At Outreach, I have worked with many customers who struggle with their prospecting strategy.
New customers often seek advice on engaging prospects across multiple channels, what to say, and how often.
Regardless of the size of the sales org, the challenges remain the same. Without a blueprint, keeping prospects engaged and hitting quotas is nearly impossible.
Without a blueprint, keeping prospects engaged and hitting quotas is nearly impossible.
Enter sequences — the foundation of a great prospecting strategy and the engine fueling your playbook.
Sequences simplify engagements with prospects and existing customers, ensuring your most important communications don’t fall through the cracks. Sequences are the most used feature in Outreach, and creating one involves three phases:
Phase 1 – Sequence structure
Phase 2 – Sequence maintenance
Phase 3 – Measuring sequence success
Let’s take a look under the hood.
Scale is a word that’s used frequently these days.
A phrase I often hear is “growth requires scalable processes.”
Creating a proper sequence structure allows you to personalize prospect engagement at scale while ensuring reps spend time focused on highly valued prospects. If you structure your sequences correctly from the beginning and reach out to the right prospects, with the right message, at the right time, it becomes a breeze.
How to build sequences in Outreach
There are four key steps to building a sequence:
- Identify and define your personas
- Design your blueprints
- Optimize individual sequence steps
- Implement governance
Identify and define your personas
A persona-based sequence approach will set the foundation.
When prospecting and connecting with current customers, your messaging and talk track will differ based on an individual’s title and department within the account.
For example, you would approach a VP of sales much differently than a sales manager, right? This is because each role has different challenges and problems to solve. Below is an example of which sequence approach to leverage when dealing with a specific persona.
Not sure who your buyer personas are? An excellent place to start is with your marketing team. Your marketing team has already slotted these personas into cohorts to optimize marketing efforts. Don’t have a marketing team? No worries! Get a group of key stakeholders together and identify your buyer personas together.
Design your blueprints
The best way to jump-start your sequence creation is to utilize one of the Outreach blueprints. This lets you keep your sequences simple and follow a basic two-tiered, high-touch/low-touch approach to outbound prospecting. The image below has some general guidelines to follow when using these blueprints.
Want to optimize your sequences further? Here are some pro tips from Outreach content creator, David Plutschak.
- Except for follow-up and event-based sequences, every sequence should be a minimum of 8 touches spanning over three weeks.
- Create enough sequences to reach all target personas for personalization at scale. This could be as simple as using the two-tiered approach outlined above or adding in a third tier to reach more personas.
- Outreach follows the 3-tiered approach below:
- Tier 1: leadership personas – This is a manual sequence focused on call steps. Reserve this tier for your highest priority prospects.
- Tier 2: mid-level personas – This is a manual sequence with automatic reply steps and calls throughout. Reserve this tier for your heavy influencers (those that can influence the decision maker).
- Tier 3: Low-Level Personas – This is a 100% automated sequence. Reserve this tier for when you’re asking for a referral, looking for the best contact, or you need to gain insight on company details/challenges.
Looking for more sequences to create? Learn about Outreach workflows in our eBook “It’s Not Who You Are, It’s What You Do: From Roles to Workflows,” and browse our Outreach workflows section in the support portal.
Optimize individual sequence steps
The next step to consider is the types of steps you want to use in each tier.
Should the first step be a call or an email? How should you follow up? When should your reps use a LinkedIn interaction?
Most customers want to know how to best engage with prospects across channels. Through extensive A/B testing, we’ve found the best approach is:
- Start strong with a one-two punch! First, start your sequences with multiple tasks together (e.g., have reps call and email on day one). After, slowly taper with steps spread out over the sequence. This method will instill urgency in your prospects.
- Alternate your manual touchpoints. This way, reps can complete various amounts of manual tasks, reducing monotony in their day-to-day.
- Use social touchpoints such as LinkedIn. Completing LinkedIn view tasks was so last year! Besides, if you’ve included call tasks, most reps will view the prospect’s LinkedIn to prep before the call. Instead, have reps consume and interact with content a prospect has shared. For example, have them comment in the thread and follow up with a message the next day.
Want to learn more about writing emails? Sign up for our Content 2.0 University course.
Need help crafting your sequences? Check out our Galaxy partner – REGIE.
Want to incorporate more multichannel engagement? Learn more about which Galaxy Integrations can make this happen.
You’ve defined your buyer personas, designed blueprints, and optimized the individual steps. The last step, but perhaps most crucial, is implementing proper governance around creating and editing content.
We suggest limiting the ability to create and edit content to a few team members or groups who’ve been trained and vetted. This ensures your content is high quality, meets your brand guidelines, and supports your sequence strategy.
Keep in mind: limiting content creation to a select group will enable you to compare sequences against one another and create meaningful benchmarks. This allows you to use data to see what is driving results and iterate based on those findings.
Without controlling content creation, this task becomes challenging. Remember, it’s always easier to give permissions than take them away. Over time, you may consider introducing content creation to a select group of reps (e.g., senior reps or a content committee).
Now that you’ve built your sequences, it’s time to maintain them.
Sequence maintenance is essential to keeping your content up to date, relevant, and effective. But, just like regular maintenance on your car or home, without some fine-tuning, you risk breaking down, losing value, or getting so far behind it’s hard to keep up.
Luckily, sequence maintenance is easy, and with regular check-ups, you’ll maintain the integrity of your content and stay on top of any issues that may arise.
How to maintain your sequences in Outreach
Your buyer personas are defined, blueprints are in place, sequence steps have been optimized, and governance policies are set. Now your sequences are live and in the hands of your reps — the trusted crew steering you towards sales glory! Here’s what to do to ensure your strategy stays effective over time.
Review all sequences on a formal cadence
Review sequence performance during their first month. Once everyone is trained on the platform and using sequences regularly, you can increase the time between reviews. A good rule of thumb is to review performance at least every six months but no more than every quarter.
If you’ve allowed reps to create content, review how it’s performing and if it’s being utilized before locking it in bulk.
Take this time to see if your sequence strategy is being adopted across all teams. You can do this by keeping tabs on the volume of prospects being sequenced regularly.
Leverage the power of A/B testing
If one sequence outperforms others, use that as a baseline to tweak your other sequences. Likewise, if one sequence outperforms others, use that as a baseline to tweak your other sequences.
Note: Make one change at a time. If you make too many changes at once, you won’t be able to tell what change was responsible for what.
Once you’re ready, it’s time for the final phase of your sequence build-out, measuring success!
Measuring sequence success
In my professional opinion, this is the best part. It’s time to measure the success of all your hard work! In doing so, you’re not only seeing the fruits of your labor — you’re also getting a chance to refine your work using data to reach more customers, book more calls, and grow your business.
How to measure sequence success in Outreach
Any great continuous improvement cycle includes a measurement phase. Building killer sequences that increase conversion rates is no different.
You’ve strategized, implemented, and executed. How can you now iterate on what you’ve done to make your sales pipeline even more successful? What measurements should you pay attention to? Below are the recommendations I tell all my customers to look out for:
Keep an eye on your performance data
Within the platform, you’ll notice a variety of ways you can gain insight into your sequence performance. Open and reply rates can be found at both the sequence and individual step levels, and you’ll have clear visibility into which sequences and steps outperform others.
Interpret and iterate based on A/B test results
Take advantage of Outreach’s built-in A/B testing. Simplicity is key, so limit the test to two messaging strategies but no more than three. This will keep your A/B test manageable and allow you to gather accurate results.
Identify how much is too much
You always want prospects flowing in and out of sequence. However, there is such a thing as adding too many prospects into sequence at once.
If you start seeing the number of overdue tasks growing, consider reducing the number of prospects sequenced. On the other hand, if the number of remaining tasks per day is always zero, consider sequencing a higher number of prospects.
Balance is crucial. Over time, you’ll find the number that works for your team. We recommend adding 10 to 20 prospects daily, as it will most likely compound from there. Within a month, you should be able to determine your ‘real’ number.
You now have the tools to create the engine that will fuel your playbook— sequences. Now, it’s time to build, maintain, and measure your sequences. The world is your oyster!
This article was originally written by Katie Douglas.Katie is a former customer success manager who joined Outreach in 2017 and departed in 2021. While at Outreach, she won the prestigious customer success manager of the year award for her segment. Katie’s obsession with helping corporate customers succeed was rooted in her focus on implementing and driving sales engagement strategies.