sales follow up

When you finish a phone call, do you consider writing a follow-up email?

Or when you’ve visited a customer, how much time do you spend on writing an email?

It happens to the best of us. There’s so much on our to-do list. So we quickly dash off an email in between answering phone calls. Or we’re writing late at night after a long day of client visits.

Do you prefer to spend our time visiting customers? Do you prefer to talk on the phone rather than send emails?

But do you realize how much an email can help you win a sale?

Why are follow-up emails important?

Sales aren’t closed in one call so following-up is an important part of the selling process. Emails provide a quick and easy way of following-up and nurturing leads.

Nurturing is not the same as staying in touch. Nurturing means you add value. You try to help the email recipient move through the decision making process.

Hubspot’s inbound marketing blog lists these stats about lead-nurturing (source):

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)

Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)

When do you need to write a follow-up email?

You may want to send someone a follow-up email in these circumstances:

  • You’ve just had a phone conversation; and you want to send a quick reminder with some additional information.
  • You’ve had a meeting that you want to follow-up with an email.
  • You’ve left a voicemail. You might want to send an email, because many people find it easier to reply to an email than to return a call.
  • You’ve obtained an email address of a prospect because they’ve downloaded something from your website, because they’ve taken part in a webinar, or maybe they attended an exhibition.

Of course each of these situations may require a slightly different email, but ten common characteristics of excellent follow-up emails are valid for each of them.

10 characteristics of kick-ass follow-up emails

  1. Write an engaging subject line. Don’t try to be clever. Keep it simple and be specific. Don’t write a subject line just saying follow-up, but write How to save costs with email marketing.
  2. Personalize. Don’t write a generic email to Dear customers. Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%. (source: Hubspot)
  3. Explain what you’re following up. Refer to a meeting you’ve had, or to a webinar someone attended.
  4. Be relevant. Don’t quote statistics about how banks win customers if you’re writing to an insurance company.
  5. Acknowledge the receiver of your email is free to take the next step or not. This simple acknowledgement could double the chances your offer is taken up.
  6. Don’t be overly pushy. Don’t try to close the sale too quickly. For instance: don’t offer bulk discounts when your prospect isn’t ready to buy. And don’t discuss a sale if someone is still gathering information.
  7. Be helpful. An email written in a helpful tone can increase inquiries compared to an email in a more sales-y tone (source: MarketingExperiments). Sometimes a “How can I help” email is sufficient to open the conversation and to learn more about your prospect’s needs and requirements.
  8. Be concise. Don’t waste time. Keep your email as brief as possible. To-the-point. An email with more than 200 words becomes a long email and might be ignored.
  9. Have impeccable spelling and grammar. You don’t want to undermine your credibility by clumsy mistakes, do you?
  10. Include a professional signature. State your job role and include a link to your company’s website. If your LinkedIn profile is up to date, include a link so it’s easy to find out more about you. Refrain from humorous quotes in your signature until you know someone better; and are sure they’ll appreciate your jokes.

The truth about writing kick-ass follow-up emails

You need to win business and you need to hit your targets. So it’s easy to fall in the trap of writing emails from your perspective. But that’s the worst way to write a follow-up email.

So you need to show your prospect you’re interested in them, and not just in closing a sale.  The hard truth is that your prospect isn’t interested in your products. All he wants to know is how you can help him save costs, boost revenues, or increase productivity.

You need to show you care and you understand your prospect’s needs and requirements. That’s the key to winning customers with follow-up emails – make sure you convey it!

Image credit: Ian Lamont

To learn more about following up with prospects, download our “Kick-ass Sales Follow-up” whitepaper.