By: Ryan O’Hara

You’ve done your homework. You’ve read up on your prospect, their company and their business. If this were Point Break, you’d be Swayze. You know that your service can be a game changer for them. You live to get radical.

You carefully craft your email to them, taking the time to make it personable, funny and relatable. Up to this moment in time this is the greatest email that has ever been written in the history of emails. You hit send.

And…nothing.

Deep breath friend, it’s cool. I know you’ve worked hard to this point but it’s not over yet. If it was this easy then everyone would be in sales. We’ve said it before, but it on average will take 6-8 points of contact with a prospect before they respond. Sure, every now and then you might get a response right away, but the norm is that you won’t. So what do you do?

You need to follow up of course. How you follow up however can make or break the relationship. When writing follow ups, there are several things to keep in mind that I think often get forgotten. Here are 5 tips to improve follow up.

Tip #1: Promote your first activity and do a double tap!

When it comes down to it you’re building a relationship here with your prospect. If you come across as fake or disingenuous, what’s their incentive to talk to you? You need to be real, caring and interested in their business. So what’s the natural way to prove this to a prospect?

Personalize your first touch, and then use follow up to promote your tactic. Be thoughtful with your first touch, and follow up becomes way easier.

This doesn’t mean sending a “did you get my email” voicemail? Or vice versa. It means you need to rehash what the person missed with proving they are special to you. This email for example is fairly boring follow up that doesn’t reference the first email’s content:

If you cold call and leave a voicemail, plug something that shows you are going to use social and email as follow up. If you email, and then plan on calling, be human and tell them you’re going to do these things.

Jeremy Leveille on our team does this often. Here’s a quick LinkedIn video where Jeremy told a prospect he was cold calling he was going to send him an email with a dancing banana gif in it.

It’s way more natural than just doing a tactic, and doing another tactic that is completely disconnected. Be thoughtful.

If you send a video of yourself singing, why wouldn’t you bring up the video in your next email?

Make fun of yourself, rehash or try a different one sentence value prop, and stay the course. Don’t give up on your first tactic so easily.

Tip #2: Keep your value prop down to one sentence

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Well…it also takes several touches to build an opportunity.

The reason for your outreach is to prove to a prospect that they are special to your company. It isn’t to get them to buy your product. This means keep your value prop down to one sentence in each touch. Whether it’s on the phone, email, or social, you can’t send a wall of text.

I see so many people bail out of their first email or call by just sending a templated email with a wall of bullets and text. Every bullet you use in a cold touch is one less bullet you have when you get an actually call with your prospect. This means trying to spread your value prop and tell a story over a series of emails as oppose to sending the dreaded wall of value props.

If you have more of these share those. If not it’s ok to share them again, just reframe or state them in a different way. You’ve gotten to know your prospect through your research so you know their interests. So add some content that might appeal to them. Maybe it’s a youtube clip of their favorite movie or just something funny. Whatever it is make opening that email worth their while, be it professionally or personally.

Tip #3: Be human and watch your language

I’m not saying don’t swear at them, but what you say in your email or call to them. When sending a follow up it seems innately easy to start it with “I’m following up with you” or similar. Just don’t. This is your second, third or maybe even 8th touch to your prospect, it’s obvious you’re following up with them so don’t insult their intelligence by stating the obvious.

While you’re at it, make sure that you don’t overstate your point either so keep them short, while also being entertaining. A quick and clever in and out will go much further than a three page slog fest.

Never use the word “follow up” or “following up.” I wouldn’t email a prospect I’m trying to close and say, “Hey Prospect, I’m just trying to close you!”

 

Some good ways to be human is to avoid business words. Stay away from the BUZZ.

Words like REGARDS, INNOVATIVE, CUTTING EDGE, PARTNERSHIP, BIG DATA, SYNERGIES, etc. These are words that real humans don’t say in day to day conversation.

Tip #4: Be creative

Remember, similar to you sendings your first email, your follow up email can be creative and fun. It needs to stand out to hold a chance. This is an old follow up email I used to send fairly often that yields good responses (20-30%) when I first joined LeadIQ.

Sending a Where’s Waldo can be fun, and also gives me something to talk about when I cold call them.

This is great because it entertains them, and also makes it a little game, while referencing a previous email.

When I worked at Dyn, sometimes we’d send funny pictures of us looking sad when we didn’t hear back.

John D’Amato, Dyn’s Director of Partnerships showing devastation from not hearing back from a prospect.

Using creativity can really drive responses, and it can make the prospect like you more.

Tip #5: Don’t half-ass it

It should be obvious by now, but you need to full ass follow up. Don’t just do follow up to get the task done. WE ALL DO THIS SOMETIMES, and we shouldn’t. Checking a box and having a “do my best” attitude will not get you the prom queen. Your email needs to be committed, passionate and full of value for your prospect to respond. Just because we said it takes 6–8 points of contact before they respond doesn’t mean they will. You are what makes them want to respond, so be a winner with your follow up.

Follow up isn’t a yes or no thing. It’s about quality. If follow up quality isn’t up to snuff, then why bother sending it?

You might be worried that if you follow up you might annoy them and nothing will come of it, but you can’t have this attitude when prospecting. To quote Bodhi in Point Break and bring it full circle:

“Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.” – Bodhi from Point Break

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Ryan O'Hara

Ryan O'Hara has been an early employee at several startups helping them with marketing and prospecting tactics, including Dyn who was acquired by Oracle for $600+ million in 2016. He's had prospecting campaigns featured in Fortune, Mashable, and TheNextWeb. Ryan specializes in branding, business development, prospecting, and coaching people on how to make good digital first impressions. He also mentors two accelerators, The Iron Yard and The Alpha Loft, and hosts The Prospecting Podcast.