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Mar 5, 2021

15 tips to create a sales follow-up email (that drives responses)

With the help of these tips and Flowrite, you'll be creating killer sales follow-up emails faster than ever before.

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Elena Bezborodova

Writer

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How to write a good sales follow-up email? What subject line should I use for my follow-up email? How many times should I follow up?

If your job involves sales, these are just some of the questions you might be wondering.

This blog post will explain how to create a follow-up email that drives responses from your prospects and introduces you to the fastest way to write your follow-ups.

1. Pick a format and stick to it

You should start by planning the structure of your email. The most important components to consider are your email's length and the number of paragraphs it will contain. Think of it as a special form of art. You are an artist who outlines your future drawing. 

Length 

Image by Emailmonday

Decide the approximate number of characters you will use. On average, 54% of emails are opened on mobile, so long sales follow-up emails are a no-go. 

What's short, then? Based on Boomerang's data, sales emails between 50 and 125 words have the best response rates. Keeping it within those limits will keep your follow-up email easily digestible for a mobile-first audience.

Paragraphs 

Did you know people consume emails much differently from any other digital media form – let alone print?

Instead of reading them word for word, people tend to scan emails in an F pattern. Most skip over the introduction, scanning the email body looking for something interesting to dive into. That's why you should structure your copy for "scanners".

In essence, this means breaking your email into bite-sized chunks of text. Two or three paragraphs should be enough to convey your message. If you need more, your email is likely too long.

2. Determine the objective of your sales follow-up email

Do you want to invite your prospect for a demo call? Is your goal to request another meeting? Do you need more info on them?

Before rolling up your sleeves and drafting your email, you have to determine your email's specific goal.

The objective of your follow-up will shape the tone and the overall structure of the whole email. What's more, it will make it easier for the prospect to provide an answer. 

Let's take a look at some of the possible follow-up objectives. 

  • To appoint the next meeting
  • To reach after leaving a voicemail
  • To reach after the first follow-up
  • To get a reply after several follow-up series with no response  
  • To continue a discussion after a networking event 
  • To get more information needed to continue a sale 

Pick the one that works for your situation and plan your email copy accordingly. It all should play towards this end goal. From the greeting to sign-off

3. Do your homework

We've already touched on the importance of doing your homework in our previous article about writing a cold email.

Even though it is not your first encounter with a person, it will never hurt to keep an eye on their business's latest updates. You can also take a deep dive into their industry to share some insights or recent news the lead may find useful. 

No matter the situation, making an effort to keep tabs with the recipient and personalizing your follow-up will add extra points and will make you look more appealing in their eyes.

4. Open the email with context

Each line of your follow-up is about getting the recipient to read the next one.

Start your email by providing them with some context around your initial communication. This refreshes their memory and lures them in.

Compare the following examples to grasp what we are talking about. 

To
john@prativo.co
Hi John,

I'm writing to follow up on our last conversation. My team leader asked me for an update on your situation.
To
john@prativo.co
Hi John,

It was a pleasure to have a discussion with you and your team in our booth last week.

You should also steer clear from awkward opening lines, such as:

  • "Just checking in to see ..."
  • "I'd like to follow-up on…"
  • "I just quickly want to check-in and find out ..."

All anyone wants to do after reading those phrases is to move the email to the junk box. We use "just" to minimize ourselves, and it can come across as unconfident or even insincere. You only have a few seconds to capture their attention, so you need to go for it from the get-go. 

5. Explain the desired outcome

Now is the time to get your message across. 

Your follow-up message should not look like academic writing. At the end of the day, you communicate with humans, not robots. Use simple yet professional vocabulary and make your sentences concise. 

What you should do: 

  • Don't use buzzwords
  • Don't use confusing terminology unless it is actually relevant to your industry
  • Don't add meaningless adjectives

Here's a good sample to follow.

To
john@prativo.co
Hi John,

It was a pleasure to have a discussion with you and your team in our booth last week.

As promised, I am sending you information about our pricing plans. Feel free to go through the pricing options with the team. Let's discuss it in detail in our next meeting.

In case your initial message or previous follow-up hasn't yielded into response, you want to approach your value proposition from a new angle in your follow-up. Focus on different pain you can solve for the prospect or highlight another benefit your solution offers. Maybe your wording was just off?

6. Use psychology to your advantage

Depending on your follow-up's objective, you can use some simple mind tricks to achieve your goals.

Add social proof 

Got a testimonial from a happy client? Mention it in your follow-up email to make your business look more trustworthy. 

Create FOMO

FOMO stands for 'the fear of missing out and is a powerful psychological trigger. 60% of millennials make purchases based on FOMO. Use this to your advantage and create a feeling of scarcity.

Limit your options

When faced with too many options, people struggle to make any decisions, so they end up not buying at all. Make it easier for them to move forward by cutting down your options. For example, if your company has five different plans, you can pick just two of the options that will be suitable for your specific lead. 

Echo your prospect

Echoing is picking up on your potential customer's phrases or analogies. If you noticed a specific communication pattern during your initial talk, go ahead and repeat it in your follow-up message. It also works the other way around – if the customers start to echo you, it's typically a sign of flourishing and healthy communication between you two. 

Make percentages work for you

In case you mention promotions in your follow-up email, you can play with dollar amounts and percentages. For products under $100, using a percentage discount instead of numbers is always a winning option. For example, a 10% discount on a $50 product will entice your customer more than a $5 offer simply because 10 is higher than 5.

7. Add a specific CTA 

Your follow-up email should end with a specific call to action. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for the recipient to do what you want. Ideally, your CTA should be a yes-no question. 

These examples demonstrate the right and wrong way to go about it.

To
john@prativo.co
Hi John,

It was a pleasure to have a discussion with you and your team in our booth last week.

As promised, I am sending you information about our pricing plans. Feel free to go through the pricing options with the team. Let's discuss it in detail in our next meeting.

Would you like to have a chat next week?
To
john@prativo.co
Hi John,

It was a pleasure to have a discussion with you and your team in our booth last week.

As promised, I am sending you information about our pricing plans. Feel free to go through the pricing options with the team. Let's discuss it in detail in our next meeting.

Would next Tuesday at 4 work for you for a 30-minute video call?

But wait, there's more! Research shows that being explicit about the recipient having the chance to decline actually makes them more likely to say yes. 

8. Use a P.S.

You should never underestimate the impact of the good ol' postscript. Leave the business talk out of it and add a human touch to it. For example, you can comment on the great team spirit the customer has shown or give kudos for the book recommendation you got during the last talk with them. 

If you have a hard time figuring out how to end your follow-up, see examples of professional email sign-offs.

9. Perfect the subject line

If you didn't receive an answer to your initial email or the first follow-up, you might want to try reaching out in a new thread. SupperOffice found that 33% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line. So, treat it as your chance to make a new first impression.

Image by SuperOffice


Personalizing the subject line can make your open rates go through the roof. An easy way to do it is to use the first name of the recipient.

Here's a good example.

To
olivia@corpod.com
Olivia, I forgot to mention...

Additionally, research shows that subject lines tapping into the recipient's curiosity or providing utility get more opens. The busier the recipient, the more you want to lean on the utilitarian side of the spectrum.

You might also be wondering:

How many words should I use in my subject line? 

Image by SuperOffice

Mailchimp recommends using no more than 9 words and 60 characters. A report by Retention Science discovered that subject lines with 6 to 10 words result in the highest open rate. So, it's safe that you should keep it short.

10. Choose the right font 

Is your font easy to read? Campaign Monitor claims that email readers typically prefer the following fonts:

  • Veranda
  • Arial
  • Courier 

Use one of these fonts or the standard option in your email client to make sure, and your message will be visually pleasing for any reader instead of catching their eye negatively. 

11. Proofread 

Typos and poor grammar will inevitably create a negative impression in professional emails. Make sure to go through both your email body and the subject line at least a few times. It's also good to double-check the recipient's name before rushing into hitting the send button. 

12. Focus on one industry to nail it

With each follow-up you create, you are closer to perfection. However, each industry or vertical has its own caveats. In a nutshell, a good way to cut your teeth on crafting follow-up emails is to focus on one industry first. Suppose you have the luxury of dedicating some time to a specific vertical, even better. By sending messages to people working in similar businesses, you can learn the customer segment's ins and outs. Use it to your advantage in your future emails. 

13. Send your follow-up at the right time

Timing your email right is crucial to getting it opened. To know when to send your follow-up email, you have to know the person you are trying to reach. It also depends on the industry you operate in.

For example, Superoffice found that most of your prospects and leads will be enjoying family time on the weekends if you sell software. That means reaching out to them on the weekend will lead to fewer opens if any at all.

So, when should you send your follow-up communication?

Image by SuperOffice

Research by Get Response found that Tuesday is the best day to send emails if you want to get the highest open rate.

When you have selected the weekday, your next thoughts might be:

What about the time of day?

Image by SuperOffice

The same research proved that subscribers are most likely to read your email at 10 am, after they arrived at work, or at 1 pm, when they are checking their inbox after lunch.

Obviously, there's no all-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the sending time. Many variables may impact the most suitable timing, so you should experiment with it to find what works best for you.

14. Determine the sending frequency 

Did you know that 80% of sales occur only after at least five follow-ups?

In other words, you should send follow-up emails a minimum of five times, each time giving your recipients more time to respond. By extending the time before your next follow-up email, you reduce the chance of being intrusive.

Here's a recommended structure for follow-up emails: 

  • Follow up 1 on day 3
  • Follow up 2 on day 7
  • Follow up 3 on day 14
  • Follow up 4 on day 30
  • Follow up 5 on day 60

After you've determined that the prospect has gone cold and there's no point to continue following up on them, give it another go with a breakup email. These Hail Marys of sales emails are used as a last resort to bring the prospect back to your sales cycle. If there's no response, you have effectively moved them from your pipeline but left a positive impression.

15. Monitor your progress 

Do you just send your emails and call it a day? Of course, not. The spray and pray tactic does not work when it comes to sales follow-ups. You should constantly be monitoring the progress of your work to develop your approach.

Here are different ways to do it depending on how big a role sales plays in your day-to-day. 

Launch the Gmail extension for tracking opens

If you're just getting started with sales or it's one of the many thing on your plate, use this browser extension to follow up with more accuracy in Gmail. You can find out when your emails have been read, track the number of clicks, and how many times a recipient has opened your follow-up message.

Use a CRM system

Typically sales teams use a CRM tool to manage their pipeline. In case sales is a crucial part of your work, but you are still on the lookout for a CRM system, here are a few suggestions. 

The leading CRM's are: 

Utilize free project management tools

Low on resources and can't afford a CRM tool yet? Not to worry, there's a bunch of free project management software at your disposal that you can use to create your own CRM.

The top-notch project management tools are:

The fastest way to write sales follow-up emails

With Flowrite, you can turn your knowledge on the prospect to a personalized sales follow-up email on the fly. Just provide a few bullet points based on the tips you learned in this article and let our AI-powered writing tool do all the leg work for you. 

If you want to supercharge your everyday writing, including cold emails, follow-ups, and replies, join our waitlist to get access to Flowrite among the first. 

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