Part 3: Discover The Most Effective Way To Follow Up On A Cold Email Response

By on March 24th, 2015 in Cold Emailing

If you are following an outbound sales prospecting methodology that includes cold email then I would be willing to bet that you don’t have a system for follow-up. Am I right?

Regardless of whether you are a 1 person consulting business or a SAAS business with significant growth aims, having a systematized way to respond to cold  email responses will save you time, resources and more importantly it will double, triple or even quadruple your conversion rates at this stage of the sale process.

How do we know?

Well, we have tested it, obviously!

It’s very eas to say you should develop a system and then leave you hanging. Hopefully, you know me well enough by now to know that I wouldn’t do that to you.

 

So here’s a step by step system that you can implement immediately in your business:

Step 1: Decide If you are going to respond by email or telephone

phone

 

You have 2 options on how to reply:

  1. Email: Many business we engage with fall into the trap of using email to carry on the conversation. It is understandable why they do this sometimes. The sales prospectors may lack experience or belief. It is easy to hit reply type a few words and then send,  after all it was the same way you initiated the conversation in the first place. It does depend on your most wanted response or Call To Action (CTA) from your cold email BUT once you have a response we rarely advise carrying on by email. This creates workflow challenges in your business. How do you know who you have replied to? How do you know when to follow-up without death by task overload? And most importantly it does not give the greatest opportunity to connect with the person in short focused ‘human centric’ conversation.
  2. Telephone: This is the response mechanism we advise above all others. No matter what the response someone gives you to a cold outbound email there is a way to turn it into a telephone call. There is even a way to turn the dreaded ‘we aren’t interested’ into a telephone call which we detail in our online prospecting training.

 

Step 2: Dial And Use A Call Opener or PERMISSION REMINDER

This isn’t the age of ‘smile and dial’ cold calling and you don’t need some fancy opening pitch to bemuse your prospect into talking with you. Using ‘old skool’ opening lines like…

“John, if I could show you a way to reduce your operational expenditure by 27%, you’d be interested, wouldn’t you?”

…will kill your credibility.

They have replied to an email that you sent to them. It is very likely that the email has their direct dial and mobile number. Use them. Don’t be tempted to over complicate the process. All you need is a permission reminder to bridge into the telephone call.

permission

 

The Permission Reminder

We train some core permission reminders like this one:

Hi {name}, Thanks for your email (recently), I was going to reply but thought it just made more sense to call

Don’t change ‘just made more sense’  to ‘quicker’ or ‘easier for me’. It has to be MORE SENSE’.

There are lots of psychological reasons in play here but the main thrust is it is not all about you. Every part of your process and script has to leave your  prospect thinking it ‘just makes sense’.

If you are implementing this call opener in your business (why wouldn’t you?) then watch out for people (your prospectors) changing this – and they will! Phrases such as ‘because it was easier’ and ‘because it was quicker’ are all about the prospector and what they want. Your focus should be the prospect and nothing else.

Because this is a very simple and easy to implement call opener it is also for call recording coaching of prospectors. This allows you to train and provide ongoing coaching very easily.

 

The prospect may ask a question like

“sorry, what was that about again?”

which is understandable because even thought this is the most important call for you, they weren’t sat there waiting for your call. Don’t fear this because they aren’t chucking objections at you. They are more likely just seeking clarification on who you are and what the call is about. So provide that for them. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Simply restate a version of the Permission Reminder. We call this process the Permission Reminder Restate. And here is one for you to use:

Sure John, that’s not a problem. It’s {your name}, from {Company Name}, you replied recently to my email when I was looking for the person responsible for {Language used in the email} and you replied saying {Their Response]}…restate

And generally that will bridge you into a conversation 99% of the time.

 

Step 3: 3 Questions For Future Fit

Ok, so now you have bridged and have permission to move into a brief conversation. The next part is to quickly bridge into setting expectations for what the call is about. And here is exactly how to do this. We call it the 3 Questions for Future Fit Processfuture fit

The wording here has been chosen very carefully. The format has been designed to avoid many ‘rooky’ telesales mistakes.

So the script may go something like this:

 

I’m curious; you said you were {their response}. I have 3 quick questions, for about 60 seconds, to see if there might be a fit in the future. Is that OK?

  • ‘I’m curious’ is a pressure reliever. It is designed to take away any perceived sales pressure from the conversation and positions you as someone interested in finding out a little bit more background to the response they gave you.
  • It does not offer to ‘take’ 5 minutes of their time. It sets a very short time scale of 60 seconds to answer the conversation in the prospectors head – “How long will this take?”
  • ‘There might be a fit some time out in the future’ is designed to alleviate any immediate sales pressure the prospect may encounter. You have made it clear that you have some short, quick questions to see of there might be a connection in an undetermined time out in the future. This just seems to make sense to people and will almost certainly get you permission to move to the next 3 questions.

 

And obviously, you need 3 questions. We have a process for that too…

nobrainer

 

 

The 3 Future Fit process is designed to allow you to determine, very quickly and easily, whether the prospect will be a fit for your business now or in the future.

You are still very early in the process so you aren’t looking for an in-depth consultation here. You are seeking an initial qualification to see if there is a fit and to prove enough value for them to move to the next stage of your sales process; which may be a discovery call.

So the 3 Future Fit process is:

  1. A No brainer question that you’d expect to be answered with a YES. There are some significant psychological reasons for this. Most importantly is the fact that you want to start getting agreement from the prospect. This isn’t for any sleazy slick sales tactics but purely to begin to build a level of rapport and agreement with you. Also this is question is part of a process called ‘creeping commitment’. This should be a very simple question to answer that the prospect can answer instinctively without too much of a drain on their mental capacity. An example of a question I would use would be “Do you have outbound prospectors?”.  Any of my target prospects should be able to say YES to this instinctively. And if they don’t then there is a greater opportunity for me.
  2. A more in-depth question that you’d expect to be answered with a YES. The next question would be a natural progression from the first with the aim of getting a YES answer too. It should be the next step in the creeping commitment. So for me this could be something like “Have you experienced periods where your outbound prospectors aren’t driving predictable results or hitting targets?” All of my prospects are very, very likely to say YES to this.
  3. Detailed ‘Open’ question: This is the next stage of the creeping commitment. This is an open question that is hard to answer with a yes or no. It is designed to elicit a more detailed answer to allow you to understand how they operate and how they fit with your Ideal Prospect Profile (we detail the IPP process in our prospecting training). For me this could be: “How do you structure your outbound process to allow you to hit your sales targets?” 

 

Obviously you can ask a little more detail to delve into what they are telling you. Get good at asking questions and punctuating the conversation with,  “Tell me more…” and  “And what does that mean to the business?”

When that SHORT conversation has come to a natural conclusion you have a yes or no decision now.

Are they likely to be fit to move to your next stage sales engagement such as your discovery call?

If so then you can move on in the process.

 

Step 4: You told me bridge

So, after listening to what they have told you about their business you can use that as the exact same reason why you should have the next stage in the process. Here is a proven script for this part of the conversation:

{name}, based on what you told me,  it sounds like you would be a great fit for a discovery call with our account executive, {AE Name}. The call should take around {_} minutes, depending on how many questions you have for him, and there will be three main areas of focus, you will benefit from:told me

The key here is that you are saying that the reason you are suggesting they are a fit for the discovery call is because of what they have told you. It shows you have been listening and seems to just ‘make sense’.

and the three areas of focus you will discover in step 5.

 

Step 5: 3 x Value

 

Let me ask you this – What value do you contribute on your discovery calls and demonstrations?

When we ask people what value their prospects get from the discovery call or demonstrations, the answer, after a long pause and much head scratching, is generally something like:

“Well, none really. We have to ask them these questions to be able to qualify them, or to prepare a proposal or more in depth demonstration.”

And there is the problem.

If your goal for your outbound prospectors is to set a discovery call they must view this session very much like a tangible product they can sell.

Therefore, to effectively ‘SELL’ the value of engaging with your Account Executive you have to ensure you have created enough PERCEIVED value that can be articulated as to why someone should invest 20 or 30 minutes of their time. Without value why would anyone, apart from those really desperate for a solution and information hunters, agree to it?3 value

If you can ascribe value to the 20 – 30 minutes of your discovery call, then your conversion rates will go through the roof. Your prospectors will be capable of articulating precisely what value someone will get by taking your discovery call and the prospect will see it just ‘makes sense!”

We train on the 2 ways of doing this

  1. Strategic
  2. Tactical

 

For this blog we will look at the tactical approach of developing 3 core bullet points that your prospector can use to articulate the value of engaging with you. We go deep into the Strategic side on our Advanced Sales Prospecting Training webinar here

At the tactical level it is about equipping sales prospectors with the phrases to arouse curiosity and see the value in engaging with your account executive for your first engagement. Essentially creating an almost tangible product out of your discovery call, which can be HYPOTHETICALLY sold.

We use a ‘rule of three’ where we equip outbound prospectors with 3 bullet points about why the prospect should agree to a discovery call.   These are extremely powerful when aligned to what value we already know senior executives (explained more in our training)  are looking for:

  • their need to understand current business issues
  • their need to establish business objectives
  • their need to set overall business strategy.

 

So how could that work in practice?

A typical 3x value bridge could sound like this…

  1. He will give you some insights into what other market-leading organisations are doing in the field of . . . [Understand current business issues]
  2. He can walk you through some of the ingenious ways our clients are restructuring their operations to benefit from . . . [new ideas and perspectives to influence business objectives]
  3. He can give you three direct ways you can take that information and set a ——–strategy for your business [set overall business strategy]

 

 

 

Step 6: Looping

 

looping

 

 

If your  objective is to set up a discovery call then everything you do should always move you further along the line to achieving that objective.

Very often sales people eagerly jump into answering tough questions or ‘objections’ as they mistakenly think.  For instance if a prospect is offered a discovery call and then raises the following point:

“Our existing provider [name] gives us everything we need”

The natural response for inexperienced sales people would be to do one of the following:

  • Defend how you could do that better
  • Ask questions to identify if they were happy with this service to identify any gaps, hidden discontent or other areas to push back against this perceived objection

 

Both of these approaches would be moving you further away from your objective. While they appear logical, they would,  in fact, taking you off at a tangent that you will never be able to recover from.

In the process flow diagram they represent the red line taking you away from the straight line to your objective. If you try to answer this statement (as it isn’t even a question) you are effectively following the higher red lines further away from your objective. The reason being is that you are moving into areas and questions you can never answer sufficiently in that short space of time that the prospector has for that initial scoping call.

And not only that – It’s not expected of the prospectors.

Their  objective is to arrange the discovery call with the AE, not to get into detailed technical or lengthy conversations. In fact, anything over about 7 minutes for an initial discussion is too long and is a sign of giving too much information away – unless of course your sales team is also selling in that first call.

 

So what should they do?

 

Firstly they should ask a question like: q

 

 Q)How Important is that to you?

 Q)Why is that important to you?

 

 

 

These questions serve to seek understanding on just how important the question or statement really is to the prospect. In many instances you will be surprised at how many say:

“not at all really”

And if it is important to them . you can use that as a fantastic opportunity to use that as the very reason they should move to the next stage. You need to use every single opportunity posed by tough questions as the exact same reason why ‘it makes sense’ to have the next call or discovery call. The looping that makes this process very easy to implement.

Here’s how it might work:

A standard LOOP used by an outbound prospector to a difficult situation, question or PERCEIVED objection would be as follows

 

 

“Mr Smith, that’s a good question and that’s exactly why we should schedule a discovery call with Steve, our Account Executive because I will brief him to make sure he covers that with you. How are you fixed for Tuesday at 4PM?”

Or

“John, I can tell by the fact that you are asking that question that there is a level of interest your end, which means you’d be a great fit for our Discovery Call because that is exactly what Steve, our Account Executive will go through with you. How is your calendar looking next week?”

 

In the looping process flow these are the green lines that bring the conversation back down to the straight line to your objective.

 

Something magical happens when you do this…

People agree with you.

It does just seem to ‘make sense’, especially if the rest of your sales conversation has been non pushy and conversational. It seems to ‘make sense’ because it does make sense. If the prospect has asked a question then there is a reason for them to  find out a more in-depth response to that question. It is not necessarily the sales prospectors job to do this as they don’t have the right skill and solution knowledge to do justice to the question.

 

So a typical looping conversation may look like this:

 

Prospect: We have quite a unique in house platform that we have developed ourselves. We are only interested in talking to vendors that can accommodate that in their software API. Tell me if you can do that?

Prospector: Asks a question to clarify the importance: Is that something that is important to you in what vendors you engage with?

Prospect: Confirms the importance and explains why

Prospector: “John, I can tell by the fact that you are asking that and also by what you then told me, that this question is important to you. This tells me you’d be a great fit for our discovery call because that is exactly what Steve, our Account Executive will go through with you as well as (stae the value of the call)  How is your calendar looking next week?”

 

By implementing a looping process like this your prospect will be drawn back to the goal of the  conversation which is to schedule time with your account executive (or with you if you are doing it yourself)  for a more detailed follow on call or face to face meeting.  This process keeps the calls short, keeps them on track and ensures both sides to the conversation get maximum value from this short call. And in our Advanced Prospecting Training  Webinar we also give a process to create so much value in your first meeting that people will be falling over themselves trying to meet with you…here

We train prospectors to use the looping process word for word a maximum of 3 times in a conversation. Anything after that and it can be at risk of becoming an argument!

 

Step 7: Bridge to Agreement And Scheduling

 

A the end of the 3 x value section and every loop you should offer the opportunity to schedule the session with you. This doesn’t have to be any strong-arm close but rather a logical next step like:

 

“How are you fixed for next week?”diary

 

So that could end a looping segment like this:

 

“John, I can tell by the fact that you are asking that question that there is a level of interest your end, which means you’d be a great fit for our Discovery Call because that is exactly what Steve, our Account Executive will go through with you. How is your calendar looking next week?”

 

 

Step 8: Implement

 

Take these proven scripts and step by step system and implement it in your business. Until you do, you won’t see the results that typically can be a 3x or 4x increase in conversions in this part of the sales process – often overnight.

 

IF you want to know more about how to harness the power of outbound prospecting using cold emailing then the easiest and best way is to  register for and attend my Advanced Prospecting Training  Webinar available here.

The training breaks down the 6  steps in a revolutionary new prospecting system and exactly how you can quickly and easily build a PREDICTABLE  outbound prospecting system you can scale and grow.

Registering for the webinar is easy.  Just click the banner below, then enter your name and email to reserve your spot.

 

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