Emails aren’t going anywhere, but getting inbox attention can be hard.
Sales is about building relationships and credibility with your leads and email is a highly scalable way to reach a large number of those leads. However, most sales reps do not get a reply to their first email, so how do you get that potential client to engage? One of the best ways to do that is through follow-up emails.
Most of us get inundated with emails on an hourly basis and some people get inbox anxiety over the idea of having to get through all of them. Some decide to skip a response or get distracted and forget to reply. Others simply don’t have the bandwidth and time to reply to every email.
So how can a sales rep cut through the noise? And what makes a follow-up email effective?
Here are some tips:
1. Keep it short and sweet
Your email should be concise and to the point. No one wants to read a novel, so get to the point and make your ask. Try asking a question such as “should I be reaching out to someone else” or “if my timing is not right – is there a better time to follow up?”
2. Be personal
A follow-up email is not a mass email. You should take the time to personalize each email so it feels like it was written just for the recipient. Make sure you mention the recipient’s personal name, title, or company. Bonus points if that recipient has a social media presence and you reference something they commented on or posted.
3. Make it about them, not you
Your email should focus on the recipient and their needs, not on you and your product. This is not the time to sell, but to build relationships and credibility. Your product or service should be solving a problem or fulfilling a need for them. Articulate that in 1 or 2 sentences for them.
4. Try a different subject line each time
Your recipient is likely getting a lot of email, so you want to make sure your email stands out. Use a different, catchy subject line for each email. This can be used interchangeably in your email follow-up. For example, your first follow-up may be a reply to your previous email. Then your third follow-up may have a completely new subject line.
5. Don’t be annoying
Don’t send too many emails or email too often. This will just annoy your recipient and they will likely unsubscribe from your list. There is an art as to how often you follow up with someone, and this is also at times specific to the person and the industry. Try starting with a cadence of 3, 5, 7, 30. That means your first follow-up email comes 3 days after your initial outreach. Then your next follow-up 5 days after that. Then 7 days later another follow-up, then finally another 30 days later.
6. Be helpful
Your email should be helpful and informative, not just a sales pitch. If you can provide value, your recipient will be more likely to engage with you. This may sound similar to tip #3 above, but it’s applied in a different manner. For example, the recipient may work at a company that is hiring a CFO and you happen to know someone who is super qualified. You could offer to make an intro. The basic idea here is to be helpful in some way that is unrelated to your core sales prop. Best of all, it costs you nothing to help someone.
7. Have a call to action
Your email should have a clear call to action, so the recipient knows what you want them to do. Be specific and use strong action words. A question is typically a great way to get a response. Be direct and ask exactly what you’re looking for. Another alternative is to give the recipient two options. For example, if you’re goal is for a call then ask “does Friday at 9 am or 2 pm work better for you?”
8. Follow up
If you don’t hear back from the recipient, follow up. A follow-up email is a great way to show that you’re interested in building a relationship with them. This may seem like a no-brainer, but sales can sometimes be a marathon, not a sprint. Try deploying the cadence shown in #5 above, but if you don’t get a reply after 4 emails, don’t give up. Wait 90-120 days and then try again. Things change for people all the time and if your timing wasn’t right before, then it may be right now. Best of all, the recipient will be impressed with your follow-up game!