25 Tips for Writing an Effective Sales Follow Up Email During Corona

Besides having severe implications on people's health and healthcare services, the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is significantly impacting the global economy and businesses. For most of the sectors, organic traffic and conversions are stunted, which is not surprising considering the entire world has been flipped upside down. Various industries, such as manufacturing, retail, pharmaceuticals, cannot operate without the physical presence of the employees. But, online businesses, including the digital marketing companies, eCommerce, etc. can still moderately function confronting the unprecedented challenges triggered by the pandemic. GoodFirms surveyed 80+ Marketing Experts worldwide to discover the strategies their teams are implementing in the difficult times of Corona regarding the sales follow-up email, which is a crucial part of email marketing companies.

Importance of Sales Follow Up Email

Creating a strong email marketing strategy helps one reach and establish personalized communication relevant to the interest of the target audience. This, in turn, increases sales at an affordable cost. Most successful sales or partnerships take multiple “touches” before hearing a response back to seal the deal. Initial emails represent a small part of a much larger picture which can be completed after sending the right kind of follow-up email. 

An exemplary follow-up email serves to remind the potential client about the company’s offerings and turn their interest into serious consideration for the product.

Dan Edmonson, Founder & CEO of Dronegenuity, acknowledges that drafting such an email can be difficult under typical circumstances such as the present. 

“The perfect follow-up is directly related to your company’s goal and the current position during this unprecedented time. Some companies might be able to continue business as normal, while others will need to postpone services for now. Besides, the current stage of the sales cycle and the company’s particular product/service will determine the precise language to use.”

Let us find out the strategies one needs to employ to get better results during these unusual times.

The Tactics to Write Sales Follow Up Email during Corona

For creating a compelling follow-up email, you need to identify the main goals and make an effort to explain the primary objectives of the email. For example, you might want the client to update you on a particular matter, provide you with specific information, to set a meeting, get them to participate in your study, test your product, or get familiar with your service. 

Given below are the tips from the professionals on drafting ultimate follow-up emails to improve their reach and visibility, engage the recipients, and convert more leads consistently. According to the type of industries and recipients, the opinions of various experts might be contradictory. But one must evaluate their own situation and make the decision.

1. Put Efforts Into Understanding The Desires Of The Audience

To have a sales follow-up email resonate with your lead, you must have an idea of their inclination. Depending on that, you can decide how to approach and structure the email, what kind of language to use, etc. 

Breanna Gunn, Online Business Strategist at Breanna Gunn Enterprises, LLC, says,

“Ignoring the current circumstances we’re facing as a globe will only make you look out of touch and apathetic — two things that audiences hate to see. Instead of focusing on sales, you need to shift your messaging to that of service. Ask how you can help or what it is your clients need right now. Put some effort into understanding the desires of your audience during this pandemic so you can meet them right where they are.”

2. Provide Personalized Experience

Consumers expect much more than you to know their name in this day and age. What they like to have at every customer touchpoint is a genuine, gimmick-free, one-to-one, personalized experience.

Steve Richard, Co-founder and Chief Evangelist at ExecVision, advises on how to increase your chances of getting attention and reply by understanding the various aspects of the prospect and their company and activating the rational cortex in the brain.  

“There is a simple email template structure called TUB, which is an acronym that stands for Them; Us; Both.  It’s now even more important to personalize your emails.  For ‘Them,’ look at recent activity on LinkedIn and Twitter.  With people working from home, social media usage is up.  Saying something in the email that they recently posted, commented on, or shared increases your odds of the email receiving and reply.  Same with other pre-call research like second-degree connections, changes to the strategy of the prospect’s company (like a new product launch), and a knowledge of the systems and technologies that the lead currently uses.”

3. Be Upbeat In Your Tone And Not Gloom And Doom

Robyn Flint accepts that during this crazy time, the business has had to change to make way for social-distancing and maintaining personal health and that of their customers/clients. 

“Be upbeat in your tone and not gloom and doom. There have been some significant positive outcomes of the pandemic, so talk about some of that if you need to. The sales pitch is pretty much on the back-burner, and nurturing relationships have taken over as the priority. Don't be a reminder of the economic woes and worry, but be a refreshing light in the darkness."

- Robyn Flint, the Insurance Expert at Car Insurance Comparison

4. Keep It Brief

With patience wearing thin and limited attention span, people might already have email fatigue from receiving the same kind of communications. Address their problems with clear, precise language, and easy-to-scan formatting.

Albert Ho, the Founder of Healthcare Heroes and author of the book Checkmate: How To Win The Sales Game in Healthcare, is of the opinion that there is no such thing as a perfect email, as the focus is on solving the customer's issue. If the customer doesn't believe they have a problem or they don't think you can provide them the solution, then there is a mismatch in service needs and offers. He says, 

"If the first email is cold, I will keep it brief, no more than 1 paragraph. I always include links to my website, social media, or media articles to increase my credibility. If there is any sense of fraud or automated email, the reader will likely delete and never respond again."

5. Offer Further Communication Options For Their Convenience 

You can convey your enthusiasm for different communication options along with persuading them for your product/services. Inevitably, customers get disappointed not having available time slots, having to wait on hold or until the business is open to book by phone. When offered online appointment booking, a customer can view available time slots, select the convenient one, and receive automatic confirmations and reminders.

David Richards, Founder of System Shortlist, informs that most of their sales leads were generated through inbound channels. And now, due to Corona, they have dropped by 75% to 80%, making it more crucial than ever to connect with every sales lead after their initial inquiry. Relying more on outbound prospecting, mainly via email, he justifies,

“Now, with everyone working from home, either the switchboard number doesn’t get answered or, if it does, the person who answers doesn’t know (or won’t) transfer a sales call to someone's mobile number so follow up by email is crucial. The most effective thing we have done is to include a Calendly link in the email encouraging people to book an appointment. This is something we were planning on implementing anyway but lockdown has made this more of a priority. It’s early days, but this one step has significantly increased our lead to a successful call rate by over 30%.”

6. Be Pleasantly Persistent Without Annoying The Leads

A salesperson needs to be persistent when following up with a company/customer that is a good potential fit for their products and services. But one must be pleasant enough to toe the fine line between persistence and harassment and to break through inbox clutter. 

Sameer Somal, CEO & Co-Founder at Blue Ocean Global Technology, encourages being sensitive in a quarantine situation when almost everyone knows someone who may be sick or even passed from COVID. 

“There is a delicate balance between persistence and patience. The approach must be adapted on a case by case basis. Rather than focusing on larger commitments, consider “bite-size” offers to convert prospects into clients. After earning some trust, educate on the benefits of the higher-priced product or service.  Consider hyper-targeted advertising on Google and Social Media, where digital ads are currently down by about 35%.”

7. Invest In Warm Chatter Without Sounding Salesy

While always the one to craft and perfectly-time the emails, Dea Hoover, Founding owner/operator of Are We There Yet?, LLC insists,

“Emails must be crafted and timed. Many salespeople do not know how to write what I call warm chatter - it doesn't matter if you know the person, but you speak to them with familiarity and warmth. Then, you must ensure not to send them at the wrong time of day and wrong day of the week. In addition, the ability for your email not to be sorted to promotions or a spam folder is imperative.”

8. Consider The Geography Of The Prospects

Under normal circumstances or in unusual times such as these, geography plays a vital role in improving the performance of business decisions and marketing communications. With geography, the knowledge of customer characteristics and behavior can be gained, which can be applied in multiple ways to improve the vendor/customer touchpoint. 

Acknowledging sales follow-up emails as an opportunity to support their users during the lockdown, Anastasia Kashyna professes,

“Due to Coronavirus, our follow-up emails also contain sincere hopes that our users and their dearest ones are well and safe as well as their business is kept on running or will be put back on the rails soon. Still, you should be careful with the geography of your follow-ups, while the virus effects can badly hit one region, the other one might not experience any significant changes.”     

                                     - Anastasia Kashyna, Account Executive at Chanty

Structure of a Sales Follow Up Email

While drafting a sales follow-up email, one needs to understand what to write in a subject line, the body of an email, and the content, which prompts the client to take the intended action that serves your objective. 

Email Subject Lines For Follow Up Email

A subject line, gateway to your email content, must stand out and catch the attention of a recipient as it is the first thing that they will see. It must be compelling enough for the user to click and start reading about your coupons, link, and other content relevant to them. Under all circumstances, write a subject line that strikes a balance between informative and intriguing. And while doing so, one must never under or over-promise on what’s inside. 

9. Pass A Straightforward Message With The Clear Subject Line

Most people spend a fraction of a second evaluating email subject lines and filtering out irrelevant or unnecessary messages. If the subject line communicates a clear message with the promise of value, the recipient will be tempted to open it rather than moving on to the next message in their inboxes.

Houman Asefi, Regional Director of Sellcrowd, says, 

“In the Subject line, you should be very clear on what value you bring to the business and what is the end goal. For instance, this is a great subject that I usually use: 

John, I can increase your sales by 300% in 3 months.

Another one: John, Are you ambitious to increase your sales during a pandemic?”

10. Write Emphatic Email Subject Lines for Sales

One cannot be a great communicator without being empathic. A marketer who takes the perspective of the leads to understand how they think, feel, and act can use those insights to adopt a language that resonates with their audiences. It ultimately helps one build a more powerful, personal relationship with them.

As there's no established timeline for COVID-19, and no one knows when this will be over, Flynn Zaiger asks to provide as much positivity as possible.

“We've found through our emails that empathetic subject lines, with questions like "Checking Up On You" or "How Are Things" are getting 30-40% higher open rates. Once you've established that COVID-19 isn't heavily affecting their business or lives, then you can discuss your product. And if your product isn't actually going to be helpful to their organization during this time, then this isn't the right time to sell.”

- Flynn Zaiger, CEO at Online Optimism

The Body-Section of a Sales Follow Up Email

After convincing the recipients to open the email, the next challenge is to convince them that the message conveyed is important, valuable, and interesting to prompt an action. People generally allocate very little time to reading emails, so they must be clear, concise, simple, and direct. 

The body of an email allows the one to add as much text as they want, and insert supporting links, images, or attachments (though attachments are generally displayed separately). 

11. Do Not Add Unnecessary Attachments

While many salespersons approve of sending additional info, articles, or a link that leads might find interesting or useful, Nicholas Allen, Founder of Sublime Dzine, says,

“I found that stripping the email down to text without unnecessary images or attachments gets through to the user more consistently, and they open the emails more often. We rarely used to get a response from our auto emails to leads. But after switching to text-only, with a new contact method or piece of information for the deal, it was about a 60% response rate.”

Nicholas Allen believes that every single customer touch contributes to giving them information and removing the barriers to a deal through trust and transparency.

12. Write That Suits ‘Twitter Style World’ 

Explaining the structure of sales follow-up email that they adopt, Aaron Udler, President at OfficePro says,

“What I have been doing with follow-up emails is adding “Take 2” in the subject heading. And then if I don’t hear back again, I’ll add in “Take 3”.  I have been getting higher response rates by adding into the subject line. Also, in the body of my emails, I am keeping my emails to 3 sentences at most.  In our “twitter” style world, everything has to be clean, crisp, and to the point.”

13. Access The Situation And Remind The Leads The Reason Of Follow Up

Chris Kaiser, CEO & Founder of Click A Tree, claims that the perfect sales follow-up email during Covid isn't much different than pre-Covid. Giving us a glimpse into the structure and sequence of sales follow-up emails that they follow, he says,

“We always send 3 emails in total, usually between 1-2 weeks apart. During school holiday times, it may also be 3 weeks between emails, to offer the other person time to return from their vacation.

Our 3 emails are as follows:

  • The first one introduces our company and includes our pitch, with one clear CTA. It’s usually about 10 lines long, and not everybody will read it. Reading 10 lines of a cold contact email in today’s world is like scrolling to page 2 on Google’s search results.
  • That’s why the second email is a simple one-liner a la “Did you receive my last email?” to bring the topic back to people’s minds, to make them go back and read your pitch.
  • The third email reads: “Since all good things come in three, here’s my final attempt to reach out to you. Are you keen on helping to reforest our planet together?”

Avoid Common Mistakes while Writing a Sales Follow Up Email During Corona

For succeeding in B2B sales, mastering follow-up is a must as very few sales happen at the first attempt. Thus, one must keep some common blunders at bay while making more than one interaction with a potential customer. These mistakes are - leaving the lead in a lurch without context, beating around the bush, not outlining the next steps, sounding like a robot, etc.

Rajendra Sonar, Associate Director - Business Development at Avalon Global Research, states what mistakes one should avoid while sending sales follow-up emails. 

  • Rule 1 is not to send a very long and informative email. For now, do not emphasize on the company's capability and ability. Clients are more concerned about their business. The positioning should always be as a help center. 
  • Avoid words like introduction, conference call, or any other that gives a feeling of being sold. 
  • Do not follow-up too often. 1 email per week is fine. 
  • Use only 1 platform to talk- either LinkedIn, email or WhatsApp. 
  • Do not use aggressive closing statements.

14. Experiment With What Works Best For Your Situation

Talking about present circumstances, Dan Edmonson pronounces that a major mistake would be pretending that the Coronavirus is not around. One must mention it in follow-up with wishing the best health for customers and indicating how now is the perfect time for them to move forward with the next steps. 

But Brett Downes, Founder | SEO at Haro Helpers Inc., recommends to stay clear of the COVID-19 subject and reiterates that writing a regular sales email like you always have will let you stand out a mile from the crowd.

“People’s inboxes are flooded with subject lines only containing COVID-19 updates. While it's admirable these stores are keeping people in the know, what a regular person wants to know or indeed cares what Footlockers are doing during this crisis. Everyone has got their own thing going on. Online shopping purchases have tripled in the last month, so you should decide if you want to keep telling customers about the problem or do you want to be part of the solution.

Best Time to Send Sales Follow Up Emails

Deciding ‘when’ to send an email is as critical as contemplating ‘what’ to write in it. For example, one must refrain from sending sales follow-up emails at odd hours or days (weekends) to avoid sounding over-eager or desperate.

15. Have Regular Communication

A firm believer of ‘When in doubt, over-communicate’, Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls says, 

“It is impossible to time your outreach so that you are in front of potential audiences exactly when they need your help, so I just try to stay in regular communication with them so that when they have a problem, I can help them solve it and they will think of me first.  We all are in the relationship business ultimately.  Didn’t Woody Allen say 90% of success is just showing up!  It is a strategy that has worked for me.”

16. Connect On Other Social Media Platforms Too

According to Rajendra Sonar, the best time to send a follow-up email has always been 9 am-10 am all day, except for Monday. He says,

“Business heads are more responsive to emails and calls during this time. In the current situation - no proven time slot gives a maximum response. However, connecting on multiple platforms is smooth now, and clients are responding on LinkedIn and WhatsApp. In any case, follow-up email should be once a week for 1st 6-8 weeks and then once every 3-4 weeks. The idea is to be in touch with the client and keep sharing information.” 

17. Try Sending At Different Times

David Richards likes to acknowledge Covid-19, without dwelling on the pandemic

“Draft the relevant sales follow-up email and show a bit of empathy. Keep experimenting with sending emails at different times. During the lockdown, people’s working patterns have been hugely disrupted, and the fine lines between work and home life have become even more blurred. So, people also respond to emails well into the evening.”

18. Use Marketing Automation Software  

Brett Downes uses sharpspring to segregate their customers and to decide when to follow up and what with. It relies on AI and aggregating data from previous transactions and interactions. 

Frequency of Sales Follow Up Emails

The frequency of sales follow up emails is also a crucial consideration because of numerous non-routine transactions occurring after four-five follow-ups. But, there cannot be hard rules about the sales follow-up email’s frequency as it usually depends on the context, the situation, interactions, and the relationship the salesperson has with the lead. 

Though, ideally, while sending the follow-up emails, each time you should give the recipient more time to respond. Thus, you reduce the chance of being marked as a spammer.

19. Follow The Warm Lead Within The First Few Days

Steve Richard says,

“Research from Vorsight shows that there is a diminishing marginal return for calling/emailing/social for prospects that you have been pursuing for longer than 30 calendar days. The same persistence follow-up, when applied to new prospects recently added to your list, yields better results.”

 

Agreeing with Steve, Olga Mykhoparkina, CMO at Better proposals, says,

“We haven’t really changed our tactic much, and we usually follow up within the first few days while the lead is still warm... My rule is never to follow up more than two times because, at that point, you’re just pestering the lead and not providing any value.”

20. Avoid Bombarding The Leads With Emails

Houman Asefi states that the rule of thumbs for follow up emails is normally once a week. Do not bombard your leads with emails; move on after 4 or 5 emails. He asks to focus on the people that need your help. 

21. Consider Your Product/Services And Relationship With Leads

Asking to follow-up only when you have a reason, Sean Mulcahy, VP of Business Development at Duckpin conveys,

“Many variables dictate follow-up frequency. For example, what product/service is being sold - a more customized service, as opposed to basic software, is going to require more touchpoints.  Also, what is the state of your current relationship with the prospect; being more acquainted allows for direct communication and usually yields greater frequency.”

Breakup Email Strategies to get Back Your Prospects 

By knowing when to cut ties with the prospects, a salesperson can prioritize their leads and focus on the right opportunities. This way, by decluttering the pipeline, one can save time, improve the conversion rate, and close more deals in the long run.

It's essential to keep the positive and neutral tone alive rather than sounding accusatory or disappointing.  

22. Make Prospects Feel A Part Of Your Company’s Family

Nate Masterson asks to draft a mail in a way that suggests you truly care for your customers and value their opinions.

“Adding messages to regular, standard emails such as “Wishing you and your family health” or “We know finances might be tight right now, and we’re willing to work with you” lets customers feel that you truly care about them. If your company is contributing to coronavirus-fighting efforts, explain this to customers in emails and even ask them for ideas of how to help in order to make them feel like a part of your company’s family.”

- Nate Masterson, CMO at Maple Holistics

23. Use Action Oriented Questions

Ryan O'Donnell, Co-Founder of Replyify, declares the breakup email to be his favorite as it gives your prospect a free pass to let you know why they haven't taken action or even replied back. 

He provides some breakup email CTAs asking:

  • Is there someone else at {your company} I should speak with?
  • Can I reach out directly to {boss' name}? 
  • If I {completed whatever they need to do in the trial} for you, would you hit 'go' and test it out?
  • We have a limited number of Covid-19 free accounts we can give out to affected companies.  Do you think {company} would enroll in this program?

24. Incorporate Interesting Ways To Remind Leads About Your Brand Over Time

Sean Mulcahy believes that there is no such thing as a break-up email, particularly in today’s scenario. He says that if the conversation has dried up, make yourself available if their situation changes. They may not see a need for you today or in the near future, but a lot of changes from month to month, quarter to quarter, etc.  Use your CRM to schedule a 6 / 12 month to follow up. Holiday cards are a great reason to get your name and brand back in front of your prospects.

25. Leave An Open-ended Note

Offering a very relevant solution to break-up emails, Rajendra Sonar, recommends,

“In the current situation, when clients are unsure of how things will shape, one should avoid break-up email. The ideal way is to give a larger window to clients to settle down and revert. One should relate to the business situation, mention it, and leave an open-ended note of reconnecting in the future. Anytime from 4-6-8 weeks, when things settle down.”

Different Types Of Customer Responses During Corona

Ryan O'Donnell, likes to see salespeople getting more creative with their usage of trials and or discounts rather than including Covid-19 or Coronavirus in the subject line. He informs what responses they’ve received,

“We've seen 3 different types of responses to our sales emails over the past month.  

  • 'Are you serious?' category of prospects who can't believe we'd have the courage to contact them when 'the world is dying.'  smh, probably don't want to work with these personalities anyways.
  • 'OMG, perfect timing!' category of prospects who suddenly have more responsibility and higher expectations to deliver.  
  • 'Check back when things are normal' category of prospects who see the value but can't pull the trigger due to an internal limitation (like budget) or uncertainty in the future which triggers a paralysis by analysis.”

Paige Arnof-Fenn insists words are part of the healing process, and we can see which organizations are doing the best job every day with messages that touch not only the mind but also the heart and soul. A firm believer for communicating in a way that combines information and need, synthesizing feelings and facts, she says,

“With proper communication, we can create a bridge from today to the future. I feel we have a tremendous responsibility because never before has communications had the power to help society in the way that it does right now. There has never been a more important time to provide accurate, empathetic communication with transparency, truthfulness, and timeliness. It is inappropriate now for content to appear tone-deaf in any way to this crisis.

Conclusion

With optimism and well-planned email marketing strategies, "we'll get through this Corona crisis together." Every country is taking the recommended precautions to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 on the world. For sales and marketing, let us not be greedy, nor afraid but rather be tenacious and considerate. One can nail the challenge of following up with leads by keeping it simple, being a good listener, staying organized, having a plan, and providing value. Be sure to keep improving, iterating, experimenting, accessing your situation, and following the professionals' advice accordingly. As Ryan O'Donnell says, invest in the relationship and support the prospect's case internally to justify the expense. Ultimately, the foremost thing for each of us, including the salesperson, is to stay human in this challenging time.

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