Cleaning up any backlog of significantly overdue tasks, and freeing up prospects that are stalled in a sequence, will be imperative to this optimization project. This effort will help ensure that reps are seeing a ‘clean’ dashboard when they log in to Outreach and that they will not run into issues when attempting to put prospects into a sequence. It will also help managers by providing a clearer picture of what is going on in their team’s day to day.
The sections below outline the steps you will want to take to get your organization’s overdue task load under control, as well as the considerations to be mindful of along the way. If you have any concerns as you navigate through this, please do not hesitate to raise them to your dedicated professional services consultant for additional guidance.
Step 1. Delete Overdue Tasks
The first step towards cleaning up your organization’s overdue tasks is to determine how old a task should be to qualify for deletion. In other words, you may decide that any task that is over 30 days old and is still incomplete is safe to be deleted from the platform.
Once you have that date in mind, you will want to follow the steps below:
- Navigate to the tasks section of the platform and remove any preset filters at the top of your screen
- Add a filter of “Due At Date Range”, and select “Custom Date...”
- Input the date you previously determined as the end of your due at date range
- Ex: if today is December 31st and you decided that any incomplete task 30 days or older can be deleted, you would enter December 1st as the end date for your due at date range
- Ensure that you are only looking at tasks in an “Incomplete” state
- Once your filters are applied, this will pull up all tasks that were due on or before your determined date. Select all of these tasks and delete them by hitting the trash can icon.
Note: Deleting non-sequence tasks will simply get rid of them and remove them from the rep’s to-do list. Deleting sequence-related tasks will move the associated prospect into a paused sequence state, which will be addressed in the following steps.
Example of Task Deletion:
Step 2. Address Your Paused Prospects
Now that you have removed a significant number of sequence-related tasks you will want to address the associated prospects that are now sitting in a “Paused” status. It is important to take action on these prospects so that they do not remain tied to their current sequence and can ultimately be placed into other sequences in the future. In order to do so, you will first need to decide how you would like to handle these prospects. The two primary options are outlined below:
- Finish the Prospects - One option is to identify all prospects in a paused state that have not been contacted since that same date (i.e. 30 days ago) and mark them as Finished in their current sequences. It is important to note that if you mark them as finished, this tells Outreach that they finished their corresponding sequence with no reply. Based on the ruleset associated with the sequence they are in, this may cause an automatic update to their Stage that you should be cognizant of as it may have downstream implications within your CRM.
- Remove the Prospects - Another option is to remove all prospects that have not been contacted since that defined date from their current sequences. The implication of this choice is that the sequence will be entirely removed from their history and they will remain in their current stage. If there is important data tied to this sequence, or you want to ensure they cannot be placed into this same sequence again in the future, this may not be the best route.
Once you have decided the approach you would like to take, you will want to follow the steps below:
- Navigate to the “Sequence States” section of the Outreach settings menu
- Remove any pre-applied filters from the top of your screen
- Click into the “Paused” category along the top
- Add custom search criteria to the search bar at the top to remove any prospects that have been touched (aka contacted) after your determined date from view
- Ex: If today is December 31, 2021 and you’ve determined that any prospect that has not been contacted in the past 30 days should be finished or removed, you would want to enter this criteria into your search bar: -touched_at:[2021-12-01 TO 2021-12-31] - this search criteria will pull out any prospects that have been contacted in the last 30 days
- Once you have your refined prospect list, it is a best practice to first tag these records in some way so that you can easily identify that they were a part of this clean-up project before taking further action
- After a tag has been applied, select all prospects and either mark them as finished or remove them from their respective sequences
Example of Paused Prospect Clean-Up:
Step 3. Repeat the Process for Failed and Bounced Prospects
You will want to repeat the same process outlined in Step 2 for prospects in a failed or bounced status that have not been contacted since your defined date as well to ensure that they are no longer tied to their current sequence and can be placed in other sequences in the future.
Step 4. Consider How to Avoid Overdue Tasks in the Future
A large number of overdue tasks can happen for several reasons. When building a plan to mitigate overdue tasks for the future, you will want to consider the below.
If reps seem to have too many tasks:
- Consider reducing the recommended number of new prospects added to sequence until their task volume is under control.
- Ensure that sequence throttles are configured and are set at appropriate thresholds. Note that thresholds should be lower for sequences that require a significant amount of manual effort. You will also want to consider not only setting a daily threshold, but a total threshold as well.
- Review your sequence rulesets and determine if too many ad-hoc call tasks are being created due to email opens and clicks.
- Take a look at the structure of your most heavily used sequences. It’s possible that users may be putting too many prospects into high touch sequences with a large number of manual tasks. Evaluate if there is an opportunity to incorporate “low touch” sequences for certain use cases.
- Similarly, determine if there are any touchpoints within existing sequences that could be automated (i.e. email reply bumps).
- Review if there may be Triggers assigning reps tasks that are having an unintended downstream impact.
If reps are failing to execute tasks:
- Look at how reps are adopting the platform overall and attempt to uncover why tasks are not being completed. What is driving this behavior?
- Best practice is to set clear expectations around on-time task execution and to emphasize the importance of sticking to sequence timelines and the time-to-wait durations to provide accurate funnel insights.
- Ensure the rep understands how to execute tasks in Outreach and share the Task Management and Execution course.
Consider watching the reps click path for executing tasks. Do they have Universal Task Flow enabled? Are they marking items complete or simply hitting the arrow at the top to move on to the next task?