Most outbound sales organizations don’t have a defined process for how they engage with potential customers. They know they need to reach out and start building relationships, but beyond that, it’s often a free-for-all. This can lead to wasted effort and frustrated reps who feel like they’re flailing around in the dark.
The Agoge Sequence by Sam Nelson is the answer to that.
The Agoge Sequence was first published by Sam Nelson in 2018 when outreach sequences were still in their infancy. He wrote this sequence initially for the Agoge Tribe – hence the name. The Agoge sequence ended up being so successful that it immediately doubled their outreach response rates.
Fortunately for us, Sam Nelson was so kind to share his approach with us, and it has since been tested and proven by sales organizations all over the globe.
Who is Sam Nelson
So who is Sam Nelson?
Sam Nelson rose quickly through the ranks at sales enablement company Outreach. He first started tenure at Outreach in 2017 and quickly became SDR leader within two years. In his role as SDR Leader, Sam Nelson was responsible for overseeing the success of Outreach’s entire sales development team.
Under the watchful eye of Sam Nelson, Outreach quickly became a billion-dollar company, effectively using the techniques Sam employed.
Sam Nelson’s newsletter provides outreach tips, tricks and tactics for successful sales prospecting. He is also a popular speaker on the subject, having given talks at numerous industry events.
Following Sam Nelson’s advice is a great place to start if you’re looking to take your sales oiutreach game to the next level.
The Benefits of Sales Sequences
Sales sequences are fantastic because they help Sales Development Representatives replicate the steps to take a potential client from the first engagement to the closed deal.
The Agoge sequence is fantastic as a foundational outbound sales strategy to get you started. It’s a proven strategy – you should expect response rates to double. From there, you can then modify and tailor the sequence to better suit your business needs. For proof, check out the stats as presented by Sam Nelson before and after he implemented the Agoge sequence.
The Agoge Sequence: Step by Step
The Agoge Sequence consists of a whopping fifteen steps over a 27-day period. This ensures you can build enough traction to get noticed by the prospects you are hoping to engage with.
The Agoge sequence can be executed within your best sales engagement platform to ensure your Sales Development Representatives are working on their prospects systematically.
Personalized Email, Linkedin Follow & Phone
Day one of the Agoge Sequence consists of an email, LinkedIn follow and phone engagement – all on the same day. Justin Michael often calls this sequence of events ‘the triple’.
The triple is an effective way to start the Agoge Sequence as you make three different attempts to engage with the target on their prefered platform – giving you the best chance of success. This technique also helps your SDR build trust, get on the prospect’s radar and get them into the top of the sales funnel. If your lead doesn’t respond to any of these engagements, the sales rep will move on to steps on day four.
What’s unique about the Agoge Sequence (and full respect to Sam Nelson for the approach) is that day one is where the most personalization occurs. You want your prospects to feel like you are reaching out to them precisely and that they are not just part of another sales sequence. At this stage, your SDRs should take their time and do enough research to ensure that these first engagements resonate with the prospect.
After the activities have been completed for day one, there is a three-day break. This allows your prospect to read your email, see your LinkedIn engagement or return your phone call. On day four, a reply email is sent off the back of the first email from day one, generally in the form of an email ‘bump’.
Email bumps are helpful because they act as a gentle reminder and increase the likelihood of a response. It’s easy for your carefully crafted emails to get lost on a prospect with 100s of other things a potential lead has to work on a given day. An email bump is a nudge to get your email back to the top of their inbox again.
Additionally, you will make another call to the lead on day four. You will see many more phone attempts in the Agoge Sequence – the phone is still the most effective way to do sales outreach. The challenge is getting the prospect on the phone!
At this stage of the sequence, if you do speak to the prospect, you can reference the content delivered in the first email and provide more context to the conversation.
Day six of the Agoge Sequence is another automated email bump. You could add some more value here or try something a little bit more unique using things like humour or even memes to get noticed.
Phone & Personalized Email
If there is still no response from your prospect up to day six, we stop the emails for a few days and move to a phone call and LinkedIn combination. If, after the call on day seven, the prospect still hasn’t answered, you can send a Linkedin inMail. This helps provide more familiarity for the prospect and helps reassure them you are not some scammer trying to take their money!
With LinkedIn inMail, you can refer to the previous email you sent and provide more context as to why you are getting in touch.
On day nine, making another call to the prospect’s mobile or landline is helpful.
You may be thinking, “wow, that’s a lot of phone outreach to make”, but it is highly typical to make four to five calls for a sales sequence. The Agoge Sequence consists of seven.
To prevent the prospect from getting annoyed, you can do clever things like changing your phone number to ensure that they don’t see the same number on their phone daily.
On day fourteen, it is helpful to send an automated email. This could be a timebound offer or another creative messaging that stands out in the inbox.
This is only the second new email since the manual email was posted on day one. The difference is that the email on day one was manual and personalised. On day fourteen, the email is automated.
The further through the sales sequence you get, the lower the chances are that a prospect will respond. Therefore, your effort should decrease with subsequent engagements – hence the automated email on day fourteen.
Day fourteen also consists of another phone attempt to the prospect.
Day seventeen consists of another automated email. You will notice between days 14 – 19, three automated emails are sent. Here it is a good idea to have each email focusing on a different pain point that your product or service solves.
By sending three automated emails in succession, you effectively give the prospect a higher possibility that something will resonate with them and engage with you.
You make (yet..) another phone call on day eighteen. We are looking for one of two results: a yes or no. A no is just as good as a yes because it means you can stop wasting your time on prospects that are unlikely to buy. Keep that in mind.
On day nineteen, making another phone call to the prospect and another automated email is helpful. By this stage, the chances that your prospect will pick up the phone would have reduced significantly, but it’s worth the shot.
Congratulations for making it this far. If your prospect is still in the sequence at this stage, I’m confident they will either be sick or you or have gotten back to you. If anything, they will certainly know you and your product by now.
Day twenty-four of the sequence consists of one final email. It’s been a long time since the first email, and this will be your final outreach attempt.
Today you send the breakup email, almost like a final surrendering of the Agoge flag. A breakup email is an email you send to a prospect that says, “It’s been great, but I’m moving on”.
You want this email to come across as light-hearted and nonchalant. You don’t want to be angry or bitter because that’s unprofessional.
When doing outreach, it is most important to understand that it is a process. The more you or your sales team can systemise the process, analyse data and remove the emotional element of sales, the happier you and your sales team will be.
A breakup email looks something like this:
Prioritization of your best leads
Now you know the sequence of engagement for the Agoge sequence, it is a good idea to add more structure for your SDRs in the form of targeted leads when it comes to your outreach efforts.
Depending on your industry, you should endeavour to have a system for prioritising the best leads and the level of outreach that should be applied to each lead.
At a high level you’ll want to:
- Create a priority of prospects based on the titles that your sales team is pursuing. Define which titles deserve which level of attention
Once you have set the criteria for outreach you’ll want to adjust the sequence for the level of personalisation that will be most appropriate for the seniority level of the target title.
As an example, consider the martrix below. Here we see the level of engagement that should be required for seniority across different departments. Not all lead should be created equal.
If you can establish the ‘hierarchy of leads’ (for lack of better terminology), you’ll be able to have your team operating much more effectively and efficiently.
See below for an example of how you could possibly segment your data and level of engagement based on your target personas.
Putting it all together
Having a rock-solid sequence is excellent (and the Agoge Sequence is a great place to start), but the chances of it getting off the ground a slim if you don’t have a strong foundation in place when it comes to data, titles and companies you are going to target.
If your data is dirty, the best sequence in the world won’t go very far in helping you hit the target.
This is why the initial preparations must be done. This means asking yourself questions such as:
- Who are you targeting?
- What vertical markets can you best solve problems for?
- What function in the organisation would benefit most from your solution?
- How will it make their life easier?
Once you have done that, you need to source good data. If your prospects don’t pick up the phone, if they’re not using Linkedin, or their emails bounce, you’ll likely experience frustrations from lack of results and give up.
Sourcing good data is an art and a science in itself. You can buy lists, but the best-performing leads almost always come from your own internal network or good old-fashioned research.
Sales Sequences & Cadences: Essential for Modern Outbound Sales Reps
The Agoge sequence has paved the way for more modern outbound strategies in 2022. There are now countless variations of sales sequences to try, and most have their merits. Remember, the sequence has one job: to move potential customers from the top of the funnel, into the funnel, and all going well to a closed opportunity.
A well-tested sales sequence will help you work more effectively, close more deals and increase your bottom line.
If you are going to create your own sequence, here are some essential tips on how to create an outbound sales sequence that works:
1. Identify your target market
Start by thinking about who your ideal customer is. This could be by persona, industry or other factors such as company size. Once you know your ideal customer, you can start thinking about the best way to reach them.
2. Source good data
Once you have your target market in mind, you need to start sourcing data. This could be through your own internal network or by purchasing lists. However, the best-performing leads will almost always come from your own research.
3. Write excellent copy
Your sales sequence will only be as good as the copy that you write. So make sure you spend time crafting personalised, relevant and interesting emails.
4. Test, test, test
Testing your sales sequence is the only way to know whether it is working. Send out a few hundred emails and see what kind of response you get. If you’re not seeing the desired results, make changes and test again.
The Agoge Sequence is an excellent tool for sales professionals to have in their outreach arsenal, and it’s thanks to Sam Nelson and his generosity that we get to use it. Following the steps above can increase your chances of success when reaching out to new prospects.