Business

How to Create Sales Sequences Your Reps Will Actually Use

 

Creating great sales email sequences requires a lot more work than just writing a few punchy pitches.

For long-term success, your SDRs and AEs need to be fully committed to the creation and adoption of new content.

The key to creating sales sequences reps will use

Once your AEs and SDRs feel they’re a vital part of the content creation process, you’ll be in a better place. At that point, you can focus on writing content that sticks, personalizing your outreach at scale, and avoid spending time and resources on content that nobody uses.

Build your content team

Many companies start their sales engagement initiative with just one sales ops person who’s also in charge of sales enablement and working with the marketing team. It’s impossible for one person to write stellar content when they are juggling so much.

Instead, assign one person who is solely focused on writing and measuring the success of your content. They can ensure there’s buy-in from the sales teams, upload and maintain sequences into Outreach, track content performance, and build on what’s most effective.

Call on the Content Review Crew

The adoption of new sales sequences hinges on having buy-in from your frontline reps. Find out what your SDRs are hearing from their prospects. They speak directly with customers everyday and can find opportunities to increase conversion rates.

At Outreach, we have a special team called the Content Review Crew. In addition to the sequence specialist, our crew includes SDRs that excel in writing emails, SDRs that work well with candid feedback, and the top performing SDRs. The crew meets on a monthly basis to review all content before it’s rolled out to the team.

The review crew at Outreach follows a series of steps to ensure new content has buy-in and approval before launch:

  • Frontline reps submit their ideas for new content.
  • The Sequence Specialist runs the ideas by SDR managers, and the VP of Business Development to make sure there’s a use case and that we aren’t duplicating what already exists in the content library.
  • The Sequence Specialist writes the content.
  • The Sequence Specialist runs through a second round of approvals by SDR managers for each market segment, all team leads, and the VP of Business Development.
  • The Content Review Crew helps finalize the sequence.

Capturing your reps’ hearts and minds

The biggest mistake companies make is leaving sales reps out of the content creation process. Sales leaders often worry about pulling reps off the phones to review content; unfortunately, this drastically limits the chances that they’ll use the sequences.

Follow these best practices to involve reps in the sequence creation process:

  • Use their time wisely. A once monthly content review crew meeting is enough time to complete the work. Reps shouldn’t feel they need to take on more responsibilities on top of sales.
  • Always review every piece of content, and come prepared with adoption statistics. If no one is using a sequence, bring this to the attention of your review crew.
  • Be mindful of permission settings in Outreach. If reps are creating their own email content, they may never look at the approved sequences. Ensure quality by incentivizing them to use the right sequences.

Connect sequence performance to sales results

Securing your reps’ commitment to using your sequences can take a while. You’ll probably need to remind them more than a few times at the beginning. Focus on educating your reps about why you want them to use the content.

Show them that a sequence is high performing by breaking it down in terms of meetings booked and pipeline created. Connect the sequence to making money. If after a month you see that people still aren’t using the sequence, don’t just let it fade away; start pushing it again.

When implementing a new sales engagement tool, AEs might be reluctant to change because they feel their current processes have worked well for them so far. Connect with your AEs through personal stories about the success you’ve seen using Outreach at past employers.

Remind them that engagement platforms like Outreach are full sales cycle tools that help AEs have more conversations with more people while doing less manual work. Let them adopt the tool into their existing processes so they still have control over their messaging and feel comfortable.

Developing your sequence strategy

For larger companies with over one thousand employees, SDRs frequently use up to 100 sequences. Conversely, smaller companies can often successfully use just 10 or 15 sales sequences. It may seem obvious that all large companies would need more and small companies need less, but that isn’t always the case.

Sales technology sophistication

The sophistication of a company’s existing sales technology stack influences their sales sequence strategy much more than the size of the business. Some small or medium size companies have very sophisticated tech stacks without the baggage of legacy systems. They can hit the ground running with dozens of sequences tailored to market segment, industry, and persona.

Enterprise companies, on the other hand, often develop their revenue strategy without any consideration for sales engagement. The change management, both technologically and culturally, will take a lot more work just to get reps to adopt the use of Outreach and sales sequences. It may make sense to start with fewer sequences.

Building your content supply chain

Your content supply chain has distinct steps from ideation to successful sequence. Make sure you know who owns each of these steps and is responsible for their completion. This is where having a dedicated sequence specialist helps manage the process.

Content supply chain steps can include: 

  • Brainstorming new content ideas
  • Ensuring content ideas connect to real use cases
  • Writing the content
  • Uploading and formatting the content into Outreach
  • Measuring adoption
  • Measuring performance
  • Managing the technical operations of Outreach

How does Outreach use Outreach?

We start off all of our sequences by personalizing them based on personas. Every base sequence is related to our Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and they can be tweaked for any messaging needed outside of this.

A simple sequence structure should include three paragraphs:

  • Personalization. Customize the first two to three sentences of an email for a prospect and their company. The rep is demonstrating that they understand the prospect’s use case and did their research.
  • Value proposition. Connect the pains of each persona to how your product solves those problems. If you have five value propositions, you can include them in five different emails within the sequence.
  • Call to action. Let the prospect know what you want from them like a phone call, a demo, or to attend a webinar.

Outreach’s best practices for creating sales sequences

  • Keep it short – if you can’t read the whole email on a phone screen without scrolling, then it’s too long. In fact, emails that don’t pass this brevity test receive half the amount of responses.
  • As always, the email must be completely about your customer, not about the rep or your company.
  • Talk about value propositions. Don’t talk about features and benefits of your products. In fact, don’t mention your company’s name in the email body at all. That information is already included in the sender field and the email signature.
  • Use simple language – read your email out loud, and if it sounds awkward, then it’s not a good email.
  • Avoid information overload. That’s why we have sequences. It’s more compelling for the rep to choose content based on their knowledge of the prospect’s use case, instead of pitching everything.
  • A standard Outreach sequence has seven email templates. Mix personalized content with automated content like email bumps.
  • Write each email so that it has standalone value and is distinct from the other messages in the sequence.
  • Include phone calls or LinkedIn messages to add variety to your email sequences.
  • Send prospects things that drive value, like an eBook or webinar invitation. Make it a consultative approach instead of a hard ask every time you send an email bump.

How to A/B test your sequences

Testing different versions of your email copy can help you hone your messaging and ensure it resonates with your personas and market segments. But remember to test one thing at a time and in an isolated way.

At Outreach, we typically test five different details for each sequence. We manage this with our data science team on a biweekly basis so we can incorporate the results fast.

For example, test whether adding a link to an email affects deliverability. Or if the length of a subject line makes a difference. Does a three word subject line perform better than a seven word subject line? When you isolate testing in this way, you can figure out best practices and scale your sequences.

Breakup emails

Now that Outreach tracks positive sentiment, we can bucket objections and see how breakup emails are performing. But just because someone responds doesn’t mean it’s performing well – especially if all the responses are negative.

When creating breakup email content: 

  • Remember that there is a time and a place for breakup emails. They don’t belong in every sequence. Sending a breakup email is useful when a prospect never interacted with any emails in your sequence so far. The rep can save their effort for other prospects.
  • Position working together as a win-win situation where your solution solves their problems. Don’t just ask “are you there?” repeatedly. If you tell the customer that this is the last time you’ll be reaching out, don’t put them into a new sequence two weeks later. This isn’t a breakup email.

What’s next?

Perfecting your sales sequence takes time, but using a sales engagement tool like Outreach can accelerate your success. Learn more about increasing sales rep adoption, and join discussions with experts by visiting our sales engagement community.

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