How many emails have you written that sound something like this?
“I’m just following up on the proposal…”
“I haven’t heard from you, so I wanted to check in about working together…”
No one likes sending or receiving these bland follow-up emails, and yet I know many service providers struggle to find a better way. Without fail, “How can I send better follow ups?” comes up in nearly every interview and sales Q&A I do.
Hear this: the best follow-up email is the one you don’t have to send.
Instead of asking for the sale or submitting a proposal, then entering into the Groundhog Day-esque hellscape of “Just following up,” try this instead:
The next time you’re on a sales call, ask your potential client, “By when would you like to make this decision?”
Unless you’re running a program with a definitive start date, chances are you don’t have hard and fast deadlines by which customers must commit — which poses a challenge. With no deadline, deals can linger. Thus, it’s important to work with the client to set their own timeline — then help them stick to it. Bonus points if the timeline created represents some urgency to solve a problem and start seeing results as soon as possible.
Once a client shares by when they’d like to make a decision, pull up your calendar and book a date and time right then. Once the follow-up call is booked, you can spend your time adding value for the client, rather than tip-toeing around with empty follow-up emails.
And lest you think this approach too pushy, I find most of my clients appreciate the gesture to keep them on track and accountable. Plus, when you set the expectation to stay in close touch during the sales process, clients typically oblige — remember, they’re looking to you for expertise and guidance, and it starts with your sales call.
And, hey, I know this won’t work 100% of the time. If you find yourself needing to follow up via email, I’ve got some tips for you here.