As an award-winning SDR team, we understand a thing or two about engaging potential customers and moving them through the sales funnel. But, to create truly exceptional results for our clients, and meaningful ROI, they must convert!
That's where the 7 Hour Rule comes in.
We've used it to generate 80X ROI in 12 months for a global company, and 1077% ROI in 3 months for a top-tier financial software vendor. In this article we'll share our top tips for implementing the 7 hour rule across three core teams; Marketing, Sales Development and Sales Closers, to generate higher-quality sales opportunities and convert more deals.
What is the 7 Hour Rule?
The 7 hour rule is a sales and marketing strategy introduced by Daniel Priestley in his book “Oversubscribed”. The core premise is that, it takes 7 hours of cumulative interaction time between a lead and a company to build the necessary trust, understanding and desire to want to buy your product or service. These hours of connection can be accumulated via 1-to-1 conversations with your prospects, or as a result of them consuming your content. During those 7 hours, your potential customer is:
Building trust and rapport
Establishing their criteria
Looking for relevance
Developing an emotional connection
Understanding how your product or service can solve their problems
But in order to engage prospects in this level of activity, you'll need to ensure Marketing, Sales Development, and Sales Closing teams are collaborating effectively to achieve the most effective lead nurturing and conversion.
For the purpose of this article, we're approximating the 7 hours across these 3 core departments. This may be adjusted to suit your business:
Hours 1-2: Marketing - The marketing team creates awareness and generates interest in your product through various tactics, such as webinars, in-person events, social content, and ads.
Hours 2-3: Sales Development - The sales development team is often the first point of contact for your prospects, and is responsible for qualifying leads and engaging them with personalised outreach.
Hours 3-7: Sales Closers - The sales closers focus on solidifying the relationship and closing the deal. Their focus is on building trust, and a deeper alignment of the product or service with the prospects needs and pain points.
Does it really take 7 hours?
While the 7 hour rule may seem like a catchy phrase, there is data to back up the claim that it takes approximately 7 hours of engagement to create a lasting connection with your brand.
According to a study by the Brevet Group, the average b2b sales cycle length is 84 days, which equates to roughly 7 hours of engagement time. During this time, the prospect is evaluating their options, building trust and rapport with your brand, and developing a deeper understanding of how your product or service can meet their needs.
Furthermore, a study by MarketingSherpa found that 64% of buyers say that it takes them four or more interactions with a brand before they make a purchase. This emphasises the importance of continued engagement with prospects over a period of time.
Next we'll dive into how your teams can build up 7 hours worth of engagement, including tips relating to each interaction.
How marketing can use the 7 Hour Rule to improve sales performance
⏱️ Hours 1-2
Ever felt like you knew a brand inside-out just from interacting with them online? That's the 7 hour rule at play. Marketing teams kick-start the 7 hour rule by creating content that resonates and engages prospects on your company social platforms.
Here are some tactics marketing teams can use to boost engagement time and improve sales performance.
Engaging Video Content ⏱️ +30 minutes
We all know that video is the most engaging content format. But to really maximise your video efforts, hook viewers with a compelling start and make them stick around by offering a valuable insight or intriguing offer at the end of the video. Remember that people connect with people, so add videos of your team to your website, emails and social media content to boost connection with your brand.
Social Media Presence ⏱️ +20 minutes
Consistent and valuable social media content helps your brand stay top-of-mind. Encourage your sales teams to share and engage with your content, as well as interact with content from others in your industry, to increase brand exposure and foster engagement.
Value-Driven Webinars & In-person Events ⏱️ +30 minutes
Hosting webinars and in-person events build real-world connections and provide ample opportunities for meaningful interactions with your audience. We recommend doing your research on who will be attending the event before you arrive, allowing you to come armed with insights tailored to them.
Kick-Ass Sales Enablement ⏱️ +30 minutes
We suggest marketing teams create a go-to hub of sales enablement content that tackles prospects' biggest questions and challenges. Organise this content in a database and tag it by pain points, goals, or industry sectors, making it easy for your sales team to find and serve up relevant content to prospects as soon as they show interest or have a question.
The key to best results is to tailor your content to your audience's specific pain points, goals and objections.
For instance, if an electronics manufacturer struggles with supply chain issues, which guide would they prefer out of A) "A Guide to Supply Chain Efficiency" or B) "A Guide to Optimising Supply Chain Efficiency in the Electronics Manufacturing Industry: Reducing Lead Times and Minimising Costs"? Clearly, option B is the way to go – it's much more specific and relevant to their situation. So, level up your content game and watch your sales team fly!
Retargeting Ads ⏱️ +10 minutes
Your prospect needs to hear your message multiple times before it "clicks". Strategically retargeting them with tailored ads will keep your brand and solutions fresh in their minds, nudging them towards that 7 hour mark.
How SDR teams can use the 7 Hour Rule to generate higher-quality opportunities
⏱️ Hours 2-4
Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are often the first point of contact for new leads, and play a crucial role in lead follow-up and nurture. Their job is to turn interest from marketing efforts (be that outbound or inbound), into real sales opportunities.
In the past, SDRs typically prioritised quantity over quality, resulting in superficial interactions that didn't really build relationships or meet prospects' needs. By embracing the 7 hour rule and engaging prospects for a good portion of the 7 hour quota in the nurturing process, SDR's can ensure that by the time leads are handed over to sales closers, they are raring to go!
Here's an example of an SDR go-to-market plan at Punch!.
Now, let's explore some ways SDR teams can put the 7 hour rule into action.
Speed in Lead Follow-Up ⏱️ +30 minutes
Studies show that reaching out to leads that quickly, boosts your chances of converting them. In fact, research by Inside Sales found that if you contact them within the first hour, they're 7X more likely to convert than if you wait just one more hour. HubSpot even increased their already high conversion rates by 450% by responding within 5 minutes and engaging prospects over 7 days.
Ultimately, if you catch leads while they're keen, they're more likely to chat 1-on-1 and check out more of your content as opposed to if you "catch them at a bad time". This of course helps to add invaluable minutes to your 7 hour quota!
But let's face it, unless your SDR team has superpowers (or you've got Punch! on your side), you'll need some help to respond to interest in lightening-speed. This is where automation comes in.
Automated emails - Trigger emails based on specific behaviours made by your prospects, such as viewing a page on your website or completing an online form. For best results, have these emails sent from real people, not generic "marketing@" or "noreply@". Plus, steer clear of fancy visuals in your emails; not only do they increase the likelihood of landing in spam folders, but they also make communication feel cold and salesy.
Chatbot technology - Use AI chatbots to automate conversations, streamline lead qualification and free up SDRs for high-value conversations with prospects. These intelligent virtual assistants can be programmed to understand and respond to common queries, allowing for instant and personalised engagement with prospects.
Calendar scheduling tools - Speed up the sales process with tools like Calendly or HubSpot Meetings, letting prospects book appointments directly into your SDR team's calendar and eliminating the back-and-forth email exchanges that can prompt leads to drop out of the sales funnel!
Personalised Outreach ⏱️ +90 minutes
Relevance is key when it comes to engaging leads in a meaningful way and keeping them interested for as long as possible. SDR teams should employ personalisation tactics to help personalise interactions with prospects including via 1-to-1 phone calls, emails and video.
Personalise emails using dynamic fields - tailor automatically using CRM data in order to deliver relevant 'handwritten' emails
Personalised videos - The use of personalised videos in your outreach and nurture protocols with prospects can supercharge your results. According to a report by Vidyard, personalised videos can increase email open rates by 53% and click-through rates by 960% compared to traditional emails. This one technique increased our monthly client SQOs rates by over 4X back in 2019 when we created dedicated video rooms for video outreach at Punch!.
Lead scoring & tracking - Data surrounding lead activity allow SDRs to reach out to prospects with more relevant conversations on the phone and by email. For example, if your sales development rep knows that a prospect has recently downloaded a white-paper on a specific topic, they can tailor their conversation to reference this content and initiate a discussion that demonstrates a deeper understanding of the prospect.
LinkedIn integration with your CRM - Integrating your CRM with LinkedIn allows you to segment your contacts by job role, company size, industry and more creating valuable intelligence that allows for increased levels of personalisation.
How sales closers can use the 7 Hour Rule to convert leads
⏱️ Hours 4-7
By this point, your prospect should have built a good level of rapport with your brand simply by engaging with your sales development teams and consuming relevant content.
When it comes to the final 3 hours, your sales teams interactions with prospects can be categorised by 1. Meetings and 1-to-1 conversations, and 2. Leveraging marketing content to further build trust and educate.
Meetings and 1-to-1 Conversations ⏱️ +120 minutes
These will come in the form of discovery calls, demo meetings and follow up meetings to address technical questions. But the question is, how do you make the most out of this time?
Traditionally selling was about sharing the same generic proposition and sales pitch with every prospect, but this is no longer effective. Modern sales teams must become experts in understanding the needs of their prospects and tailoring messages to them.
In fact, Data gathered by RAIN Group found that the top-performing salespeople (i.e., those who win the most deals) are more likely to tailor their messaging and proposals to their prospect.
They also found that top-performers invested more time and effort in building strong relationships with their prospects, spending 4.8 hours per week on average engaging with their prospect, compared to just 3.2 hours for the average salesperson.
The report also found that top-performing salespeople spend more time preparing for sales meetings and conducting research on their prospects, enabling them to have better conversations.
Leveraging Marketing Content to Further Build Trust and Educate ⏱️ +60 minutes
Remember, every minute spent engaging with your brand contributes to the 7 hours. At this stage in the sales journey, prospects will have more specific questions and objections. We recommend sales closers work closely with marketing teams to build content that overcomes these objections. Alex Hormozi has a great framework for building content that solves objections, before they even pop up, in his book $100M Offers: How To Make Offers So Good People Feel Stupid Saying No.
Something that has worked well at Punch! is building personalised content hubs that house relevant case studies, videos from the team and other useful resources that speak directly to your prospect - saving them from sifting through your website.
By consistently providing relevant content and maintaining regular contact with your leads, you can effectively accumulate the required seven hours of connection!
Build a Unified Sales Map
A good step towards implementing the 7 hour rule is to create a plan for how you will engage prospects! A unified sales map will help you visualise the journey of your prospects as they interact with your brand between Marketing, Sales Development, and Sales Closing efforts.
We recommend building your own and sharing it amongst relevant teams to help them visualise their role in the sales journey, and encourage collaboration. You can use our 7 Hour Sales Map example or create yours in a Google Sheets, with links out to templates and shareable resources.
Finally, by tracking interactions and content viewed and shared within your CRM, you can ensure that the prospect flows fluently between their journey and across each team.
Implementing the tactics and strategies discussed in this article will not only help you maximise the power of the 7 hour rule but also ensure that your teams are working harmoniously toward the common goal of converting leads into loyal customers. Remember, the length of time it takes for a prospect to close isn't as important as the length of time your prospect spends interacting with your company! The key to successfully accumulating the 7 hours is speed, personalisation, relevance, and maintaining consistent engagement with your prospects throughout their journey.