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September 12, 2023

How I took our team’s sequencing from 2-3% reply rates to 18-26%

By Katie Penner, Head of Sender Relations at Sendoso

I first started at Sendoso as an SDR in January of 2021. During that time, I realized we had a major problem: our sequences were generating low response rates. Automation in an SDR role is necessary. However, I began to question the effectiveness of these sequences and how they were created.

At the time, a group of high-performing SDRs, including myself, would meet on a monthly basis as part of a content committee. We would each be assigned an email out of a sequence and be told to include a case study, a statistic, or some sort of image taken from a report. We’d all go write these things up, then squish them together, and call it a sequence.

As you can imagine, there were multiple things wrong with this approach — different writing styles, no cohesive story being told, and we were being incredibly general in our messaging. The emails didn’t seem as if they were written specifically for the person on the receiving end. So, I came up with a plan. First, I thought about all the ways that we could segment our audience.

The first thing that came to mind was Skip Miller’s concept of selling above the line and below the line. Skip describes the above the line (ATL) audience as those who care most about the financial return expected for their investments. Whereas below the line (BTL) buyers are typically user buyers that care about features and benefits that will make their lives and their team’s lives easier on a daily basis. Based on conversations with our buyers and where they fall, we decided to consider VP+ our ATL audience and Director-level and below our BTL audience.

Then, I thought about purchase stages using intent data tools- we leverage 6Sense at Sendoso. 6Sense stages include: purchase, decision, consideration, and awareness. I decided that grouping purchase & decision (P&D) and consideration & awareness (C&A) was the way to integrate that segmentation into our messaging. For those in purchase or decision, I could assume that since their intent score was that high, they understood the value of my offering- I now needed to do a good job of differentiation from my competitors. Whereas for the consideration and awareness audience, I still needed to do some education- how is my product going to fix a problem that they are having & how?

Finally, for us it made sense to break down by persona- for some companies, breaking down by industry works. Our value proposition for a marketer varies greatly from our value proposition for a sales leader- so our messaging needed to reflect that. We started with 8 main personas that we sold to often. Some examples of these personas include: sales development leaders, sales leadership, field marketing leaders, and ABM leaders. As we saw the success from these sequences, we created additional sequences following the same format to tailor our messaging to even more personas.

So, we had the segmentation down. But a deeper understanding of what actually worked in sales emails today was also something we needed to grasp. So, I reached out to our friends at Lavender. Will Allred, the Co-Founder of Lavender, taught me several really valuable lessons. Through our chats, I learned the difference between marketing and sales emails- that marketing emails are focused on getting the prospective buyer to engage with web content in the hopes that they MQL while sales emails are focused on providing enough relevant value to earn that prospective buyers’ time. I also learned that from the moment a prospect opens your email, you only have about 3 seconds until they decide if they are going to read it or not. If they do decide to read said email, they will only take 11 seconds to skim through it. Finally, Lavender taught me that including a P.S. in an email increases your chances of a response by 35%.

With all this newfound information and the deep understanding that buyers are demanding a more personalized experience today, we were ready to release our messaging to the SDR team.

The 18-26% reply rate sequence layout is as follows:


  • Day 1: Discovery Email/Conversation Starter
  • Day 1: Call
  • Day 1: LinkedIn Connection Request
  • Day 3: Call
  • Day 3: Auto Bump
  • Day 6: Manual Email (Personalized One-Off)
  • Day 6: LinkedIn Message (Pointing Back to Email)
  • Day 7: Call
  • Day 7: Auto Bump

So, you may be wondering- what do the two main emails of this sequence look like? Here’s the example for a Sales Development Leader:

Day 1: Discovery Email/Conversation Starter:

Hi {{first_name}},

When I speak with sales development leaders like you, they tell me they are focused on {{X}} and {{Y}}.

{{My company}} allows sales development teams to {{do X}}.

Does this sound like something that could help your team at {{company}} {{persona-specific value prop A}} and {{persona-specific value prop B}}?

Let me know either way and lunch is on me!


Four things can happen with this email-

  1. They don’t respond
  2. They respond “yes” and we book a meeting
  3. They respond “no” with an objection that our SDRs have a chance to overcome
  4. They respond “no” with a legitimate reason and our SDRs can focus their efforts elsewhere

Day 6: Manual Email (Personalized One-Off)


Noticed {{!company insight}}.

{{!X}} seems to be the team’s focus. 

Do your reps ever struggle to {{!X}}?

{{Our company}} has helped {{!co & co}} close that gap with {{!solution}}.

Worth a chat?

PS- {{!insert personalized gift offer here}}

I get a lot of questions about our manual one-off email and the gift offer within it. If you are not currently utilizing a sending platform like Sendoso, you can insert some sort of personalization in the PS instead. (FE: Listened to your recent podcast with X. Really loved your perspective on Y!)

Now if you are utilizing a sending platform, we see great success and increased reply rates with this approach + gifting (as you see above).

Let’s say the prospect never clicks on the address confirmation link you generate and place in the PS- you’ll get refunded. If they click on the link and accept the gift, the law of reciprocity plays in naturally here and the SDR will typically book a meeting. However, if you want to test this approach out, a this-or-that option works, too. (FE: “Saw you were into cooking and wanted to send something special your way- let me know if you’d prefer my favorite cookbook or some new cooking utensils!”)

In summary, to increase your sequenced reply rates, be sure to focus on the recipient as much as possible and to make the experience as tailored to them as you can. Keep your sequenced emails short and concise with lots of white space and a clear call to action. Segment your sequences by factors like whether the potential buyer is above the line or below the line, by what purchase stage they are in, and by their persona or industry. And remember, personalization and relevance are key to standing out today- gifting offers a really great way to do so within your sequences.

To learn more about how Sendoso can help increase your team’s response rates with a gifting and messaging strategy, chat with us here.

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