They Replied, Now What? A Better Sales Email Follow Up

Congratulations on earning a reply to your cold sales email. But, for most sellers, what comes next hurts: lack of response. You’re not alone. Most sellers suffer from “too much, too fast” syndrome. Prospects open the door with, “Sure, tell me more” or “Yes, I’m open to hearing what you have to offer.” But this is where most of us go wrong.

Will Slack Replace Email?Congratulations on earning a reply to your cold sales email… or a lead from your marketing campaign. But for most sellers what comes next hurts: lack of response.

You’re not alone. Most sellers suffer from “too much, too fast” syndrome. Prospects open the door with, “Sure, tell me more” or “Yes, I’m open to hearing what you have to offer.”

But this is where most of us go wrong.

We reply with details about our solutions — the problems we fix and how we fix them. We talk about benefits of doing business with us. We yak about ourselves and expect potential customers to continue the conversation they just invited.

But this often results in clients “going dark.” They consistently don’t reply. Why? Because your prospects probably are not:

  • Actively interested; they’re only passively curious
  • Able to be honestly interested (the pain is dull, the status quo is in place)
  • The decision maker after all (it’s a group decision)
  • Ready to assemble the decision-making team
  • Informed about what is needed (operationally) to enact change

I could go on but will stop here. You get the point.

The worst reply (to a client’s invitation to talk) is one about you and/or your solution. Instead, drill further into your prospect’s world.

Why did they reply? Was it a passive or serious interest? Do they actually have pain — or are they anticipating it?

You want to know, right away. The best way to understand if you’ve “got a live one on the line” is to ask. Help the prospect prove they’re serious to you. Start the qualification process.

Don’t Take the Bait

The trick to earning a reply (to your follow up message) is triggering it. Talking about your solution to their problem is usually not a trigger — even if prospects ask you to. It’s a trap. Don’t take the bait. Instead, pivot. Provoke your prospect to reply with more details.

Help them qualify themselves in a way that screams, “I don’t want to pitch you … yet … so let’s talk about you first.”

Like this: “Lisa, I don’t want to waste your time. Before I provide details will you kindly tell me …?”

Make your email about them — honoring their time and asking for a little more information about why they opened the door for you.

Whether you’re trying to provoke a discussion from cold — or continue one — you’re not selling. You’re facilitating: facilitating a conversation about change.

Make Sure Prospects are Worth Your Time

When potential buyers respond to your first email don’t over-react. It may not be as fantastic as you think. You’ve been invited to reply. Great. But is this going to be an actual conversation? If so, will it be a good one?

Sharon Drew Morgen’s Buying Facilitation® model can help. Her methodology transcends sales prospecting, yet, her principles drive effective email and telephone conversations.

Especially if your prospect has yet to invest time in the decision-making process.

Here’s what Sharon Drew taught me — that creates mutually-beneficial conversations for me and my students.

Once you’ve been invited to have a dialogue, it’s time to structure your messages. Consider the desired outcomes and ask questions that help the client reveal where they are in the purchase decision process (are they in it at all?!).

Sharon Drew says this model involves both the buyer and the seller being equally served. Sellers help buyers gain control over private change management issues — thereby helping buyers become ready to buy and helping you close more deals.

Ask Facilitative Questions

Sharon Drew calls the consultative facet of her process “Facilitative Questioning.” It’s part of her Buying Facilitation® process — a change management model.

In an outbound prospecting or inbound lead follow up context, the concept is extremely useful. It helps train us slow down — think less about questions we need answered, more about questions prospects need answered.

We become the observer of their thought-process (if not a trusted guide).

“The time we spend pushing solutions rather than helping buyers facilitate their change process is misplaced, mistimed and misguided,” says Sharon Drew.

She says this results in “a product/solution push into a closed, resistive, private system.” Instead, it should be an expansive, collaborative experience.

If its not, Sharon Drew says, “we end up closing only the low hanging fruit … those ready to buy at the point of contact … unwittingly ignoring others who aren’t ready even though they may need our solutions.”

Give Buyers Time, Space

Basically, Sharon Drew is teaching sellers how dangerous it is to push too hard. When we just launch into our benefits  —or ask leading (biased) questions — we don’t give buyers time and space needed to prepare for their ultimate decision.

We also (usually) don’t get a chance to participate in their decision-making process.

Sharon Drew’s position can be provocative. For example, she says: “Prospecting/cold calling is driven by sellers to gather needs/information and offer solution details … all biased by the need to place solutions.”

She says traditional prospecting, “ignores the full enigmatic fact pattern of the buyer’s environment and change issues, and touches only buyers seeking THAT solution at THAT time at THAT period of readiness, omitting those who could buy if ready …”

The Brutal Truth

Customers value more what they ask for than what’s freely offered. Customers value more what they conclude for themselves than what they’re told.

So you’ve got to ask yourself:

  1. How can I get buyers to ask for help? (get into the conversation)
  2. Then, how can I get buyers to figure things out on their own? (facilitate the conversation)

Answer: An effective communications technique. Cold calling and cold emailing can help.

Once you’ve sparked interest in having conversation, focus on helping customers discover, on their own, what they want, when and why.

Ditch your pitch. Resist the urge to take customers down the path before they prove they’re ready to walk with you. When your next prospect opens the door with, “sure, tell me more” hold back. Ask questions that help them prove an active interest.

Help them reveal why they replied. Dig deeper. They’ll appreciate your doing so and are more likely to reply back.

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.

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