No one likes the rejection that comes with a typical follow-up email.
Either you can’t grab your prospect's attention, or you don’t follow up at the right time...
Or the email doesn’t get opened at all.
Luckily, with a few key changes, you can turn a cliché and boring follow-up email into a standout one that gets responses.
Should I send a follow-up in the first place?
Did you know only 2% of sales happen directly because of a single initial meeting?
That means 98% of closing a lead depends on the steps you take when you follow up with the right person. It’s a lot of pressure, and probably why so many sales reps get it wrong.
Nailing your first follow-up to the right person will mean the difference between closing a prospect quickly or entering into an email marathon.
After all, 80% of sales take five follow-ups to close.
Once you know how to send the right follow-up emails with relevant content, conversions will follow, and the reply rate to emails will go up.
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How to write a killer follow-up email
Let's go through how to follow up, and increase the reply rate, in seven-ish steps.
1. Map it out.
The first step is to map out a goal for what you want to achieve in your first follow-up email.
Are you trying to close a lead when you write follow-up emails? Or maybe you’re trying to upsell a current client?
Deciding on this before you write the first sentence is crucial. This way, you can make sure every sentence in your follow-up email aligns with your overall goal.
You’ll also avoid filler statements like the dreaded “just checking in.” Your prospect’s time is important, so don’t waste their time on fluff in your follow up emails.
Pro-tip: Avoid sending emails on a Monday or Friday. People are usually tied up getting ready for their weekend or dealing with an inbox full of emails on a Monday. Get their full attention by sending it mid-week.
2. Nail your subject line.
Thirty-three percent of follow-ups are opened based on their subject line alone, so there’s no room for error.
Don’t just “request a meeting” or introduce your product. Make it enticing enough that your prospect wants to open it and know more.
If you met your prospect at an event, mention it. If you’ve got an idea for their business, condense it and highlight it.
“Hey [Prospect’s name]— 3 options to get started on [solving pain point]”
“Hi [Prospect’s name], I thought you might find this [article/blog post/study/etc.] interesting”
Start building a conversation from the subject line that flows into the email itself.
Don’t be afraid to add the email’s main value into the subject line, to help write personalized emails. It’ll give your prospect a taste of what’s actually inside—and increase the chances of it being opened. (More sales subject line tips here.)
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3. Keep it short.
The perfect first follow-up email should be short and to the point.
When following up after not getting a response, make sure your email isn’t longer than three or four sentences.
Lack of time could've been a big reason the prospect didn’t reply to your first email. So if you can make your email short and easy to digest, it should increase your chances of getting a reply.
Make sure one of the sentences is a clear call to action. No, we don’t mean “Would love to hear back from you.” Instead, try something like this.
Map it out.A strong call to action will make it easy on your prospect because you’ve already done the work of deciding on next steps for them—and shown your prospect that you’re serious about securing their time and solving their pain point.
4. Add (actual) value.
A big mistake sales reps make when they don’t get a response from an email is to copy and paste their previous one into their follow-up.
Don’t do that—it’s pushy and your prospect might feel guilty for not replying to your first email. (Which… some marketers advocate for, but isn’t the best way to build a relationship with someone.)
Don’t guilt-trip your prospects into replying. Instead, add some real value to your follow-up email.
Does your product or service offer a free trial? Or maybe you do online demos? Offer it up for additional value.
If you don’t, that’s okay too. Do some digging and find some content or information that will be of interest to your prospect.
Something like an actionable blog post, a special offer, or even another helpful product can add additional value, and will be appreciated.
Show your client that yes, you’d like to close them at some point, but you’re invested in their success too. And don’t be afraid to be quirky and send them something a bit different—humor and wit are good options to try.
5. Make it personal.
You’ve only got a few sentences to add personality to your email. Using templates for your follow-up is absolutely fine, but make sure you inject a bit of your own flare into it before you press send, in your polite follow-up email.
Think about the previous contact you’ve had with your prospect and sprinkle tidbits from those conversations into your email.
If they’ve just launched a product or attended a conference, mention it. It’ll show that you want to have a conversation, but more importantly, it’s proof that you aren’t just sending out the same email follow-up to everyone.
The goal here, when writing your follow-up email after no response, is to give your prospect a nicer email experience than they’re used to—and give them a glimpse of what future interactions with you will look like if they buy your product or service.
6. Keep up a standard with each follow-up.
If your follow-up email to a "no" response is also followed by silence, don’t lose hope in gaining your prospect’s attention.
Take it as an opportunity to build a rapport with the prospect instead.
Even on your third, fourth, and fifth follow-ups, you should put in the same amount of effort as you did with your very first email. Keep including value, personality, and a clear call to action before you send your polite follow-up email.
Whether your prospects are super busy or just playing hard to get, persistence can often be the difference-maker, when crafting a follow-up email after no response.
7. And don’t ever…
These are the big no-nos of following up with a prospect after not getting a response:
Never flag your email as important for a recipient's inbox. Respect that your prospect has a busy calendar and don’t demand to be a priority. All this will do is irritate them and put them off.
To add to that, flooding their inboxes will make you the sales rep pest.
If your emails, even personalized emails, are coming in thick and fast, your prospect might just assume there’s little value inside them beyond “just touching base”—it’s a sure-fire way to get tagged as spam.
And don’t send a breakup email too soon.
Although time-limits are a great way to create a sense of urgency, a lot of prospects will look at a breakup email as a threat.
Instead of asking them if they want you to close their file, tag them as a cold lead instead.
Maybe the timing just wasn’t right for them, but there’s no reason you can’t revisit them in the future.
How to stay on top of it all:
It’s hard to keep track of where your prospects are in your sales funnel.
Managing your prospects properly can be the difference between closing them or losing them.
Being organized and knowing exactly what buying stage your leads are at can help save you time and remove the guesswork from what to write in follow-ups.
A CRM will help you to see exactly where your prospects are in your sales funnel, what emails you’ve sent them, and what they’ve opened.
This can be a goldmine of information when it comes to thinking about how to follow up: you can reflect on what value you’ve already sent to your prospect, and what you can try next.
in Copper, for example, you can drag and drop leads into different stages—like "follow up":
With Copper, you can also build and store follow-up templates to send to your prospects. The great thing about this feature is once you know what works, you can create templates to use on future leads.
Just tweak the emails by adding personal points or an item of value for different leads, and you’re good to go.
This can save you loads of time when you’re preparing to email a prospect who hasn’t replied—all you’ll need to do is fill in a few blanks.
Crush it on the follow-up and close the deal.
We all know how important follow-up emails are—even more so if your first email didn’t get a response.
It’s important to remember that the success of your follow-up email comes down to its ingredients. Adding value, writing a killer subject line, and keeping it short are all key to making sure the recipe works.
Follow the recipes above and change up the ingredients to suit each of your prospects. They’ll appreciate the effort—and so will your closing rates.