sentence is about one idea

Get the idea? The repetition of the idea helps you drive responses. It also helps make you more memorable compared to the other 20 reps in their inbox.

Structure your cadences like a HITT class.

Blitz, pause, blitz, pause, etc.

The pause is just as important as the blitz because it allows you to switch up your value prop without muddying why you're reaching out.

It also improves the odds you don't get stuck in that "I didn't get them in the first 10 days". If the first blitz didn't work, you know the value prop wasn't relevant.

If you see some life in the lead...
Ramp up the intensity!

Use open tracking to your advantage. See they're interacting with your content? Opening your emails a multitude of times? Speed up the timeline that the blitz will complete.

Always be Experimenting

What worked for you this month, isn't always going to work for you next month. You have to be constantly challenging what you've seen work.

This can be applied to your message. It can be applied to the type of ask you make. It can be the structure of your cadence. (Maybe kicking off with a LinkedIn video is the way to go... maybe next month it's old news)

One of our favorite experimenters?

Justin Michael. The dude is a machine...

Whether he's cold calling, emailing, sending a LinkedIn message. Everything he's doing is seemingly an experiment. There are even rumors he's testing FaceTime.

Does it work? Not always, but one experiment we've become quite fond of: "Spears". A spear is a hyper relevant email. It's painfully short and asks a single simple question.

Want to try a spear? We'll do you one better. We'll make it a Justin Michael Method (JMM) cadence. Take your typical cold email (The Perfect Cold Email)

*“Their first name,

Start with a thoughtful piece of research that’s hyper-relevant for why you reached out.

Quickly transition to a clear ask.

Explain who you are. Build credibility by speaking to the outcomes they care about.

Reiterate your original ask.

Talk soon,
Your Name*

We'll break it up into a blitz of spears.

*Note that this "cadence" is just an experimental example. It doesn't include other channels... and it should.

Email 1:

“Their first name,

A thoughtful piece of research that’s hyper-relevant for why you reached out. Quickly transition to a clear ask."

ex. "Kyle, congrats on the recent fundraise. You're ramping up the number of sales reps quickly. What metric are you using to determine when they're inbox independent?"

Email 2: "The bump"

"Thoughts on my note?"

Email 3: "Reason I ask"

"Working with key client, we found that time spent per email was critical for identifying top performers.

Do you know how long your reps spend per note?

We built a writing timer into Lavender as a productivity tool, but it turns out managers love the visibility it gives them.

Want to learn more?"

Email 4: "Bump #2"


If you haven't followed Justin, you can find cold calling via livestream on the Salesborgs Discord (did we mention he's a machine?)

A final note on experimenting.

See what support you can get from marketing.

Having them running email campaigns to your prospects can be hugely helpful, but you can also give them your prospecting lists for them to run targeted advertising.

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