Nick Hart, Outreach Customer Success Manager and Sequencing Superstar
Are my sequences winners?
You should be asking yourself this question every day, or at least every six months. The sequences that got radical response rates and booked mountains of meetings last month might not be working so well today. They could be bringing your numbers down.
The minimum average cold prospect reply rate is 12%, and that’s not including unsubscribes. How is that possible? We have a scalable sequence strategy and a Content Committee. This committee evaluates our sequence KPIs and steps twice a year to keep the team’s sequences looking fresh.
Here’s how you can update your sequences for standout results too:
Define a Sequence Strategy that scales
Build an effective Content Committee
Uncover The Numbers that make your sequences shine
Ensure you have the perfect Steps in your sequence
Before measuring anything, you need an effective sequence strategy.
This strategy ensures three things:
You’re not building the same sequences over and over
Reps are not wasting time building their own sequences
You can measure what is working and what is not.
Without standardized sequences, all the subsequent measurement strategies will be close to impossible.
The framework we use at Outreach (and the framework we recommend to all of our customers) is called a persona matrix. We create a matrix (a 4 column by 2 row spreadsheet works great): On the horizontal axis are our buyer personas (Sales, Marketing, Operations, or Enablement), and on the vertical axis we have High Touch or Low Touch, which generally represents where they buyer sits on the totem pole and subsequently, how much effort we want to put forth to get a response. Each cell in the spreadsheet gets their own sequence.
For example, we would have a cell for a High Touch Sales Persona sequence which might be for an SVP of Sales or a CRO. They would get more touches over more time, more personalization, and more manual steps - such as phone calls and reaching out on LinkedIn - than a Low Touch Sales Persona because the meeting would be more valuable.
Now that you’ve got the high-level strategy, the best way to take your sequences to the next level is to create a content committee.
Build a Content Committee
In order to be successful, your content committee of elite sequencers must do the following:
Be a cross-functional team
Include top performing reps
Have monthly or quarterly meetings
In your monthly meetings you should be reviewing how your sequences are performing and making minor tweaks. Then every six months, this committee must do a complete overhaul of all sales sequences.
Why? Because your buyers’ business priorities change, your product or service evolves, your buyers’ projects change, and the sales landscape changes. You need to shape up to keep up.
I’ll get into how to do this later, but here are a few sequence best practices the committee should keep in mind always:
A/B test your messaging
Leverage a variety of step types
Use reply steps
When the committee meets, they need to first look at the numbers.
Prospect Reply Rate shows the number of individuals who reply at some point in the sequence either via phone or email. For Cold Prospecting Sequences, this should be at least 12%.
Email Open Rate shows how many emails were opened in a sequence. The average sequence email open rate across all Outreach customers is 27.2%.
Email Reply Rate shows how many emails were replied to in a sequence. The average sequence email reply rate across all Outreach customers is 2.9%.
Email Bounce Rate shows how many emails bounced in a sequence. The average sequence email bounce rate across all Outreach customers is 2.8%.
Email Opt-out Rate shows how many emails elicited an unsubscribe. The average sequence email opt-out rate across all Outreach customers is 1.1%.
Now stop everything and look at your sequence numbers in Outreach. Do they measure up? I’ve got some steps to make sure your next ones do.
After evaluating the data for each of your team’s sequences, your Content Committee needs to take a hard look at the individual steps. To optimize your sequence steps, make sure you
Have the right number of steps
Don’t create bottlenecks
Turn off poor performing steps
Eliminate problematic emails
Here’s how to figure out if you have the right number of steps in your sequences: If your reply rate on the last step of the sequence is still pretty good - relative to the reply rates on the other steps - (over 3% for prospecting sequences), this means your sequence is not long enough and you could be getting additional replies later on. Add another step.
Manual steps (e.g. phone calls) have a tendency to create bottlenecks if you put too many prospects in Sequence or don’t keep up with your tasks. This leaves prospects waiting in Sequence Purgatory and not advancing to automated emails. If you see this happening, talk to your reps about what they’re spending their time on and what’s keeping them from staying on top of their tasks.
Are you running A/B tests with each of your sequences? You should be. They’re easy to set up, just clone one of your email steps in your sequence and tweak your messaging a bit in the new one and let Outreach automatically assign prospects to one or the other. After a couple hundred prospects have gone through, our Guided A/B Testing will clearly show you which email performs better so you can turn off the under-performer.
Next, leverage your “unsubscribe” data to help you identify and eliminate problematic emails. Is one particular step getting more opt-outs than the others? Fix it. Something in that email is not sitting well with your prospects so you should modify it.
Follow these four steps - Define a Sequence Strategy that scales, build an effective Content Committee, uncover The Numbers, and ensure you have the perfect Steps - and you’ll have a fresh set of competitive, winning sequences for your sales team every six months.
Nick Hart is currently a Product Manager at Outreach. He’s Been with Outreach for 5 years, has worked with more than 100 customers, and was formerly an Enterprise Customer Success Manager, AE, and SDR.