How much time do you spend thinking about following up with your sales prospects? Do you take the time to create thoughtful and unique responses to reach back out to your prospects, or do you just mindlessly send them canned garbage? Most follow up emails are awful, and belong in the trash.

When talking to prospective clients and giving sales advice, I’ve noticed that salespeople often start off strong with their first email, but quickly flatline after the first or second email. However, our own cold email campaigns at Salesfolk actually tend to see almost as many responses in touch points five to eight as the first four emails of our sequence.

So what’s the difference between most follow up email sequences and mine? Why are mine getting 2-3 times more responses than theirs? I have a theory about what’s happening.

All salespeople have heard the classic “lesson of persistence”, and will usually send follow up emails, which is a great start. However, most sales guys/girls focus all of their efforts on their first touch email, but treat the rest of the touches in their sequence as an afterthought, with no new ideas or angles.

Too many follow up emails look like clones of each other. And I don’t just mean that salespeople are all using the same crummy follow up templates. The emails in their own sequences are so repetitive that each of their touches actually look the same. That’s because everyone is copy and pasting the same crappy canned templates that someone wrote decades ago, before we had so many countless sales tools at our fingertips.

Persistence is important, but hammering your prospects over the head with the same obnoxious, “Hey, I’m following up” message won’t win you any deals, and becomes really annoying pretty fast. Your last touch point is as important as the first cold email you send, so if you’re going to send multiple cold emails, put some thought into every email you send out.

Please don’t be the guy/girl who sends incessant and repetitive cold emails that add zero value and no ideas, or you will probably become the victim of my next cold email critique.

Speaking of cold email critiques, here is a look at this week’s cold email critique.

Cold Email Mistake #1: Sending The Wrong Message To The Wrong Person

My marketer, Haley, got this email:

Subject: Wednesday Lunch
Hi Haley,
Have any plans for lunch on Wednesday?
If not I’d love to show you a live demo of XXX – the fastest to implement and most user-friendly BI tool on the market. You’ll have a chance to discuss your sales process with one of our experts and see how XXX addresses the limitations of native SF reporting.
If lunch doesn’t suit happy to arrange another time. It would be great to get your feedback on the tool and your thoughts on how XXX might help your team.
Let me know a time that works and I’ll fire over an invite.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and hopefully we’ll chat during the week.

The first problem with this cold email is that Haley is not managing a sales team, so she’s not the ideal buyer persona for this product. Since she has no use for this product, they will probably never get a response from her, no matter how well their emails are written (although better writing might at least get them a friendly response).

When it comes to cold email campaigns, you need to think about quality over quantity.

Successful cold email campaigns target the right people with the right message.

Too many companies are tempted by the convenience of buying a cheap list of hundreds or even thousands of names, but sending emails to a list of random names is like trying to pin the tail on the donkey while blindfolded. Sure, you might get lucky and hit the target, but chances are you’ll just waste your turn swinging your arms about in the air.

Cold Email Sequence Pro Tip #1: Before you hit the send button, take the time to build a solid list of qualified leads.

Think about the people you’re targeting. Who’s your ideal buyer persona? Who can benefit the most from your product? What industry do these folks work in? What types of priorities do they have? What problems do they face on a daily basis and how can your product help solve those problems? The more you know about your ideal buyer persona, the more effective your cold email messages will be.

Cold Email Mistake #2: Asking for Too Much Too Soon

Cold emails are meant to be the start of a conversation with your prospect. Don’t feel the pressure to go for the big ask right off the bat. Asking for a demo before you’ve explained anything about your product is a huge turn off, like taking your pants off at the restaurant during your first date.

Remember, your prospects don’t know you, and probably haven’t even heard of your company before, so don’t get too greedy too fast. Take the time to develop a relationship before you ask them to invest their time and money with you. Giving your prospects the impression that you’re only in it for the quick sale will make your prospects run for the door to hit delete faster than those naked baby photos your mom is always posting online.

Once you’ve lost your prospects, it’s nearly impossible to win them back, so make sure you get it right the first time.

Cold Email Sequence Pro Tip #2: Engage your prospect

Your prospect want to feel like you understand them and their business. Instead of pushing for a demo or a sale in the first email, try engaging your prospects with a thought-provoking question that show you’re interested in their daily work.

Example: “How are you predicting {!Company}’s sales numbers for Q3?” or “I’m curious, do you feel {!Company}’s business intelligence tools are user friendly, or are they clunky and overwhelming?”

These types of questions are more human and less salesy. Your prospects are more likely to respond when they can tell you’re taking a more genuine interest in their business.

Cold Email Mistake #3: No Clear Benefit Or Focus

Good Evening,
Haven’t heard back so wanted to see if we’re still on for tomorrow?
No worries if not – I usually try to escape for lunch myself! – but again happy to schedule another time that suits to connect. I’m conscious you may not be looking to evaluate tools at the moment but really just hoping to introduce XXX and see if there is role we could play for your team down the road.
Let me know what suits.

The problem with this follow up email is that it’s completely void of any useful information.

I have no idea who’s reaching out to me, what the company he represents does, or what product he’s pitching me. I don’t have time to scroll through previous messages in order to piece together his message.

Don’t assume that your prospect will automatically know who you are, or make the effort to find out. Even if it’s the last email in your sequence, it might be the first time your prospects are paying attention to your message. Each email in your campaign needs to give your prospects a clear idea of who you are and how your business can help them. Your prospects aren’t going to respond unless they can see a clear benefit.

Just because it’s a follow up email, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to offer some type of value. Don’t rely on the lame and outdated ” maybe you didn’t get my last email” approach. Instead, treat each email as it’s own unique message, adding new and interesting information.

Cold Email Sequence Pro Tip #3: Instead of listing out all your product’s features in bullet points, choose one benefit per email.

Example: “I have a time-saving hack that could dramatically reduce the time you’re spending each week on {!Company}’s Salesforce reports used by companies like [Client A] or [Client B].”

If your value proposition is strong enough, there’s no need for long-winded lists of features or distracting graphics. All you need is a simple sentence that tells your prospects exactly how you can help improve their businesses.

Cold Email Mistake #4: Leaving Your Prospects With A Weak Impression

Haven’t heard back so I imagine it’s best to hold off getting in touch for now – perhaps lunch was a bit forward !
Anyway enjoy your weekend and best of luck closing out the month/quarter.
Please reach out if you have any questions or would like to revisit this in July.

Your call to action is the last impression you will leave on your prospects.. If your CTA is weak or non existent, your prospects won’t see a reason they should respond.

This CTA is ineffective because it doesn’t give me a reason to respond. How can I have questions when you haven’t told me anything about your product?

Simply asking for a demo or a phone call without giving anything in return doesn’t excite me. Your prospects will respond only when incentivize them to do so.

Cold Email Campaign Pro Tip #4: Have a strong CTA.

Strong CTAs move prospects to act by enticing them with something they desire or scaring them with something they fear. Make it worth it for them by clearly spelling out what they can gain in exchange by investing their time with you.

Example: {!First}, when do you have 10 minutes to talk? In exchange for your time, I’ll show you an easy way that you can pull pipeline revenue forecasts from {!Company}’s Salesforce.”

How to Send A Follow Up Cold Email That Doesn’t Suck

So now that you know what NOT to do in your follow ups, you’re probably wondering, ” How do I write a cold email that rocks?”

I don’t have a magic answer to this because this really depends on your previous emails, which buyer personas you’re targeting, and what your value propositions are. However, I will say that your follow up email should have a similar style and structure to your first email.

  • Add value
  • Focus on one idea/benefit
  • Keep it short
  • Write like a non-spammy human
  • Be interesting

If you’re stuck trying to think of what to write, go back to the drawing board and make a list of all your benefits, and what matters to your prospects. Each of your benefits or their pain points can be the roots of an idea for another cold email.

Here’s an example of one of our follow up emails we wrote for Ambition:

SUBJECT: how competitive is {!Company}’s sales team?
Hi {!First},
What are you doing to ensure {!Company}’s sales team maintains its competitive edge quarter over quarter?
We’ve helped companies like [Client A] and [Client B] increase and maintain their sales team’s numbers by implementing incentives across their sales funnel, and I believe the same concept could work for {!Company}.
When do you have time for me to share this quick idea with you?

Happy emailing!

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