An Effective Sales Email Cadence: More Than Just Timing
Timing of sales prospecting touchpoints is important. But when deciding on a sales email cadence, avoid focusing on timing of messages alone. Communications technique is vital to earning responses and qualifying prospects for meetings.
The power of a good sales email cadence is obvious. But a good conversational cadence is even better. Optimal conversational pacing helps your prospects qualify or disqualify themselves.
Timing Your Sales Emails
Sales expert Jeff Hoffman recommends the best timing touchpoint model. He says to express urgency wait after making your first (cold) attempt to follow up — around 12 days to two weeks. But then apply a half-life rule with each subsequent email and/or phone attempt.
Most of my students follow slight variations on this cadence — and it works.
Here’s what this timing might look like:
- First attempt: June 1
- Second attempt: June 13 (12 days later)
- Third attempt: June 19 (six days later)
- Fourth attempt: June 22 (three days later)
- Fifth attempt: June 24 mid-day (one and a half days later)
In the above scenario the buyer senses your message is growing in urgency (yet doesn't feel you are pouncing on them out-of-the-gate).
But what about getting your series of email messages read, responded to and wrapped-up with your appointment booked?
There’s More to Cadence Than Timing
Timing combines with your messages’ content. Proper timing (above) and provocative message content help buyers feel an urge to reply (over and over) and (later in the conversation) ask for help.
No urge? No reply. No invitation to talk about helping. No purchase. Conversational cadence is what makes the difference. It's the speed at which your discussion moves.
Based on my work with sellers, these two trends are universal and cannot be ignored.
- Prospects value more what they ask for than what's freely offered.
- Customers value more what they conclude for themselves than what they're told.
Thus, your email cadence helps provoke the initial discussion. Your conversational cadence helps the prospect discover why they want to buy, when and how.
You can call the span of conversational time the “buyers journey.” I don't like the term.
“Have you ever heard a prospect or customer say they are on a 'buyer’s journey?'” asks Michael A. Brown of BtoBEngage. “Neither have I. They talk about their circumstances, requirements, and preferences and their process for fulfilling them, and we should too. If they do mention a journey, it is because they are making travel arrangements.”
Helping Buyers Buy on Their Own Terms
Helping a customer realize they want to buy is a tall order. But an effective conversational cadence is the key to selling complex B-to-B products using digital communications tools.
Helping buyers understand if (and when) they want to buy — on their own terms — is non-negotiable.
As a starting point ask yourself:
- How will my email cadence and message combine to help buyers feel an urge to ask for a discussion?
- Then, how will my email pacing and message content help buyers get comfortable with buying on their own?
Email Cadence vs. Conversational Cadence
There’s a difference between your email’s delivery timing and the speed at which you move discussion forward. Be aware, when your email arrives does matter — especially to kick-start the discussion.
But beyond your initial response the speed of discussion is critical to quickly qualifying the discussion.
When starting an email discussion with a provocation, be brief and blunt. Once you've earned the reply go S-L-O-W. Don't rush into talking about yourself, your solution, your clients ... you-you-you.
Instead, ask buyers direct questions that qualify further discussion.
Avoid Biased Questions
But be careful — biased questions (designed to give you insights about the client) often reveal biased answers. If a client sees your question as one that serves YOU more than them ... that's a big problem.
You don't want clients giving you answers they think you want — for your reasons. Instead, ask unbiased questions as a means to help the prospect:
- Surface hidden pains they (personally) don't have direct exposure to
- Reveal who other decision makers are without fear of you pouncing on them
- Find their own answers hidden in their thoughts
These kinds of questions focus the prospect inward, on themselves. This reveals their own concerns, fears and internal processes — each of which are useful to you in a way that doesn't make you look self-serving.
Once you have the conversation started focus on:
- Guiding it, allowing prospects to drive the kind and pacing of contact
- Holding back information (sometimes against your instinct)
- Keeping discussion alive (when they go dark) … yet being at peace with lost leads
- Creating a set of useful responses based on issues/pains/worries/goals
A Good Sales Email Cadence Filters Prospects
The power of a good sales email cadence is obvious. But a good conversational cadence is even better because it helps your prospects qualify or disqualify themselves.
Making this happen is easy when using a scientifically proven communications technique.
Here's what it looks like:
- Use email as a means to grab attention — spark curiosity.
- Once you have that curiosity, keep it going. Once the customer replies asking for more details, give a few more — but only enough detail to temporarily satisfy their curiosity.
- This "give-and-take" can span two, five or even seven emails.
Within this series of messages, we create tension — wherein the customer is tempted to short-circuit the email exchange and request a meeting. Thus, your exchange of emails is a faster way to qualify the customer. The potential buyer qualifies themselves, via email, rather than you wasting precious time on the phone.