Sales Follow-up Emails: The Most Effective Formula

Earning a reply to your initial email is simple. Spark the prospect’s curiosity. But what comes next? How do you follow-up effectively once invited to do so? What do you write and how — so potential buyers will reply again?

Earning a reply to your initial email is simple. Spark the prospect’s curiosity. But what comes next? How do you follow-up effectively once invited to do so? What do you write and how — so potential buyers will reply again?

Spark their curiosity. Again. However, it’s also time to hyper-target your prospect’s pain, fear or goal.

It really is that simple.

Here is a real life example. I’m sharing so you can copy the technique in your setting.

Here’s the gist of what works: When replying to the prospect’s invitation, help the buyer want to tell you about “the conversation already going on” in their head.

This helps you build a conversation about what is most important to them — not what you’re selling.

A Successful “First Touch” Email Example
One of my readers took advice (from this blog) and turned it into a response. I love when that happens.

Connor emailed me saying, “Your technique for getting permission to have a longer conversation is working great. What I would like to know is what angle I should take once permission is given… or the curiosity has sparked a response.”

Here is the exact first touch approach Connor used to earn the first response.

Subject Line: Is this a fit for you, ___ [first name]?

Savings accounts, bonds, and CD’s are currently earning less then 1% while the cost of living rises at 1.7%. There are other places to allocate your resources that offer a competitive rate while retaining a low risk mindset for your savings and also provide tax advantages.

In the interest of time would a short email conversation makes sense? Let me know what you decide, _____ [first name]?

Thanks for considering,

The prospect responded with, “Yes that is something I would be interested in discussing. What type of investment options do you offer?”

Connor is a financial adviser who offers different investment options. He says, “The products don’t sell themselves. The (sales) process we use conveys the value of our products.”

Thus, it’s critical for him to get into the flow of a buyer-focused conversation.

He asked me, “Do you have a proven approach to moving this situation forward and getting the appointment or should I explain what the product I was referring to in my response?”

Indeed, I do.

Pinpoint the Pain or Goal
In Connor’s case, the prospect responded by asking about investment options. That’s what Connor sells. He used a “near-term buying first-touch” approach. And the buyer is curios about his solution to the problem. Success!

However, this can be a dangerous situation.

The best way forward in the second touch is over-focusing on the prospect. Here’s what I mean.

In Connor’s case, the buyer is opening the door to talk about his solution, the product. However, it’s best to resist this temptation.

Instead, to earn another reply, I ask one brief but purposeful question. Two max. This qualifies your lead. It also helps you know how, exactly, to respond and move the discussion forward.

For example, Connor should reply,

“I will be glad to talk options, ___ [first name]. But I need to know more about you, please, to help. Are you invested in CD’s, bonds (low rate options) now? Are you doing everything possible to protect yourself from outliving your retirement savings?”

They’ll Tell You How to Reply
New customers will tell you what will trigger them to buy. Sometimes in the second email you receive from them. Choose your words carefully. Help them to open up and tell you.

The goal of your second email message is not to pitch your wares. Instead, it is to:

  1. Earn another reply, (keep it very short!)
  2. Trigger an “avalanche” response, (allow your buyer to become emotional)
  3. Pinpoint the buyer’s exact pain or objective. (so you can address it)

By identifying what matters most to the buyer you’ll know exactly how to reply in a way that builds credibility and curiosity in your solution. Remember: An emotional reply from a prospect validates how important a given issue may be to them. Additional curiosity (more questions) indicates the lead is a good one.

Bottom line: Your second email message will yield a response that qualifies the lead. The reply it generates will tell you exactly what to talk about in the next email message. The buyer will tell you — again!

A Stream of Curiosity
Always answer questions the prospect asks — but do so in ways that create more questions in their minds. Hold a little back. This helps create more curiosity.

Structure the way you reply. Be deliberate about it.

Don’t be coy. This isn’t about trickery or dangling a carrot in a way that will annoy the prospect. Be direct and specific. Yet hold back on the details. This will help your prospect feel an urge to ask you about them.

Good luck!

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

2 thoughts on “Sales Follow-up Emails: The Most Effective Formula”

    1. Jeff, let me add another perspective. More strategic.

      Connor, like many professionals, has nothing to sell but information or mere words.

      If he gives this confidential information, away too early in the game, then he won’t make the sale.

      His problem is further complicated because he is pitching to someone who already has a financial advisor.

      Give the prospect this information and they will say” Thanks” and beetle off to their own financial adviser!

      In effect, Connor is asking the prospect to “cheat” on their current relationship.

      Your advice: “Be direct, specific, yet hold back on some details” is perfect. Because it forces the prospect to both give away some of their cards and refocuses the prospect on their pain.

      Pain which you have a solution for, if only they would ask.

      (My business partner Joe Caruso talks about a similar commitment problem in his article:

      How to Get Your Franchise Candidate to Truthfully Reveal their Net Worth at

      Thanks again.

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