We’ve all been there – sent a message and you’re not sure if they have read it, ignored it or whether it’s not arrived. How do you politely write a follow up message that provokes action?
One of my cardinal rules in new business development is to remember this one thing
The prospect does not owe you their business – but they do owe you an answer.
So with that in mind, let’s set the scene.
You have invested time and effort in sending a crafted message or proposal over to a prospect – how do you follow up so that you don’t annoy them, what timeframes are appropriate, how can you ensure you are remembered – but not as a nagging irritant?
Why do prospects not answer?
There are many reasons but the main ones are
- your offer is not of interest, and not compelling enough to warrant a reply
- they are too busy doing other things
The first tends to relate to SEO companies sending spammy offers by email; the second is the one we need to laser in on – because it does not mean your offer is not of interest, it’s just not as pressing as other things at this time.
The aim of your follow up email is to filter out which one applies to you.
Writing Follow-up emails to prospects
Rule number 1 – keep it short.
Whatever you say, enable the reader to glance at two or three sentences and get your full message.
This is not an opportunity to add to your earlier email content so don’t be tempted to re-iterate your pitch.
Rule number 2 – communicate the bare minimum
Remember we are trying to find out whether they are interested or not.
If they are interested – it could just be the timing is wrong… so your ultimate answer is ‘possibly’, in this case.
The message needs to say who you are; why you are chasing and a reminder of the services.
I always start with a summary of the situation in the email subject line. So even if they don’t open it, they can see the context.
Following up on our meeting to discuss …………….
Creative Agency Secrets marketing proposal submission………
Thank you very much for your time meeting yesterday. The actions agreed were…..We discussed your objective of ………….The topics worthy of more investigation are………..As agreed we sent you a proposal and could you confirm that you’ve received it?
Rule number 3 – write with grace and if you can, humour
Nagging may work with your spouse or children, but I think it’s bad behaviour in business. You want to set the tone for your future relationship here and so getting off on the right foot is key.
Use phrases like “My recollection was….” or “I think we agreed that you would do….” So that you are reminding them without sounding hectoring.
Rule number 4 – give the recipient an easy get-out
I waited on X and then emailed him directly. Is it possible he doesn’t know what we discussed and that you, suggested we meet?Don’t want to push if this is inappropriate, so could you give me some advice?