How to Write Follow-ups the Right Way

You wrote your B2B pitch email. Sent it at the right time. And you saw it land directly to your prospects’ inboxes. After a while, you think it’s time to give your recipients a little nudge and get them to respond. However, the question on your mind is, how do you write a follow up so good, it gets results? 

There is no point in sugar coating it, follow-ups are easy to mess up. It’s a delicate process and the reality is, there will be mistakes. The good news is, there’s always a way to soften the blow.

So, let’s dig into what makes a follow-up great. 

What is a follow-up?

Follow-ups are sent after your introduction email and serve to:

  • Bring your offer back to the top of the inbox.
  • Catch the recipient’s attention.
  • Remind the recipient about your offer and conversation.
  • Motivate your recipient to respond.

It’s very important to keep this set of differentiators in mind. People have a habit of creating emails that are completely irrelevant to the subject of the original email. By not connecting follow-ups to previously sent emails or by sending the same message over and over again, you lose business. 

Are follow-ups necessary?

Don’t be annoying” is an important part of the B2B ethics, but follow-ups keep your outreach campaign going. Take respectful pauses when sending follow-ups and build up the momentum of your conversation.

If you’re a busy person, you’re used to finding emails that bring you back to a message you received a week ago, but were too busy to read. Sometimes, you’re annoyed. Sometimes, you’re glad to receive a reminder because you would have otherwise forgotten about that email.

Your prospects go through the same thing. They cannot read and respond to all their emails in one day, some get saved for later. Sometimes, later never comes. Every new day brings new tasks, resulting in more emails with interesting offers. Emails like yours start slowly sinking to the bottom of the inbox and, ultimately, getting lost and eventually deleted during mailbox cleanups. 

Follow-ups help you prevent this. They let your introduction emails be seen, given that you write follow-ups the right way. To do it, you should be aware of some of the ways follow-ups can fall flat.

Common follow-up mistakes

Following up with the wrong person 

Not all leads get converted. Sometimes it’s just not worth following up with someone who is not interested in you. By following up with any lead in your list, you waste your time and your sales development team’s time. 

So, which leads you should be following up with? 

  • Leads who showed interest. Thanks to email software, you can see opens and other metrics. If your prospect keeps opening your email, has checked out your company’s LinkedIn, it’s a green light for you.
  • Your dream prospects. If there are leads that are the perfect match for your ICP, don’t hesitate. There is a high chance of converting your high-value prospects into long-term customers and it’s worth seizing.

Targeting a company, not a prospect

As bizarre as it sounds, centering your follow-up around your prospect entirely is not the right way to go. In B2B, decisions are made by the company, not by just one person. Before your recipient decides to work with you or purchase your services, they have to discuss your offer with multiple titles in their company. Highlight the ways you can benefit them (and their team) to increase the chances they'll get back to you with a firm YES or NO. 

If your follow-ups describe how your product benefits the prospects as a person, but doesn’t cover the advantages for their business, you are not providing your prospects with the compelling information that they can share.

Always remember the company. Your follow-ups must illustrate your service’s effectiveness in solving the pain points that are relevant to the prospect’s business.

  • If you sell healthcare software:

Wrong-way: Appeal to the prospect’s personal pain points, such as time management, having to work overtime and general dissatisfaction with the current software. 

The right way: Provide data on how digitizing patient management and monitoring helps to balance out the workload and budget. 

  • If you specialize in installing office lighting:

Wrong-way: Rely on the prospect’s personal taste in illumination, describe the solutions that match that taste, build your argument on preferences only. 

The right way: Outline the ways illumination at the workplace affects productivity and why your solution is more friendly to the budget of the company.

Getting your prospect’s interest is half of the battle. You must also provide your prospects with ammunition they would use when convincing their colleagues to work with you.  

Creating structure

Being genuine is important in B2B. Not to the extent of sending random emails crafted in the moment of inspiration and expecting to receive a positive response. Or any response in general. 

Just like with the timing for sending emails, your follow-ups should be calculated. Your flow of emails is only natural when you think your conversation through. 

Create a script for your follow-ups that allows you to:

  • Focus on critical details. Whenever you have a natural conversation, you end up remembering there was one very important thing that you forgot to mention. It’s quite frustrating in everyday life. But in B2B it’s unforgivable. We can always get back to the important subject in our casual conversations, but there are rarely second chances in outreach. Of course, you can message your prospect again and describe all the points you failed to mention earlier, but it doesn’t have the same impact.
  • Avoid repeating yourself. Nothing bothers people more than getting the same information over and over again. They did not agree to be pulled into the Groundhog Day situation, they don’t find it fun. They don’t find it interesting. And they won’t change their mind if you tell them the same thing 100 times. They also don’t care why you do it. If you’re repetitive because you forget what your previous email was about, it’s your problem, not theirs.
  • Prevent info-dumping. We get it. You have a lot of good things to tell about your products and services. However, listing all the benefits, even those that are irrelevant to your prospects, turns your email in an info bomb. And that blows up in your prospect’s’ face without warning. No one likes this. With the right pace and sequence, you can send information in brief, comprehensive emails, allowing your prospects to learn something new each time they get your message.
  • Control your conversation. Crafting a follow-ups sequence is an exercise in understanding and analysis. Think about how exactly you want your conversation to flow, develop various approaches and figure out the order of the information and tone of the conversation.

How do we structure our follow-ups? 

  1. Don’t start with the details. Our Wave 2 follow-up is merely a brief reminder about our introduction email. It encourages people to check the entire thread to see what they have been missing.
  2. Continue with more specific information. If Wave 2 follow-up doesn’t result in a response, the next follow-up will explore the company’s assets in greater detail. Here, we elaborate on a relevant service or product, talk about our latest achievements and why they are important for the prospect’s niche, or provide a case study that might be interesting to the prospects.
  3. Motivate to write back. If we still don’t receive a response, we don’t stop the conversation entirely. We always leave our prospects an opportunity to respond. At this point, they may respond with “We don’t need your services because…” Getting any kind of feedback is important for understanding our chances with the prospect and structuring our schedule.

We prefer to customize our templates to meet the needs of the prospect’s niche, but we follow this life-saving structure. With it, we can gradually build up interesting facts about our business and ensure that the pattern of our outreach campaigns feels natural, is informative and in no way a nuisance to our recipients. 

Following up too often

You need to find a balance between staying top of mind, without bothering someone three times a day. Give them time to read your offer, think about it, then read it again. Creating a customized schedule will help you figure out the most productive days and make your work a lot easier.  

Changing the subject

The purpose of your follow-ups is to bring attention to your introduction email and your offer. Therefore, your entire email sequence must be focused on that. Doing otherwise results in your prospects drifting away from the reason you contacted them in the first place and farther away from a sale.

General follow-up tips 

The most jarring thing about follow-ups is the necessity to personalize them so they could meet the individual needs of the industry you’re working with. Nevertheless, there are tips anyone can use to improve their follow-up campaign:

  • Try out different CTAs. If you see that your current CTA has a low CTR, consider changing it. Some calls-to-action speak to prospects, while others just don’t work for them.
  • Include social proof. It always helps to mention your customers from the prospect’s industry to show your familiarity with the niche. Case studies are great for this.
  • Give your prospects’ credit. Always acknowledge the efforts and achievements of your prospects.
  • Make each email count. Your follow-ups should never be placeholders for your introduction email. Make sure you supply your prospects with new information each time.
  • Test, test, test. Just like with introduction emails, you should craft A and B templates for each of your follow-up messages and monitor their performance across various segments of your target audience.
  • Stay relevant. If you want to attach relevant news articles or research papers, make sure they’re freshly posted and about a really hot topic. Your recipients are educated people who are as interested in new information as you.

Conclusion

Follow-ups are a complicated task. It takes awareness, knowledge of the prospect’s industry and the ability to be in your prospect’s shoes. In five years of working with B2B emails, we realized the following:  

  • There is no perfect formula to follow-up emails. There is a range of methods and approaches that are based on sales data and metrics delivered by your email software.
  • Personalization defines success. The more research you do about your niche, the more compelling your follow-up templates can become and the more they will appeal to your audience.
  • The organization is everything. It’s very easy to make mistakes when you don’t plan anything in advance. Structuring your follow-ups, launching tests and keeping a close look at your sales data and customer data will help you avoid all the mistakes we described above.

B2B content is constantly developing and exploring new communication patterns. We monitor this closely and always share new information as becomes available. 

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