How Often to Follow Up: Follow-up Frequency to Close Deals Instead of Annoying People
You just had a productive phone call with a potential customer.
They love the products you sell and have the budget to pay for them. Once they get permission from their boss, they'll call you back and make a purchase.
Sounds perfect, right? The only problem is they never call. You wait a week, then another. The whole time you're wondering if you should call them again or send a few follow-up emails.
You don't want to feel like a creepy stalker, so you do nothing. After four weeks of radio silence, you give up hope and officially move the potential customer from your CRM's "Closing" stage to the "Missed Opportunities" column. Bummer.
Every sales professional has had a similar experience. It's part of the game. Fortunately, a solid sales follow-up strategy will help you avoid these scenarios and close more deals.
In this guide, we'll explore the art of following up, including how often to follow up, what to say, and how to make sure your follow-up emails don't end up in the trash. Let's go!
How Often to Follow up, According to Experts
Let's start with the big question: how many times should you follow up with your prospects?
Honestly, the best answer is probably, "Way more than you think." According to Brevet, 80 percent of sales require five follow-ups after an initial meeting.
There are two reasons for this. One, the average person receives 121 emails a day. So there's a good chance your first few sales emails get buried.
Second, there's this concept called the "Rule of 7," which states that a potential customer needs to see or hear your message seven times before they buy something. If you only check in once or twice with leads, you're not giving them enough exposure to your sales pitch.
Here's another question: when should you follow up with your prospects?
Different salespeople recommend different time frames. It comes down to each prospect and their level of interest in your products and/or services. Here are some timeline estimates that may correlate to your prospect situation.
Cold Lead Follow-up Frequency
When attempting to reach cold sales leads, try something along these lines:
- Day 1: Send your prospect an initial email mentioning their pain points.
- Day 2: Send a follow-up message—preferably at a different time of day and lightly edited to contain details similar to your first email, but isn't a carbon copy.
- Day 4: Send a second follow-up message with a distinct call-to-action. Try to get the prospect to respond, schedule a meeting, or commit to a product demonstration.
- Day 8: Send a third follow-up message that includes relevant content, like a whitepaper or case study, which might pique the prospect's interest.
- Day 12: Send a fourth follow-up message to inform the prospect that you're breaking up with them—at least for now. This is your last-ditch effort to grab their attention.
As you can see, this follow-up sequence allows sales teams to check in with cold leads every few business days. As long as you follow up the right way, i.e., personalize your messages, show respect, add value, etc., you should find a fair amount of success with this strategy.
Warm Lead Follow-up Frequency
When following up with warm leads, take a different approach than the one described above. Throw out the timeline and follow up until you get a solid yes or no.
That's right, I want you to send follow-up messages until your prospects respond to you. This might make you feel like a dirty spammer, but the truth is, your previous emails could have landed in a junk mail folder, gotten caught in a firewall, or been ignored because the timing wasn't right for your prospect. You have no idea, which is why you need to keep at it.
As always, just make sure that you go about this process the right way. You need to be persistent but not annoying. Additionally, your messages need to be relevant but not lengthy.
When it comes to frequency, here's my preferred cadence for most sales reps:
- Day 1: Send your first follow-up message
- Day 3: Send your second follow-up message
- Day 7: Send your third follow-up message
- Day 14: Send your fourth follow-up message
- Day 28: Send your fifth follow-up message
- Day 58: Send your sixth follow-up message
- (From this point on, send one follow-up a month)
You may have to send a massive number of follow-up emails with this strategy. But if you implement it correctly, your reply rates will go up. I guarantee it.
Top 5 Tips for Effective Follow-ups
When you follow up is only half the battle. You also need to craft compelling messages that demand to be opened and responded to. These five tips will help you accomplish that goal.
Nail Your Subject Line
Your subject lines should grab your recipients' attention without over-promising them anything or slipping into clickbait territory. It's tricky, but it can be done if you:
- Act like a human being: Guess what your prospects don't want to read—another marketing email they didn't sign up for. So kick jargon to the curb and avoid skeezy urgency tactics. Instead, write your subject lines like a real person.
- Keep it short and sweet: Remember, your prospect's inbox is overflowing with unopened emails. Cut through the noise with pointed subject lines. This will help you avoid truncation (when an email service cuts off a subject line after a few dozen characters or so.) It will also ensure your recipients know what to expect from your messages. If your prospects are unsure what your email contains, they'll hit delete.
- Ask a relevant question: Personalization is key to cold email success. That's why so many marketers and sales reps add their prospect's first name to their subject lines. This is a solid tactic. But if you really want more opens, try asking a relevant question. Get to know your prospect, then use your subject line to ask them about their pain points and the specific products or services you sell.
- Use sentence case: If you capitalize every word in your subject line, your prospects will think you're sending them a random marketing message. They probably won't want to read that, so they'll delete your email before even opening it. Sentence case will make you look like a normal person, which will boost your open rates.
So what does a quality subject line look like? It really depends on who you're talking to. But I've found great success with lines like, "Quick question," "Trying to connect," and "Hi [Name], [Your Name / Company] <> [Their Name / Company]."
I encourage you to give these ideas a shot. They might help you connect with more prospects, jumpstart your sales cycle, and, eventually, close more deals.
You can also create compelling subject lines with Close's Email Subject Line Generator. Improve your open rates and increase your chances of closing more deals!
And if you are about to draft a B2B cold email, be sure to check out our article about 12 B2B Cold Email Templates. Crafting a persuasive b2b cold email template is essential.
Personalize Your Messages
As mentioned above, personalization is essential to successful follow-ups. But don't just personalize your subject lines. Personalize every aspect of your messages. Here's how:
- Research your recipients: Wait! Stop writing that email, put on your Sherlock Holmes pants, and investigate your prospect. Who are they? Do you have anything in common with this person? What do they struggle with, and how can you help? Just because you have someone's contact information doesn't mean you're ready to send them a message. Get to know them. Then take what you learn to craft your email.
- Look for trigger events: For the sake of this article, I'll define a trigger event as any occurrence that could be considered abnormal or extraordinary or worrisome. Like when your prospect's company wins an award. Or secures a new round of funding. Or when their main competitor takes a huge leap forward in the market. Address these kinds of events in your follow-ups to build deeper connections with recipients. If possible, position you and/or your company as a viable partner or solution.
- Choose the right level of personalization: I'll be honest with you, it takes time to personalize emails. To get the most bang for your buck, personalize each follow-up based on the revenue the potential customer represents. Are you writing to a low-level manager about a small deal? Stick to basic personalization. What about a big-time decision-maker interested in your company's top product? Personalize the snot out of that bad boy.
Personalization is hard work, but your efforts will be worth it. According to recent studies, personalized emails can boost revenue by a whopping 76 percent!
Give Your Emails a Unique Spin
Your prospective clients receive a ton of emails every day.
If you want them to open, read, and respond to your follow-up messages, you need to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Otherwise, you're just another rando wasting their time.
With this in mind, try to give each email a unique spin. Doing so will help you grab your prospect's attention and give them a legitimate reason to write back.
- Free stuff: Don't try to sell to your prospects in your follow-up emails. Instead, look to start a conversation with them. One way to do this is to offer free stuff. Your recipient is more likely to respond if they can score a free consultation by doing so.
- A killer deal: Okay, I know I just told you not to sell to prospects in your follow-up emails. But this rule has one caveat: an amazing, must-have deal. What if you offered your recipients a one-time five percent off coupon? That would make your message stand out. It also increases your chances of a response because it creates a sense of urgency. If they don't get back to you ASAP, the deal will disappear.
- A video message: This is one of my favorite strategies. Make sure to write prospects an exciting message. Shoot a quick video and attach it to your email. (Or, better yet, include a link to the video in your message. This will help you avoid spam folders.) Why does this strategy work? Because so few people do it. Recording yourself for your next follow-up message will show prospects that you're serious about connecting.
Avoid the Spam Folder
No one will respond to your follow-up messages if they always land in the spam folder. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to steer clear of this scenario:
- Avoid spammy language: Words and phrases like "clearance," "save up to," and "once in a lifetime" trigger spam filters. You'll notice that many spam words deal with sales, which is another reason you should avoid selling in your follow-up emails.
- Send relevant messages: If you offer value to prospects, they won't flag your messages as spam. This point is important because multiple flagged messages could get your email address blacklisted. Then nobody will receive your follow-ups.
- Get rid of images: As a rule of thumb, emails with images get sent to spam more often than emails without images. (That's why I suggest linking to your video messages rather than embedding the videos in your email copy.)
Concerned about your sales emails ending up in the wrong folders? Discover the steps to ensure accurate email deliverability with effective technical email setup.
Use Automation to Follow Up Faster
Lastly, use the tools at your disposal to streamline your follow-up process.
You could use email templates so you don't have to type out every follow-up message by hand. You simply copy, paste, personalize, and send. Easy Peasy.
I also recommend using automation tools. This will allow you to follow up with prospects on autopilot, eliminating the need to remember who to message and when.
A CRM like Close will give you all of the automation functionality you could ever want.
The Close platform includes an Workflow, for instance. Simply tell Close who you want to follow up with and which templates you want to use. Then let the tool personalize your emails based on your company's database, and send messages at the frequency of your choosing.
Templates and automation software will make the follow-up process way easier, so you'll actually do it. When this happens, your sales career will really take off.
Close More Deals with Consistent (Not Annoying) Follow Up
Quality follow-up emails will help you connect with more leads, convert more prospects, and ultimately, allow you to build a stronger, more effective sales process for your company.
You just need to make sure your messages hit the mark. As long as you nail your subject line, personalize your messages, give your emails a unique spin, avoid the spam folder, and use automation to follow up faster, you'll do just fine.
Speaking of automation, have you tried Close yet? Our industry-leading CRM for startups and small businesses has all the tools you need to boost sales. One of those tools is a full-fledged email workflow which you can use to automate entire follow-up sequences.
Start your free 14-day trial of Close today to see if it can elevate your team's follow-up game!