In my last blog, How to Avoid the “Just Following Up” Email, I spoke about that not-so-good “just following up” email and why you should write what I’m going to call a “Following Through” email instead. Learn how to write the Following Through Email.
Other than a few complaints about grammar (which I’ve since sorted out with my middle school English teacher), the article was well received. For the most part, you requested further direction on how to write a better quality email (that’ll actually get read). And I listened. So let’s roll.
How to Write the Following Through Email
To begin, I’m going to promptly pop your bubble and tell you the problem with someone else telling you how to write a “following through” email. But then, I’m going to gather those pieces and put them back together (because I like puzzles) and I’m going to provide you with a few possible solutions. Because hey, I get it, it’s super annoying when people just talk about problems and never offer solutions.
While the content of your “following through” emails is important, it’s equally important as having a plan.
Having said that, every industry is different and every message is different. Thus, surprise ending here, your plan will be different too. For example, my mentor and friend Rick has a certain plan when he communicates with people. He’s without a doubt the best public speaker I’ve ever worked with. When he’s up on that stage speaking, he gets so enthusiastic about whatever he’s selling that you can’t help but start sharing in his passion. When he writes a follow-up or “follow through” email, he puts a lot of thought into it and spends a lot of time on each one (thus he doesn’t send out that many).
My style, however, is different. While he uses passion and excitement, I tend to use humor and statistics to get my point across. And I also prefer to get to the point quickly and usually write short emails.
So let’s review.
- Rick is in a different industry than me so his follow up plan will be different
- Rick has a different personality and style than me so…hang in there ….his follow up plan will also be different
How to Write the Following Through Email Solutions
There’s the problem; Let’s turn our focus to the solution:
- Create a follow-up plan or method that works with your industry and your personality.
- Have a library of premium content you can use to provide value in your follow up emails.
I use the 1-2-3 Method that I learned a while back for following through (this method applies after you’ve given a proposal or presentation). Here are the basics:
- Send a simple follow up email 5 business days after the initial presentation
- Then a 2nd email 5 days after that, if you haven’t heard anything yet
- And then a final “soft take-away” email 5 days after that if you still haven’t heard from them.
If they haven’t responded by then, then I move them to a “Long Term Follow Up” (LTFUP) folder in Salesforce (or whatever CRM you use) and then start sending them a valuable automated email newsletter once per month.
The objective is to be persistent without being annoying and to get an answer from them. A “No” is perfectly fine. If you get a “No” either move the prospect into the LTFUP folder or mark it as closed in your CRM and move on.
Before I get into content, please realize that content is not king, context is. You could have the greatest content in the world, but if it doesn’t interest your prospect or doesn’t hit them at the right time, then it’s worthless.
“Ok Hendrik, I get it. So where do I get this magical content?” The objective is to provide something of value that your prospect will benefit from (help them solve their problems). This could be in the form of an informative white paper, a link to a relevant article related to their industry, a free sample, or an email newsletter that provides them with tremendous value. In my previous article, I mentioned using Google Alerts and LinkedIn Groups to get relevant content. If you can figure out how you can make their day easier with a few tips, you’ll have their attention (why do you think Lifehacker.com is so popular?). Getting content isn’t really that hard – you’re the expert after all!
Here are a few examples:
- You provide a sales training service and target software companies, then give them a free White Paper on exactly how to improve their sales.
- If you sell an ERP software that targets small and medium-sized business, then provide them with great content on how to more effectively run their business on a day-to-day basis
- If you’re a personal trainer, nutritionist, physical therapist, etc., then start a blog and tell your target audience exactly how to do what you prescribe (for free). They’ll get a taste and want more.
To put it all together, your “follow through” email can be 1 sentence or a full email newsletter. But remember that, while sending the “Did you get a chance to look at the proposal?” email is fine, you should provide value as often as possible. That’s how you’ll stand out from your competition and rise above the crowd.
I hope that helps. If not, at least you got a couple good Mike Tyson quotes out of this.
To Your Continued Success,