Many front-line sellers make more sales by sending strong, persuasive, and engaging follow-up emails.
Many front-line sellers make more sales by sending strong, persuasive, and engaging follow-up emails.
Does the type of follow-up you should send depend on your relationship with a potential customer?
Everyone in sales has encountered the “one and done”. This is when you pick up the phone looking for a new customer and find someone who just talked about it yesterday. After a brief discussion, details are exchanged and payment is made.
The follow-up email keeps prospects engaged for every other type of sales interaction (which is 99 percent of them). Even if they don’t all buy from you, a lot will.
In fact, using follow-up emails across a company has a surprisingly high impact on cost per sale and profit per sale.
Only one in 50 sales are agreed at the first point of contact – whether contact is made on a telemarketing campaign or an email marketing campaign.
Only 8% of salespeople still chase the deal after they’ve received 4 “no’s” from the customer.
63% of companies requesting information on your product or service take three or more months to buy. One in five will take more than 12 months.
The buyer’s cycle for business purchasing is far longer than a buyer’s cycle for B2C, and there are multiple factors you have to consider during the buyer’s cycle.
First-contact questions: what should you ask?
If the initial contact was face-to-face or by phone, get as much information from your prospects as soon as possible. For face-to-face, hand them your business card and any relevant materials about what you offered.
You should ask your prospect for two types of information:
- contact information
- company’s purchasing procedures, and their role in the decision-making process
Prospect’s contact details
- job title
- the department they work in
- direct email address
- telephone number (mobile number is best) and if possible, agree a date and a time you can contact them on
- name of the company they work for
- address of the company they work for
The business your prospects owns or works for
- what your prospect’s purchasing role in the company is
- do they make the final decision or not?
- what exactly do they want from their next purchase? Is it there to solve any particular issues?
- is this their first purchase of your product or service or are they looking to replace what they currently have?
- if this is not their first purchase, who is their supplier and, ideally, what did they buy from that supplier (i.e. model number, make, name, etc)
- is the next purchase being opened up to competitors like your company?
- what their budget is
- when are they considering their next purchase?
Consider the buying cycle before writing your follow-up email
Not everyone who you write one or more follow up emails to will be in the market when you first reach out to them.
Follow up emails should be written based on your understanding of your own product cycle and the information you gathered from the first contact. Your prospect should be contacted as soon as possible for immediate purchases.
You should use the chances to connect as an opportunity to inform the prospect about your products, services, and company. Regardless of the situation, you should build on the positive impression you’ve already made.
If you take a week or two to follow up on your first contact, why would a prospect think you’re the right fit for their business?
Your company’s trustworthiness
Prospects want to feel comfortable and confident in your company, your products, and your service when buying from businesses, schools, or the public sector.
The wrong purchase will hurt a company’s profitability and efficiency, and at worst, even its viability.
In the mind of a purchaser is:
- they are spending company money,
- company money is a finite resource, and
- the wrong purchase may actually reduce company profitability and efficiency, in worst cases even company viability.
The more expensive the purchase and the more important the product or service to profitability and efficiency, the more time and consideration will be given to the purchase.
If the purchase has disastrous consequences for the business, jobs may be lost, including the job(s) of the decision-makers and influencers involved.
If a decision is imminent, present as many case studies, product/service spec sheets, and product/service guides relevant to their needs as possible. Establishing credibility takes time, and your competitors may have a leg up on you.
If the prospect hasn’t yet made a decision, this is the time to start thinking about what he or she expects from your solution.
Take the time you need to develop a relationship with your prospect and truly understand the company’s medium and long-term goals.
How are company decisions made?
You may be contacting the company’s only decision-maker (a director, for example). Other times, the person you contacted is a member of a team whose job it is to gather and present information to the Board.
Try to understand the decision-making structure and timetable as soon as possible and in as much depth as possible. The reason for this is that, when you go to present a meeting, you want as many decision-makers as possible in attendance.
Learn the role each person plays in procurement so you can create unique content and marketing materials for them. Without it, your meeting attendees will serve as unpaid salespeople for your proposal.
Nonetheless, when describing your product or service, you must do so with conviction, knowledge, and passion that the rest of the decision-making committee respects and believes in.
What writing style should you use in follow-up emails?
Business to business follow-up emails should be professional, friendly, and formal. Replace or delete any words that appear in a salesy B2C email or if you aren’t sure what a particular word adds.
Every word that is unnecessary and out of place erodes your credibility. If your potential client uses particular words or phrases, use them yourself.
Follow-up emails: 11 ways to increase sales
Avoid any standard follow up email template.
Each company has its own brand voice, products, and target audiences. Further, follow-up emails should reflect the circumstances in which you or your sales team met the prospect or suspect. Use automated email templates with extreme caution, since they rarely lead to the development of a business relationship.
General best practices
Always be closing
B2B transactions typically take place when you and your prospect have developed a personal relationship. It is always best to arrange phone conversations so that you and your company can be influential participants in the process from the very beginning.
Short and sweet
Ideally, your prospect should be able to read, understand, and react to your message to them within 15 seconds. Email them electronic brochures or marketing material and then summarise the main points in your follow-up emails. Try to condense key messages from any attached materials into 5 bullet points.
Friendly but formal
It is always best to address your email recipient by their first name, ideally with “Hi” instead of “Dear” (the use of “Dear” as a salutation really belongs in postal letters).
You should write in a professional, courteous, and brief tone.
Sign off with “Regards” or “Kind regards” instead of “Yours”, “Yours sincerely”, or “Yours faithfully”. We have also had a lot of success in using “Thanks in advance” as the sign-off.
1. Follow up emails for LinkedIn connections
With a standard LinkedIn introductory message, the distance between you and the prospect is the greatest.
When someone asks you to connect on LinkedIn or better yet, sends you an introductory message, you should do your due diligence.
From their LinkedIn profile, find out as much about their company and the position they hold within their company. Check out the company’s website, read online reviews of their products and services, and investigate the market they operate in.
In case you feel that you and your company have something valuable to offer them, write a short message.
The first part of your message should demonstrate a knowledge of them and their business. Second, you show you know the sector they operate in and the challenges they face. You’re also asking for a time to speak with them.
If you don’t get a response, please go to option 10 in this article for suggestions on how to proceed.
2. Follow up emails after a trade show
Follow up with every prospect you met as soon as possible after a conference. You want to make sure your message reaches them in their inbox when they return to their office after meeting dozens of potential suppliers at the trade show.
Always carry a pen and notepad with you when interacting with delegates and attendees so that you can take notes on particular prospects for your follow-up emails.
Follow-up emails should include a picture of your stand and yourself, along with any gimmicks or features you used. This will help prospects to remember you, your team, and your business.
In your subject line, mention the trade show, your name, and your company name. You can, of course, leave your name out of the subject line if it is already in the “From” field.
If you receive no answer, please proceed to point 10.
3. Follow up emails after a networking event
Expos and trade shows are noisy affairs with a lot of distractions. The type of conversation you have at networking events (especially business breakfasts) is likely to be more in-depth and less time-pressured.
At a networking event, you may want to carry a pen and notepad, but writing information down when you’re talking to someone won’t feel natural. After a conversation, you should try to recall as much as you can and put it on paper so that you can review the most important points.
Your subject line should contain the networking event, your name (unless it appears in the “From” field on emails you send), and your company.
4. Follow up emails to voicemail (“sorry I missed you” follow up emails)
Often, people prefer to follow up by phone rather than email. This is a rational strategy, given that most business contracts are signed after a number of conversations and rapport is established. We’ve found that it’s always better to leave a voicemail than to not leave one, even when many of us no longer like voicemail.
Simple subject lines will do, like “Missed call at (time) on (date)”. Follow up this email with a slightly longer one on your proposal within an hour or two.
You should then follow up with the prospect within 48 hours if you have not heard back from them. If you receive no answer after that, please proceed to point 10.
5. Follow up emails after phone call
After a phone call, follow up emails should be sent within one hour.
If you have the prospect on the phone, you should attempt to extract as much information as possible to assist you, both in the sales process and a follow up email.
Your subject line should be a summary of what you have agreed to do for the client in the phone call – for example “Helpful links and requested documents”.
Your phone conversation doesn’t mean that they will definitely open your outreach email.
Instead, you should use your subject line to motivate them.
You may wish to use this opportunity to ask for a meeting with the prospect and his/her colleagues if your product or service is the type that may require such.
Use the following format for your email, populating the content with the points of your discussion.
6. Follow up emails to confirm an appointment or a meeting
Following up on appointment confirmations with as many details of the meeting as possible is always advisable.
In sales, the person who asks questions steers the conversation, so if you agree on an agenda with your prospect, you’re more in control.
Your subject line should state “Meeting: (prospect name) & (your name), (location), (date), (time)”.
7. Follow up emails after an initial meeting
Your client now has the strongest and clearest idea in their mind about what they want and why they want it after your meeting.
If this is likely to be the first meeting of many, you should email:
- a description of where you are in the process,
- a broad outline of your proposal with a suggestion for further engagement with the client, and
- a re-cap of the next steps agreed at the meeting.
8. Email follow up after a final meeting
If this is your first meeting and the client is eager to make a decision soon, you should email a quote.
You should not make the client wait for a full quote. Ensure that the quote is accurate, that it will be profitable for your business, and that there are no spelling errors. Your email subject line should be “Full quotation and specs: (client name)”
9. Follow up email asking for update (first chase)
If you haven’t heard from your prospect and…
- it’s been a few days since you sent your previous email, and
- this is the first time they’ve not got back to you reasonably quickly
…it’s time to send an email follow up reminder.
Your message does not have to be elaborate and your subject line should remind the recipient of the product or service you’re trying to sell them.
10. 6 month follow up email (suitable for lapsed account email follow ups)
Is it worth composing a follow up email after six months of silence from the other side?
Yes – this is a strategy that works very well for the More Than Words team (assuming you didn’t receive a negative response the first time).
Your subject line should remind them of what you were communicating about.
11. Follow up email after a trigger event
Email tracking is possible through most marketing automation services.
A prospect who has not been in touch for a while may suddenly revisit one of your previous emails, giving you opportunity to re-establish contact with the certainty that they have moved closer to the purchasing decision.
Your original email might be viewed again before they ask you to contact them again. You might email them again to ask if they need more help.