Writing a follow-up sales email is an emotional activity. As an HCM sales representative, you’re always moving very quickly, and you feel the pressure to get the next deal closed fast. It’s imperative to advance your prospect onto the next step, or cut your losses and move onto the next lead.
Under that kind of pressure and pace, it’s easy to lose important nuances in your email messages. You default to worn out subject lines, or your message is too pushy. Perhaps you follow up too soon, annoying your prospects.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of research that tells us how to write a successful follow-up sales email. Follow these best practices for greater confidence in nurturing your prospects — and better results!
Related reading: 4 Common Barriers to Closing the Deal — And How to Overcome Them
When to Follow Up
Timing your follow-up email can be tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to appear pushy — but you don’t want that warm lead to turn cold either! How do you stay top-of-mind without being spammy and annoying?
Thankfully, there are some general guidelines that have been tested and proven. Follow these best practices for timing your follow-up emails with sales prospects.
After they engage with you
You’ve had a phone conversation with your sales prospect, a meeting with them, or you connected with them at an event. Don’t delay the follow up. Within an hour or two, send a short email thanking them for their time.
Also be sure your follow-up email adds value and invites them to take the next step with you (more on that below).
After you reach out to them
Your last contact with them was a previous email (or voicemail message) that you sent, and they haven’t replied yet. It’s very tempting for most salespeople to send a follow-up email within a day or two, but that can be too pushy. Remember, your prospect is busy with other demands on their time, and they may need to gather information or input from others before responding.
Studies show that it often takes as many as five follow-up emails before a deal is closed. At the same time, you don’t want to spam your prospect every couple of days. Each time you follow up, give a little bit more time to respond between emails.
Consider following this pattern:
- Follow up 1 on day 3
- Follow up 2 on day 7
- Follow up 3 on day 14
- Follow up 4 on day 30
- Follow up 5 on day 60
What to Say
Your email should express appreciation, add value, and call the recipient to take the next step. Brevity and clarity are priceless in these emails — don’t waste your prospect’s time with wordy, vague emails that seem to be sent simply for the sake of keeping their attention.
Instead, be clear about:
- Why you’re following up
- The value you’re adding
- What your recipient should do next
Write a subject line that’s interesting and compelling, but also specific and direct. Your recipient should be interested in reading, and they should know what to expect in the body of the email. Avoid being clever for its own sake (“Payroll is the new black”) and don’t write anything that feels like clickbait (“You won’t believe the ROI you’ll get with X”).
How to Say It
As the saying goes, it’s not what you say but how you say it that matters. And when you’re under pressure to close a deal, it’s even more important to keep this in mind. When you’re under the gun to meet your quota, it’s easy to let that pressure drive the voice and tone of your email message. Don’t let that stress come through!
Before you import a templated email or start typing your message, consider your email recipients. The most powerful sales emails meet their audience where they’re at — contextually and emotionally. These emails “get” their recipients, and thus they generate a greater ROI.
Ask yourself the following:
- What is their situation like right now? What problems, questions, and challenges are they dealing with most?
- How are they feeling? Anxious? Fearful? Frustrated? Confused?
- What is the best tone to convey that will connect with my prospect most effectively?
At IDI, our prospects are often frustrated by previous unmet expectations with other vendors. So we speak with humble confidence to assure customers that we can help them get their payroll right.
Draft sales emails that are personalized. In this case, that means going beyond using the personalization tokens that your CRM provides — inserting their first name and company name. Refer to something specific that’s unique to them — a particular issue they’re dealing with, a priority of theirs, or a previous conversation you had with them.
Personalizations like these express your thoughtfulness, and show prospects that you see them as individuals and not as dollar signs.
Also be sure to write emails that capture your brand’s voice. Every piece of content that comes from your company should have a consistent “feel,” or personality, to it. At IDI, we strive to communicate a Sage’s voice — one that shares helpful knowledge and provides answers to problems. Be familiar with your style guide — it will help you to craft compelling messages that connect more effectively with your audience.
Go deeper: The Most Human HCM Sales Rep Wins
Know Your Recipients
For HCM sales representatives, it’s especially important to know your email recipients — not simply to know who they are, but to understand their world. The construction industry is vastly different from the non-profit sector, and non-profits are completely different from professional services.
Each of these verticals has their own languages, complexities, and payroll challenges. HCM sales reps who can display an understanding of these industries immediately place themselves in a position to beat out the competition and close the deal. We’ve seen it happen time and time again.
IDI provides helpful resources to our partners that demystify industries you don’t have much experience with. Learn the jargon, discover their biggest payroll challenges, and gain insights into their most common priorities. Your follow-up sales emails will be able to speak more specifically to your prospects and gain their trust.