Anatomy of the Perfect Sales Follow-Up Email
If you’re in sales, you already know the cold, hard truth: most sales follow-up emails go unanswered. It often takes many outreaches to get a response even from warm prospects, then more again to close the deal.
We’ve got good news, though: there are proven ways you can craft your sales follow-up emails to increase their impact, get a higher response rate, and see responses more quickly.
Ready to start writing emails that stand out in your prospects’ crowded inboxes and motivate them to act?
In this post, we’re covering the anatomy of the perfect sales follow-up email. You can start using these easy, actionable tips right away to see bigger results from your email outreach efforts.
- Most sales are closed between the 5th and 12th contact with a prospect.
- Sales follow-up emails should be personalized whenever possible.
- More than one-third of email recipients choose to open an email based on the subject line.
- Clear CTAs in the body of an email are critical to getting prospects to take action.
- Letting prospects know when to expect your next follow-up is a way to show you are invested in the relationship.
First things first: what’s the magic number for sales follow-up emails?
It’s important to note that a sale will rarely be made after a single follow-up. Get this: 44% of salespeople give up after a single follow-up, and 92% give up after the 4th call. Sounds reasonable, right? Except that research has shown 80% of sales happen between the 5th and 12th contact with a prospect.
This is critically important to your ability to write a great sales follow-up email because each email is actually part of a larger series of follow-ups. When you’re crafting the content of your emails, you need to consider where you are in that follow-up sequence and make decisions about messaging with that in mind.
So now we know that multiple follow-ups are required, but how often should they happen? When should you send them? Research that looked at 10 million sales email threads yielded some helpful insights:
First, a comparison between reps that received replies vs. those who did not shows that a successful cadence for sales follow-up emails should be spread apart by about 3-4 days, but that waiting more than 4 days causes a dip in response rates.
Next, an assessment of email send times showed that the best time for emails is the middle of the day (between 11am-1pm) and that very late or early times (especially between 8pm-4am) yield very low response rates.
So — what are the takeaways?
- Most of the time, it takes many follow-ups (more than 5) to close a deal.
- Sales follow emails should follow a cadence of every 3-4 days after the initial email.
- Sending emails mid-day (between 11am-1pm) earns (on average) the best response rates.
It’s important to note that every company, product, and target customer is unique. The exact timing and number of follow-ups may vary depending on these specifics. But with the above best practices in mind, you can create an optimal sales follow-up strategy.
The anatomy of the perfect sales follow-up email
Personalize your greeting and intro
Personalization is essential in every modern sales and marketing effort. Sales follow-up emails are no exception. When you’re crafting your email, always consider ways that you make it personal, including:
- Using your prospect’s name in the subject line, greeting, and body of the email (not necessarily all of them — but where it’s most natural and impactful)
- Include background information about your last outreach, contact, or meeting with the prospect to help them quickly recognize you
- Mention your prospect’s company and ways your solution can benefit it specifically
Nail your subject line
Did you know that 33% of email recipients open emails because the subject line caught their attention? While this doesn’t apply specifically to sales follow-ups, it’s clear that your subject line is an essential part of a winning email.
Some best practices for getting your subject line right include:
- Use personalization – This is especially effective when you’ve already made contact with your prospect and personalization won’t come off as fake or automated.
- Mention value and benefits right in your subject line – Remind prospects (succinctly) about what the benefit to your solution is. If you’re including something valuable like a free trial or downloadable content (like an ebook), mention it in the subject line.
- Tell them what they’ll find in your email – Pique interest by telling prospects what to expect without giving it all away (ex: Here’s the product information you requested from X).
- Never be misleading – Don’t trick prospects into opening emails. It will only turn them off and break trust, which is one of the most important parts of closing a sale (ex: don’t say “here’s what you requested” just to catch attention when they never really requested anything).
Focus on value and benefits first
Sales follow-up emails are generally not the place for detailed overviews of product features. Instead, you want to get to the point about how you can create value for your prospect and their organization.
Instead of listing the many features your solution offers, emphasize value and use that strong message to ask for a phone call or meeting (where you can then get more deeply into solution details when the time is right).
Remember: customers are focused on their problems and challenges, not specific products or brands. You’ll get a lot further demonstrating a strong understanding of your customers’ pain points and how you can address them rather than staying focused on your own offerings.
Include a clear call to action
What do you want your prospect to do next? Maybe you want a direct reply to your email, or for them to schedule a consultation on your calendar, or click on a link to begin a free trial.
Whatever it is, you want to be clear about it. Include a clear, prominent call to action within the body of every sales follow-up email. Use strong action words (download, schedule, reply, start, subscribe, etc.) and remind them again why completing the action will benefit them.
Tell your prospect when you’ll follow-up next
Gently remind your prospect about your next follow-up. This can be done in a way that shows you are invested in the relationship, not looking to badger them.
Say something like: “I’m looking forward to the chance to talk with you about how I can help X Company improve their X process. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll follow up in a few days to check in about a good time for a quick call.”
Often, this firm but courteous reminder that you’ll be following up again can encourage prospects to reply at that time and stop waiting to get the conversation started.
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