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The art of the second contact

There’s a lot of stuff out there about writing great sales emails, but in most cases it’s about generating initial interest. What about when we’ve had that indication of interest, but need to move things along? How should we approach that? I think it’s something that ought to be considered before the start of a campaign.

What we want them to do next is probably something like booking a demonstration, but it could even be urging them to buy directly now. It depends on the nature of the sale, and the form of the initial enquiry. That’s why it makes sense to consider what the various follow-up scenarios might be. Is it simply our turn to make them an offer, or have we already done so, and now need to urge them to respond?

One rule for an effective next step is to avoid suggesting that the cause of the follow-up is somehow down to the prospect. I’ve had many emails saying: “We haven’t heard from you…” That’s not going to make me suddenly want to buy something. Nor is: “We hope you got our catalogue and have looked at it.”

Acting on the common knowledge

Instead, if the prospect now has a certain amount of information, it’s time for both parties to act on the common knowledge they now share, so it should be more a case of: “Now you know all about us, when can we come and see you about it?”, or: “You’ll have seen how great our product is, but great news, there’s now a special offer on.”

Note that we’re not talking to an unknown responder here. What do we know about them personally (their location, their industry, whatever), and how can this be used? “Our sales representative is only 10 miles down the road from you in and could pop in next week. They have considerable experience with aerospace applications like yours, so we’re confident we can save you money.”

Highlight the benefits of responding positively, but don’t assume the recipient will immediately remember what they’ve enquired about – they’ll need a reminder. However, note that many emails, even in B2B, are read on mobile phones, so keep the message brief and to the point.