The winning cold email follow-up game plan

by Steli Efti

You work hard to generate leads for your sales pipeline by sending out cold emails. But your cold prospects don't respond. Do you know what the best follow-up strategy is?

How many times should you follow up with a cold prospect? When should you follow up? What specifically should you write in these emails? When should you stop following up?

In this post, you’ll learn how to put a consistent cold email follow-up strategy in place that will help you fill your sales pipeline and ultimately close more deals.

You send out a cold email and don’t hear back. What do you do?

What I’m sharing here aren’t rules but general guidelines, and it’s your job to turn these general guidelines into best practices for your own startup. That said, here’s what I think will work best for most people.

Sign up for the cold email follow-up bundle & get ready-to-use email templates, a follow-up blueprint and more.

The follow up formula

  1. Send out first cold email.
  2. 1 day later, at a different time of the day: Follow-up 1
    This email should be a modified version of your original email. It should communicate the same message, just in a different format. For example, if your initial email was several paragraphs long, make this follow-up email just two sentences long. If your initial cold email was just two sentences long, make this email several paragraphs long.
    Don’t write something completely different. Don’t add attachments.
  3. 2 days after your second email: Follow-up 2
    Don’t even explain anything. Just succinctly restate your call to action. You can ask your prospect to introduce you to the right person in their organization, to schedule a call, or to respond to your email—whatever your desired call to action for your initial cold email was. For example, you could say, “Hey, when would be a good time for you to discuss this on a quick 10-minute call? How about Tuesday or Wednesday 10 a.m. Pacific?”
  4. 4 to 5 days after your third email: Follow-up 3
    The break-up email. It’s an email in which you say goodbye to the prospect, betting on their loss aversion, a psychological principle describing people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.

Optionally, you can add another follow-up email before the break-up email, but I wouldn’t recommend following up more than four times.

For a systematic approach, it's best to create a Close.io workflow so that you don't have to set this up manually with each of your prospects. To get even better results, sign up for the cold email follow-up bundle.

Workflows become especially powerful once you scale your sales process and are dealing with a high volume of leads.

Setting individual follow-up reminders

If you are following a more customized, low-volume approach, we're happy to let you know that Close.io now does that too. (It's the latest feature we've added to our CRM software!)

Simply click the day when you want to get a follow up reminder in your Inbox and Close.io will take care of it. We've also got response detection built-in so you won't be innundated with superfluous reminders and only get notified of the prospects that need your attention.

Screenshot_2015-08-07_14.46.03

If you're not using Close.io yet, give it a try! Start your free trial now! (You don't even need a credit card and can get rolling with our sales platform in just a couple of minutes.)

What makes cold emails work?

Most people falsely assume the reason why they get a response to a follow-up email is because they’ve sent a better email or said something smarter.

In most cases, the real reason why people who don’t respond to your first cold email respond to your follow-up email is very simple: timing!

timing

It likely just so happened that the recipient saw the original email when they were too busy or distracted by something that prevented them from taking action. That’s why it didn’t register on their radar.

Then they got a follow-up email from you, which was sent at a better time, a time when the recipient had the attention, mental bandwidth, and time to consciously process and respond to your email.

If your prospects read your initial email and decide they’re not interested in your offer and don’t want to do business with you, then nothing you say in a follow-up email is going to turn that around and convert them.

So you shouldn’t even try to optimize for those people.

Instead, optimize only for those people whom you have a realistic chance of converting from a cold prospect into a hot lead. These are the people who are somewhat interested but either didn’t have the time to respond or didn’t connect the dots—all they need is just a little bit more nudging.

You win deals in the follow-up

I say this all the time: The follow-up is where winning really happens. It’s when everyone else stops running, and you’re the only person still in the race. It doesn’t matter how slow you run—you are going to win because everybody else stopped running.

If you’ve had a positive interaction (be it an email, a phone call, or a meeting) with someone in which they showed interest in your solution but then stopped responding to your calls and email, keep following up indefinitely. Forever. Until you get a result. Either a yes or a no.

If you haven’t gotten any response to your cold email, stop at three to four follow-ups, and move on to more receptive prospects.

Get our free follow up bundle (templates, infographic, blueprint, 1 hour crash course with Steli Efti and more)