You don’t become a professional athlete after one tennis match, and you probably didn’t get married after your first date. Why should sales be any different?
It would be great to always seal the sales deal on the first try, but the truth is, it’s the follow up that’s important – the additional touches and tries that help you secure that commitment in the end.
When it comes to sales, your follow-up emails play a key role in creating success. We’ve put together a list of sales follow-up email best practices that can help you make the most of your sales contacts and see the greatest productivity from the connections you make.
1. Create Templates and Automate
It can be easy to forget about follow-ups when you’re chasing the next big thing.
Instead of relying on your memory, use an email scheduling tool to keep your follow-ups happening on a reliable cadence without creating a lot of manual work for yourself, or potentially letting clients slip through the cracks.
2. Provide Something of Value
When you follow up “just to say hi” or “just to touch base,” many potential clients see that as a means of putting pressure on them to make a decision; this approach can be a turn-off and can lead to them deleting your emails and digitally ghosting you.
Instead of following up at random and without much substance, follow up with value. Share something that connects your follow-up to a previous conversation you’ve had or to a timely trend that’s being covered in the news, for example.
If you have a case study that’s relevant to a pain point they’ve mentioned, or one that’s common in the industry, that can be a golden opportunity to follow up, grab their interest, and reconnect.
3. Be Persistent
Let’s be honest; if you don’t usually make the sale on the first go-round, you’re probably not going to make it after a single follow-up email.
But don’t despair.
Be ready to follow up more than once in order to get a positive response. The number of follow-ups does not necessarily correlate with the likelihood of making a sale; sometimes it can take three, four, six, or ten messages to get a positive response.
In one study, an initial sales email received an 18% response rate. The sixth email in the series? A 27% response.
4. Don’t Be Pushy
Clients typically think you are being pushier than you may think you are. Research shows that while 50% of sales reps say they try to avoid being pushy, only 16% of buyers get that impression from them.
If you feel like your message is leaning toward the pushy side, don’t hesitate to get a proofreading eye from a colleague before hitting send.
In addition, the better you know and understand your prospective clients, the more likely you’ll be able to follow up with them without seeming overly pushy or salesy.
If you have enriched information available regarding the potential client (things like their job role, their LinkedIn data, etc.), you may be able to better target the things that will interest them and that will seem like value-adds, rather than bids for attention.
5. Make Sure You’re Contacting the Right Person
That may be an obvious cliche, but it’s also a true fact that can impact your email lists and deliverability, as well as your campaign success.
Employees leave jobs for other companies, rendering their email addresses out-of-date and inaccessible. In some cases, they may stay at the same company, keeping an email address active, but change to a different department or role, which also means you aren’t reaching the right person to pitch your product.
If you’re not hearing back on your sales emails, it can be important to verify your email contact lists. Make sure that you are sending messages that are making it to your audiences, and that you’re not just basically talking to yourself in cyberspace.
6. Ask for What You Want
In most cases, a potential customer isn’t going to track you down and say “I love your product; please take my money.” Instead of waiting for them to take action, make sure you’re making it easy and seamless for them to progress in their relationship with you.
If you want something from a potential customer, you can ensure your email includes a direct (but not pushy) ask.
Do you want them to watch a webinar, or schedule a demo with your team? Instead of forcing them to go back and forth on dates, make it easy for them; use technology like a calendar scheduling app or easy one-click responses in your emails to give your clients a little nudge toward what you want them to do.
7. Say Thank You
When you’re building a relationship with a potential customer, a little appreciation goes a long way. Just make sure that you’re being genuinely mindful about their time and the fact that they’re expending energy on learning about your product.
Thank-you messages can also include little appreciative freebies (like downloads or a freemium trial) that make it a little more enticing for them to engage with you. After all, hoping for a reward is by far the number-one reason that people agree to open emails (86% of email readers agree; we’re fairly certain the others might be fibbing).
The biggest sales follow-up email best practice guideline we can share? Don’t get discouraged.
Even the very best and most experienced salespeople out there don’t sign a contract with every potential customer. So, while you probably won’t close every deal, you can certainly learn from each one and improve your skill set from there. Keep working and tweaking your processes, so you can gain additional insight into what’s working and can optimize your future efforts.
Do you have any sales follow-up tips that get you great results? We’d love to hear; feel free to share them in the comments: