Lucy Literado
VP of Marketing
2 weeks ago

[Expert Interview] Top Follow-Up Tips To Raise Your Response Rate

Crafting a great email is hard work.

You need to know your prospect, grab their attention with a snappy subject line and then write a message that convinces them to take some kind of action. So when you’ve spent hours/days/eons working on an award-winning email, it’s a real kick in the conversions when the results are meh.

Low open rates, low CTR, and low responses. It sucks. But while there are plenty of reasons why your email might not be generating a response, one big reason is not sending a follow-up.

When it comes to sales, our team has found that 3-4 follow-ups can have a major effect on your response rate. But what exactly goes into an effective follow-up? How can you increase your chances of success? We reached out to the experts and asked them for their top follow-up tips…

“What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?”
Buyer Personas: Max Altschuler image 1Max AltschulerCEO, Sales Hacker Inc.Buyer Personas: Justin McGill image 1Justin McGillChief Executive OfficerBuyer Personas: Liz Cain image 1Liz CainPartner, OpenViewBuyer Personas: John Barrows image 1John Barrowswww.jbarrows.comBuyer Personas: Craig M. Jamieson image 1Craig M. JamiesonAdaptive Business ServicesBuyer Personas: Jordan Wan image 1Jordan WanCEO of CloserIQBuyer Personas: Kylee Lessard image 1Kylee LessardLinkedIn

Max Altschuler

Max AltschulerMax Altschuler is a recognized thought leader in the sales and technology space, he has been published by the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Money, and more. He’s also the author of Hacking Sales and Career Hacking for Millennials. He keynotes conferences globally and is an investor and advisor for rapid growth startups.
Linkedin logoLinkedin

What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?

  1. Make it conversational, well researched, and concise.
  2. Don’t be impatient. The goal of the email is to get to the next step, which is the conversation, not closing the deal.
  3. Space it out. Don’t write in chunky paragraphs. Make it easy to read over mobile.

Justin McGill

Justin McGillJustin built Upswing Interactive, a successful, 7-figure digital marketing agency. He’s now focused on LeadFuze, an outbound marketing platform that helps B2B companies automate their prospecting efforts.
Linkedin logoLinkedin

What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?

  1. Personalize the follow-up to those that opened/clicked. Don’t do this for every single person if they aren’t showing any level of engagement. But if you know they’re seeing your message, put together a quick video or really find a way to stand out so they know the email wasn’t sent in bulk.
  2. Don’t say “Checking in” or similar. This is a dead giveaway that the recipient wasn’t interested the first time around.
  3. Replace all “I” and “we” language with “you”. This will change how you position the message to be more focused on the recipient.

Liz Cain

Liz CainElizabeth Cain is a Partner at OpenView where she leads the firm’s Expansion Platform and sits on the Investment Committee. The Expansion team focuses on helping portfolio companies acquire and retain the right customers and talent. Linkedin logoLinkedin
What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?

  1. Be human. Automation means more email and therefore, a buyer inundated by email. The vast majority of companies employing an outbound sales model are targeting a line of business or IT buyer, likely director-level-plus, and leveraging many of the same tactics to hit their numbers (double-tap anyone?). But that doesn’t mean you have to conform to the mold. Focus on quality over quantity, be personal and add value to your prospect. Use automation in a strategic way that augments what makes you unique – you are human and can connect with another individual.
  2. Get creative with your persistence. ​Email after email just isn’t going to do it. You need to try every avenue available to you to reach your top prospects:
    • Use the phone…seriously. It’s hard and connect rates will be low, but the best way to make a connection is to have a real conversation (see my first tip: be human).
    • Go deep and wide in an organization. Surround the person you are trying to connect with, learn from others in the organization and/or get a referral down from the C-Suite.
    • Try social channels or asking a mutual connection for an intro, but take the time to articulate why you want to connect.
    • Leverage your marketing team. Think direct mail, events, collateral, case studies and so forth. These are all tools to help you.
  3. Believe in your solution. If you don’t think you can add value to your prospect, why will they? Before you pick up the phone or write your next email, give some serious thought to why your prospect would benefit from your solution. Make sure that you not only understand your value proposition and ROI, but be sure you can articulate your product’s specific use case in your prospect’s organization. Even if it’s a guess, doing so will allow you to craft a more targeted message and give them something to respond to.

John Barrows

John BarrowsJohn has provided sales training and consulting services to some of the world’s fastest growing companies like Salesforce.com, Google, LinkedIn, DropBox, and many others. His previous experience spans all aspects of sales at every level from making 400 cold calls a week as an inside sales rep to a VP of Sales at his first startup that was sold to Staples.
Linkedin logoLinkedin

What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?

  1. My recommendation when developing a cold outreach strategy is to not just think about it as one email and then, ‘what do I send next?’ I think about it as a story that I want to put together before I send anything.
  2. From a quality perspective, I recommend sitting down and doing research on an account to find multiple different reasons (triggers) to reach out to them at the same time. Once you find 4-8 reasons to reach out to them where your service can add value, then you can develop your messaging and map out your story. This way you can schedule out the multiple touches all at the same time and gain efficiencies instead of doing research and sending one email and then scheduling another activity three days later where you have to do more research and find another reason and then try to tie it to the first one.
  3. From a quantity perspective, I recommend picking a persona or some common criteria that a group of prospects have (they all use the same technology, they all are using your competitor, etc.) and then developing a multi-touch campaign that segments out the different components of your solution and value proposition and align it with the different priorities of the prospects based on the common criteria. Then you can put together a cadence that consists of multiple touches but all saying something different and telling a story.

Craig M. Jamieson

Craig M. JamiesonCraig has had a successful career in B2B sales, management, and ownership positions dating back to 1977. As a managing member of Adaptive Business Services, he provides training and consulting on leveraging social and traditional selling techniques, strategies, and social CRM to increase revenues. He’s also the author of A Small Business’s Guide to Social CRM. Linkedin logoLinkedin
What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?

Following up on attempts to cold outreach can be a tricky topic but, what is even more critical is the initial outreach itself. Whether or not any efforts to follow up will be ultimately successful will be based on that first communication attempt.

I receive messages like this every day and most are discarded without being read. Unfortunately, to some folks, the words automation, sales enablement, and AI are translated to “Work that I don’t have to do”. Here are a few tips:

  1. Understand that the customer is being bombarded by email messages. No matter how you cut it, cold emails are interruption marketing so your subject line, as well as your message body, must stand out. It must compel the buyer to open and to read your message.
  2. Phishing and malware messages are everywhere. Therefore, make sure to let the person know that you are a real company and also let them know what any link is going to take them to. I can’t speak for you but, I am extremely hesitant to click on unknown links.
  3. Your message must be personalized and accurate. Template messaging is fine as long as it doesn’t scream that it is a template. I get emails all the time that are addressed “Dear Craig M.”, “Hi http://adaptive-business.com”, and “Greetings”. Delete.
  4. Is your offer pertinent to that person? Somehow I got on a list for medical billing services. I might be a DDS but, not a dentist, a Door to Door Salesman. These types of examples go on and on and they are the rule rather than the exception. Throw as much crap as you can on the wall and then see what sticks.
  5. As a rule, keep your message succinct. When I open an email that looks like the manuscript from “War and Peace” … it ain’t gonna’ get read.
  6. Have an effective call-to-action! Be clear about why you are reaching out and what you would like them to do and … why they will want to do it!

I would suggest that a properly researched, accurate, and pertinent list will not only get your message read, it will either get the desired response or set the stage for an effective follow-up. Failure to do your homework will result in neither which will waste your efforts multiple times. It also damages your personal and company reputations.

I am not an email marketing guru by any means. However, I have been in B2B sales for over 40 years so I’m going to go old-school on follow up. You are going to need two tools:

  • A good CRM for notes and reminders to follow up at a much later date (if needed) than you would normally associate with a drip email system.
  • Your messaging application that will notify you of opens and clicks and will likely queue up your next message.

I am, personally, not a big fan of unattended automation. That does not make me right and others wrong. It makes me … me. I think that your follow up message needs to personalized based on customer actions and a different message is needed for someone who …

  1. Opens once vs. multiple times or who does not open at all.
  2. Clicks once (and what) vs. multiple times or no clicks at all.
  3. If your click takes them to a specific message, how much time did they spend there?

You may, or may not, have an application that is smart enough to make these determinations and then select the appropriate template message to send as a follow-up. Regardless, I want to oversee these actions.

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for an appropriate follow-up template, Reply comes with a library of templates, including 12 different follow-up emails, one for every occasion.

In terms of timing and the message itself …

  1. If they are opening and clicking, strike while the iron is hot! There is interest there and your message should suggest the next step … a meeting or a phone call to answer any questions that they may have. That being said, when my phone rings the minute that I open a message or click on a link … creepy.
  2. Any follow-up message that says anything similar to … “I’m following up to see if you read my message” is every bit as lame as the salesperson who calls the customer to see if “they have made a decision”. Instead, offer new information, a valid and valuable reason to check back.
  3. At some point, you are going to have to abandon your efforts, at least for now. Make sure that you have this customer in your CRM along with good notes and a record of your activities. Put them on a reminder set to check back with them in the future. Don’t badger them weekly but, why throw them away?

Jordan Wan

Jordan WanCJordan Wan is the Founder and CEO of CloserIQ – the industry leader in sales recruiting. CloserIQ uses technology and industry expertise to build modern B2B sales teams. Prior to CloserIQ, Jordan built critical sales strategy and analytics infrastructure at ZocDoc and holds a dual degree in Computer Science from MIT.
Linkedin logoLinkedin

What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?

  1. Personalize your follow-ups. Using social media, and online research, see if you can weave 2-3 findings into your cold emails and follow-ups to make a more authentic connection with your prospect. Simple mutual contacts, prior customers, or even a comment about an article you read that the prospect wrote is a great way to show that you came in prepared.
  2. Lead with value. Whether it’s something the prospect may find interesting or perhaps some usage case that you think they find interesting, always look to provide value. Don’t just go in asking for a meeting before building some value in the conversation.
  3. Make it easy to move forward with scheduling a call. Provide ample calendar availability to chat and recommend a short call to get started so you and the prospect are aligned going into the first call that you’re mutually exploring whether it makes sense to work together. Not every prospect should be a customer and that is the best mindset for a true consultative seller.

Kylee Lessard

Kylee LessardKylee works with LinkedIn’s content marketing team, where she helps execute the global content strategy for LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions & Sales Solutions business lines. She has experience in cross-platform advertising, digital marketing, brand management, and corporate communications.
Linkedin logoLinkedin

What are your top 3 follow up tips when it comes to cold outreach?

  1. Don’t send cold emails in the first place; always make sure you have either an introduction from a mutual connection (the TeamLink feature in LinkedIn Sales Navigator makes this so easy!) or you’re opening the email with a shared interest (ie. college, organization, previous workplace, etc.)
  2. Offer something different than your first email; maybe it’s a different price point or a different way of connecting. Whatever action you want your recipient to take, give them multiple options for taking that action.
  3. Show you did your homework by providing personalized points of value to your recipient; since you should only be targeting prospects who you believe could benefit from your solution, helping them understand how you’re thinking about their unique problem will make them more receptive to your solution.

Thanks to all our experts for their generosity with their time and knowledge

There’s a lot of value here, but don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to put all these suggestions into place at once.

I recommend you pick just one of these follow-up tips that appeal to you and implement it in your next email campaign. Then experiment with applying a second tip for your following campaign, and so on.

The important thing is to act. By following these expert’s advice, you can dramatically improve your follow-up game and see higher response rates than ever before.

Looking for an easy way to follow up with your prospects?

Check out Reply.io. We’ve made it easy to automate all your emails (including follow-ups), all based on your prospect’s actions. Try Reply today and never worry about forgetting to follow up again!

Share with friends:

Get the digest of best sales&marketing content and Reply tips right in your hand

Join us in Messenger

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share with friends: