So you realized why following-up your prospects is crucial for the effectiveness of your campaign – good for you. But what should an actual sales follow-up email be like? How to tell your prospects ‘hey, I’m still here waiting for you to reply’ without being creepy, or annoying… or both?
The content of sales follow-up emails matters
The very act of sending follow-up messages will probably increase your reply rate. Sometimes, people just forget to reply to you, and every follow-up reminds them to do that.
But if you want to see serious improvement in your reply rates and conversions, you want to send follow-ups that bear some additional value for the prospect. Such a genuinely valuable follow-up gives you another shot with those prospects who consciously ignored your opening message in the first place.
How to write a gentle sales follow-up that makes prospects hit ‘Reply’?
The first thing to remember is that a follow-up should be smoothly linked with the opening message. The sales follow-up email should be a continuation of what you previously sent them – it should refer to the previous email, because in the previous email you already put some benefits and reasons for them to talk to you.
What should be the subject line of a follow-up email?
Best to send your follow-ups in the same thread as the opening email to make it easy for a prospect to refer to your previous message. This will also help you to maintain a logical connection between all your follow-ups.
This makes the choice of a subject line pretty straightforward – stick to the one you came up with for the opening email.
For inspiration, check our selection of 15 best cold email subject lines we’ve come across >>
What to write in the first sales follow-up email
This one should be as short and concise as possible. You just want to slightly poke them here, so don’t write longish messages full of persuasive tricks.
Just gently point out to them that they haven’t responded to you and that you’re still waiting for some reaction. You can refer to the crucial benefit of the opening message.
Here’s a sample sales follow-up email to better illustrate what I mean:
Just following up to check if you have any thoughts on 52C. Would it be a waste of time to give it a try and see if it could help manage clients’ data?
It’s no more than two sentences. The first sentence makes a connection to the previous message. The second one is actually a question which plays three crucial roles: one, it makes them think about the problem they may have with tracking their clients’ progress; two, it suggests that they do not risk a lot by trying us out; and three, it implies that they can gain a lot if they do try us out.
Also, don’t forget to repeat your CTA from the first email (perhaps slightly paraphrased, or offering another option to connect).
What to write in the next follow-ups?
Yes, you don’t quit after sending just one follow-up (unless the person replies to you, of course). The next follow-ups may show different perspectives or even perform different functions.
Show them another perspective
You can use one of your sales follow-up emails to prove your company value, perhaps by mentioning a source of social proof, which is what Steli Efti offers in his article as an example of his second follow-up:
“Hey <first_name>, we got some new press coverage <link>. I’d love to pick up on our conversation. When’s a good time to chat?”
You can also show them explicitly how your product/service helped one or some of your customers. If the customers are their direct competition, that’s even better for you. Scott Britton demonstrates this approach in his article and uses this sample follow-up to illustrate this idea:
Just wanted to send you an example of how we’re working with competitor X and Y to deliver this solution. Check it out here.
So far feedback has been extremely positive. Would love to get you guys up and running too when you have a few minutes.
Add extra value
Sure, sometimes a prospect didn’t reply to your email because they might not have time. Or they might have forgotten. But in many cases, they didn’t reply because your opening email simply didn’t catch their attention.
Follow-ups are another chance for you to spark your prospects’ interest by adding extra value. Use content prepared by your marketing team to attract new inbound leads also in your outbound sales campaign:
- Link to a relevant case study. Case studies make it easier for a potential customer to visualize the benefits of your product.
- Link to valuable content, for example, an interesting blog post series, guide or a free ebook.
- Invite prospects to a webinar they may find interesting.
Give them a way out
In case a prospect didn’t reply to a bunch of your sales follow-up emails, you can send them an easy-to-respond email with some options to choose from. This may be light and funny, like in this sample sales follow-up presented by Bernie Reeder in her article:
I haven’t heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:
1) You’ve already chosen a different company for this, and if that’s the case please let me know so I can stop bothering you.
2) You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet.
3) You’ve fallen and can’t get up – in that case let me know and I’ll call 911
Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry… Thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing from you.
Here’s another example, but in this case, the most desirable option is put number one:
I know that you are probably busy and I don’t want to be a stalker. I will totally appreciate if you could just answer with 1, 2 or 3 replying to this email, please.
1. Go ahead and create for me a free 14-day trial 52C account.
2. Not today, but you can remind me of 52C within 3 months.
3. Leave me alone. I do not have time for this kind of stuff.
I bet you think, ‘if we give them an easy way to opt out, we lose them forever’. Well, yes – but that means we stop wasting their time as well as our own time and resources. If they are not interested in our offer whatsoever, we want them to express that explicitly.
If you feel like you haven’t tried all the reasonable ways to get them into the conversation yet, make a message like this the last email in your sequence.
What are the best practices for writing sales follow-up emails?
Take those examples above as hints, not ready-made sales follow-up email templates. You should take the time to write a copy of your sales follow-up email on your own. Not every template works well for each type of business and group of prospects. Discover what works best in your case.
Nonetheless, whoever you’re addressing, there are 5 crucial things to keep in mind when writing follow-ups:
#1. Keep it short – just like in the opening email, or shorter if possible.
#2. Keep it simple and easy to respond to – just like in the opening message, give them a clear instruction to the next step or a simple question to answer.
#3. Keep it coherent – make sure the follow-up is logically connected with the previous message. Don’t forget to repeat the same CTA as in the opening email.
#4. Keep it valuable – don’t treat a follow-up as a reminder, that a prospect hasn’t replied to your previous email yet. That’s annoying. Try to smuggle some value into your follow-ups message instead.
…and most importantly:
#5. Keep it natural – your messages should not sound like automatic follow-ups or sales formulae learned by heart. You know the specifics of your group of prospects, you know how they speak and write. Adjust your opening message and sales follow-ups to them. They need to feel they are about to respond to a real person.
That’s it for the copy part, in short. If you’re still wondering about the details of sending sales follow-up emails, be sure to check the next part of this article and grab our Sales Follow-up Guide that gets into more detail of this topic.