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6 min
July 21, 2023

Understanding the fundamentals of B2B outbound sequences

B2B outbound sequences are vital in generating leads and engaging prospects. Learn the key components of a successful sequence and tips to align them with your buyer's journey.
Anthony Mennie
Marketing Manager
Table of Contents

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In the fast-paced, highly competitive world of B2B sales, crafting a comprehensive outreach strategy and executing it successfully is critical for success. This is why today’s leading sales teams spend a lot of time creating B2B outbound sequences and using them to generate leads, engage prospects, and ultimately close deals.

Due to the integral role outbound sequences play in sales success, popular sales engagement platforms tend to include features that can automate the process. 

While platforms typically use different terminology to describe those features — Outreach calls them Sequences, Salesloft calls them Cadences, and Gong Engage calls them Flows — the functionality remains more or less the same, with each feature designed to streamline and automate sales outreach while personalizing each engagement.

In this post, we’ll explore what outbound email sequences are, what they look like, and some best practices for aligning sequences with the buyer’s journey that you should follow regardless of which sales engagement tool you use.

What is an outbound sales sequence?

An outbound sales sequence — also known as a B2B email sequence — is a structured and strategic series of outbound messages sent by sales teams to customers and prospects. At a high level, outbound sales sequences are designed to establish rapport, build trust, nurture leads, and move prospects through the sales funnel.

Organizations use outbound sales sequences to initiate meaningful conversations with potential customers, understand their pain points, and offer solutions to the challenges they face. To increase effectiveness, sequences are often personalized to each recipient. 

By leveraging outbound email sequences effectively, sales teams can increase the efficiency of their outreach, improve lead conversion rates, and build stronger relationships with the accounts they’re targeting.

The key components of a successful outbound sequence

A successful B2B outbound sequence requires careful planning, personalized communication, and effective follow-up strategies. In this section, we’ll examine some of the key components found in successful outbound sequences.

A mix of channels

Different communications channels are better suited for different prospects and different stages of the buyer’s journey. Some prospects may trash all of their cold emails before reading them while others may never pick up phone calls from unknown numbers. Someone who has never heard of your company might be best off reading a blog post to get an idea of what your organization has to offer. On the other end of the spectrum, you might want to hop on a video call with a prospect who is about to make a final decision. 

For this reason, most common B2B sequences include a mix of emails, phone calls, LinkedIn messages, texts, and even video messages in some cases.

Targeted audiences

The better you understand your ideal customer profile and the personas you’re targeting, the easier it will be to tailor messages to each prospect’s needs and pain points. By thoroughly researching things like roles, company size, industry, and pain points and using that information to guide your outreach, you can increase the chances your messaging resonates.

Personalization

In an age where customers demand personalization, B2B outbound sales sequences need to follow suit. By personalizing each message and including something related specifically to the recipient — their name, their role, or their organization — you increase the chances you capture that individual’s attention, which improves open rates. At the same time, it also shows that you’ve taken the time to do your due diligence and attempt to understand the prospect on a deeper level. For some tips on how to personalize cold email outreach, check this out.

Valuable content

Decision makers and SaaS buyers have always received a lot of emails. But in today’s challenging economic environment, many are receiving even more than usual. To make sure your cold email outreach sequence is well-received, you need to ensure that each message includes valuable content that prospects actually want to read — like relevant case studies, industry reports, white papers, and thought leadership pieces.

A clear call-to-action (CTA)

Each message in your outbound sequence should have a clear and compelling CTA. Whether it’s scheduling a meeting, requesting a live demo, or downloading a gated asset, the message should encourage the prospect to take the next step in the sales process — and that next step should be obvious to any reader. Many sellers find it more effective to test open-ended questions in their sequences (e.g., “Is this a problem you’re trying to solve at {{Company}}?” or “Interested to know how we drove these results?”) to gauge someone’s interest with a softer demand before pushing a more direct CTA to schedule a meeting or get on a call. It’s best to test different messaging on prospects to determine which approach will drive the best results for your company.

Automated follow-ups

Effective B2B outbound sequences require a well-structured cadence that ensures prospects receive messages and content on a regular basis. While you don’t want to overwhelm your targets with an endless amount of messages, you should ensure that your name pops up in their inboxes at regular intervals. By implementing automation in your sales sequence, you can ensure timely follow-ups and consistent communication, with nothing slipping through the cracks and no heavy lifting on your end.

Data-driven iteration

No matter how good your last campaign was, you can always do better. Monitor the performance of all of your outbound sales sequences using analytics to determine what’s working, what isn’t, and what can be improved. By tracking things like open rates, response rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, you can gain the insights you need to figure out the best way forward. Continue to iterate and optimize your campaigns over time to get better and better results.

Tips for aligning outbound sequences with a buyer’s journey

In order to achieve the results you’re hoping for, it’s crucial to ensure that your outbound sequences align with the buyer’s journey. Here are some tips that’ll help you do precisely that.

1. Understand the buyer’s journey

First things first: Thoroughly research and map out the different stages of your target audience’s buyer’s journey. In most cases, this will consist of three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Each stage represents the prospect’s mindset and hints at what kind of information the individual is looking for. By ensuring your content aligns with the appropriate stage for each prospect, your efforts will be more impactful.

2. Create content for each stage

Create content that aligns with the needs of prospects at each stage of the buyer’s journey. In the awareness stage, focus on educating prospects about their pain points and how to solve them. In the consideration stage, provide detailed information about your offerings and how they can address the prospect’s challenges. In the decision stage, offer compelling reasons why prospects should choose your products over the competition.

3. Use the right communications channels

Adjust the way you reach out to prospects as they move through the buyer’s journey. While social media and blog posts might work wonders for the awareness stage, webinars and personal emails may be best for the consideration stage. As the prospect moves through the funnel to the decision stage, it’s likely time for phone calls and meetings.

4. Segment your audience

Segment your prospect list based on their stage in the buyer’s journey and other relevant criteria — like company size, industry, and role. This enables you to tailor outbound sequences precisely, ensuring that your content is more relevant. For example, leads in the awareness stage may need more educational content while those in the decision stage might be most interested in case studies.

5. Monitor your progress

As always, monitor the performance of your outbound sequences and measure prospect engagement at each stage of the buyer’s journey, using that data to continuously improve each sequence. By taking a data-driven approach, you can refine your outbound sequences and optimize them over time so they best align with the buyer’s journey.

This post is the first post in a five-part series on B2B outbound sequences. Stay tuned: In the next installment, we’ll share some tips on what you can do to craft effective outbound messages for your sequences.