Calling cadence plays an important role in lead nurturing. It is a symphony of prospecting balance that involves rhythmic timing and structure. Learn some tips on how to best strategize this balance.

This Target Marketing article expands on segments of the Jan. 10 webinar “Top Email Lead Nurturing Strategies for 2013” with Jenny Vance and  Carolyn Goodman , sponsored by Act-On.Click here to watch the full webinar.

In music, cadence is what drives the characteristic rhythm of a piece. Music teachers often compare it to punctuation, because cadence is responsible for pauses (commas) in music, as well as signaling the end of a song (period).

Cadence also plays an important role in lead nurturing.

A calling cadence visually depicts the rhythm of lead generation and nurturing campaigns by mapping out the frequency and duration of call attempts, as well as the communication mix.

For example, a calling cadence may specify an email and follow up phone call in the first day, a second phone call the following day, then stretching out interactions as the campaign progresses (see chart in the media player at right).

Calling cadences contribute to the success of lead generation programs for two reasons.

First, a calling cadence gives managers important information about what is working and why. Without a cadence, contacts passed to sales reps for follow up are treated inconsistently. One sales rep may elect to forgo email and just place frequent calls. Another may make calls but not leave voice mail messages. Another may call only every few days. By following a cadence, managers can easily pinpoint and tweak the right mix to achieve the best result.

Second, following a calling cadence allows managers to easily see where diminishing returns begin and realign efforts based on this insight. For example, if only 5 percent of appointments are set after the fourth call attempt, it might make sense to stop after three attempts. However, if that same 5 percent results in the highest close rate and the largest deal sizes, it makes sense to invest in a cadence with a longer duration.

When developing a calling cadence, following a few best practices will keep your lead generation program in harmony:

1. Put a structure in place and measure against it. A structure allows managers to note what’s working and what’s not in a campaign. As the cadence progresses, managers can see the volume produced at each step, where the largest deals are entering the funnel, and when to end the campaign. Measure the results at each step to gain insight into both the quantity of leads and their quality. This will be different for each company and campaign. For example, one company may see 25 percent of appointments set from the first email/call, while another may get similar results but during the final two calls of the cadence.

2. Build a cadence you can afford. In general, lower cost, commoditized products and services should have a shorter calling cadence, while higher cost solutions can afford longer campaigns. This is because lower cost solutions rely on a high volume of leads to achieve return on investment, while higher cost solutions rely on high value leads. For example, high-tech staffing firm Terra Staffing found that 71 percent of their appointments came during the first two call attempts. Companies with longer sales cycles, however, often benefit from extending the cadence for harder to reach prospects.

3. Make the volume manageable. Divide lists into smaller data sets that will allow reps to call through an entire list in one day. This typically is a list of 30 to 50 names. If the lists are too big, it’s difficult to maintain the cadence and then too much time has lapsed between touches. Another benefit of dividing lists is that reps can manage multiple lists in the same week, which builds a pipeline of leads in all phases of the sales cycle. This gives sales reps a regular supply of fresh leads, and time to nurture leads in the pipeline.

4. Measure the success of the cadence at each step. This can be done by hand, but is much easier if the cadence is automated by technology that allows sales reps to create tasks around an entire list or group versus each individual prospect on the list. CRM solutions that require tasks for every person on a contact list make task management difficult.
5. Give the cadence enough time to work. Start interactions close together and space them out in a professionally persistent cadence. Then give the campaign time to work. Typically five to six weeks is enough time to get enough prospects through the program to draw meaningful conclusions. We recommend allowing time for at least 100 prospects to go through the cadence. Once finished, evaluate the cadence and make decisions. Look at how often reps connect live with prospects, how many prospects respond to voice mail messages and what touch results in an appointment. Change future cadences based on what you learn. For example, if you find that all appointments are generated during a live connect, you might consider additional calls on the same day instead of leaving a voice mail.

Being intentional with your calling cadence delivers actionable insight that can make your outbound sales efforts far more successful. That’s music to every marketer’s ear.