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August 24, 2017
Sales Process  |  10 min read

A Complete Guide to Sales Follow Up

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Ellis Friedman, Josh Haynam, Jake Johnson, Kathryn Stewart & Clare Tyrrell-Morin

Did you just have an initial sales call? You probably didn’t make the deal. We’re not trying to be a Debbie Downer—that’s just statistics. Research shows that sales are made in only one in 50 first meetings. That’s two percent. Ouch.

It’s the same with online marketing. Just because someone joined your mailing list or took a quiz you created doesn’t mean they will become a customer. You’ll probably need to communicate with them a few more times to convince them that your product can solve their particular problem.

Statistically, you want to push for five refusals before you give up on making the sale. And if you need to keep going until you get a “yes” or five “nos,” well, that means you need to hone your sales follow-up technique.

These strategies will teach you sales follow up best practices, from how to follow up after a sales meeting through the email follow up after purchase.

How to write a follow-up sales email

Right now, your follow up sales emails probably use hackneyed phrases like:

  • “I just wanted to check in…”
  • “Just following up on our conversation…”
  • “I wanted to circle back…”

What’s wrong with those? You’re just “touching base.” No big deal, right?

Wrong. These sales follow-up emails are robotic, uninspired, and lacking value to the prospect. They only serve the salesperson. Plus they make you look like this…

did you get my email meme

Lead nurturing is not about “checking in” or “touching base.” It’s about offering prospects something of value with every connection.

So what is the right way to follow up? Here are six tips for writing a sales follow up email that actually gets results. These can work for you whether you are composing a personalized email or working on an automated follow-up sequence.

Nail the subject line

The average email subscriber gets 416 commercial messages per month. If you want to get noticed, you have to cut through the clutter. The way you do that is with a stellar subject line.

We have a whole post on writing great email subject lines if you want to dig deep. Here’s the TL;DR version:

  • Keep it short and shocking OR long and provocative
  • Use punctuation to your advantage, like ellipses (…)
  • Mix up your tactics
  • Study your competitors

Feeling intimidated? Check out subject line evaluators from CoSchedule and the Advanced Marketing Institute. They aren’t perfect but they’ll set you in the right direction.

Get to the point, quickly

It’s important to know your format. No one wants to read the War and Peace of sales emails. It’s key that you make your message short, sweet, and to the point.

If you have a hard time writing crisp, clear copy out of the gate, then Hemingway App is for you. Run your copy through it and see where you can simplify things.

Prick the pain and provide immediate value

Your prospect has a pain of some kind, and your product is the solution. Remind them of that pain out of the gate and also remind them that you’re the best solution to solve that pain.

Only you can determine the best way to do this. It can take the form of sharing a valuable article, e-book, or industry report. It could be a case study showing how others have benefited from your product. Or it could be a discount or free consultation.

But don’t give them too much. You don’t want to attach 10 items and freak them out. What content would help at this specific point in the buyer journey? Send them that.

Whatever it is, it must remind them of their pain and provide immediate value related to that pain. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Use data to back up your claims

Here’s a hard truth: people distrust salespeople and sales messages. They think you’ll say anything to make a sale. And, unfortunately, some will. That’s why data gives validity to your claims in a big way. Whenever you can, share case studies, research, and testimonials to build trust.

Provide a clear next step

You’ve done the hard work of getting your email noticed and read. But if they don’t know with crystal clarity what they are supposed to do next, it’s all for nothing.

Make your call-to-action (CTA) easy to find and understand. Here’s a great primer on how to make your CTAs work hard for you.

Keep following up

You have to get to five “nos” before giving up, remember?

Use an automated CRM so that you don’t need to rely on memory when following up. An automated system will trigger you to send reminders, with the frequency depending on how warm a lead they are.

In the meantime, be sure to stay in their orbit on social media. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Not only will it keep you top of mind for them but seeing their activity can help you find topics to talk about in future emails.

How to rock post purchase email campaigns

Ever been to a rock concert? If, so you probably know the drill: You get pumped up about who will take the stage, spend a few hours screaming, yelling, and singing with delight. Then you leave and there’s this oddly comforting ringing that hums in your ears, reminding you of the awesome music you just heard. You don’t mind the ringing because it’s a constant reminder of what you just experienced. And the next day when people ask you how the concert was, you proudly proclaim, “Amazing, my ears were ringing for hours!”

Email Marketing for the Rest of Us - Download Now

Follow-up marketing after a purchase should give your customers a similar feeling: a persistent yet welcome connection to your business. Determining the best email follow up sequence will leave a happy ringing in your customers’ ears:

Email No. 1: Thank them for their purchase

It sounds simple, maybe even trivial, but saying, “Thank you,” to new customers is a critical aspect of follow-up marketing. However, not everyone does it. Anytime someone makes a purchase from you, the very first correspondence that follows should be a thank you for your purchase email. In the subject of your “thank you,” start with something a little mysterious:

  • “Wait, one more thing…”
  • “I have something to say”
  • “Don’t go yet, I have to…”

Sending the email isn’t enough; your customers have to open it, so grab their attention with an enticing subject line. Once they’re in, give them something more than, “Thank you for your purchase.” While the sentiment is there, the personalization or “wow” factor is severely lacking. Instead, try one of these ways to say thank you:

  • Send a picture of you with your cheesiest grin on and tell them, “Having you as a customer makes me so happy.”
  • Create a video so they can hear the words “Thank You” actually come from you.
  • Tell a story about what their purchase does for others. Whether you donate to charity or build a community with your customers, consumers like to know when their purchase is a part of something bigger.

Email No. 2: Send them a how-to guide

As a small business owner, the ability to do hands-on training for every customer with a question is unlikely to fit into a balanced work schedule. Your customers will always have questions that nobody knows the answers to better than you. You may not be able to take on every phone call or email, but you can take preemptive steps to mitigate questions, especially of the basic or repeat variety. Whether you send regular tips to your customers in your follow up marketing campaign or provide step-by-step instructions on how to get the most from their purchase, your customers will appreciate your concern beyond the shopping cart.

Email No. 3: Give them a success badge

If implemented properly, most products or services come with a satisfactory end result or accomplishment. If a customer signs up for tax software, filing their taxes successfully and receiving their return is an achievement. If high school student buys a prom dress, wearing it on their special night is a successful use of the product. And no matter how mundane the success may feel, people like being recognized for accomplishing something. Determine a success metric for your customers and reward them for their interaction with your business.

It’s important that both you and customers are clear on when success with the product is achieved. This will open the doors for continuing a relationship with them according to how their life has (positively) changed since they purchased from you.

Email No. 4: Direct them to more resources

Being helpful shouldn’t stop after you fulfill a customer’s need just once. Be diligent in reminding your customers that you are there to help, not just sell them again. A steady dose of useful resources in your follow up messaging will keep your brand fresh in their minds, with a positive connotation. You can share a number of resources without intruding:

  • Relevant blog posts, publications, or videos
  • New uses for the product they purchased
  • Coupons for items that will help them purchase a complimentary product to your primary service
  • Updates on trends in your industry or theirs

Email No. 5: Invite them into your circle

Is there a community where your customers congregate? Is there a forum you provide where they can discuss your product or common interests around it? If so, invite non-members to join. Whether you have a LinkedIn group or an active Facebook following, make sure all of your customers know how to become a part of it and the reasons why. Open discussion can be great for your small business in a number of ways.

  • Your customers can help solve each others’ problems
  • Excitement for your product or service has a place to live
  • Ideas for product improvement, service revisions or new additions to your offering can be shared

People like being a part of something bigger, so give them the chance to be more than just a one-time buyer. If you want to resonate with your customers long after your product has rocked them, you need to amplify your worth beyond the sale. Doing so will not only help ensure customer satisfaction, it can also help drive referrals towards your business.


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