You may have heard the phrase “the fortune is in the follow-up.” After all, successful sales can average 16 touch points per prospect, within a 2-4 week span typically with 5 follow-up emails.
But what if you’ve run out of things to say?
5 emails can be intimidating if you don’t want to just repeat “do you have any additional questions?” How do you move these warm prospects the rest of the way to a sale … without annoying the heck out of them or scaring them off?
Keep Your Follow-Up Emails Short
We get so excited after talking to a buyer about our product or service, don’t we? Which leaves us tempted to send an email to the prospect that includes everything we know about our offer.
We want them to have all the information so they will see for themselves how great our solution is and so it will be easy for them to make a decision.
But these long-winded emails are deadly to the sales process.
No prospect is going to sit and read a novel-length email from you.
Even looking at an email like that can drain the most enthusiastic buyer's will to live. At best, your prospect will skim the content. At worst, they’ll delete the email and get back to their day.
The follow-up email - the one you send straight after a sales conversation or product demo - has one job to do: Get the prospect to take action.
Inundating them with information will have the opposite effect.
So keep your email short and succinct. Thank them for talking with you and direct them to take one small action. It should be one small action that leads them closer to making a purchase. It could be to schedule another call, sign up for a demo, agree to pricing, pick from a list of colors, etc.
And make sure that action is as easy to take as possible! They should be able to complete the action in one or two clicks or with a single phone call.
This doesn’t mean that your emails should be one-liners or – god forbid – subject-line-only. It just means that you should respect their time, and make the next step quick and painless.
Use Plain Language in your Follow-up Emails
Within our industry silos, we have a vocabulary of our own. It’s the language of our expertise.
To a customer, however, it’s jargon. Limit your use of it in your follow up emails.
That said, there is merit to teaching your customers your language so they sound more authoritative when they talk about your product to their peers (or your competitors!).
Just make sure you ease them into it over time.
Look for signals that they might be interested in learning more, but don't assume that they care to know your insider terminology.
One of my first jobs was managing print production for a large convenience retail chain. I liked learning the technical names for paper stock, print production processes, etc., because I liked being able to flex that knowledge when I was talking to my peers. But I only learned it because print reps taught me that language over time, not because they bombarded me with a 20 paragraph email on day one.
Include More Value in the Follow-Up Email
Don’t email your prospect “just to catch up.” They know that this is just a cover for “tell me when you plan to buy my product.”
The only exception is if you’ve promised them that you’ll reach out to catch up at a certain time. If after your last meeting with them, you said you’ll catch up with them next week, your catch-up email will be genuine.
Instead of the "just to catch up" email try some of these ideas:
Send them something useful - an article, a podcast, a sales lead for their business - something you think they'll get value from without requiring anything in return. I bet if they really want to speak to you that you'll hear from them soon after.
Do they publish their own articles on LinkedIn or a blog? Add a thoughtful comment or idea.
Likewise, do you follow them on any social platforms? Comment genuinely or add some useful insight to an article or post they've shared.
Send them something funny. We often have a bit too much seriousness in our days so send them something to put a smile on their face.
If all else fails just get to the point: why are you contacting them and what one thing would you actually like from them: a call? Further information? Another meeting?
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If you do need to give your warm prospect more information in your follow-up email, do so sparingly.
Focus the email on the single action you want them to take, but mention something like "For quick reference, I've added a link to our [insert content type] at the very bottom of this email. I know we were pressed for time in our initial meeting, so feel free to look this over at your leisure."
Or something like that.
And then put the link to additional content at the bottom of the email, as far away from the call-to-action as possible.
This way you’re still giving your customer that additional helpful information, but you’re not drawing their attention away from the action that you really want them to take.
But your warm prospects are primed for the sale. So don’t waste the opportunity. Use the tips in this article to follow up with them without annoying them or scaring them off.