Salespeople: How to avoid the dreaded “Just following up” emails

Stop pestering -- and start profiting

Do you want to differentiate yourself, stand out and rise above the noise? One easy, shockingly simple and sure-fire way that will put you miles ahead of many professionals in your industry is: Communicate differently. 

Using the same ineffective, outdated and irritating “follow-up messages wastes your prospects time. Does this sound familiar? "Hi Mack, I just wanted to follow up and see if you have any questions from the proposal I sent?” Or, “Hi Sam, I wanted to reach out again since I have not heard from you.” Or, Hi Danny, I was just touching base from our meeting last week.” Or, "Hey Shelly, I was just checking in to see if you got my last eleven emails?”

Just following up, just checking in or just touching base emails may make you feel like you are moving a prospect forward, but you are not.  They may make you feel like you’re keeping the momentum going, but you are not. They are only irritating and aggravating your prospects. They are keeping you stuck in follow-up hell.

For years, I have been preaching to professionals to stop using the “F” word in business writing, speaking and in their email subject lines. The phrase “follow-up” is overused and its meaning is empty. Don't use these words: I was just following up, checking in, reaching out or touching base. You don’t have to announce what you are doing; you are doing it. You don’t need to broadcast or declare that you are following up; your actions imply that.

Emails with the above language are annoying and disruptive to the recipient. Don't keep sending the same email with the same language that every other professional on the planet is using. If you are attempting to reconnect by using the same follow-up message, how can prospects differentiate you from anyone else in their inbox?

In today’s super-busy, fast-paced world of constant intrusions, you can't afford to interrupt prospects without providing some value and a compelling reason for them to keep the conversation going. If you're not connecting with prospects, it’s time to shake things up.

Try this. Before you go and simply change your language, ask yourself this. Did I take the time to establish the rules of the follow-up with my prospect? Have I added value in all of my communication with prospects?  Did I ask my prospect when we will continue the conversation? Did we discuss and define what the next steps would be?  Did I ask how we will openly communicate moving forward? Establishing the rules of the communication will save you so much time and help you viewed as a welcome guest versus an annoying pest.

You can radically change the way your prospects interact and stay in touch with you. Using the right words, with the right approach, to the right person, with the right intent, will do wonders for your bottom line. Stop saying, “I was just checking in, following up, touching base, reaching out.” Start saying, "The last time we spoke you mentioned X." Or, "Based on the deadline that we discussed, we need to do Y." Or, "In our last conversation, you suggested that we do Z.”

Get creative! Be different! When you change your approach, you will produce different results. When you change your language, you stand out and win more business.

The next time you want to use the f-word, stop — and find something better to say.

Categories: Sales & Marketing, Web Exclusives