How to Follow up and Not to Piss Anyone off

Sales processes are all about following up with your prospects. Whether they are ready to buy or not, it is highly important to reach out to them. However, constant sales-to-client follow up sequences without any strategy or plan can be considered by your customers very disturbing or even bothering.

Nevertheless, based on advice of one of the best sales people Steli Efti, it is completely necessary to follow up as many times as needed in order to get any answer (yes or no) from your customer. No “maybe’s”, not “later’s”. Here are several main rules on how to follow up and not to annoy your customers along with different follow up email examples from my own communication practice.

Send maximum 4 follow ups to cold contacts

Whether there is no limit to persistence as for the number of steps in your series of email messages when reaching out to cold your customer, I personally use the “top 4 follow-up” schedule for cold emailing and 3 for calling (make sure you don’t count them for 7 in total). This lets me both stay persistent enough to gain most of my prospects interested and is still gentle to make me feel comfortable about bothering them. You can use automatic follow ups as well.

Sending more follow ups to someone close to you

If there is some relationship already established between contact and you, you can as many as needed to get a reply. When you have some history, some time spent together with your potential customers, feel free to send a series of follow up messages with as many steps as needed especially if you’re using email automation software. Don’t think you’re too pushy (actually, point #3 is dedicated to ways to avoid that impression anyway) and let yourself take advantage of knowing the person.

Use humour, be personal, keep it short

No matter if you decide to stop your automatic follow ups sequence on your fourth step before you stop with a cold prospect or go all the way with a warm one, there are several things you should always be aware of. First, your follow up messages should be really short (and don’t forget that your subject should be relevant to the body of your email). Second, don’t be afraid to put a joke or an ironic musing as this way you’ll be able to stay closer to the customer. Be personal, mention a project of theirs you consider to be interesting or a profile feature that you admire. This is what makes your message stand out from other impersonal feed letters.
Here is an example of an email I once received from a person that uses email automation software. It was so sweet and polite that I couldn’t help answering it.

Get the answer (yes or no, just that sharp)

Unless you’re contact a cold prospect, you should never stop before you hear the answer. Don’t agree to any kind of uncertainty. Don’t take “uhh, you know…maybe” as an answer. Make sure you have one of the two options possible. If your prospect asks you to get back, then simply get back to them (don’t forget to put a reminder or set up automated tool that will do the follow up for you). Be eager to receive a positive answer, but stay happy with any other. That’s the key to not being disappointed every time your offer is being rejected (and this will happen no matter how beneficial and attractive it is).

Note: there’s also an exception for this strategy. You can go further and make a “farewell” follow up in order to stimulate your customer.

And, in the end, think of your customers as of your soon-to-be-friends. Don’t treat them the way you wouldn’t want to be treated. They will forgive your persistence if you are polite and do care what they think.

Follow up wisely and you’ll see how much your closing rate is going to increase!

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