Outbound lead generation can be a thing of beauty or a nagging disappointment. If you’re a sales leader, it’s crucial to master the elements of outbound for your team.
Making the cold outreach process less intimidating often depends on sales quotas. You want to set attainable quotas that achieve real success without compromising the seller’s sanity or the prospect’s journey.
To be successful, quotas should be based on tried and true data. Lucky for you and your SDRs, we’ve worked out a formula that balances effort and output to set better expectations for your sales team.
The Outbound Output Calculator
ZoomInfo’s data team has created the Outbound Output Calculator to assess the effort, time, and touches you need to build efficient and successful outbound sales.
The calculator looks at:
- the length of your sales sequence
- the number of emails, phone calls, and LinkedIn messages in the sequence
- how much automation is required
- your desired monthly contact requirement
Input this information into the calculator and it will show you how many hours of daily uninterrupted work you’re asking of your sales reps. You can use this information to set realistic sales quotas.
The Elements of an Outbound Sales Cadence
An outbound sales cadence is a list of the specific efforts (calls, emails, LinkedIn messages, etc.) that every contact will receive over a set period of time. The touchpoints of a cadence are decided internally, but there are best practices to consider. According to Gartner, it can take more than 12 touches to reach a prospect.
How do you determine the length and touchpoint frequency of a sales sequence?
The frequency of touches will be determined by the length of your sales cadence, and vice versa. Your business should decide on the sequence length and touchpoint frequency based on your market and brand awareness.
For example, if you’re a new business trying to penetrate a market that has little knowledge of you and your solution, the sequence might need to be longer than one for an established business with a great deal of brand awareness. There are other variables to consider as well, like how valuable a particular customer might be to your business, which could change the number of touches or how long you nurture them.
ZoomInfo demand generation director Millie Beetham says our outbound selling strategy calls for a 16-touchpoint sequence across 30 business days, with every contact receiving eight calls, six emails, and two LinkedIn messages, as follows:
Day 1: Dial + Email
Day 3: Dial + Follow-up Email
Day 4: Dial
Day 6: Dial + Follow-up Email
Day 9: Dial + LinkedIn Message
Day 10: Follow-up Email
Day 12: Dial + Follow-up Email
Day 15: Dial
Day 20: LinkedIn Message
Day 25: Dial
Day 30: Final Email
The Basics of Creating a Sales Strategy
Let’s look at the different elements of your outbound motions to understand what goes into a sales strategy.
How many new contacts should each salesperson engage with per day?
While required quotas for new contacts are somewhat variable, there are parameters to keep in mind when setting your expectations. For example, imagine your sales manager expects each SDR to reach out to 45 new contacts each day, which would equal about 1,000 contacts a month.
No problem, right? Wrong.
Since a new sequence begins each day, the work compounds very quickly. By the time you reach Day 30, each SDR is expected to make 360 calls, send 270 emails, and message 90 linkedin accounts — a flurry of small individual actions that quickly add up and eat the entire day.
Let’s start with phone calls.
How much time should SDRs spend on the phone?
We analyzed our own sales team’s phone calls for Q3 of 2022 and found that the average outreach call lasts around 32 seconds, not including ring time. Once their 30-day outreach sequence is fully loaded, that means one salesperson would need to spend over three hours of uninterrupted dialing per day.
360 calls x 32 seconds per call = 192 minutes = 3.2 hours of uninterrupted dialing per day
Alright, that’s a lot. But it still seems feasible, doesn’t it?
Let’s add in LinkedIn messages.
How much time do SDRs spend on LinkedIn messages?
Including LinkedIn messages in your sequence is a good strategy: LinkedIn estimates that salespeople who use social selling are 51% more likely to reach quota than their peers who don’t.
We estimate that salespeople spend about two minutes drafting a LinkedIn message. If every sequence has two such messages, that’s four minutes per sequence. At a full 30-day workload in our example, that’s about three hours of daily work.
90 LinkedIn messages x 2 minutes = 180 minutes = 3 hours of uninterrupted LI personalization per day
But wait, there’s more…
Are your emails personalized?
The more personal an email is, the more likely someone is to spend time with it. According to a Salesloft study, you should be spending between 3.5-5 minutes on personalizing a single email. Any time spent beyond five minutes is essentially wasted.
Let’s assume your salespeople are spending 3.5 minutes on each email. In our example, you’re asking for almost 16 hours of email personalization per day once an SDR gets to day 30.
270 emails x 3.5 minutes = 945 minutes = 15.75 hours of uninterrupted email personalization per day
Breaking Down Your Outbound Sales Output
Let’s apply all of this activity and estimating to a real-world example.
A brand-new SDR comes on board. On their first day of selling, they need to make 45 calls and send 45 emails to meet their 1,000-contacts-a-month quota. That’s 24 minutes of calls and a little more than 2.5 hours of emails, based on our own data. That’s easy enough.
But as the SDR continues in the month, the numbers quickly become overwhelming. On day six, they would need to make 180 phone calls and send 135 emails for follow-up and new contacts. Day 15 would require a whopping 315 phone calls, 225 emails, and 45 LinkedIn messages.
By the end of the month, your SDR would be expected to perform the equivalent of nearly 22 uninterrupted hours of work each day. This daily requirement would then continue for the rest of the SDR’s tenure — which probably won’t be too long.
So What’s the Sweet Spot?
Realistically, you should be aiming to have your salespeople spend 2.5-3 hours on selling each day. With that in mind, you can use the Outbound Output Calculator to help determine attainable quotas for your sales team.
However, if you want to improve your overall performance, you can invest in automation to increase the amount of time available for selling.
How Automation Improves Sales Bandwidth
Almost all of the elements of a sales sequence can and should be automated. For example, if you have email automation software, only one email in every sequence would require personalization because the software can automate the rest. That would result in only 3.5 minutes of email-related work needed per prospect.
Engage allows you to build call lists and auto-dial each contact. You can also create pre-recorded voicemails, saving your sales team hours a day.
The ZoomInfo platform lets you create workflows based on data, making personalizing every interaction easier with sales lists that automatically deliver key company insights. You can use this valuable information — from business size to latest funding rounds — to create and customize more engaging emails, phone calls, and LinkedIn messages.
When it comes to outbound sales, there are ways to make each call, email, and message more effective, and that starts with equipping your salespeople with the right technology, data, training, and support. With these supports in place, you’ll be able to create a strong pipeline, while ensuring that your staff aren’t losing their minds or missing prospects.
Full transparency: The examples above don’t account for actual conversations with prospects and our standard quota is lower than what’s presented. We require 75 total calls per day from each of our sellers, including follow-up and new contacts, and emails are almost entirely automated and backed by world-class data. This requirement gives our SDRs time to focus on ensuring that the advantages and impact of ZoomInfo’s platform is clear to every contact we reach.