How To Reply To A Negative Email?

Author
Michael Maximoff
Published
01.23.2020
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When you consider all outcomes of your email campaigns, don’t be afraid to ask the right questions. Even if they scare you. For example, don’t say “What should I do if I get negative replies?”. Say “What should I do when I get negative replies?”. 

It’s going to happen, sooner or later. No matter how good your templates are. No matter how much time you put into personalizing your unique value proposition. You can’t always get into your prospects’ heads. Sometimes you’re simply not welcome — and that’s okay. 

Where are we going with this? Do we mean to say that you should just accept the inevitable? Of course, no!

By telling you all this, we want to make sure that you’re ready and know what to do. Negative replies reveal areas for improvement within your B2B communication. Sure in some cases, your prospects simply were not in the mood. But it takes a while before you’re able to differentiate between the two. 

There is always something you can do either for your recipient or yourself. So, let’s talk about negative replies, their types and the ways of dealing with them. 

Negative email types

You may think that you know a negative reply when you see one. However, your recipients reject you for different reasons. So, there are different types of negative responses. And you’ve probably encountered each type at least once. 

“Not interested”

It may sound odd, but this kind of negative reply is also the most positive one. Why? As you know, not all cold emails receive a response. It can take up to four cadences before your recipient writes back. Usually, our final template simply asks the prospect to state if they’re interested in our company or not. Getting a reply is better than staring into the void and waiting. So, when your prospect responds with “Thanks, I’m not interested” or “Thank you, but I’m not sure I need it right now”, consider yourself lucky. You got the information. You know your prospect’s attitude at this point. It’s a start. But where do you go from here? 

How to reply to an email like this one?

If you don’t receive many ‘not interested’ replies, back off gracefully and don’t write to those prospects again. Focus on those who can be nurtured instead of wasting time on the people who don’t want to be your clients. 

However, if you receive many ‘not interested’ replies, it’s time to get serious. Something is off and you must figure it out. 

  1. Ask for clarification. It’s important that your prospects gave you a clue. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to send them a survey. You can tweak your final email template and let your recipients choose the answer they agree with.

{Name}, I sent you a couple of emails last week, but haven’t received a response yet. Since my calling schedule for this month is almost finalized, I need to know your status. Please, choose the answer that best describes your decision and just send me a number.  

  1. I’m not interested in a conversation right now. Please, follow up later. 
  2. I’m not interested because I work with a vendor already. 
  3. I’m not interested because your offer doesn’t feature the assets {Company} needs.   

Thanks, 

{SalesRep’s Name}

It’s a super quick way to get insights without pissing your recipients off. Also, it’s more convenient for them since all they have to do is to send a number and go back to their business. 

  1. Review your value proposition. If you keep receiving replies # 2 and # 3, it means that your message has no zing to it. It doesn’t stay in your prospects’ minds. It doesn’t speak to them. It doesn’t get them. Re-read your introduction templates. Maybe you highlighted the wrong benefits or didn’t emphasize on the pain points enough. Or maybe your pain points are not that relevant. If nothing looks odd to you, have someone else read your template and ask them if everything is clear about your offer. A fresh perspective can shed some light on the issues you have never noticed before and revealed what you have been doing wrong.
  2. Be more specific. If your introduction is blurry and features generic phrases such as “market leaders”, “innovative technology” or “increase revenue”, it’s little surprise that all those “not interested” replies keep coming. Your message lacks compelling arguments. It lacks essence. Nobody is interested in another best-offer-from-the-best company email, your prospects get thousands of those. They want substance. They want something more than loud words.

To make your introduction more impressive, rewrite it. Go through each benefit mentioned in your unique value proposition and see how you can make it more up-to-the-point and relevant to your achievements within the prospects’ industry. Don’t be afraid to tinker with synonyms — going for professional jargon instead of basic nouns and adjectives pays off in many cases. 

As always, A/B testing is your friend. Create several versions of your introduction template and see which of them are perceived better. It will let you find the best approach faster. 

  1. Adjust your targeting. In case new templates and value proposition don’t change anything and your recipients still respond with “not interested”, maybe it’s not about your message. It’s about your prospects. They simply may be not the prospects you’re looking for. Therefore, you have to go back to your targeting and re-examine your qualifiers. There is no need to redo your entire Ideal Customer Profile (yet). You can start by targeting other titles or shifting your focus to smaller companies. If that doesn’t bring any results, maybe it’s time to try other industries — or even change your ICP.
  2. Check the season. Sometimes, your prospects may not be interested in working with you because they’ve hit a slow season. Increased sales cycles and bounce rates, lack of new buyers - all these factors impact your prospects’ willingness to close deals. Make sure that you know when to reach out to your target audience.

“There is no fit”

Sometimes, your prospects say that they don’t think there’s a fit. It’s not really a negative reply. At least, it leaves you with an opportunity to send a couple of questions for clarification. After all, if there is a disconnect between your ICP and your message, you should know about it. Don’t be in a hurry to convince your prospects that you’re just the vendor they're looking for. Subtly explore the possibilities for conversation and use them to discuss your prospects’ issues and your solutions. But if you see that your recipients are reluctant to speak with you, don’t push them. 

“F%@k off!”

Ah, yes. Angry replies. It doesn’t matter, if they include expletives or not, they never fail to make you wince. After all, nobody likes to be yelled at. The thing with angry negative replies, you never know when they pop out. One day you follow your usual sending cadence, sending emails, sticking to the schedule — and then you receive a negative reply full of bright metaphors. 

The reason? 

Your prospects are simply frustrated. Maybe they had a bad day or a bad month. Maybe they’re having a bad case of email fatigue. Maybe they’re just rude. There are many reasons. But there is nothing you can really do, except for removing their contact from the sending list and leaving them alone. 

How to reply to an email from an angry recipient?

As unpleasant as they are, negative replies are not dangerous unless you don’t take a hint and keep pestering your recipients with more emails. The only outcome you can expect out of this strategy would be negative reviews raining down on every platform your business is registered at. Imagine the years of building reputation and positive image destroyed with just a single word — “spammer”.  

Is pushing your recipient’s buttons really worth it? 

A couple of angry replies per hundreds of positive/neutral responses are nothing to worry about. However, when you start receiving not one “go away” response, but dozens of them, it’s time to take action. If animosity is becoming the most natural reaction to your messages, something about them must be triggering your recipients.  

  1. Your content. There is a reason why we suggest checking for new spam-words every now and then. This list is constantly growing. Even if your emails don’t get labeled as spam,  the overabundance of salesy phrases and CTAs may become an eyesore to your recipients. Whenever they get an email that looks like a spammy message that bypassed spam filters somehow, frustration is their only emotion. Logically, if they get more salesy emails, their frustration turns to righteous anger. In the end, they explode and lash out.

To avoid that scenario, double-check every new template. Also, don’t forget to update your existing templates in accordance with modern standards. 

  1. Your timing. Calculating the best time for sending emails takes lots of tries, tweaks, and adjustments. So, it’s quite clear that your current cadence needs some work. Maybe the interval between your follow-ups is too short, making your outbound campaign look like a spam attack. We all hate being flooded with messages, don’t we?
  2. Your targeting. Being mistaken for the wrong guy is extremely annoying. Especially when it happens every day. If you send emails to high-ranking titles, there is a high probability of your message being ignored or becoming a nuisance. Heads of departments handle urgent, serious matters. Of course, they are a part of a decision-making group, but they get involved only after other members of the group receive an offer from a vendor and bring it forward. Therefore, you should find a person, who is in charge of the area covered by your services — and, therefore, would be interested in hearing you out.

Each negative reply is an opportunity 

Remember about asking the right questions? 

It’s not about “How to reply to an email that doesn’t express interest in my services?”. It’s about “Why did I receive this email?” and “What should I do to prevent such emails?”

Sometimes it’s hard to understand whether you should react to a negative answer or end the conversation or focus on other matters. This understanding comes with experience. The only way to gain this experience is to stay open-minded and ready to solve issues instead of avoiding them. 

Different negative replies require different measures. There is a time when all you can do is back away and re-examine your campaigns. And there is a time when you can and should reply. In both cases, you mustn’t ignore negative replies. They may look like they’re your enemy but in fact, they can be your friends — the kind that never sugarcoats the truth or stays silent when you’re wrong. 

Every situation provides a way to explore your company and make valuable conclusions. When you remain focused and engaged, any challenge becomes less of a trap and more like a temporary obstacle.  

We hope, this article debunked some of your fears concerning negative replies. In case you’re interested in more content from Belkins, you can subscribe to our blog and be the first to learn about our updates! 

Michael Maximoff

Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Mike has more than 10 years of experience in the digital marketing and technology sector selling to SMB internationally. Michael leads Belkins' sales force and responsible for biz development and new partnerships.

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