We love when successful meetings happen. But then prospects stop responding to emails and voicemails. It makes no sense. Because when good meetings end, prospects are enthusiastic. They show interest in meeting again to go deeper into your solution to their challenge. But suddenly, and without reason, crickets. Now what? Time for an effective email follow-up for unresponsive prospects.
What if you sent an email follow-up provoking them to define and explain their position to you? What if that same email message offered them a feeling of safety and control over the conversation?
This might sound too good to be true. But hear me out. There is an email follow-up tactic working very well lately.
“If you’re a parent, you already use this technique instinctively,” says Chris Voss, a renowned former FBI kidnapping negotiator and business negotiating expert.
“What do you do … when your kids won’t leave the house/park/mall? You say, ‘Fine. I’m leaving,’ and you begin to walk away. I’m going to guess that well over half the time they yell, ‘No, wait!’ and run to catch up. No one likes to be abandoned.”
Voss says it may seem like a rude way to address someone in business. But you have to get over that. Indeed, it’s not rude. Ignoring you is what’s rude.
It works. Because the tactic is cloaked with the safety of “no.”
Make Your Email Follow-Up a Safe Place
‘Yes’ is commitment. ‘No’ is protection. Think about it when designing your “gone dark”/unresponsive email follow-up message.
“There is no shortage of times during the day when someone is trying to trap us with ‘yes,’” says Voss.
He’s right. Most often, sales people send emails or have discussions that “sprinkle a small trail of ‘yes’ to lead us down the path to the big bear trap of ‘YES’,” says Voss.
We try to persuade, convince. Think about it in your life as a buyer of goods or services.
Mr. Voss says there are three kinds of ‘yes.’
- Commitment (“I will”)
- Confirmation (“I heard you”)
Most of your clients are becoming experts at giving the counterfeit “yes” as a reply to the bear trap “YES” lurking around the corner.
This is what makes “no” so powerful. “Yes” is commitment. “No” is protection.
When prospects say “no” they are:
- Protecting themselves
- Avoiding feeling vulnerable to you
- Demonstrating power, control and, thus, are more open to listening
Use One Sentence to Provoke ‘No’
Wait a minute. Provoke no? This sounds crazy. Why would a follow-up email do that with an unresponsive prospect?!
Because it works. And because few sellers practice this effective follow-up tactic when clients go dark. Here is one example of how to use it.
“Have you given up on this project?”
Stop. Don’t run out there and try this follow up technique. I know you’re tempted to right now. But don’t. Instead, consider why this works. This allows you to use it more effectively and more creatively.
The idea is to create your own variations on the concept, test and measure effectiveness.
Here’s why this works. Provoking “no” plays to prospects’ natural aversion to experience loss.
This question encourages the client to respond with “no” because it makes the implicit threat you may walk away, on your own terms. If your prospect does not want to lose you they will stop it from happening.
“No, our priorities haven’t changed. We’ve just gotten bogged down with …”
Prospects will explain why they have not responded to you. That’s the gold.
Here’s another mental trigger … why this works. Potential buyers will take pleasure in proving their power over you … they will hit reply and disagree.
That’s the beauty of this effective email follow-up technique. If you don’t receive a reply, you likely have an unmotivated prospect. Cut bait and move on!
What has your experience been with effective follow-up email tactics?