Over the past few months, we’ve given you, the sales development rep (SDR), a number of (hopefully) great tips on how to prospect and how to write a cold email. But what if you’ve found the perfect prospect, sent them a highly personalized email and still haven’t received a response?
Well, sometimes life’s tough, which means you’re going to have to dig a bit deeper to get that CXO on the hook. Here are a few best practices for following up that we believe will increase your chances of success.
1. Trust your initial pitch
Crap — I should have mentioned that we boost engagement! Why did I go on about traffic and page views??
Too many times, SDRs think that if a prospect hasn’t responded to their initial pitch, it means they need to take an entirely different approach. Unfortunately, leafing through sales emails is not typically on a CXO’s to-do list, so it’s more likely that your prospect simply hasn’t read your email or missed it altogether.
This in mind, the main goal of a follow up email should be to have your prospect read the initial email — you know… the one that took you 20 minutes to write and mentions that tweet your prospect posted last week? As a best practice, have your initial email copied in directly below your most recent follow up email. Many times, this means deleting all of your other attempts at contact in between, but trust us, it’s worth it.
2. Be brief, but not robotic
Most SDRs know that no prospect is going to read an email longer than 5 sentences, but that doesn’t mean brevity and personality are mutually exclusive. To sound a bit more human and less like a marketing automation engine, give a few of these tactics a try:
don’t capitalize the subject line
use contractions and (when appropriate) abbreviations
take out ‘I’ (ex: Hey Joe – wanted to follow up on…)
start with ‘Hope you’re well’
As always, it’s important to strike a balance between informality and professionalism, so don’t go overboard with short form and colloquialisms.
3. Change the subject line, not the email thread
It’s no secret that switching up the subject line can help boost open rates, but oftentimes SDRs will create an entirely new email thread in order to do so. This creates a huge problem, because now your prospect is only going to see the content in your follow up email, which we’re sure is not as enticing as what you put in your initial pitch. To change the subject line within the existing thread in gmail, click on the little triangle next to the reply arrow and select ‘Edit subject’.
4. Give them 4 specific times to meet
It may sound a bit strange, but sometimes prospects don’t reply, because the process of scheduling a meeting requires more time than they have to give at that moment. To help streamline this task and elicit more responses, give your prospect 4 specific times to meet and put them in a bulleted list like this:
Tuesday, 9/16 – 3pm ET
Wednesday, 9/17 – 10am ET
Thursday, 9/18 – 2pm ET
Monday, 9/22 – 9am ET
Also, by listing specific times, you are implying that you have a busy schedule as well, which places you on the same level as your prospect.
5. Don’t talk about how busy they are… just don’t
Leading with phrases like “I know you must be extremely busy” or “I’m guessing you’re swamped” is a huge mistake. It’s true — most CXOs have very little time to spare, but the worst thing you can do is give them another good reason not to meet with you.
6. Try a different time
Whether you’re following up over the phone or by email, it’s always important to change up the timing. For executives, a good time to get in touch is either early in the morning (8-9am) or late in the afternoon (4-5pm). If you really want to change things up, try emailing your impossible-to-reach prospects on a Sunday evening — this will help separate your message from the noise and maybe elicit a quick reply.
For more info on the best times to email and call, check out LRM’s study.
7. The time zone trick
If a number of your prospects are overseas, adding a brief line about the time difference can help make your email stand out. A simple trick is to schedule a follow up email for 8am your prospect’s time and say something like:
Wanted to follow up on last week’s note – I’m guessing the 8 hour time difference isn’t doing me any favors. Schedules permitting, I would appreciate 30 minutes of your time next week, let me know a day and time that works for you.
By pointing out the difficulties of working across time zones, this email helps separate you from the pack, because it implies that you are working odd hours to get in touch with your prospect.
About the Author
Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.Follow on Twitter More Content by Sam Laber