How to build a sales cadence: examples, best practices, & top tools
Sales cadences are like the beat of a drum in your favorite song—if it’s off rhythm, it can effectively ruin the whole composition.
You’ve perfected your reps’ sales pitch scripts, helped them develop high-powered email templates, and even brainstormed some fantastic voicemail messages. But are your reps playing at the right rhythm to attract leads?
If not, it’s probably time to build a better sales cadence. And we’re here to help you through it, step-by-step.
In this guide, you’re going to see:
- What is a sales cadence?
- Example of a sales cadence that helps high-performing reps close more deals
- How to build a sales cadence + free sales cadence template
- Sales cadence best practices: how to build your ideal process
- Sales cadence tool: how to use a cadence in your CRM
By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the right process to build a cadence that is music to your customers’ ears.
What is a sales cadence?
Example of a sales cadence that helps high-performing reps close more deals
So, what does a sales cadence look like in the real world? Here’s an example of a sales cadence that can be used for inbound or outbound sales:
This clear sequence is heavier at the beginning, and slowly peters out as time goes on. Especially for inbound leads, your sales cadence should include more touches early on: the first few days after someone shows interest is the most crucial time to start them down the road towards a purchase. That’s the goal of your cadence.
With an outbound cadence, you’ll eventually stop this outreach if you don’t receive a response. But if someone has shown interest and hasn’t given you a direct “No”, you can continue to follow-up with that lead until you get a clear answer from them (Hopefully a “Yes”!).
How to build a sales cadence + free sales cadence template
The example above is just a starting point—to develop your own cadence, you’ll need to go through customer research, understand your leads, build the right messaging, and set the rhythm that matches your prospects’ needs.
Let’s talk about 11 specific steps you can take to build a sales cadence that works for your team:
Step 1. Develop a clear target persona
The first step in developing any kind of sales strategy or process is to make sure you know your customers like your best friend in high school (not that second cousin you met at a funeral once).
When you don’t understand your target customer, your sales strategy is a constant uphill battle. Your cadences won’t resonate with them, or will always arrive at inconvenient moments in the day, week, or month.
That’s why the first step to building a sales cadence process is to revamp (or create from scratch) your ideal customer profile.
(Psst… If you haven’t done this yet, check out Profiler: Ideal Customer Profile Templates, which includes a checklist for prepping your research, sample customer survey questions, and downloadable customer profile templates based on your industry)
Step 2. Segment your leads into different categories
Cadences aren’t usually a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. So, as you learn more about your customers, you’ll probably see distinct groups appear that will need cadences that are adapted to their situation.
You might segment your leads into categories based on:
- Whether they’re inbound or outbound leads
- If they’re a businesses or individual buyer
- Job title
- Seniority and buying power at the company
- The size of the business
- Industry-specific schedules and timing
For example, let’s say you’re a SaaS company handling both inbound and outbound leads. The messaging, goals, and timing of your sales cadence will be completely different for those two types of leads.
Job role and seniority also play a factor—you wouldn’t start a C-suite exec in a touchpoint-heavy cadence because you know they’re busy people.
Or, maybe you’re an insurance company selling policies to customers. Your email sequences and follow-ups would be highly dependent on when a customer or new lead’s policy is coming due for renewal. You might set specific cadences to renew current customers, and another to reach out to leads who showed interest but were locked into their policy until a certain time.
Know your leads, and segment them according to the categories that make sense for your business. But try to limit these to 3 or less—you should really only create a new sales cadence when it needs to be drastically different from what you already have.
Step 3. Know the best communication channels for your prospects and your team
Again, this goes back to knowing your ideal customer.
Are you selling to busy execs whose inbox is always full of sales emails? Then add more phone or SMS touches to your sales cadence.
Are your customers active on social media? Start your cadence with a touchpoint on the social media platform where your customers like to hang out.
The sweet spot for communication for your prospects is a place where:
- They regularly spend time
- Are not inundated with messages
- Are able to respond to you with little friction
But another factor to keep in mind is the best communication channel for your sales reps.
Where does your team excel? Are they super-efficient at calling? Do they leave the most unforgettable voicemails? Are they social media geniuses?
Also, what software do they have available to help them work within the cadence? Do they have access to automated email sequences? What about a Power Dialer?
Answer these questions, and you’ll see clearly which communication channels you should include in your cadence (and which ones aren’t necessary).
Step 4. Pick one key pain point for each segment
A good sales pitch involves knowing what truly irks your market, and how your product solves that pain point.
So, to organize your messaging and keep your sales cadences on a single track, select one key pain point for each of the segments you’ve created. That will also help you accomplish the next step:
Step 5. Set a clear goal for these touchpoints
What’s your endgame?
When your cadence has a clear goal, you’ll be able to have clearer messaging and a uniform CTA in your emails, SMS, and calls.
For example, if you’re tracking down new outbound leads, the goal may be to schedule a call to explain your product. For an inbound sales cadence, the goal could be to set up a product demo with key decision makers.
Set a goal, and your sales cadence will have direction and clarity. That, in turn, makes it easier to accomplish the goal you set.
Step 6. Give your touchpoints the right amount of space
Now that you know who is in your cadence and the goal of that cadence, it’ll be easier to determine the space between each touchpoint.
Don’t overwhelm your prospects (but don’t give them time to forget about your either).
As a general rule, inbound leads are more open to contact than outbound leads. Since they’ve already expressed interest in your product or service, feel free to lay out a cadence schedule with more touchpoints—especially in the first week.
You also want to make sure to mix up the channels within your cadence. For example, if you’re doing two touchpoints on the first day, make sure those are coming through two different channels.
As time goes on, increase the space between each touchpoint.
Step 7. Decide how and when to end your sales cadence
If you’re not getting any response from your prospects, you may decide to end the sales cadence.
Again, inbound vs. outbound will have a lot to do with how long you extend your sales cadence. If you have an outbound lead who hasn’t responded to any of your touchpoints over a reasonable period of time, you’ll probably want to send a breakup email and stop reaching out to that person for now.
On the other hand, an inbound lead has already expressed interest in you. So, don’t stop following up! Unless you get a clear “No,” you can continue your sales cadence indefinitely—just extend the space between touchpoints to months instead of days.
Step 8. Build email sequence templates based on the key pain point you selected
Of course, the final steps in creating your sales cadence involves writing out the messaging for your reps to follow.
Building email templates is something you can do alongside your team. Work with them to find out what they’ve seen success with in the field, and use their suggestions to boost your email templates.
In Close, you can build pre-made email sequences and email templates that the whole team can use:
Step 9. Create sales scripts your reps can use to harmonize their messaging
Sales pitch scripts for a sales cadence shouldn’t be written out word-for-word, but should give your reps a basic outline to follow for the calls.
Again, base this on the:
- Lead segments you’ve created
- Key pain point you’ve selected
- Main goal you’re aiming for
When you create scripts for the calls and voicemails that are inside your sales cadence, you can ensure reps follow the right messaging and harmonize each touchpoint to the rest of the cadence.
Step 10. Encourage your team to add personality and authenticity to their templates and scripts
A sales cadence may be like the beat of a drum—but the way your reps perform within that cadence can be compared to the rest of the tune.
Each rep has their own style, personality, and flair. Don’t use templates and scripts to repress that personality. Instead, encourage your reps to use their own authentic voice within templates and scripts.
For example, reps may choose to create their own email templates that include their own unique voice.
This authenticity adds a unique and appealing tune to the drum beat that you’ve created with your sales cadence.
Ready to create your own sales cadence? Download this cadence template, and use the steps above to fill it in with your unique sales sequence schedule:
Sales cadence best practices: how to build your ideal process
Creating a cadence is really just the beginning—you’ll need to keep testing, adjusting, and improving that cadence if you want your team to close more deals.
Here are 4 ways you can improve your sales cadence process continuously and empower your reps:
1. A/B test your content
You’ve chosen a pain point that your product solves and your messaging revolves around that. But pain points change over time, and messaging may need to be adapted. Or, the pain point you chose may not be resonating with prospects the way you thought it would.
That’s why A/B testing the content in your sales sequences can help you improve it. Take a small segment of your prospects and test a different pain point or angle for your messaging, track the results, and adjust your cadence and templates accordingly.
2. Try new communication methods
While you may have an idea of which communication channel your prospects generally prefer, you never know which one might actually grab their attention more.
That’s why it’s also a good idea to keep trying new methods and see which one gets you the best results with the least amount of effort.
Most sales cadences revolve around phone and email, and your prospects probably expect all sales communication to come through those channels. While these are still tried-and-true methods to connect with prospects, why not try something that they’re not expecting, such as SMS or social? If you want to be a bit more out-of-the-box, you could even send a handwritten note, a fax, or visit them in person (if appropriate).
Testing new methods may open new doors to sales that you weren’t expecting.
3. Continuously measure results to improve
Track, measure, adjust, repeat. That is the formula for a cadence that improves over time.
So, what should you track? Here are some metrics you’ll probably want to keep on hand:
- Email open rates
- Email response rates
- Call response rates
- Conversion rates for each touchpoint
- Number of ‘No’s received for each touchpoint
Along with this basic list, add the sales metrics that you feel are most important to your business or your sales process. Look for KPIs that have a direct impact on sales and revenue (remember, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the data you track).
When you measure each touchpoint, you’ll have a better view of which ones are working, where more prospects are telling you “No”, and which touchpoints are really resonating with prospects.
4. Track rep performance inside the cadence
Another important metric to track is individual rep performance within your cadences. With the sales metrics mentioned above, separate by individual rep to find out who’s succeeding at calls, which social media touchpoints are getting the best responses, who is getting more email opens, and who is at the top of the leaderboard for closed deals using that sales cadence.
Study your top performers, duplicate their process, and improve the quality of your whole team.
Sales cadence tool: how to use a cadence in your CRM
While there are plenty of sales cadence builders you can use, the best place to build a cadence is within your own CRM. This is the tool where your reps live, and it’s where your most important customer and lead data is stored.
So, how exactly would you go about setting up a sales cadence inside your CRM?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up your own sales cadence in Close:
Step 1. In your lead list, narrow results to find leads who fit the right criteria
For example, to find new leads who haven’t been contacted yet, you would use the Narrow Your Results bar, add the lead status ‘Potential’, and filter for total emails = none.
Step 2. Create a new Smart View
Once you’ve narrowed your results, you can save that list of leads as a Smart View:
Step 3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 to build Smart Views for each step in your cadence
Keep following this same process to build Smart Views that match each touchpoint in your cadence.
For example, in the next touchpoint, you could narrow your results to see only leads who are ‘Potential’, and who have received your first email but haven’t responded. You can even set the number of days since your email was sent to make sure there’s space between your next outreach and narrow results again to make sure the local time where your leads are is within working hours.
Each Smart View builds on the last, setting a clear process for outreach for your team. Leads will flow dynamically in and out of these lists as they match the right criteria in real-time. Your whole team will see these views in the menu bar inside Close (it could look something like this):
Step 4. Create email sequences in Close
To maximize this sales cadence tool, you can even build email sequences that automate the email touchpoints.
Then, the email side of your sales cadence is done automatically, and reps can focus on the interactions that require their personalized attention, such as calls or social touches.
Why is this a superior method to create your sales cadence?
At the start of the day, all your reps need to do is go into each Smart View and perform the correct action.
Instead of starting the day with a to-do list that rivals your mother-in-law’s list of reasons you’re not worthy, they pick the Smart View they want to start with and perform the same outreach to leads in the same stage of the sales process.
For example, if a list needs email outreach, you can bulk email the list. If the next list is ready for a phone call, your reps can start using the Predictive Dialer until all the calls are made.
This allows reps to stay in the flow of their workday instead of switching between different outreach methods and types of leads in an endless to-do list.
Start building your ultimate sales cadence and close more deals
So you’ve learned the what, where, and how of building a sales cadence.
The ‘why’ is simple: a structured cadence enables your whole team to work smarter, harmonize better to company messaging, and ultimately close more deals.
The rest is up to you.
Are you ready to start building your sales cadence? Then try out the high-performance CRM that’s built for inside sales teams.