B2B Sales

How to Write a Follow-up Email (With Examples)

Persistence is crucial in B2B sales. A sale is never closed on the first cold call, and certainly never on the first email. 

So, sales reps must cultivate the right mindset from the start. You have to think of it as a long-game with each prospect.

That said, one of the most common and effective ways to exercise persistence in B2B sales is  the follow-up email. 

In this post, you will learn why follow-up emails are so important and how to craft the perfect one for your needs. 

Why Are Follow-up Emails Important?

Think about a time when a friend or family member has asked something of you. 

Maybe your significant other asked you to find some Airbnbs for your trip, or maybe your friend wanted to know when you could grab a drink. 

Have you ever left texts like these unanswered simply because you were busy,or didn’t have the mental energy to respond? If so, you are far from being the only one.

Sometimes, the only thing that jolts us into action is that follow-up text: “You alive?” 

Well, prospects can feel the same way, until you put in enough effort and motivate them to answer. Most of the time, that means sending them more than one follow-up email. 

According to Yesware, if you don’t receive a reply to your first email, you have a 21% chance of getting one on your second. 

Even if there is still no contact, don’t give up. Keep sending them—there is still a 25% chance of getting a response. 

Let’s go over some other benefits of follow-up emails. 

Stand Out From the Crowd

It may seem like every sales rep sends follow-up emails these days, but that’s not the case. According to Yesware’s data, as many as 70% of unanswered email chains stop after the first message. 

email follow up stats

Only 30% of sales reps send a follow-up email. 

So, if you consistently send follow-ups, you stand out from the crowd, regardless of the quality of your copy. 

That means a lot in the B2B world, where prospects are bombarded with emails from colleagues, vendors, and clients every day. 

You Gain Respect

Persistence yields respect. Any executive or Decision Maker you sell to had to be tenacious  at a certain point in their lives. If they hadn’t, they would not be in this top-tier position. 

So, if you continue to respectfully follow-up with demonstrations of value, your prospects will come to appreciate you. 

And respect is the first step towards taking notice of what you have to offer.  

They Might Have Just Forgotten to Respond

Decision Makers are busy people. 

They might read your email and  find it genuinely interesting. But something will come up—a fire to put out or a meeting to attend—and they will forget to reply. 

Follow-up and remind them. 

You Exude Confidence 

When you send follow-up emails, you show that you truly believe you can help the prospect’s company. 

The prospect might think: “If they are willing to keep trying, maybe they do have some value to offer me.” 

This confidence in your ability to help the prospect is useful in cold outreach and managing deals in the pipeline. You must be unwavering—and only then will the prospect believe enough to make the purchase. 

Email Follow-up Statistics

Here are some facts about email follow ups that might nudge you into sending that second message: 

The success of your email campaign doesn’t just depend on how many emails you send, but also on the time you send them.

Optimal Time for Following Up

We already have plenty of data on best times to schedule that email. 

When you know the best time to send your cold email, and when to schedule a follow-up, you can focus on crafting the best personalized message. 

Subject Line Data 

Here are some interesting findings about email subject lines. 

We will cover how to write a good follow-up subject line later in this post. 

Tips for Writing Follow-up Emails

Now that you understand the magic of follow-up emails, we will show you how to craft the perfect follow up email. 

1. Define an Objective

Before you compose your email, you should decide on the desired outcome. That way, you can devise a plan of attack. 

The objective could be to book a meeting with a cold prospect, move a contract negotiation along, or reactivate a relationship with an old client. 

Once you know your objective, you can start working on your subject line, body copy, and call to action. 

2. Craft a Subject Line

There always seems to be a new “best” subject line in the marketing world.

But actually, there is no magic bullet. Every situation requires a different subject line—it depends on your relationship and objective with the recipient. 

email subject line data

As a general rule, you want to make your subject line eye-catching and relevant. That’s why it sometimes helps to include the prospect’s name in the title.  

Also, you want to include specific numbers and times in the subject line because, according to Hubspot, this makes reply rates increase. 

Here are some examples of good subject lines:

  • Two ideas on how to increase your sales this month
  • One question about your {insert goal here}
  • Three Ways we can help you reduce IT costs

In a follow-up email, you are usually addressing either a cold lead or a warm lead. Here are some tips for crafting a headline for each. 

Cold Follow-up

We aren’t sure why no one is talking about this, but, often, the best subject line for a cold follow-up is none at all. How come?

Well, you want your prospect to be aware of the fact that this is the second or third email you have sent them. This shows persistence and gives them context. 

To do that, string your follow-up email to the first one in the thread. Then, the subject will be the one you used in your first email.

This way the prospect will typically scan over the first message you sent, which is great for you since it contains the value proposition and CTA. The follow-up acts as a reminder to read the first one. 

If you use sales engagement software, there is usually an option for threading. When you use a general email, just hit reply on the first one you sent. 

Warm Follow-up

If you know them professionally or have shared an experience like a trade show with them, use that in the headline. 

Example:

“{Name}, we met at {Conference}, quick question for you”

Simple as that. Make sure it is personalized to the recipient, letting them know they should give it a read. If they have spoken with you in the past, it would be rude to ignore you completely. They are aware of that. 

And if they don’t respond, you know what to do. Follow up! 

3. Write the Body

It is essential to give your prospect something to remember you by. It could be an event they attended, something you discussed in the past, or an email you sent last week. 

Open with Context

So, state the reason you are reaching out within the first two sentences of your email. 

That will help them differentiate you from the thousands of other salespeople or marketers attempting to contact them.

Here are some potential openings to spike your imagination:

  • After we spoke, I read your blog post about…
  • After our call, I felt I had to send you over this article…
  • I’m reaching out regarding the email I sent a couple of days ago…
  • Last year we met at {location}, and I wanted to follow up and ask…

Next, to end the email, you should let the prospect know what you would like them to do. 

Call To Action

If you are looking to book a meeting to go over how your SEO strategy can help their pages rank better, tell them that in the email—ask for that meeting

The call-to-action is the whole point of the email, so say it clearly and concisely. Don’t leave room for confusion or you won’t get a reply. 

Another common follow-up is checking in with an influencer about the internal purchasing discussions.

In that case, end the email with this call to action:

“I am checking in to see how the conversation is going internally. Can you give me an update so I can plan for our next meeting accordingly? Thanks.” 

Every follow-up email is different and depends on the situation. So, below, we will go over four different scenarios and the best emails for each. 

Pro Tip: Include case studies in follow-ups.

Neil Patel, digital marketing expert and founder of Crazy Egg, swears by including case studies in email follow-ups. 

“I’ve personally used case studies in my emails to increase my deal closing ratio by 70%, Neil guarantees. 

Case studies are credible demonstrations of your solution’s ability to help businesses similar to those of your prospects. 

4. How Long Should You Wait to Follow-up?

The acceptable amount of waiting for a reply depends on the situation. There is no hard rule on this. 

However, warmer leads permit for a greater frequency of follow-ups. So, when checking in with someone who expressed interest in your solution, then went cold, it’s okay to email them every couple of days until you get a response. 

If you are following up with a cold prospect, you might want to lower the follow-up frequency, especially after the 4th or 5th email. 

At that point, it can be helpful to put them into a “nurture campaign” where they receive an email from you or marketing every month or so. 

Once a month is frequent enough to keep your company in their mind, but spread out enough to avoid unsubscribes or “not interested” replies. 

The Power of Nurture Campaigns

Sometimes in sales, it is all about being in the right place at the right time. 

A nurture campaign heightens your chances of putting your solution in front of a prospect at the right time—when they need help. 

This is because there are events that make your product more useful and urgent. 

For instance, say you sell content marketing services. What if one of the prospects you had already cold-called and emailed a lot suddenly loses their Content Marketing Manager?

Now they are without a plan and need an expert. Who is going to be first on their mind?

If you have them in a nurture campaign, they might see your email, or remember you and think: 

“Hey, maybe I can outsource the content marketing to this company. They have been reaching out to me for a while now. I’ll give them a call.”

5. How Many Times Should You Follow-up?

This depends on the nature of your relationship with the contact. Let’s break the prospects down into two categories: cold and warm leads. 

Cold Leads

A cold lead is someone you have never connected with. They have never replied to your emails or answered your calls. Maybe they have scrolled around on your company’s blog, but that’s the maximum interaction they have had with your company. 

For cold leads, it is best to follow-up until you get a response, up until six emails. 

Don’t send more than 6 follow-up emails to someone you have never connected with before. 

For one, it’s pretty obvious they don’t want to interact with you. So, after a certain number of messages, you start to seem pushy, which will scare away any chances of connecting in the future. 

Second, sending more emails will be a waste of your time anyway. The odds of them replying essentially fall off a ledge after Email Six of a sales sequence. 

Warm Leads

A warm lead is someone you have already connected with

Maybe you met them at an event or talked with them during a cold call. Or, they may have filled out a demo-request form on your website. 

Whatever the interaction, you have a better chance of getting a reply from a warm lead than a cold one. 

To learn how to follow up with warm leads, let’s look to the CEO of Close.io, Steli Efti, for his philosophy. 

Steli says that, if he has already connected with someone, he will follow-up with them until he gets a response. That could mean sending them as many as 44 emails over a year. 

In fact, once he followed up with an investor 48 times until he got a meeting. Talk about persistence!

And here’s what Brandon from Handshake has to say about following up 41 times. 

Source: close.io

So, until you get a “definitely not interested” as a response, keep trying! 

Examples of Effective Follow-up Emails

Now that you understand the basics of creating follow-up emails, let’s go over some examples you can use as templates for different sales scenarios. 

A Cold Prospect

It is a hard battle to get a reply from a cold prospect. Often, they will never respond, but you still have to give your best effort. 

When following up with a cold prospect, make sure your email is short and to the point, while also reminding them of the value you offer. 

Cold Follow-Up Email (After Your Introduction Email)

Hi {Name}, 

Wanted to follow up to see if {product} would be a good fit to {short value proposition}. 

If you’re not the person who oversees {Decision Maker responsibilities}, would you mind pointing me in the right direction?

Thanks, 

It doesn’t have to be any more detailed than that. Also, that last sentence can be very helpful, especially if you are not sure who the Decision Maker is.

Whenever someone passes your email on to their colleague at the company, you have a much higher chance of getting the meeting. 

The final recipient will trust you more because someone they trust (their colleague) has already vetted the email. 

An Unresponsive Inbound Lead

Sometimes people will fill out a demo-request or a contact form on your website only to disappear from the face of the planet. 

It’s puzzling why this happens. Maybe they signed up during a moment of courage and then fell back into their hermit-like ways, wishing they had never activated the B2B salesperson on the other end. 

Whatever the cause, these people showed interest. So, they must have felt some pain that you can solve, and it is your duty to help them out. 

Follow-Up Email for a Prospect Who Filled Out a Contact Form (But Disappeared)

“Hi {Name},

A couple of days ago, you filled out a contact form regarding our {feature or offer}. 

So, I wanted to follow-up and see if there is anything in particular we can help you with.

Are you open to a 5-minute call sometime this week? Tuesday and Thursday afternoon are wide open for me, so let me know your availability and I’ll send over a calendar invite.

Looking forward to learning how we can help!”

Usually, if you send enough follow-ups like this one, you will receive a response from an inbound lead. 

It also helps to call. Maybe they just don’t like using email. 

A Prospect in Your Pipeline

Sometimes you give a demo or talk pricing with a prospect and then they ghost you. That could happen for a number of reasons. 

They could have become busy or unsure of how to move forward. It’s not always because they lack interest. 

As the salesperson, it is your responsibility to give them a couple of friendly nudges to assist them through the sales process

Follow-Up for a Prospect Who Has Gone Cold (After the Initial Call and a Few Follow-Ups)

This email works well because it puts the ball in their court and makes them feel obligated to respond. 

If they don’t, they are just leaving you on the hook and wasting your time. The tone in this email gets that across quite well without being rude. 

“Hey {Name},

When you have a moment, please give me a call or shoot me an email. I am reaching out to figure out how you plan to move forward with {Company Name}. 

Whether you are purchasing or not, keeping me in the loop is much appreciated.”

In B2B sales, you often want to get people to say no or yes as quickly as possible. Even though “no” isn’t ideal, it removes them from your pipeline so you can divert your energy elsewhere. 

Also, even getting a “no”, it’s better than no response. The prospect will probably include a reason why they refused, giving you a chance to overcome the objection

Follow-Up for a Prospect Who Has Gone Cold (Further Down Your Pipeline)

If you have had a couple of meetings and formed a good rapport with the prospect, you can send small informal notes like the following: 

“Hi {Name} Any word on the internal discussions? Thanks.” 

OR 

“Hey {Name}, wanted to send over a quick note regarding my last email. Hope to hear from you soon!” 

Of course, the level of formality depends on the relationship, so use your judgment. 

A Past Connection

Whether it’s a former client or a potential client that never signed on, these relationships should be used to your advantage. 

Follow-Up With a Past Client

“Hi {Name}, I was just going through our portfolio and I smiled when I saw our work. 

I thought about how it’s been a while since we last spoke. How are things going over there at {Company Name}? Is there anything we can assist with? 

I’d be happy to send you an e-book, make an introduction, or hop on a call and see what we can do.

Just let me know.” 

This email shows that you care about the client, even though they aren’t paying you anymore. 

Any past client who receives this email is sure to remember the good times and send you a reply. 

The Most Important Law of Following-Up

As you’ve probably noticed, the follow-up game plan depends entirely on your relationship with the prospect. That’s why strategizing is so critical

Whenever you are about to send your follow-up email, stop, and think about what might get them to respond. 

Pretend to be in their position. Usually, the only way to get someone to do what you want is to frame it in terms of what they want. 

So, if you have identified a pain point in a past call, bring up how you will cure it. 

If you did some research and found the company’s goal for the year, bring up how you can help achieve it. 

Follow-up emails should not only remind prospects to respond, they should also remind them of the value you offer. 

So, get out there, be persistent, and continue projecting confidence in your ability to solve your customers’ problems. The replies will follow close behind. 

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