There are two problems with 98% of sales email follow up strategies crossing my desk. Failing follow up messages are usually:

  1. Templates that never get delivered: The follow up is removed by spam filters before gets into a prospects’ inbox!
  2. “Adding value” in ways that sabotage: Pushing pain-points in ways that posture and attempt to persuade.

Persuasion is the devil.

Especially in prospecting email messages. If a prospect truly believed your solution might potentially double productivity—or increase revenue by 30%—would they delete your message thinking “I don’t have time”?

No. They would make time.

When a prospect deletes your first, second or third follow up email it’s not because they’re thinking “I don’t have time.” It’s because you made it easy for them to decide “This is not worth my time.”

Because you tried to convince them—just like all the other messages in their inbox.

When following up after a meeting or trade show, the help prospects feel an urge to consider if you are worth their time—not to convince them you are!

Also, if you’re using the “bubble up” follow up template techniques–or one of the other popular email follow up templates, stop. Here’s what to do instead.

Strategy drives sales email follow up tactic

Let your cold email strategy drive your follow up technique. The three options are:

  1. Tailored: you conduct research on a specific person or company and craft multiple, highly-personalized messages to the decision-maker;
  2. Targeted: you segment contacts based on similar characteristics and develop messages that focus on broad priorities, issues or challenges, and
  3. Templated: you create cut-and-paste, mass marketing style templates about your great solution and blast messages out to everyone on a list.

The latter is not recommended in a sales email context.

With a Tailored (one-to-one, personalized email) approach, your email follow up technique demands higher levels of personalization. You cannot get away with “I saw this on your LinkedIn profile.” (even if you did, you should never reveal the source of your insight!)

Bottom line: If your cold or warm follow up is not personalized to the CEO, VP or Director level decision-maker it’s instantly seen as cut-and-pasted spammy junk.

A better follow up

Is your follow up accomplishing its goals?

Applying primary research in a follow up context tends to earn higher response rates—because it proves you are not cutting and pasting templates to C-level decision-makers. You’ve done the homework. Readers cannot miss it.

This type of cold or meeting follow up technique is repeatable.

This provides a highly customized, personalized feel to all your sales email follow up. It’s not spammy; it’s not a template!

And not trying to add value. Because 95% of the time this results in persuasive, marketing-like messaging… and fails!

Tailored follow ups are best used with higher lifetime value (LTV) / average contract value (ACV) customers. This kind of email follow up tactic is also best when targeting hundreds of conversations over the course of a year—as opposed to thousands.

Targeted follow ups cannot use personalization given the one-to-many (thousands) nature. A Targeted approach is best used for lower LTV / ACV customers and when targeting thousands of conversations. Effective Targeted follow up messages often use geography, industry and industry-based issues to strengthen relevancy. This gives the message a less spammy, more focused feel.

These are the kinds of insights found in our “insiders” community… where we work on effective follow ups together.

Avoid adding value (I'm serious)

We hear a lot about “adding value” when writing follow ups… and generally in sales outreach. The theory behind this technique is simple: Each message adds value to the prospect. (or you don’t send it!) This tactic is all about helping prospects feel an urge to respond—by providing valuable, new information. But in practice the “add value” technique encourages you to work against yourself.

The “adding value” tactic usually results in pushing information at prospects. 

Even if information you’re putting into email follow ups IS truly valuable you are pushing it. You’re trying to persuade rather than amplifying the provocation within your original message.

Think about it: If your first email didn’t provoke the prospect, what would make you think your sales email follow up will? This is the value of other, better, more current options we learn in our community.

Bottom line: Think twice about adding value. You might be adding yourself to the spam bin. This is the root of the challenge.

Avoid these spam triggers

Your sales email follow up messages might not be getting seen!

Use of spam filter trigger words (such as “bubbling up”) is a no-no. Even if you pass the technical spam wall you’ll get deleted by the human being you’re trying to converse with.

Others include “I reached out to you” and “I had written to you.”

There are more. These are just a few. Want to see more? Give me a shout or join our community.  

Let us help you. We’ll make your specific challenge ours—and write effective cold and sales follow up messages with you… along side of you. 

Otherwise, what has your sales email follow up experience been? Let’s chat in comments below.

In 1999, I co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc. where I helped secure 2 rounds of funding and built the sales team. I've been selling for over 2 decades.

After this stint, I returned to what was then Molander & Associates Inc. In recent years we re-branded to Communications Edge Inc., a member-driven laboratory of sorts. We study, invent and test better ways to communicate -- specializing in serving sales and marketing professionals.

I'm a coach and creator of the Spark Selling™ communication methodology—a curiosity-driven way to start and advance conversations. When I'm not working you'll find me hiking, fishing, gardening and investing time in my family.

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