What if you had the ultimate sales follow up email formula? It takes an average of five follow ups to close a sale, according to Sapph Li from the Art of Emails. Let’s imagine leaving a meeting, sending an email, and instantly getting a response. If you could shoot an email to a cold lead and having them reply eagerly, you would become the most valuable inside sales rep of all time.
As it turns out, killer sales follow up email formats are not a great industry secret. Yet many reps fail to follow these simple rules and never see good returns on their email efforts. Use these simple tricks to become the sales follow up email hero you dream of becoming.
Here are some follow up email best practices you can use every day to boost your sales engagement, and some practices to avoid.
The 14 No-Fail Sales Follow up email best strategies:
1. Follow up again and again
Research shows that 70% of people will make a buying decision after 5 points of contact. Repetition is crucial for selling. Sometimes we are so tired of chasing people that we end up sending boring “just checking in” or “just following up” emails.
There is a fine line between sending an effective sales follow up email and an annoying email. Follow up emails should bring value and keep your prospect moving through the purchasing cycle. Make sure your customer contact time is frequent, but also valuable for the customer.
2. Make Your Emails Relevant
Relevancy is the key to having your follow up emails opened and read. Always give additional information that may be interesting and useful to your client. Demonstrating that you are thinking about your last conversation and are offering solutions to your client’s problem, or found a recent article that may be relevant to client’s business, will show that you are honestly interested in establishing a relationship, not just making a sale. Here are a few ideas for creating relevant emails that will trigger engagement:
- Answer questions – You might not always have answers to questions on the spot. Be honest if you are unsure about an answer and use it as an opportunity to follow up. Get the information to them as soon as possible.
- Share a success story – Use your previous success stories to illustrate to the customer the great quality of your product and how it has helped businesses before. If you have a customer testimonial on file, you can even include a link to the review.
- Provide additional information – A good follow up strategy is to reach out with something new you have to offer. Maybe your company introduced a new feature, or you have a discount for them. Start with: “I have great news for you!” or “I have an update for you!” to get their attention.
- Give references – Develop a reference list and recommend your prospect to speak with a few of your clients. Note that this strategy is best to use when you are already deep in the sales cycle.
- Give a referral – You know somebody who is possibly interested in your client’s services or products? Help your prospect by sending them some business. You can also refer them to any LinkedIn groups that might have potential customers for your client. This shows the prospect that you’re interested in more than just getting their money, you really want to help their business succeed.
- Share an article – You should always keep yourself updated about your industry. Subscribe to industry publications and newsletters. When you get an article that is relevant to your customer, include the article in your follow up email and explain how this could help your client. A good idea is to set up a Google Alert for your client, their company name, competition, and industry keywords. Google will alert you as soon as an important article appears.
3. Be Accessible
This email is one you might send after calling several times and not being able to connect with the customer. Colleen Francis, owner of Engage Selling Solutions, recommends sending the follow-up email below.
4. Seal It With a KISS
Notice that Heiman takes responsibility for not connecting with the client; she’s not laying a guilt trip on her prospect. She also expands her availability to the client, and she closes by repeating a key objective “you still want to fast track your sales growth.” All that in just one paragraph.
Heiman also suggests reaching out again by phone or through social media. “Many times people who don’t respond to their email will respond on LinkedIn. More times than not, I find out they haven’t received my emails. That is why I call also, and usually mention that I sent them something by email.”
5. Length, Call-to-Action, Clarity
There are a few points you need to keep in mind when writing your sales follow up email, like personalization, length, and clarity. Below is a list of tricks that will help you to construct a good follow up email:
- Personalize. Don’t be generic. General emails are boring and annoying and show that you don’t care. Avoid using “Dear customer” or “Hello.” Use an email that is written exactly for the person you want to get a response from. Remind them about your last conversation and what you spoke about.
- Be specific. Detail the next step that should be taken. If you send your email with a generic call-to-action, there is little chance any will be taken at all.
- Edit. Make sure there are no spelling and grammar mistakes. Your language should be clear and correct. Clumsy mistakes do not relate quality and reliability.
- Sign off. Include a professional signature or a link to your LinkedIn profile.
- Be concise. No one likes reading long emails. A general guideline is to keep your email around 200 words.
6. Pop Quiz
Another example from Sapph Li, this email is a good choice when the sales process has reached a point where you can reasonably expect a customer to make a purchase decision, but there has been no response to initial follow ups.
This email wins because it requires only a very simple answer, and no lengthy explanations. Maybe the client has decided to move on or stay with a current vendor. He’s not obliged to explain that decision to you. Or maybe he’s just really busy right now with other priorities, and has appreciated the opportunity to price shop and get to know you, but it’s not high on his list to make a change at the moment. This email is brief, clear, and professional and gives the prospect a chance to let you know where he stands.
7. What Would Your Team Like?
On the other hand, here’s a winning email from the same site, which recommends keeping an eye on who is exploring your website. If you notice a prospect’s IP address navigating around, contact the decision-maker again with this message:
Who can say no to that, right? Okay, maybe it’s a little creepy to the reader to know that you can see who’s crawling your web page, but he’ll get over it when you point out that his team wants the information and assistance you can provide. Also, by withholding just a little information (which pages they were visiting) you’ve intrigued the customer. And by asking for a 10 minute call instead of 30 minutes, you’re far more likely to get a response. Well done!
8. Perfect Timing
The best time to contact your prospect depends on where you are in the sales cycle. Do not wait more than a week. Following up within 4-7 days is ideal.
There are plenty of studies about the best and the worst days to send emails. GetResponse found that most people send emails on Tuesday. Tuesday also has the highest open rate compared to any other day. Up to 18%.
Time of the day has an impact too. You might think the best time to send your e-mail is in the morning because most people try to start their day productively. But if you want your e-mail to be opened, it is better to send it in the afternoon. Work-related issues in the morning often result in your email being erased or forgotten about.
Keep in mind the time differences of your clients who are located in different timezones. Emails are usually opened within an hour after they have arrived in the inbox.
9. Test to Find What Follow Up Email Works Best
Every business is unique. Try different methods to find out what works best for you. Your strategies will depend on whether your target audience is an employee of a big corporation or small- to medium-sized enterprise, the industry, and the age and gender of your prospects.
Track your sales follow up emails with the help of email tracking tools. This way you will be able to see what kind of e-mails work best, and what time and day results in the highest open rates.
10. Bribe With Pizza
In this example from Li’s website, a salesman for a plastic bag company refused to take no for an answer. He researched his prospect and discovered that the buyer is a consummate foodie with a particular love for pizza. Here is the email he sent:
He continued to pepper the prospect with restaurant and pizza recommendations in every message. This is a win—he demonstrates that he has researched the prospect and cares about his wants and needs. He sounds fun, attentive, and is clearly making an effort to be amenable, which indicates to the prospect that he can expect great customer service from this brand.
11. Send Help Immediately
This one is from Dave Kurlan, author of , and blogger at Understanding the Sales Force.
This is a big win. Dave repeats what he learned about the client and demonstrates insight into his customer’s problems. And he follows up immediately by sending some materials that might be helpful. This shows his concern, and demonstrates his understanding of the challenges the prospect may be facing. The language in the email is professional, friendly and non-intrusive.
3 Follow Up Email Habits to AVOID:
1. The Call for Help
Yikes. This example from Pipetop is thoroughly depressing, emotional, full of drama and intrusive. The first sentence comes across as arrogant and offensive. The next paragraph jumps right into chastising the customer. At this point, most decision-makers will wad up the message (well, not literally, because it’s an email) and throw it in the trash.
There’s an old technique in salesmanship called ‘help me understand’. But the point of the technique is to draw the prospect out and engage him in discussion.
How would you react to receiving an email like this? Is it the customer’s responsibility to open up his thoughts and motivations to you—and explain to you why you are not succeeding in your chosen career?
2. Unrelenting Negativity
From the same source, here are some random sentences taken from suggested follow up emails. Read them and see how you react to them:
There’s absolutely no reason to use such unrelenting negativity when the same message can be delivered with positive, encouraging, and reinforcing language.
3. My Boss Wants an Answer
This email sample suggests a more “aggressive approach”:
Wow. So many things wrong in such a short email. The first sentence is a waste of words and space. Of course you’re writing to follow up—don’t waste your breath and the client’s time by stating it. Your boss wants an update? This clearly categorizes you as an underling and not a decision maker who can defend the client’s account if he decides to go with your company. And the subtle message (which the client will hear loud and clear) is that the boss wants the account, but can’t be bothered to engage with the client.
Then to say, “I’m not sure if it makes sense to continue …” That sounds like you are breaking up with them. The client will immediately think, “Well, if it doesn’t make sense to you, why should it make sense to me?”
Our final piece of advice: Do not give up!
Here are some proven reasons why: Only 2% of sales occur after the first contact. The other 98% will only buy after a certain level of trust is accomplished. Following that, 80% of sales occur after 5 follow-ups, but 44% of salespeople give up after one “no” and 92% give up after 4 “nos.” An Effective sales follow up email strategy will help you to build trust over time and will tremendously help you increase sales results.
As a junior sales rep, you have time to develop these selling skills and quickly rise to the top. Practice using these follow up email techniques every day and you’ll soon craft that perfect email that actually gets engagement from your prospects.
If you have any insights or experiences about writing good sales follow up emails, don’t hesitate to comment or leave a reply!