In response to my emails about follow ups a few days back, reader Louis C. wrote:
Are there follow up emails or communication that you use and notice have a higher success rate or responses? If so, why do you think that is?
Authenticity is pretty important to me. If I can figure out how to sound only 10% “sales-y” in my communication, I think I’d be more comfortable and sound more genuine in my real objective, which is to provide value and build long-term relationships.
Separately, I received this email from another reader and potential client who I’ll anonymize since I don’t have her permission:
I noticed that even though you followed up with me several times, not once did you project “desperation.” So you master this balance well!
So let’s start from the premise that follow up can be both effective and decidedly not sales-y. Here’s my general advice about this:
Don’t rely too much on templates. I have some you can grab in the resources section, but use them as guide rails rather than a hard-and-fast, word-for-word recommendation. The reason is simple:
Be yourself. It’s okay to have a personality! Shocker, I know, but ultimately business is about people buying stuff or providing service to other people. So yes, be a person.
Keep it short. No need for a long follow up. They know why you’re emailing, calling, sending a postcard, or a carrier pigeon. Keep your follow up to a few sentences, and deliver some value that relates directly to the help you can provide.
Bonus points: using content as an impetus to follow up. I often send podcast episodes, articles, or resource downloads to people who aren’t ready to buy, with no direct ask to buy anything.
One thing I’ll leave with is a comment I saw on LinkedIn this week. This particular person drew an important distinction worth noting here. In his opinion, follow up falls into two categories: 1) follow up that makes deposits in the relationship bank, and 2) follow up that makes withdrawals from the relationship bank.
Sending content or other useful things that show you’ve been thinking about the person fall into the first category.
Repeatedly asking “do you still want to pay me?” clearly falls into the second category.
Now, it’s okay to make withdrawals from the relationship bank, just be honest with yourself about your ability to cover those overdraft fees.