Following up inbound leads quickly is only half the battle. Applying an effective inbound lead follow up process is the most important piece. Trouble is, best practices and templates found on Google (or from your email provider) rarely start conversations with customers.
Here’s what we’ve learned from sellers who are breaking the mold---reaching beyond stale best practices. They’re using an unconventional (but effective) sales email drip technique to start conversations with trial-takers and other warm leads.
I’ll provide a real life example for you below.
The source of inbound lead follow-up troubles
In a word, templates are the problem.
Begging tone is another. Constant nagging to set an appointment is yet another. These common practices are sources of the overall problem: You’re blending in.
There’s got to be more to engaging than repeatedly begging to get on the phone!
You have a good lead generation offer or magnet---an ebook, a free lesson, or a free trial. You get a lot of interest and, in turn, email addresses. Your CRM or email autoresponder gathers and organizes them. But then...what?
You have a bunch of email addresses, but now what to send?
We often turn to Uncle Google. But that's problematic.
The problem with most sales drip sequences
Drip sequence templates you found Googling don’t work. Mainly because the templates Uncle Google, or your email software provider, recommend are being used by your competitors. And then some.
Your drip sequence is canned. Robotic. Typical of everyone else’s approach.
Your follow up or drip sequence may also thank and beg customers far too much to be effective at earning response. Most inbound lead follow up messages pathetically beg for the attention of customers in an overly cheery tone.
This fails to engage.
Here’s an example of what 97% of messages to trial-takers look like:
Subj: Your demo request of ___
Thank you for your interest in ___. I’ll be happy to jump on a call to give you an in-depth review of our platform.
Please let me know what time works and I’ll send you a calendar invite. Meanwhile, could you please help me
understand your situation better by answering these questions so I can tailor the call accordingly:
Thank you for signing up! My name is ____ and I’m your contact at ____. I thought I’d drop you a quick note to
introduce myself. I’m excited to help you get started.
And followed up with weak attempts like:
As requested, are you still interested in _____________ [what you provide] with ___ [your product]? With ____ [your
product] you can ____________. [what your product does]
Fail. Fail. Fail.
Why "proven" templates don't work
If the sources of proven, effective inbound lead follow up templates swear by them, and so many people have used them before successfully, then why aren’t they working for you?
Turns out, the answer is within the question.
So many other people are using them.
When you open your email to check it for the day and see the SAME subject line come up that you’ve seen so many times before… maybe you decide to give it a shot and see what they have to say. Then you notice it’s the same email you’ve seen many times before with different company information plugged into it.
What’s your first reaction when you see that?
Yep, and that’s what everyone else is doing when they see it too.
Email hosts are catching on to these templates as well. They’re blocking them and sending them to spam.
That means most people don’t ever even see that you emailed them, let alone think about opening it. This happens more often in some email clients than others, but it’s a recurring theme in all of them.
If it looks like spam and is the same nonsense everyone else is sending people too--they will assume it is spam and act accordingly.
Bottom line: Google’ed cold email templates DO NOT WORK. You need a sales process for inbound leads that will generate conversations with customers who are already showing interest.
Why best practices fail
Everyone wants to know what most people are doing. That’s the definition of a best practice. It’s established. And that’s the problem. It’s not only safe it’s outdated. Rather than doing something DIFFERENT many of us choose the best practice.
The SAME thing everyone is doing---mostly because we assume there’s precedent there to suggest it works. Why change it up, right?
Wrong. So wrong. This is short sighted.
Most people are choosing to go the Google route to find messages to send their inbound leads. Sometimes they’ll branch out a bit and get a message that fits their industry--or the industry of their prospect--and other times, they go for a blanket “Thanks for giving us a try/downloading our ebook/attending our webinar… let’s have a call to talk about you buying” template.
Sales engagement plan example: Recart
It will help to visualize your sales follow up email sequence, or sales engagement process, as a template; a schematic.
Draw it out.
That’s what Adam Breitenstein did. Adam ended up with a 35% response rate from leads. However, that number is still climbing today.
Adam strengthened his messaging tactics.
Today, he's using flexible templates including some customization.
Adam works for SaaS ecommerce software provider, Recart. The company serves online store owners and helps them drive more sales to their stores in specific ways.
Adam needed to engage inbound sales leads with an effective email outreach strategy. What he was using (as I described above) wasn’t engaging his trial leads. Partially because some of those leads were garbage.
Once Adam committed to sorting through leads he was able to quickly identify and separate into buckets -- “likely garbage” and “more likely to buy.”
However, Adam started with canned templates and found that his leads were not engaging. His response rate was stuck at a disappointing 4.6%. He needed to:
- start more discussions with warm and cold trial leads
- get higher response rates in email and LinkedIn Messenger, and
- find a new, engaging way to speak to inbound sales leads.
Read more about Adam's inbound sales lead follow-up plan here. The core of his success was rooted in segmenting leads and a stronger messaging approach. He's a real hero.
A better inbound lead follow-up process
Just like Adam, you should apply an unconventional, "less is more" approach.
Talk less about yourself.
Don't ask for a call.
Don't send canned templates over-and-over. Avoid begging for attention.
Instead, use a research-based tactic. Show the prospect you're not a robot... and you're not out to have a call with just anyone.
Just like Adam, it’s time to find an unconventional way of doing things that allows you to stand out--in the eyes of prospects AND email clients--and provoke response. The trick is to find the right strategy and to utilize an effective, repeatable outreach methodology. It’s not just copying and pasting templates and mass emailing your leads list.
When Adam made the right decision to change his way of doing things, he found a 700% increase, and it helped him generate a 35% average response rate.
Why this methodology works
Your new outreach strategy will take a little more effort than pasting templates. But since pasting templates doesn’t work, doing a little extra work is worth it, right?
When sales leads come in, try doing research on them. Instead of constantly talking about yourself, your company, and what you want (typically a meeting or a sales transaction), try engaging the lead about their challenge.
Avoid asking them to pick from lists of possible challenges. Ask them what their challenge is based on a bit of knowlege you’ve gleaned about them from LinkedIn or their website.
Avoid asking for meetings, and stop looking spammy.
Adam attributes his success to researching inbound sales leads and combining:
- Internal Recart account usage data: Identifying most promising customers to contact
- External customer insights (based on quick research) proving his messaging was:
- Not spammy
- Relevant to the customers’ specific situation/challenge
- Different from other vendors (it was personal, not robotic/canned)
- Unusual (not mentioning anything about Recart benefits)
This method is scale-able, so it grows as your business does, and it applies to cold email outreach and follow-up messages.
With all the inbound leads you’re getting, you want to make sure you’re handling them the right way. Otherwise, they’re just going to waste. Make sure you’re converting these leads into customers...handle your outreach efforts the right way.
Respond quickly and differently
Speed is vital. Don’t let your leads go cold. Many people make this realization and panic--knowing they need to reach out while these leads are still interested.
But you may have no idea what to send. So you Google a template that seems fitting. Maybe add a name or change the greeting and mass email it to their entire leads list.
It seems like a great plan--you didn’t spend much time, you got to the prospects quickly AND you were able to capture your vision in an email. Or so you thought. Because within a week, two weeks...a month...you see emails getting opened.
But response numbers are WAY too low. You really need to make a change.
Sure, you have good intentions. You know your product or service really could help these people. But they don’t know that, and neither do the email clients...and they won’t get a chance to learn about it either if it never even gets in front of them.