There’s never a time when you’re not ready to sell. Sadly, that doesn’t mean your prospects are permanently ready to buy.
According to Vorsight, just 3% of your potential market is actively looking to buy at any given time. Of the rest, 40% are about to begin and 56% simply aren’t ready at all.
This tells us two things:
- If you email a prospect, the overwhelming probability is that they won’t currently be in a position to buy from you.
- But there’s also a sizeable chance that they’ll be looking to buy in the near future.
In other words, your first contact with a prospect is unlikely to lead directly to a sale - not necessarily because they aren’t interested, but because they’re not ready yet. Your job is therefore to ensure your product is front of mind when they are poised to purchase.
Despite this, a staggering 44% of salespeople throw in the towel after sending one solitary follow-up email, according to Scripted. To improve your email success rate, you need to be a little more tenacious.
With that in mind, read our guide to learn what it takes to write a follow-up email that converts.
1. Understand your objective
Because they’re so simple to write and send, it’s all too easy to dash out an email that doesn’t advance your cause. Follow-up emails never work unless you have a clear goal in mind.
What you’re looking to get from sending the email will depend on how far your prospect has progressed down the sales funnel. Someone who has just signed up for your email newsletter is very much at the start of the journey and should be treated very differently to a prospect who has recently been given a demo of your product.
Let’s use the example of the prospect who’s received a product demo. They’ve already displayed a certain amount of buying intent, so your objective in contacting them should be to coax them across the line. Consider:
- Sending case studies
- Offering a free trial
- Showing them the merits of your product vs. those of your competitors
2. Know your audience
Chances are, the majority - if not all - of the content within your sales emails is written.
That means language is extremely important. You need to be able to speak to your prospect in a way that makes them comfortable, conveys your expertise and proves that you understand their requirements – all without lapsing into overfamiliarity.
Your writing style should be tailored to fit the prospect. A 28-year-old marketer will likely expect a different type of communication to a 60-year-old financier. Hopefully, by the time you’re sending a follow-up email, you’ll already know enough about your prospect to make an informed call on how to speak to them and what they want to hear.
3. Send your follow-up email at the right time
When it comes to boosting your follow-up email open rates, timing is everything.
A multitude of research has been carried out on the best time and day to reach out to prospects. CoSchedule analyzed more than a dozen surveys and discovered the following results:
The best days to send an email
The best time to send an email
- 10 – 11am
- 8pm – midnight
Of course, you need to display a degree of common sense here too. If you know your prospect spends every Tuesday tied up in board meetings, the stats don’t matter - they either won’t see your email or will be too busy to respond.
4. Craft an attention-grabbing subject line
You already know subject lines are important. But you probably don’t realize how important they are. According to Chadwick Martin Bailey, almost half of recipients base their decision on whether to open an email solely on the strength of the subject line.
Writing a great subject line is all about inspiring a sense of immediacy, being timely and prompting the recipient to want to learn more.
One of the best tools in your arsenal is personalization. One survey by Yes Lifecycle Marketing found that emails with personalized subject lines generate open rates 50% higher than those with generic subjects.
5. Provide some context
On average, every single person on earth sends and receives 40 emails a day. That’s a lot of emails, so don’t force your prospects to guess why you’re contacting them.
Make sure you include some context high up in your message, immediately after greeting your prospect. Remind them who you are, where you met and what you’ve been talking about. This is particularly crucial when sending a first follow-up email - especially if you don’t already have a close relationship with the prospect in question.
6. Get to the point
With the re-introductions over, don’t waste time on small talk. Be upfront, honest and crystal-clear about the reason you’re sending the email - if you’re too subtle, don’t expect your prospect to take the time to understand what you’re really asking.
Specificity is key. Don’t just allude to wanting to meet with the prospect; tell them why you want to meet and what you hope both parties will get from it.
As an example, don’t say: “I’d love to arrange a meeting to discuss what we do.” Instead, be specific: “I’d love to arrange a meeting to discuss how our product can help you segment customer data more effectively and increase your average order value.”
7. Clarify the next steps
If you want to hit your sales targets, never leave your prospect guessing.
Every time you send a follow-up email, provide clear actions detailing how you’d like to take the conversation forward if your prospect agrees.
For instance, give them a list of dates and times - or better yet, use a scheduling app like Boomerang Calendar or Calendly - when you’d be available to meet and tell them to detail their own availability.
Be sure to give them a deadline for responding, too. This way, it’ll be obvious when you should send your next follow-up email.